- Dear friends, dear residents of Astara! It is a remarkable day in the life of Astara District today. A wonderful Olympic Sports Center has been opened in Astara. Let me heartily congratulate all of you on this occasion.
This Olympic Sports Center has all the conditions for people to do sports. Earlier I had issued the order on building the Olympic Sports Center. Subsequently, on visits to Astara, I enquired about progress of construction. I visited Astara last year as well. Today, we are gathered for the opening of this magnificent Olympic Center. I am sure that sportsmen and ordinary residents of Astara will take advantage of these opportunities. Because there is everything here – gyms, outdoor courts, a swimming pool, a fitness center gym. In short, now Astara has its own wonderful Olympic Sports Center.
We are paying great attention to sports in Azerbaijan. Our policies are focused on the development of sports. To see the government’s attitude towards sports suffice it to look at our achievements. Our athletes have been successful in all international competitions in recent years. Our flag is raised in world and European championships and Olympic Games. This is very gratifying. The successes and the number of medals won by our sportsmen are growing by the year, which further enhances our sporting glory.
This year has been declared the Year of Sport in Azerbaijan. And this is a very good indicator. It shows how much attention the government of Azerbaijan is paying to the development of sport. Various activities will be held as part of the Year of Sport. But the Astara Olympic Sports Center is the first such facility to be commissioned this year.
I am sure that our sportsmen will delight us with more achievements this year. This is the year of Olympic Games. Our athletes are training very hard for the Games and we hope to achieve great victories in London. Underlying these expectations is our participation in previous Games. The number of medals we have won in Olympic Games increases every year and Azerbaijan has asserted itself in the world as a sporting nation.
Azerbaijan is a traditional venue of various competitions. Azerbaijan can play host to any international competition. We have already earned a reputation for hosting world and European championships. All of them have been held at a high level. Considering this and the overall successful development of our country, Baku has applied for hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. This application is now under consideration. I believe our capital Baku is well suited for hosting Olympic Games. We have great infrastructure opportunities. There is tremendous popular support for conducting the Games in Azerbaijan. This is confirmed by opinion polls conducted by international agencies. About 95 per cent of our citizens are in favor of conducting Olympic Games in Azerbaijan.
We have a sufficient number of sports facilities – under construction, already in operation and those to be built. This issue is already on the agenda. We have great sportsmen and sporting achievements.
Security is ensured at top level in Azerbaijan. The stability and public order in Azerbaijan are an important factor for hosting Olympic Games. In other words, we are fully ready to host Olympic Games in Baku. In fact, this desire is also evidence of our country’s strength. We have only been independent for 20 years. Azerbaijan has covered a long and glorious road over the 20 years. We have made great strides in every area. We are experiencing an unprecedented economic development, which is reflected in statistics.
Social issues are successfully addressed in our country. The creation of a social infrastructure is successfully ongoing. This is seen in the example of Astara. Over 20 schools have been built in Astara in recent years. We have just opened the Central District Hospital after major repairs. There is a wonderful Olympic Sports Center, village roads are renovated. In short, social issues are dealt with very positively in Azerbaijan.
Our international positions are very strong. In the 20 years of independence, Azerbaijan has proved to be a reliable partner and a trusted friend. As a result, the world, the world community have shown us confidence by electing Azerbaijan to the UN Security Council. A total of 155 countries have voted for a young but strong and independent Azerbaijan. This is our biggest international achievement. It shows again that we have a judicious foreign policy. Our foreign policy aims to secure national interests. At the same time, our international image is very positive. Otherwise, 155 countries would not have voted for us.
In short, we have achieved a lot in all areas of life in the 20 years. We have the right to talk about these achievements, but our thoughts are now focused on future development. What else can we do? How else can we develop our country? We have a number of specific plans, programs and thoughts on these issues. I have repeatedly spoken about this at various ceremonies. In a recent meeting with entrepreneurs I shared my views on overall development, long-term economic development and its prospects.
I want to repeat that Azerbaijan is developing dynamically. Our country’s international image is very good. The country is experiencing all-round development. We are now diversifying our economy and have achieved a lot in this respect. There is excitement and development is all our regions. There is development even in the outermost regions and villages. The development of every district actually strengthens the development of our country. Economic development would be impossible without the development of districts. We are now taking steps to develop the noon-oil sector, agriculture, tourism and the non-oil industry.
Every district has specific plans for the future. The second phase of the state program on the socioeconomic development of districts is nearing completion. Next year it will be finalized and all the issues we had outlined for eight to 10 years will be resolved. We must try to complete, to the maximum extent possible, all gasification projects in our regions by the end of 2013. This process is powering ahead in Astara as well. Villages are supplied with gas now. Water and sanitation projects are relevant for every district and town, including Astara. This issue is being resolved.
Construction of roads. The Baku-Astara highway is under construction now. I hope we will open it soon. Village roads are built. I attended the opening of a road linking several villages on my previous visit to Astara. Today I will attend the opening of another rural road in Astara District.
We are trying to create normal living conditions, primarily the infrastructure, the social infrastructure, in every population center. You may remember that the construction of first modular power stations in Azerbaijan started in Astara. The first 90-megawatt power station was built in Astara. This station is an important energy source for both Astara and the region.
This is a great event. I am very delighted that there are great conditions for people to do sports in Astara. But this Olympic Center is also the result of a prudent strategy and tactic we chose earlier. If we hadn’t built up our economic power, we would be unable to build any social infrastructure or a sports facility now. If we hadn’t created a strong economy, our international standing would not be so strong today. We rely only on ourselves, on the talent of the Azerbaijani people. All our achievements have been attained by the people of Azerbaijan.
We are pursuing a truly independent policy, we don’t depend on anyone and we never will. We know the cost of independence. Independence is not just a state attribute. Independence means the opportunity to pursue an independent policy. Azerbaijan is playing a stabilizing role in the region. The world praises Azerbaijan’s activities. The developments in the country are positive. We can build such wonderful sports facilities and take further steps to develop every region, in particular the southern region of Azerbaijan.
It is a great day today. I have repeatedly come to Astara. Every time I see change in the district and in the town, I am delighted. I visited Astara last year too. Let me repeat that I attended the opening of a road and a youth house last year. Astara is becoming more beautiful, it is turning into a modern and nice town. I congratulate all the people of Astara on these successes. I congratulate you on the opening of the 34th Olympic Sports Center. I hope all young people and citizens will use the services of this center and feel comfortable. I want all our families to live well, their opportunities to grow, the country to develop and our people to prosper.
Dear friends, let me sincerely congratulate you on this great occasion again and wish you and all the people of Astara good health and further successes.