Ilham Aliyev hosted dinner reception in honor of participants of the 5th Global Baku Forum
16 march 2017, 20:00
A dinner party has been hosted for participants of the 5th Global Baku Forum.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, first lady Mehriban Aliyeva and vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva attended the event.
Participants in the dinner party included the presidents of Latvia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Georgia, Saudi Arabian Prince, as well as former heads of state and government of a number of countries, acclaimed public and political figures, and experts.
Co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt Ismail Serageldin addressed the event.
President Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the dinner party.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
Madam President Freiberga,
Dear friends, dear guests,
First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to Madam President for this very precious memory – the photographs of my father with the world leaders. Many of them are today present here. They have not changed much since 1997. I am really very grateful for that.
Madam President, you mentioned your meeting with Heydar Aliyev. I know because when he returned from that meeting he was telling me about his impressions and about you and was really impressed very much with your vision, with what you are doing for your country. And I think that relations between our countries, which are today on a very high level, they were actually initiated by that personal contact.
Heydar Aliyev for Azerbaijan is the leader who saved our people from the most dangerous tragic events, which could have happened here. He was the leader of Azerbaijan in Soviet times, then he was promoted. He was the first Azerbaijani who was working in the center of Soviet Union, holding very important position of senior deputy prime minister of the Soviet Union. Then he retired and when the Soviet army invaded Baku in January 1990, he was a pensioner. He was one of the first to raise his voice and to denounce the Soviet leadership, Soviet army for this brutal act of aggression against peaceful Azerbaijanis. Black January is a tragic event in our history. The next day after this tragic event we went together to, at that time it was not the embassy, it was a permanent representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow.
We saw a big crowd of Azerbaijanis who came just to express their sorrow, to express their frustration, to share with each other this tragic moment, when more than hundred people, including women, children were brutally killed by the Soviet army and hundreds were wounded, many went missing.
Heydar Aliyev at that time was already for more than two years a retired pensioner. And when we approached that crowd the people just started to step back, and they opened a corridor for him and for us who were accompanying him to be able to enter into the building. That was a very emotional moment. That was a sign of unity of Azerbaijanis. This tragedy united us. That was a sign of respect of the people whom he probably never saw, who never saw him in person and who showed their respect, though he did not have any position.
On the contrary, at that time it was the beginning of the 1990s, the Soviet Union was still very powerful, and the Communist Party was dominating everywhere. He was retired. If you are retired from such a high position, you are completely out of any kind of not only public activity, but you are isolated morally and physically. We entered the building and he organized a press conference. The videos of that conference are available. It was shown many times. He condemned the Soviet leadership, he condemned those who committed that act of terror. After that he announced that he is leaving the Communist Party, the party, which he was a member of since his young ages. So, this was a sign of his approach to his people, his very brave gesture and he once again demonstrated that he is the leader of the people of Azerbaijan, regardless of whether he had any position or not.
Then, of course, we started to face difficult times. All our family, including myself, lost our jobs. That was our destiny. It was already dangerous for him to stay in Moscow because there were plans to arrest him. So, he came back to Baku. At that time, the Communist leadership of Azerbaijan also started to create obstacles for him. So, we had to go back to where he was born – to Nakhchivan. And there he felt himself safe because people immediately embraced him and elected him the leader of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. That was also, I think, one of the precedents at that time in the Soviet Union. The people demonstrated that they are free. They demonstrated that the central Soviet government is no longer of control of their will. And the Communist government of Azerbaijan just could not do anything. They were helpless in front of the will of the people. So, actually that was the beginning of our road towards independence. He was elected chairman of the parliament of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. At the same time, there were elections to the Azerbaijani parliament. He was elected a member of the parliament of Azerbaijan. That time was very difficult, economic situation was very bad. He made three very important decisions, which actually opened the road to independence. Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic was called Nakhchivan Soviet Socialist Autonomous Republic. So the decision of the parliament was to remove Soviet Socialist from the name of the Republic.
The second was, if you remember, at that time they organized the referendum on preservation of the Soviet Union. And unfortunately, the government here in Baku organized this referendum and the results were very strange, majority of the people voted in order to preserve the Soviet Union, though, people wanted to be free. So, Heydar Aliyev did not allow this referendum to be held in Nakhchivan.
And third, at the session of the parliament of Nakhchivan Republic, he brought the flag of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, which was established in 1918, and announced it as the state flag of Nakhchivan. And also they adopted a statement to ask members of the parliament of Azerbaijan to do the same. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and they changed the flag of the Soviet Azerbaijan into that of the independent Azerbaijan only when the Soviet Union collapsed. So these were steps of the leader, who completely dedicated his life to his people. Only such a leader could be able to do. And we are proud of that. We are proud of this history. I am proud of my father and I think that if he was alive now, he also would be proud of his country. Today, Azerbaijan is a country, which already demonstrated itself on the world map with a strong position, a self-sufficient, self-confident country in a good sense of this word, with so many friends, open to the world, and which looks to the future with optimism.
And I am very grateful to Madam President, to Mr Serageldin, and to all our friends for being with us today. Really, Nizami Ganjavi International Center, as I said this morning, already transformed into a very important international institution. Nizami is a world renowned personality. But now the activity of the center makes him more known to the world. The bigger and more capable the center is, the more people, those who do not know who he was, start to look for who Nizami Ganjavi is that after his name there is such a big international institution.
Of course, Nizami for every Azerbaijani is a symbol of national dignity, national pride. He was born in the ancient city of Ganja, where he died. His mausoleum is a symbol of talent of the Azerbaijani people, a symbol of humanity.
I would like to once again express gratitude to you for your activity. Without your personal daily commitment and activity the forum could have never transformed into such an important global event. And, of course, we hope that next year we will have more guests from more countries and will continue our friendship and partnership. Thank you very much, have a nice stay in Baku.
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The dinner party featured a concert of Azerbaijani artists.