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The Financial Times publishes interview with Ali Hasanov

The Financial Times has published an interview with Head of the Political and Public Affairs Department at the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Ali Hasanov, in which he highlights the country`s position on the Ukraine conflict.

"In general, Azerbaijan is against military forms of solving conflicts. We believe that in the present world there are more powerful tools for solving conflicts than military ones,” he said.

Azerbaijan avoids aligning itself explicitly either with the west or with Russia in its foreign policy.

MrHasanov said Azerbaijan was disappointed that western governments had not taken an equally firm stand against Armenia’s seizure of the Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other districts in Azerbaijan.

"Our objection is to the double standards in the west on this issue. In one conflict the west calls them separatists, in the other they don’t,” MrHasanov said.

He blamed a recent spate of violent incidents between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on "internal forces in Armenia who are trying to strengthen their positions”.

He suggested that the US and its allies should take action to eject Armenia from international bodies, such as the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

MrHasanov emphasized Baku’s co-operation with Washington on counter-terrorism and energy, and blamed disagreements over human rights on non-governmental organisations based in the US rather than on the American government itself.

"Unfortunately, there are forces who use these incidents to cause a deterioration in US-Azerbaijani relations and to undermine the image of Azerbaijan. But other than that, Azerbaijan is committed to its strategic partnerships with western countries,” he said.

MrHasanov noted that Azerbaijan shared a problem with western countries in that about 300 Azerbaijanis had gone to fight in Syria with Islamist extremists, posing a potential security threat upon their return home.

"Some forces want to see Azerbaijan as a radical fundamentalist country. Some forces are intent on undermining the secular path of Azerbaijan,” he said.

MrHasanov said the government was confident it could ride out the effect of sharply falling oil prices on its budget and development plans, partly because it was introducing new taxes on bank deposits, property sales and luxury items such as imported cars.

He stressed that no new taxes would be imposed on the private, non-oil sector of the economy.

He ruled out an abrupt devaluation of the manat, Azerbaijan’s currency, but said the government was considering a managed downward adjustment in line with the euro, which has been falling against the dollar.