20 june 2012, 11:30
Ilham Aliyev chaired a conference dedicated to the results of the first year of the “State program on the socioeconomic development of Baku and its suburban settlements in 2011-2013”
President Ilham Aliyev has chaired a conference dedicated to the results of the first year of the “State program on the socioeconomic development of Baku and its suburban settlements in 2011-2013”.
First, the head of state reviewed the photo stands describing the reconstruction carried out in the first year of the state program in Baku and suburban settlements.
Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov informed President Ilham Aliyev about the work done in the first year of the state program and plans for the future.
The President made opening remarks at the conference.
Opening remarks by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
I can say that this is not the first program on the development of Baku and its suburban settlements. The first program was written in 2005. In 2005, specific measures were taken to accelerate the socioeconomic development of the Baku settlements. Those measures covered the 2006-2007 period. And this was natural because, as you know, the program on the socioeconomic development of districts was adopted in 2004. Our focus was on the development of districts. At the same time, the city of Baku and its suburban settlements could not remain out of focus. So this logical sequence suggests that the problems facing the country and all our districts are solved consistently and purposefully.
There have never ever been sewage systems in suburban settlements. The sewage system in Baku does not meet our needs either. People have always experienced a shortage of water, at all times, and have grown somewhat used to it.
But this is not a normal situation, there should always be drinking water. Issues related to energy supply, gas supply and heating, road construction, including intra- and inter-settlement and trunk roads, the construction of social facilities, schools, health centers, cultural institutions, sports facilities – there is no issue that is not reflected in these programs.
Again, the advantage of this program is that it has been put forward as an initiative by the state, by the President. But many of the issues included in the program were initiated by people in the form of proposals. I am absolutely sure that the implementation of this program will help resolve all the infrastructure and socioeconomic issues in the settlements.
Besides, by allocating extra funds from the state budget to support the activities of the National Entrepreneurship Support Fund, we channeled them into the creation of jobs in the settlements. Because, as you know, this fund previously dealt more with the issues of economic development in our districts. And this is natural because our goal was to revive the districts. But the problem of unemployment also exists in settlements. So, starting this year, a portion of the funds, about 30-40 per cent, is spent on creating new businesses in the settlements. The stands here in the lobby have pictures of the first business established using these funds. This issue must also be resolved. We must address not only the problems of roads, gas, electricity and water in the settlements, but also the issues of unemployment.
I want to repeat that we have a strong will and possibilities to achieve these goals. A lot also depends on the structures dealing with these problems on the ground. All the organizations - the Mayor’s Office, the Ministry of Economic Development, local executive authorities treat these tasks conscientiously. I am sure that this approach will be continued until completion of the program and beyond, because our duty is to serve the people. We, the people working in public service – from the President and to the clerks of grass-roots level – should serve the people. This is how I take this obligation and duty and this is how I have worked for these nine years. And I demand it from everyone. We need to work conscientiously and professionally serve the people, strengthen our country and contribute to the prosperity of our motherland. A lot depends on our work. Today Azerbaijan is growing because of the hard work of its people.
Of course, the government supported by the people facilitates this development through its policies.
We have specific programs on all areas, we have ideas on all matters. The realities of Azerbaijan indicate that we have chosen the right path. We will continue to pursue our policies in the international arena, in the region and, of course, domestically to protect our national interests. I want to reiterate that this policy is based on the will of the people.
Underlying this policy are the citizens of Azerbaijan. All government agencies should work even harder to improve the living conditions of Azerbaijani citizens.
Now let’s move on to discussions.
Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov, Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev, a representative of the Garadag district executive authority for Mushvigabad settlement, Ogtay Sadigov, a representative of the Nizami district executive authority for Keshla settlement, Gara Garakishiyev, a representative of the Sabunchu district executive authority for Bakikhanov settlement, Vidadi Salimov, a representative of the Surakhani district executive authority for Yeni Surakhani settlement, Vahid Daniyev, and a representative of the Sabayil district executive authority for Badamdar settlement, Natig Bagirov, informed the President about the work carried out in the first year of the state program.
President Ilham Aliyev made closing remarks at the conference.
Closing remarks by President Ilham Aliyev
We could extend it because the implementation of such a tremendous scope of work in two and a half years does require great mobilization and professionalism. But I think that if we maintain the current pace, we can resolve all the issues by the end of next year. To do that, to obtain new financial resources for additional measures, we must certainly envisage an even greater amount in the state budget, the investment program for next year.
Water and sanitation issues require large financial resources and technical capabilities. But such a task has been set.
We must fulfill it. As a result of the work done, new wastewater treatment plants are built. New water reservoirs are built in Baku. We never had them before. Without such reservoirs it is impossible to supply a city with water. Water treatment plants, filters and lines should be replaced and upgraded. These issues require hard work and great professionalism. But the task is as follows: resolve the water problems of Baku once and for all. The project being implemented must be designed for the future because the population is growing, our needs are growing, the economy is growing, the industrial capacity is growing. Thus, we must calculate our long-term strategy on this basis.
Baku has successfully implemented projects on repairing the road infrastructure and building roads. I can say that the work carried out in Baku in this area was probably not conducted in any other city. In recent years, we have built more than 30 major road junctions, tunnels and bridges. These are monuments of architecture. Besides, if we hadn’t started these projects then, the traffic in Baku would be paralyzed now. We started the first projects back in 2006-2007. Today, it is difficult to imagine Baku without the bridges and road junctions built over the past five years. We all remember how many roundabouts there were on the Baku-Airport road. People spent hours at each roundabout. If we hadn’t eliminated them and created new interchanges, it would take at least two hours to get from Baku to the airport now.
Road junctions are built not only on the Baku-Airport road, but also in other directions, we are expanding old roads and building new ones. In some cases we have moved industrial facilities to another location. Although, as I said, more than 30 road junctions have been built, new roads, new arteries, new “blood vessels” are still under construction, and this process continues. There are new projects, new plans. We are implementing these plans. Simultaneously, the focus should be on roads between settlements. As I said, in sequence. The residents of suburban settlements of Baku will know that most of the roads there were unpaved. On my frequent visits to suburban settlements I raised this issue. The task was set: there should be no unpaved roads in suburban settlements of Baku. There shouldn’t be any in the villages and districts either. Now you can see how much money is allocated from the Reserve Fund of the President for the construction of rural roads, so that the roads to villages are also paved. But the presence of unpaved roads in the suburban settlements of Baku is intolerable.
Therefore, after the completion of water and sewer projects or in parallel with that, all local roads must be paved and expanded and favorable conditions created.
Some of the local roads are part of highways. For example, the Baku-Bilgah-Sumgayit is currently under construction.
There are several villages along this road, so we are also resolving the issue of local roads here. This is also a very large road, a new road, it was not there before. The construction of this road will facilitate traffic between the settlements and link Baku and Sumgayit with a beautiful new road along the coast.
Other projects are also implemented in Baku now. There are new ideas, new suggestions and thoughts. So this should be an ongoing process and, of course, by doing this work, we are improving the current situation and creating a foundation for the future. After all, the city of Baku will continue to grow. Let no-one have any doubts about that.
Today the population of Baku exceeds two million people. But there are cities with a population of five, six and seven million people in the world.
Our economic development is rapid. Our population is growing in a positive direction.
Our population is already 9.2 million people and the statistics of recent years shows that the birth rate increases. This pleases me a lot. More babies are born compared with the previous period. So the population of Baku and Azerbaijan will continue to grow and we should calculate all our infrastructure projects for 30, 40 years ahead. We must create ensure that the projects being implemented today serve the people for decades to come. Just as we are reaping the fruits of the work done 20, 30, 40 years ago, so the future generations should benefit from the work we are doing today.
This applies to the road and transport infrastructure and all other areas.
With regard to transport, there are positive trends in this area too. An Intelligent Transport Management Center has been set up. It is a unique system worldwide. New buses and taxis are brought to Azerbaijan. All this is done for people’s comfort.
The construction of the underground is powering ahead and it should go even faster because we have adopted a long-term underground development plan and set the task of increasing the number of underground stations in Baku to 70 by 2030. If we consider that we now have 23 stations, three of which were built in recent years, it means that we should build several stations each year. I think we should pay more attention to this area.
Of course, we have the technical capacity and companies. But considering the volume of work, I think we can also attract foreign companies to this project so that the work could go quickly. So to build 50 new stations by 2030, we need to commission several stations each year.
This is also a very big project. But it is also a look into the future because if we don’t realize it, we can’t get rid of the problem of traffic jams in Baku no matter how many road junctions we build. In large cities there are places where 4-5-6-tier roads are built. There are roads that are at the level of the 6th and 7th floors of buildings. Why? Because it is no longer possible to expand roads. Therefore, we should organize our work so that there are no problems in the future. We will be dealing with the problems of today now. The program we are discussing now will be completed by the end of next year. Subsequently, by implementing the program on the socioeconomic development of districts, we will resolve all these problems. We need to think about the future and issues in the transport sector are, of course, a priority.
Now let’s turn to the improving social infrastructure. The speakers here have said how many schools were renovated, how many schools were built. All the instructions have been given. In addition to the program adopted, the construction of dozens of new schools is planned. So I am sure that by the next school year all school problems in Baku will be resolved. In other words, the material and technical infrastructure of schools will be renewed, there will be no schools left without renovation.
With regard to the kindergarten, a lot still remains to be done in this area because we can’t be content with the current number of kindergartens and of children in them. As far as I know, this constitutes about 20 per cent of the needs of Baku. So even if we restore the existing kindergartens which are in poor condition now, it will still not be enough to resolve the problem.
The solution is in the construction of new kindergartens. It is good that the kindergartens built earlier cover large areas.
Now it is possible to build new structures on these areas. This is one way.
Another way, which is consistent with our other programs, is that according to the “State program on improving the living conditions and employment opportunities for refugees and IDPs”, there are plans on the resettlement of our compatriots affected by the Armenian occupation. And this program is ongoing. As you know, tent-camps were eliminated five years ago. We are now housing our countrymen living in dormitories. The IDPs living in Finnish homes and kindergarten should also be provided with normal conditions. This task has been set and I think that this issue should be given more serious attention after this conference. Let the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs and the Mayor’s Office of Baku consider it and come up with a schedule, so that we could move our fellow citizens out of kindergartens to new homes and make the kindergartens available to kids. There are cases when one part of a kindergarten is occupied by children and another by refugee families. This is no longer acceptable. But let me repeat that we can resettle the IDPs only when necessary conditions are available.
So we must take further measures to address the problems of kindergartens. We should envisage issues such as the condition and repair of kindergartens and nutrition. Because in contrast to schools, children in kindergartens can’t yet defend their rights. They eat and drink what they are given. So a lot depends on those who are in charge of this work.
I am very concerned – and the incoming complaints are confirming this – that kids are not getting food even by low standards. Children either go hungry or bring food from home. This is intolerable. In the recent period I have repeatedly examined the situation in kindergartens and enquired about nutrition. Now these issues in the capital have been entrusted to the Mayor’s Office of Baku. Very serious instructions have been given for nutrition issues to be in the foreground. According to the information provided by Hajibala Abutalibov, a watershed has been achieved in this area. Of course, this information is convincing. But let me also ask parents: if a kindergarten has problems with food, if it is either not given at all or is not of good quality, please inform the Presidential Administration, the Mayor’s Office, the Ministry of Economic Development about it, so that we could resolve these issues.
All the kindergartens must be renovated. And all of them should provide quality food, so that our children grow up healthy.
The program also provides for healthcare issues. With regard to additional health centers, hospitals – as it has been mentioned here, people’s requests have been taken into account – funds were allocated from the Reserve Fund of the President so that urgent measures are taken. But, of course, the main work is done through the state budget. We need to support health facilities at a good level. As much as necessary will be allocated for that, so that quality medical services are provided in all the settlements.
With regard to private enterprise – I mentioned in my opening remarks that starting from last year the National Entrepreneurship Support Fund has been allocating funds to businessmen from suburban settlements. This process will be continued next year. This year, the amount managed by the fund has reached a record level of 200 million manats. If need be, we can increase it next year because this mechanism works fine. Many new businesses created in suburban settlements were, among others, opened through such loans. Sometimes people have no initial capital to start their business with. This initial capital is provided by the state on favorable terms, which stimulates industrial development and creates jobs. This process in suburban settlements has begun. As I said, the initial work is shown on the stands here. This work should be continued.
Baku is a major industrial center. This has always been the case – both before the revolution and in Soviet times. Baku is essentially an industrial city. It is no coincidence that there are many industrial facilities and factories in the city center, which does not comply with our current approach. But we are paying attention to this area. The new approach is to move the obsolete industrial facilities out of the city center.
This process is ongoing, the enterprises are being relocated. I can say that a very strong will was demonstrated in this regard. In some cases there was even some resistance. Some people didn’t appreciate our plans regarding Baku. But the beauty of the present-day Baku and the new conditions show that the decisions made at the time were correct.
Beautiful buildings, public facilities and parks have been established in place of the old and dormant enterprises. Suffice it to recall some of them. Instead of the former Sattarkhan plant we opened the Heydar Aliyev Center on 10 May. The building is considered an architectural wonder of the world. It is difficult to imagine the previous condition of the territory.
This center, I repeat, is one of the modern monuments of world architecture, it stands out for its beauty and functionality.
The tube, the roofing slate and other plants are no longer there.
Our industry, as they say, has not been affected by that. According to the statistics for the first quarter of this year, our non-oil industry grew by 16 per cent. So this work is done right. New parks are set up. The territory of the former tube plant has been transformed into a beautiful park with a nice fountain. Young people may not even remember today, but our generation knows what it was like there before. So the measures to improve the city, conduct landscaping and creative work should be continued.
Or let’s take the new boulevard. After a while people will completely forget that this area was, as they say, behind a fence.
Behind that fence there were outdated plants – shipyards and other old industrial sites. And the road was very narrow. In a year or two this will be forgotten, and let it be forgotten. We have relocated them without undermining industrial development, established a new boulevard – a beautiful promenade two kilometers long. There are also cycle lanes, so that people could comfortably use them. In general, the length of the Baku boulevard together with the boulevard at the State Flag Square has been increased from 3.5 to 14 kilometers. Now the area around the Flag Square is being cleaned up after the Eurovision song contest. The Flag Square will also be opened soon and people can walk and relax there.
This is also a unique place worldwide – a symbol of our independence, statehood and, at the same time, a beautiful park. The Flag Square, covering an area of 60 hectares, keeps expanding. A new boulevard from the Flag Square towards Bibi-Heybat is being established now. If all goes according to plan, this area will become a large recreation and entertainment area in a year or two. We have great plans and ideas regarding this area. The parkland can be extended to Bibi-Heybat.
So here it is – a new approach. Old and unusable industrial facilities are moved out of the city center and public places and parking lots established instead.
Relocation is ongoing. The structures located behind the Heydar Aliyev Palace have been relocated and a compensation above their market price paid to owners. Let everyone know this. And what is being built instead? There was speculation that people were being relocated, this area would be sold and new buildings and restaurants would be established there. A two-storey underground car park is under construction there now. Above it there will be a park, a walking area and trees. Our city needs that like air and water, because there are very few green areas. Therefore, public spaces such as parks, underground parking lots and landscaping strips are established in lieu of obsolete industrial facilities.
In some cases these areas overlap with private land plots. I think the private sector should also act responsibly in this matter. We all live in this city, Baku is our common capital. We all must do our best to make Baku even more beautiful. So if new development projects somehow cover private land, public interests and the interests of the residents of Baku should be in the foreground, but, of course, with the payment of compensation. As a result of privatization conducted earlier, some places in the city center were illegally seized, fenced off and then remained just plots of land. We cannot accept this situation now. There are quite a few fenced plots in the center or on the outskirts of the city. Why do people hold them? The city is developing, roads should be laid, road junctions built, underground parking lots, parks and green areas established. Therefore, the Mayor’s Office should, of course as far as the law permits, deal with these issues, so that such areas are used by residents of Baku. We cannot afford to have acres of land in the city center cordoned off and remain unused, while people are looking for places to walk. The boulevard is overcrowded in the evening. Although we have extended the boulevard, extended it towards the sea, there are still too many people for the boulevard alone to handle. So for people’s comfort we should set up promenades, parks and green areas in the city. And we will do that.
But, again, private entities should be attentive to this issue and take the initiative themselves. Of course, these issues will also be addressed within the framework of law.
As far as the development of our city is concerned, a lot of attention is paid to this issue. Of course, Baku should develop as an industrial city. New major industrial facilities, as I said earlier, should be built on the territory of the Garadag district.
There is a large area there. Large industrial enterprises are under construction there now – a cement and other plants.
The oil company will build a large petrochemical complex in Garadag. A new trade seaport, a shipyard is under construction in Alatr. So we should place the industrial sites of Baku more in the Garadag district. The establishment of industrial parks is intended to serve this goal.
As for industrial parks, this process is ongoing in Baku, Sumgayit and Ganja. As I said in my opening remarks, this will enable us to double our GDP through the development of the non-oil industry by 2023.
I want to say a few words about environmental measures. This issue must always be in the spotlight. We can’t be content with the environmental situation in Baku. This is a reality. Unfortunately, Baku developed as an industrial city for centuries. In particular, the oil industry appeared here. From an environmental point of view, the city has always been a very poor condition. In Soviet years there were certain Soviet standards. These standards were observed. But we know now that those standards are, of course, not in line with international ones.
In post-Soviet years, especially in the early period, our financial situation was very difficult. We had serious constraints.
We could not allocate the necessary funds for that. Now we must do this and we do, specific instructions on all fields have been given.
It was mentioned here that a landfill has been created in Balakhani. The smoke that used to rise from the Balakhani garbage dump enveloped and poisoned the entire city. Now there is a nice park there. The construction of a waste treatment plant will help resolve these issues.
The Ministry of Economic Development has been instructed over water and sewage projects and issues of cleaning the lakes. The lakes located in Baku must be cleaned. First of all, it is necessary to clean the water discharged into them and lay new lines. We must first of all eliminate the cause of contamination. Afterwards, through sewage treatment and environmental measures, we need to turn these lakes into clean and beautiful bodies of water. They should be surrounded by forests and parks for people to use. There is a list of all of these lakes. Specific instructions have been handed out. A certain amount is envisaged this year. Most of the funds will be allocated next year and in 2014-2015, so that we could turn these lakes into beautiful, clear and clean bodies of water. Thus, we will create new places of recreation and improve the environmental situation.
The process of relocation of the remainder of the iodine plant located in Baku has commenced. It was a very harmful enterprise. It does not operate, but the wastes around it are toxic. There are funds in the budget. These funds have been allocated to the Ministry for Emergencies. They are working now. By the end of this year the territory of the iodine plant will be completely cleaned.
We should not forget about planting trees either. I am very pleased that in the Year of the Environment the executive authorities of all our cities and districts worked very hard. Trees were planted everywhere. But after the Year of the Environment ended, this process, the planting of trees and creation of green areas, began to subside. We allocate funds to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources though, they are continuing this process. New trees are planted in designated areas. But I think that when the time comes, executive bodies of our districts should, of course, pay attention to tree planting again. This should not be a campaign, but a daily routine.
The historical sites of our city are protected at a high level. Our advantage is that Baku is an ancient, historical and modern city. The historical beauty, architectural monuments and the old Baku blend with its modern appearance.
Those visiting Baku say that there is fusion and harmony between antiquity and modernity here.
In some cities this harmony is disturbed. But our goal, along with the preservation of the old Baku and restoration of all historical sites, is to create a new image of our modern Baku. And we have achieved that. Baku already has new symbols. The Heydar Aliyev Center, the Flag Square, the Flame Towers, the Baku Crystal Hall are new symbols of our Baku, monuments that demonstrate the dynamic development of Azerbaijan. We must continue to work hard to make our city even more beautiful. I am very glad that society and government representatives are very active in this issue, that they have a great enthusiasm and great love of our city.
Baku is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have said this before and I want to say it again: there will come a time when we will say that Baku is the most beautiful city in the world. Thank you.
12 june 2013, 13:15Ilham Aliyev received the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus
12 june 2013, 13:10Ilham Aliyev received the Prosecutor General of Turkey
11 june 2013, 17:30Ilham Aliyev received the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
11 june 2013, 17:27Ilham Aliyev received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
11 june 2013, 17:25Ilham Aliyev received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia
11 june 2013, 17:20Ilham Aliyev received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt
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