President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva were interviewed by the “Baku” magazine
07 february 2013, 20:40
“Baku”: The “Baku” magazine is turning five years. The jubilee mood is conducive to memories. We did our first interview with you. Today, five years on, it would be curious to find out your opinion about our magazine. What do you think about our edition?
President: It is very significant that in the short time since being established, the “Baku” magazine has managed to gain a large readership. An important role in the success of the magazine is, of course, played by the relevance of topics, a recognizable style, a modern design and a bright presentation of the material. The articles about the rich and ancient history of culture and art of Azerbaijan, the centuries-old traditions of our people and materials on other topics make the magazine even more interesting and readable. It is very important that the “Baku” magazine is read not only in Russia but also in other countries around the world.
First Lady: The “Baku” magazine started being published relatively recently and has won the sympathy of readers in a short time. It is gratifying that there is such a source of objective and positive information about our country abroad. The “Baku” magazine brightly and colorfully talks about Azerbaijan and its capital, about our famous countrymen, renowned representatives of the Azerbaijani Diaspora, remarkable events in the cultural life of our country and the national cuisine. I wish your magazine even greater popularity, as well as a broad and diverse audience in the future.
“Baku”: Of course, the drastic changes in all spheres of life in the country in the past five years are obvious. The dynamic development of your country today is very impressive. Azerbaijan is an undoubted leader of the region. What is the secret of success?
President: I am deeply convinced that the secret, I would even say that the key to our success in the first place is the continuity of the political course laid down by nationwide leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. Time has proven that this is the only correct policy which, in essence, has taken Azerbaijan out of a series of chaotic events and put an end to a period of half-disintegration. Let us recall the early years of Azerbaijan’s independence. There was a military, political and spiritual crisis in the country, while the economy was in a complete decline. Azerbaijan was faced with a real threat of loss of independence. In 1993, when Heydar Aliyev assumed leadership in the country, Azerbaijan embarked on the path of progressive development. A period of the formation and strengthening of political and democratic institutions, the emergence of a market economy and modern development began. In essence, all this led to the fact that Azerbaijan became one of the most dynamic economies in the world. Today, the political reforms carried out in Azerbaijan have contributed to the creation of a free society. All citizens of our country are guaranteed the freedoms of speech, conscience, the press and others. The stable political system, the effective social policies, the rich natural resources, the modern infrastructure, the favorable geographic location, the educated young people – all of these are additional contributors to the rapid success of our country.
We have managed to achieve great success in the economic sphere in recent years. In the last eight to nine years, our economy has grown three times. The level of poverty has declined from 49 to 6 per cent. It is possible to say that the problem of unemployment has been fundamentally resolved. Today it is only 5.2 per cent. We have managed to implement major infrastructure projects. All social programs have also been implemented.
Although the oil factor is the stabilizing factor for our economy today, the non-oil sector has also successfully developed in recent years. This year it has grown by about 10 per cent.
We have managed to diversify the economy and implement serious economic reforms in a short period of time. A whole series of global energy and transport projects are implemented at the initiative of our country.
Azerbaijan currently has a very stable international rating. All major credit rating agencies of the world appreciate our achievements. Today, the development of modern technologies, the sphere of information and communication technologies is one of the most important priorities facing our country.
Among the important decisions that have had a toll on the overall strategic development of Azerbaijan, I would specifically like to mention the program on the development of districts. Major infrastructure projects are implemented and jobs created in all our regions. Since the start of the program on the socioeconomic development of districts we have created 1.1 million jobs, including 800,000 permanent ones.
Azerbaijan has historically been a territory where different civilizations converge. Today our country has built a truly tolerant society where all religions and cultures coexist peacefully. The Baku International Humanitarian Forum has already become a successful tradition. Azerbaijan has a unique experience in inter-ethnic and inter-civilizational dialogue. I am confident that this tolerance, which can serve as an example to the world, will be preserved in our country in the future too.
Azerbaijan is already becoming a strong sports nation. Our athletes have been achieving great successes at the Olympics and at prestigious international sports competitions. Azerbaijan has successfully hosted prestigious European and world competitions in various sports. A lot of work has been done across the country to build the Olympic sports infrastructure. In this context, I want to emphasize the decision adopted by the General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee to conduct the inaugural European Olympic Games in Baku in 2015. This is an important landmark decision.
Azerbaijan’s authority in the international arena is steadily growing. Azerbaijan has achieved great success in the foreign political sphere. The role of Azerbaijan on the international arena is also enhancing. Today, foreign political projects in the region can not be realized without regard for Azerbaijan's interests. We successfully cooperate with many countries of the world within international organizations. As evidence of our growing international reputation, Azerbaijan was elected a member of the UN Security Council with the support of 155 countries in 2011.
Along with all this, unfortunately, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved. Armenia's aggression has led to the occupation of 20 per cent of our lands. As a result of the policy of ethnic cleansing by Armenia, a million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and IDPs. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions, which require an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from our lands. In addition to the above-mentioned resolutions, there are decisions of the OSCE, resolutions of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other organizations that demand the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. And our position is that this conflict can be resolved only on the principles of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
“Baku: Mrs. Aliyeva, what in your view is the secret of the achievements enumerated by Mr. President?
First Lady: It is beyond doubt that a crucial role in the dynamic development of Azerbaijan is played by goal-oriented political and economic reforms, a judicious oil strategy, the reinvestment of oil and gas revenues, and a strong social policy. The main thing is that at the heart of all the work being done is the human factor. Everything is done for the people. The provision of a free, secure and prosperous life is the main task of the state.
We have been an independent country for only 21 years. Due to historical and objective reasons, independence is a long-awaited and absolute asset for our nation. Our goals and desires are to live in a developed, strong, free and self-sufficient country. Certainly, this is a very strong motivation. At the same time, it is important that the international community should have a real and objective image of the modern Azerbaijan. We deeply honor our history, roots and traditions. Along with this, we are open to the world. For us, the concepts such as tolerance and multiculturalism are not just a set of popular words.
This is a centuries-old philosophy and a way of life of the Azerbaijani people. Today our country is a platform for numerous prestigious international conferences, forums and meetings where a dialogue on political, economic and cultural spheres is taking place. This is a modern trend of historical traditions. Everyone visiting our country, along with the tremendous development, notes the hospitality and good nature of the Azerbaijani people. A striking example of this is the international song contest "Eurovision-2012" which was held in the capital Baku last year. We have earned the highest assessment for organizing such a large-scale cultural event. Thousands of visitors from all over the world were able to get to know our country, see how beautiful our Baku is and feel the warmth and friendliness of our people.
Our generation is very fortunate to live in the time of truly major changes and achievements in Azerbaijan, and we can be part of this creative process. We simply have to love and appreciate our country.
“Baku”: Baku has become a center of world culture and civilization which amazes visitors with its fabulous beauty. There is an incredible construction boom here. How would you characterize the modern look of Baku?
President: Today every Azerbaijani can be proud that Baku has become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We can see that and it is also acknowledged by our guests. It is no coincidence that in 2009 Baku was declared the capital of Islamic culture by ISESCO. It was a really high assessment given to our capital. Today Baku is undergoing extensive landscaping, creative work and major infrastructure projects. It is encouraging that the ever-modernizing Baku has also managed to preserve its historical appearance. The number of visitors of the capital is steadily increasing and the city represents a harmonious blend of European and Oriental architectural styles. Baku has already become the venue of representative international events. We will continue to pursue measures for a further development of Baku in the future.
First Lady: For me, Baku has always been the most beautiful city with its unique aura. The Old City, the boulevard, the Trade Avenue, the Avenue of Petroleum Workers, the Baku Venice, the funicular – these places have already become iconic for every resident of Baku. It is a blessing to see your native city acquire the well-deserved luster and shine, to see how clean and tidy it is getting, how carefully its ancient historic appearance is preserved and an entirely new and modern face is created, the landscaping and renovation smoothly flow from the center to the outskirts, the ramshackle structures being replaced with European-style cozy and beautiful parks, the unusual architectural solutions and whole areas with a distinct cultural aesthetics appear. For example, a project called Baku - Art City will be completed in the near future. On the shore of the Caspian Sea, as a continuation of the seaside boulevard, there will be a unique art center with galleries, salons, museums and exhibitions. Based on the industrial architecture of the 20th century, an entirely new space will be created – a mini-town with a special artistic and creative atmosphere.
“Baku”: what has changed in your lives in the last five years?
First Lady: The birth of our grandchildren has been the brightest, happiest and the most significant event of the last five years, of course. The birth of a child is always happiness sent from above. It is a miracle that changes the whole of human life and makes one have a completely different look at the world.
“Baku”: What would you wish our readers in the New Year?
President: I wish the staff and readers of the “Baku” magazine a Happy New Year and 31 December, the Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the World. I send you the best wishes of continued success and good health.
First Lady: Let there be many more bright and good days in everyone's life! Let your hopes and dreams come true! I wish you good health, happiness and love!