Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
From my heart I congratulate all of you on the occasion of the New Year holiday and wish you health and happiness.
2010 has ended. The year 2010 was a successful year for our country. Although economic and financial crisis still reigned in the world in 2010, Azerbaijan recorded great achievements. Our economy expanded, all social programs were fulfilled and all projects on the infrastructure were implemented; in a word, 2010 saw all the tasks facing the country completed with honour. Our economy expanded by approximately 5 per cent, people’s incomes rose by 12 per cent and overall inflation stood at 5.7 per cent. $15 billion were invested in the country, our currency reserves rose from $20 billion to $29 billion. These results prove that the path chosen by Azerbaijan is the right path; Azerbaijan’s chosen path is one of progress and development.
In 2010 much work was done in the social sphere. 45 health establishments and more than 70 schools were built or repaired, 5 Olympic sports centres were built. The minimum wage and basic pensions were increased and programs of social assistance were successfully addressed. This demonstrates the social orientation of our policy. We live in the conditions of a market economy and our economy is built totally on those principles. In addition, a strong social policy is our main responsibility.
In 2010, there were positive political developments in our country. There were great, successful steps forward in the development of democracy. Transparent and fair elections were held in 2010. The will of the Azerbaijani people was accurately reflected in the results of the parliamentary elections. This demonstrates that we achieved success not only in the economic sphere but also in our development of political reform. This allows our country to develop in every respect; it has become a modern state in the real sense of the word and the steps taken in this direction are our stimulation.
Great advances were made in our foreign policy in 2010. The number of our friends and the countries which wish to cooperate with Azerbaijan increased. We are carrying out a successful foreign policy at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. We already have long-established relationships with international organisations, relationships built on mutual respect, beliefs and interests.
In 2010 the European Parliament adopted a very important and just resolution on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. So our political and diplomatic positions have been strengthened by our work to resolve the conflict.
The resolution of Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is our main duty and greatest problem. We endeavour to settle this problem by peaceful means and by way of negotiation. Azerbaijan, from its side, is making every effort to achieve the earliest settlement of this problem; to restore the territorial integrity recognised by the international community. Our territorial integrity must be restored. Azerbaijan will never reconcile itself to the current position and will never allow the establishment of a second Armenian state in our eternal land Nagorno-Karabakh. We all know well that the current state of Armenia was established on historical Azerbaijani lands. The Irevan khanate, the Zengezur district and other regions are our historical lands. The Azerbaijani state and people will never allow the establishment of a second Armenian state on Azerbaijani territory. This conflict will only be resolved according to the norms of international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijanis, who will return there, will have autonomous status; this can be the only solution to the problem.
Great infrastructural projects have been implemented in 2010. Large and significant measures have been undertaken in the transport and construction sectors and in the work to establish electrical energy supply. Work began on the construction of a large ship-building facility in Baku. The construction of an international Sea Trade Port began in Baku. These projects will provide a strong stimulus to the processes of cooperation continuing in the region, they will positively influence the development of the non-oil sector in Azerbaijan and will promote our country’s development. All these projects demand huge amounts of finance. Our economical position allows us to execute them from our own resources.
The construction of the Oguz-Qabala-Baku water pipeline was completed in 2010. This was a historical moment for our country. This large new water pipe will supply Baku with clean, high quality drinking water and will be a major contribution to improved water supplies, one of Baku’s main problems. The realisation of this historical project is a great achievement of the Azerbaijan nation and its government, and proves once more that our policy is directed towards raising the people’s standards of living and improving their welfare.
As we know, 2010 was declared the ‘Year of Ecology’ in Azerbaijan. This was not simply for the sake of making a slogan. In 2010, we were greatly taken up with work to solve our ecological problems. I am sure that this issue will be at the centre of attention in forthcoming years, too. As a result of initiatives and work undertaken, within this year alone more than 6 million trees have been planted. This is unprecedented in history. At the beginning of the year, we gave ourselves a target of planting 3 million trees; but planting 6 million shows that people in every region, in every village, in joining our initiative, made their contribution to improving the ecology of Azerbaijan. Treatment plants were built, especially in villages alongside rivers, to supply people with drinking water. 300,000 Azerbaijani citizens, who live in those villages alongside rivers, are already being supplied with drinking water compliant with World Health Organisation standards.
2010 saw great achievements in our economy’s leading sector – oil and gas. 51 million tons of oil and 27 billion cubic metres of gas were produced in our country. We are making our contribution to ensuring energy security in the world. Azerbaijan is a very reliable partner, and our resources of oil and gas are strengthening our country, its economy and also its international position. A huge gas field was discovered in 2010. The Umid field was discovered by Azerbaijani oil workers and it will give a great boost to our energy potential. The discovery of this field has already had a great impact on the world and this event will have great significance for the introduction of Azerbaijan’s energy potential to the world’s markets.
Dear friends, today is also World Azerbaijanis’ Solidarity Day. I would like to offer heartfelt congratulations to our kinsfolk on the occasion of this holiday. They should know that behind them stands a very strong, powerful, modern and free Azerbaijani state. Azerbaijan is their support and defender. They also represent Azerbaijan in their countries of domicile and will make their contribution in their everyday activity to the advance of our country’s interests. All Azerbaijanis in the world know that the Azerbaijani state is always with them, follows their activity and lives with their concerns. The world’s Azerbaijani diaspora organisations increase our power with their productive activities.
Dear friends, in 2010 in our country, in our country’s capital, a highly significant event took place. The State Flag Square was established in Baku: the world’s biggest and highest flag was raised. Our flag is our national symbol, a symbol of the state and a source of pride. Our flag should be raised in the occupied lands, and it will be raised. Our national flag should fly in Shusha and Khankendi, and it will fly. All of us should hasten that day and all of us will achieve that day. Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity and, once that is achieved, the Azerbaijani state's only direction will be along the path of development and progress.
Once more, I congratulate you from my heart on the occasions of these holidays; I wish each of you health, joy and family happiness.