Speech by Ilham Aliyev at solemn ceremony to mark 94th anniversary of national leader Heydar Aliyev and 13th anniversary of the establishment of Heydar Aliyev Foundation
10 may 2017, 20:00
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
It is the 94th birthday of great leader Heydar Aliyev today. The Azerbaijani people today are once again expressing their deep respect for the fond memory of the great leader. Heydar Aliyev is a brilliant personality, a great leader, a far-sighted and courageous politician. He always devotedly served the Azerbaijani people, lived and worked for them. Heydar Aliyev led Azerbaijan twice, saved Azerbaijan from recession and crisis and put it on a path of development both times. This shows that regardless of the public and political system, Heydar Aliyev always carried out the most prudent policies and defended the interests of the Azerbaijani people. In 1969, when he first became the leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, the socioeconomic indicators of the then Azerbaijani Republic were probably the lowest in the whole of the Soviet Union. Under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev, the Republic of Azerbaijan covered the road from the most backward to the most advanced republics in 13 years. If there was a donor republic in the Soviet Union apart from the Russian Federation that could provide for itself, it was Azerbaijan.
It was under his leadership and at his initiative that many important projects were realized. Agriculture developed rapidly. Villagers were able to improve their standard of living. At that time, the development of industry was very rapid in Azerbaijan. The oil industry was developing. Many important infrastructure projects were implemented, and they are still of great importance for the independent Azerbaijan. Under Heydar Aliyev's leadership very serious fight was waged against bribery and corruption, and Azerbaijan was well known for that in the Soviet Union.
In short, under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev in 1969-1982 the republic covered a very long road. Heydar Aliyev's activities were also appreciated by Soviet leaders. It is no coincidence that Heydar Aliyev was the first appointee of Yuri Andropov, who invited him to Moscow in 1982. Yuri Andropov came to power with a broad reform agenda. The strengthening of discipline, the fight against corruption and bribery, and economic reforms were integral parts of that program. Of course, such a great personality and leader as Heydar Aliyev fully met these new criteria.
After the move to Moscow, a new period began for Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev occupied one of the highest positions in the Soviet Union – he was First Deputy Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers and a member of the Politburo. Heydar Aliyev oversaw many sectors which began to develop rapidly under his leadership. Of course, he was always interested in the situation in Azerbaijan and its problems, and he tried to take advantage of his new opportunities to help the Republic of Azerbaijan. At that time, important decisions were made related to the socioeconomic development of Azerbaijan.
Unfortunately, after Heydar Aliyev’s departure to Moscow, things in Azerbaijan started to gradually decline. This decline manifested itself in various areas. The former dynamics were no longer there. However, the road outlined by Heydar Aliyev continued to serve the development of Azerbaijan and was the only driving force at that time.
As you know, completely unfounded charges were brought against Heydar Aliyev in 1987, and he was removed from all posts. The broad public is sufficiently informed about the reasons for that. The most active, businesslike and productive person in the Soviet leadership was removed from all positions without any justification. Of course, personal enmity played a role here. Heydar Aliyev was a great personality. He always defended his position in all matters, was critical of many activities conducted under the disguise of perestroika at the time and did not approve of them.
He knew that they would have no effect and could actually do great harm. Of course, the presence of such an independent personality and a person who enjoyed great authority in the Soviet Union could not impress someone who was not confident of himself and ascended to the top of power accidentally. In addition, Heydar Aliyev’s resignation was also fuelled by envy and other negative manifestations against him. I should also note that Armenian groups that had emerged in the Soviet Union also played against Heydar Aliyev. Unfortunately, those in Azerbaijan who were punished by him for bribery and other violations, those who wrote denunciations and anonymous letters about him also did their dirty work to deal a blow to Heydar Aliyev with their insidious letters and to take revenge on him.
The problems of Azerbaijan began after Heydar Aliyev’s resignation. In less than two weeks Armenian separatists raised the issue of the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and its transfer to Armenia. Thus, the foundation of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem was laid. The first step was taken. Unfortunately, the then Soviet leadership did not restrain the separatists in any way, did not react, which resulted in these tendencies leading to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Of course, there are many reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the main reason, of course, was the wrong ethnic policies. It was the correct ethnic policies that kept the Soviet Union afloat as a large state. However, the persons responsible for this policy after 1985 either could not realize their responsibility or deliberately took very harmful steps. A special place among them is the fact that Armenian nationalists and separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh were not punished in time. After the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict clashes occurred in other places, and the Soviet Union eventually collapsed.
Until 1990, Heydar Aliyev was a pensioner. In 1990, a bloody crime was committed against our people on 20 January. This crime was also masterminded by the then Soviet leader. I regret to say that he was never brought to book for any crimes and managed to evade responsibility.
At a difficult moment for our people, Heydar Aliyev showed again that he was with the people. I remember 21 January 1990 very well. He went to the permanent representative office of Azerbaijan in Moscow. I am proud to have been there with him. A lot of people had gathered there. The Azerbaijanis gathered there tried to express their protest in one form or another. When we got there, things were quiet. In other words, people just stood in front of the representative office as if waiting for something, and when Heydar Aliyev came, they saw their leader again although he did not hold any position and had already been retired for three years. At the same time, both Soviet and Azerbaijani media published materials about him that were filthy and slanderous. An extremely unfair and dirty campaign was organized against him. But in the hearts of people Heydar Aliyev lived as a national leader and a strong personality. Seeing him, people backed down, and we walked into the building through a corridor of people. A press conference was organized, and Heydar Aliyev strongly condemned the Soviet leadership and its policies, expressed condolences to the people of Azerbaijan and a harsh attitude towards the actions of the Soviet authorities.
I can say that this was probably the first time in the Soviet Union when Soviet leadership was condemned in an open press conference. I should also note that the collapse of the Soviet Union was still two more years away. It would have never crossed anyone’s mind that the Soviet Union would collapse.
So by taking this step Heydar Aliyev first of all demonstrated unity with the people, his courage and national spirit. He showed that the interests of the Azerbaijani people are paramount for him. He showed that in the most difficult and tragic days he was with the people. Of course, the campaign against him became even uglier after that. Campaigns were held against him in the media. He came under a lot of pressure. According to the data available to us, the Soviet leadership had even decided to arrest him.
The ensuing developments are well known to the Azerbaijani public. Heydar Aliyev left the ranks of the Communist Party and returned to Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, the then Azerbaijani leadership acted at the behest of the Soviet leadership. In Baku, Heydar Aliyev was faced with injustice. Specially trained people held a rally at the airport in an effort to prevent his arrival. Other unworthy steps were taken as well.
Heydar Aliyev went to Nakhchivan, and this, I believe, was a historical necessity. After all, Nakhchivan was also in jeopardy at the time. Armenian occupiers extended their dirty hands to Nakhchivan as well. I can say with full confidence that if Heydar Aliyev had not been in Nakhchivan at that time, Nakhchivan could have also been occupied. He defended Nakhchivan and the people of Nakhchivan defended him. There were bloody battles in Nakhchivan at the time, and the self-defense forces repulsed Armenian invaders.
Heydar Aliyev lived and worked in Nakhchivan. The people supported him and he lived for the people. Important decisions were made in Nakhchivan at that time. The flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was adopted as the state flag. Nakhchivan did not hold a referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union. The words "Soviet Socialist" were removed from the name of the name of the Nakhchivan Republic. So these were the first steps leading to independence. The New Azerbaijan Party held the first constituent conference in Nakhchivan, thereby forming a political system in Azerbaijan. Of course, the people knew and saw this both in Nakhchivan and in Baku. The people eagerly awaited the arrival of Heydar Aliyev in Baku.
After this, as a result of negligent activities of the PFPA-Musavat tandem, our country was faced with very serious problems. Shusha, Lachin and Kalbajar districts were under occupation. Thus, a geographical connection arose between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Instead of protecting the territorial integrity of the country, the PFPA-Musavat tandem sparked a civil war in Azerbaijan. Ganja was bombed. Lands were seized, while they were bombing Ganja to save their vacillating power. Of course, the people of Azerbaijan could not tolerate such anti-national authorities. The people bore with them only for one year and invited Heydar Aliyev to power in 1993.
This was also a turning point because Azerbaijan was faced with a very difficult situation. On the one hand, there was a political crisis, a military crisis, an economic recession, and the future of our country was rather bleak. In those difficult days, the people saw the only way to salvation in Heydar Aliyev, and he, as always, justified people's trust. The policy conducted under his leadership quickly led to stability and development in Azerbaijan. Although there were two attempted coups in 1994 and 1995, the Azerbaijani people prevented them. Once again demonstrating his leadership qualities, Heydar Aliyev addressed the people on television and called on them to protect the state. In response to his appeal, tens of thousands of people gathered in the streets and squares outside the presidential administration. Thus, both coup attempts failed in 1994 and 1995.
The period of stability and development began in 1996. Heydar Aliyev, the architect and creator of the independent Azerbaijan, put forward a number of important initiatives. At that time, the foundations of statehood were laid and the ideology of Azerbaijanism was presented. The people were very positive about it, and today the philosophy of Azerbaijanism forms an important ideological basis for all of us. Serious economic reforms were carried out. Azerbaijan managed to overcome international isolation. In 1995, the Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan was adopted. In 1994, the Contract of the Century was signed. The significance of the Contract of the Century is still being felt by every citizen of Azerbaijan. Well-tuned cities, beautiful country, modern infrastructure and our developing Motherland – the main reason for this has been the attraction of major foreign investments to Azerbaijan at that time.
The 1993-2003 period was one of stability and development. Heydar Aliyev showed once again that there is a way out even in the most difficult situation. It consists in a thoughtful policy, courage, independent course and steps.
In 2003, in his last address to the Azerbaijani people, Heydar Aliyev spoke about the work done. He also said that he still had many plans. He expressed hope that his followers would do what he did not have time to finish, and so it happened.
Heydar Aliyev's policy has been living since 2003 to this day. It is being enriched with new forms and Azerbaijan is developing. Heydar Aliyev brought stability to Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan is one of the most stable countries on a global scale. Our stability is based on the will of the people. The source of stability is also the Azerbaijani people. The presidential elections held in 2003, 2008 and 2013 once again expressed the will of the Azerbaijani people. The referendum held last year was also supported by the absolute majority of the Azerbaijani people. Today, the unity between the people and the government is at the highest level. These are the factors that laid the foundation for stability.
In 1993, Heydar Aliyev launched a series of deep political reforms in Azerbaijan. He could have chosen another way, but he always said that our way is one of democratic development. The political reforms gave a huge boost to the development of democracy in Azerbaijan. All freedoms are available in Azerbaijan now. Azerbaijani society lives in freedom and political reforms are continuing. We have repeatedly demonstrated adherence to democracy.
In 1993, Heydar Aliyev began to pursue a successful foreign policy. As a result of this policy, Azerbaijan managed to get out of international isolation. Before then there was either no information about Azerbaijan in the world at all or Armenian lobbyists communicated incorrect and distorted information about our country to the world. Heydar Aliyev managed to break through this information blockade. Today Azerbaijan is a country that enjoys great respect on a global scale. Many important international events and forums are held in Azerbaijan. With the support of 155 countries, Azerbaijan became a member of the supreme body of the world – the UN Security Council. We demonstrated commitment to Heydar Aliyev's policy in this direction and continued his policy.
Like Heydar Aliyev, we are defending our principled position on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and this position strengthens with every passing day. This is confirmed by the decisions and resolutions of leading international organizations adopted since 2003. The European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – all these organizations have adopted fair decisions and resolutions reflecting our position in connection with the conflict and condemned the aggressive policy of Armenia. Over the years, many countries of the world have officially recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide, while the so-called "referendum" recently held in Nagorno-Karabakh was not recognized by anyone. The Minsk Group co-chair countries declared their non-recognition of this "referendum". Similar statements were made by neighboring countries. By adopting these statements, international organizations have once again shown their respect for the territorial integrity of our country. They do not recognize and I am sure will never recognize the self-styled entity of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Army building was a priority issue for Heydar Aliyev because we did not have a regular army when he came to power. And this was our main problem. The process of army construction is associated with the name of Heydar Aliyev. Today the process of army building is going well. The Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies on a global scale. This is confirmed by all international ratings. The Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies in terms of logistical support, equipment, combat capability and patriotic spirit. This was also manifested by the clashes that took place in April last year when heroic Azerbaijani soldiers and officers liberated a part of occupied lands from the invaders – Agdara, a part of the former Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region, the lands of Fizuli and Jabrayil districts where the Azerbaijani flag was raised. This is what the present-day Azerbaijani army is about. We are proud of our army and won’t allow anyone to cast a shadow over its successes.
Unfortunately, the fifth column operating in our country, in particular anti-national and treacherous elements trying to show themselves as an opposition, seek to undermine even the most sacred values of our state. They are trying but without much success. They only expose themselves again and again. They demonstrate once again that they are the enemies of the Azerbaijani state and that the more difficult it is for the state, the better it is for them. In 1993, the Azerbaijani people expelled these anti-national elements from power and they have been unable to accomplish anything to this day. When they receive instructions from abroad, they get active, when they don’t, they simply wait for these instructions. They so-called rallies bring no-one other than their own relatives. Even relatives do not show up. In other words, they are completely marginalized. They are a group of poisonous elements calling themselves opposition. Of course, this can’t affect our work. They are only trying to belittle our development, the successes of the state and our army. Our army showed what it is capable of doing last year. The Azerbaijani army is ready to liberate the occupied lands at any time. Heydar Aliyev laid the foundation for army building. We, his followers, stick to this path and will do everything necessary for our army.
Heydar Aliyev gave impetus to deep economic reforms. Today, the Azerbaijani economy can serve as an example in all respects. In recent years, from 2004 to the present time, the gross domestic product has tripled, 1,700,000 jobs have been created and almost the entire infrastructure has been upgraded. The external debt accounts for 20 per cent of the gross domestic product. Our foreign exchange reserves are five times bigger than the external debt. Foreign exchange reserves are approximately equal to the gross domestic product. The Davos World Economic Forum ranks our economy in 37th place globally in terms of competitiveness. As for the rating of developing countries, the Davos forum ranks us in 1st and 2nd places. Such are the economy of Azerbaijan and our successful economic policies today.
This applies to social policy as well. Schools, hospitals. More than five million people undergo a free medical examination every year. In my opinion, there is no such practice in any other country. The social policy of our state is very successful. I have always said that we are doing all of this work for the people. Our policies are centered on citizens of Azerbaijan.
A successful oil policy was pursued under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev. The oil strategy of Heydar Aliyev continues today. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the foundation of which he laid down with his own hands, was commissioned in 2006. This was followed by the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway running along the same line, and the Southern Gas Corridor. Azerbaijan's gas fields are connected to the world. We link seas. We link the Caspian Sea with the Mediterranean, Black and Adriatic seas. The oil strategy of Heydar Aliyev continues today.
Baku is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Modern symbols of Baku have been created. One of them is this magnificent center bearing the name of great leader Heydar Aliyev. It is the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center today. Five years ago we held the first meeting at the Heydar Aliyev Center. It is a symbol of our independence and development. In my opinion, the Heydar Aliyev Center is in first place among modern works of architecture.
In other words, this shows again that in his last address to the people the great leader, as always, made a correct prediction. He believed and knew that his successors would do everything he could not finish, and so it happened. We, his successors, are proud of that. We are proud to have preserved and expanded on his ideas. We are proud of the fact that we are strengthening our independence. We are following and will continue to follow the path of Heydar Aliyev. Thank you.