Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of ABAD Center in Balakan
03 august 2017, 13:30
I am back to Balakan District again. I am very glad to come to Balakan another time. This is my fifth visit. This in itself indicates that the Azerbaijani state pays great attention to the development of Balakan District. As a result of this attention and care, things in Balakan District are going well, the district is developing, and many important social, economic, business and infrastructure projects are being implemented. In short, comprehensive development is provided in Balakan and, of course, this development will go even faster in the coming years.
So far, the district has ensured the implementation of many important social projects. One of the biggest hospitals in our regions was built in Balakan a few years ago. It is a great hospital for almost 200 beds. The Olympic Center, the Youth House, other social facilities have been built and the construction of schools is well under way. According to the information I have, 26 new schools have been built and several schools have been renovated. So this is a very important social sphere, and it requires very large funds. The Azerbaijani state provides these funds.
Gasification in Balakan District is at the level of 100 per cent. We have not even reached this level for the country. The gasification rate in the country is 93 per cent, while in Balakan it is 100 per cent. Electricity problems are being resolved and rural roads built. Today we celebrated the opening of another rural road. In the following years roads will be laid to other villages as well.
You are well aware that after the earthquake the Azerbaijani state provided material assistance to the affected citizens. In Balakan District alone, over 7,000 individual houses were built and more than 2,000 houses overhauled at the expense of the state. I think that this is an indicator. The state has provided all possible support to resolve the problems of our compatriots who found themselves in a difficult situation, and the socioeconomic development of Balakan District is at a good level today. The “ABAD” Center is a clear example of that. This is the second "ABAD" Center. The first was set up in Masalli and the second in Balakan District. Thanks to the operation of this center, thousands of people will be provided with jobs and the self-employment program will be implemented at a rapid pace. I have already given all the relevant instructions on this matter. In the following years, the self-employment program in Azerbaijan should assume large proportions and the state, in its turn, is creating these conditions. According to the information provided to me, 12 containers have been provided to people in Balakan District, and products are already being produced in these containers. These jams are your products, they are perfectly packaged, delivered to the domestic market and will also be exported to foreign markets.
At the same time, I was informed about another remarkable project today. It was reported on earlier too. These products are packaged dried persimmons which you are seeing now, and they have great opportunities to enter foreign markets. Orders have been received from many countries. This production will be large-scale because persimmons not only from Balakan District but also from all surrounding districts, i.e. persimmons which were not taken to the market before, will now be brought here, processed and exported in such a beautiful manner. People will earn good money and our country will receive currency. At the same time, this will give another impulse to the development of persimmon production.
Therefore, the establishment of the "ABAD" Center is the result of reforms carried out in the field of social services in Azerbaijan. As you know, “ASAN xidmət” centers were established in Azerbaijan several years ago. These centers have now received 16 million 500 thousand applications. Coming next are “ASAN kommunal” and “ABAD” centers to support family businesses. The second such center is being opened here. They will certainly have a great positive impact on the development of entrepreneurship and the non-oil sector. The socioeconomic development and export potential of Balakan District will increase significantly.
You are well aware that we are now restoring the traditional agricultural sectors for our country. The opportunities, climatic conditions and traditions of this region are taken into account. The sectors developing in this region are related to hazelnut production, sericulture and tobacco growing. As people living here, you can see that over the past year or two there has been a great increase in this area, and this has a direct positive impact on the living standards of the population. In a matter of one year, 2,200 hectares of new hazelnut gardens were planted in Balakan Districts, and the area of such gardens has reached 7,000 hectares. In the coming years, at least 3,000 hectares of hazelnut gardens will be additionally established, and all of these are issues being addressed at the expense of the state. In other words, the state delivers the necessary seedlings, organizes irrigation, creates conditions for villagers to take care of these trees in order to further improve their financial situation and supply exportable products that would bring foreign currency.
Therefore, even more serious steps will be taken to develop traditional agricultural spheres in the region – both Balakan and neighboring districts – in the years to come. Every time I come to Balakan District, I am very pleased with the constructive work going on here, the overall improvement. Most of all, I am pleased that the people living in Balakan District are attached to the Motherland and are patriots. Representatives of many peoples living in Azerbaijan for centuries live in Balakan like one family, in friendship, brotherhood, kindness, and this is our great asset. The great ethnic and religious situation in Azerbaijan is of interest to many countries, and our experience is being studied now. Our policy is very clear and open, Azerbaijan is the homeland for all the peoples living in our country. Our solidarity, our national diversity are our great assets. It is no coincidence that last year was declared a "Year of Multiculturalism" in Azerbaijan. I believe that such an initiative was put forward in Azerbaijan for the first time in history. In fact, this was a message addressed more to the outside world: one can live and create together, the co-existence of representatives of different peoples in the conditions of friendship and benevolence is possible, and everyone can see that in Azerbaijan. This year is a “Year of Islamic Solidarity”. This is also a call. There are no problems associated with multiculturalism or with Islamic solidarity in Azerbaijan. By making such calls, we are sending a message, showing the way, so to speak, for all Muslim peoples to unite so that there are no confrontations or misunderstandings between us, and we see in the example of Azerbaijan that this can be achieved. Azerbaijan is part of a large geography, part of the Caucasus. The Caucasus is a single organism. All the peoples living in the Caucasus have always had historical ties, kinship, friendship and brotherhood. I think that Azerbaijan has become a very important country for the entire Caucasus. Therefore, Balaken has very good indicators in this area, and in the economic, social, agricultural and processing sectors. The district is becoming ever more beautiful, it is improving, and the number of tourists is growing. As soon as I return to Baku, I will issue additional instructions related to the development of the district, so that projects that have not been implemented could soon be implemented and we could meet again at other opening ceremonies.