Ilham Aliyev took part in nationwide festivities on the occasion of Novruz Bayram

19 march 2014, 12:15

On 19 March nationwide festivities were held in Baku on the occasion of the national holiday of the Azerbaijani people - Novruz.

The festivities were attended by President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva.

First, the head of state and his wife arrived at the square in front of the Maiden's Tower.

Children in national costume presented the President of Azerbaijan with a festive khoncha. The children congratulated President Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva on the Novruz holiday.

Warriors with swords and shields lined up on the walls of Icharishahar and the square as a reminder of our ancient history.

Dada Gorgud gave his blessing, wishing the Novruz holiday to bring wealth to the Azerbaijani people.

Children in national costume danced on the square. Artists sang songs glorifying spring and Azerbaijan, which created a good mood among the festival participants.

President Ilham Aliyev lit a Novruz bonfire.

The head of state made a speech at the festival.

Speech by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear friends, I sincerely congratulate you and the people of Azerbaijan on the upcoming Novruz holiday. I wish all the people of Azerbaijan continued success and happiness.

Novruz Bayram is one of the most favourite holidays of the Azerbaijani people. Novruz Bayram is our national treasure and national property. The Azerbaijani people have celebrated this holiday for centuries. Today Novruz Bayram is a public holiday in independent Azerbaijan.

We have always been faithful to our national values and have always protected them. Today in conditions of national independence, Azerbaijani values are our core values. Azerbaijani values are an integral part of universal human values. The Azerbaijani people have always been faithful to their traditions and national values. Today, the independent Azerbaijani state is based on national values.

We live in conditions of independence. The founder of our independence, Heydar Aliyev, like in all areas, also laid the ideological foundations of independent Azerbaijan. In 1993, the strategic course in all directions was identified. Today Azerbaijan is developing in these areas. Our strategy remains unchanged. Our national ideology is built on strong foundations. Independence, Azerbaijanism, modernity, patriotism and national and religious tolerance – these are our main ideological foundations. The successful development of independent Azerbaijan testifies that when our destiny is in our hands, our people can also reach the highest peaks, and they have reached them. Today independent Azerbaijan is successfully and steadily developing in any area. We defend and will defend our independence, which is strengthening year by year.

Our steps related to foreign policy are based on international law and justice. These two concepts are the key for us. In some cases, in international relations, international law and justice constitute a contradiction. But despite this, Azerbaijan expresses its principled position in all matters and this position is correct. Azerbaijan will continue to advocate a fair solution to all issues within the framework of international law.

Our foreign policy is independent and relies on the national interests of the Azerbaijani people. We are defending our national interests successfully and with credit. I can say that today the influence of the Azerbaijani state on regional processes is growing. Often it is the Azerbaijani state that is the initiator of international projects.

The success of our foreign policy is also confirmed by the elections held at the United Nations two years ago. With the support of the absolute majority of the international community, 155 countries, Azerbaijan became a member of the most prestigious world structure - the UN Security Council. It participated in this organization with credit during two years. As I said, it defended international law and justice.

Our main problem in the area of foreign policy is the unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. International law and justice have been violated for many years, as Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, our historical and ancestral land. The Azerbaijani people have lived and worked on this land for centuries. All place names in Nagorno-Karabakh reflect the culture and history of the Azerbaijani people. Not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant part of present-day Armenia is ancient Azerbaijani lands.

Historical justice and international law have been violated. The entire world community recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan's territorial integrity will play a major role in addressing this issue. This conflict must find a solution on the basis of norms and principles of international law within the framework of territorial integrity. The territorial integrity of countries cannot be changed without their consent. These are the core and basic principles of international law, and these principles form the basis of the Helsinki Final Act.

I am sure that this conflict will find a fair solution based on international law and Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty. We, Azerbaijanis, will return to Nagorno-Karabakh, to other occupied lands and to all the historical Azerbaijani lands. I am sure and have no doubt about it, and in order to achieve this, we need to become even stronger.

Today international law and at the same time, the factor of force come to the fore in international relations in the world. In this case, each country must increase its power. We have been engaged in these matters for many years. We have been creating our strong economic potential for many years. This potential allows us to pursue an independent policy because without economic independence and military might, it is very difficult to pursue an independent policy.

Therefore, in recent years, great attention has been paid to army building. The combat capability of our armed forces is increasing and discipline is strengthening. Our army is equipped with military equipment, and our military budget is increasing each year and reached big numbers. Suffice it to say that today, our military budget is double the entire state budget of Armenia. The military budget and combat capability will play a major role in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Our ideological foundations are clear. I have already stated my thoughts about it. Armenia is a fascist state. Their national ideology is fascism, discrimination and nationalism. The victim of this ideology is precisely the Armenian people deprived of independent development. Independence was a great chance, a great gift and heritage. Today Azerbaijan has made full use of these opportunities. With respect to Armenia, it is very difficult to use the expression "independent state" since it has no independent policy or independent economy.

Azerbaijan has been noted for its principled position at all times. Once again I want to say that we have a principled and unequivocal position on every issue. We live with honour, conduct worthy policies, and our policies, I want to say it again, are based on universal principles.

I am sure that after the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the opportunity to live as an independent country will also open for Armenia. I do not believe that the Armenian people can agree with the current situation, as every nation and every state wants to be independent. Today it is impossible to say this about Armenia since in the best case Armenia shows itself as an outpost. The region is a source of danger, and the initiator of all the negative developments in the region is Armenia.

I am absolutely sure that the growing power of Azerbaijan, our potential and the well-thought out and balanced foreign policy we pursue will allow us to restore our territorial integrity. There is no other way. The course of history, our demographic development and economic potential allow us to say that the day when the national flag of Azerbaijan will be flying in Shusha and Khankandi is not far off.

To do this, we need to become even stronger because we see that in the international arena, there are double standards. We too are a victim of double standards. The factor of force comes to the fore in the settlement of international relations. We must and will become even stronger.

Of course, the main issue here is economic potential. Over the past decade there has been no second country that has been developing in the economic sphere as rapidly as Azerbaijan. It is our great historic achievement. All problems facing the country are being successfully resolved, our economic potential is growing, and the economy has grown by more than three times. The country is implementing major social projects and programmes, and economic reforms simultaneously help us in addressing social issues.

Today the Azerbaijani state is rendering all kinds of assistance to socially disadvantaged citizens.

There are excellent opportunities for further growth in our economic potential as we have already managed to diversify our economy. Last year, our non-oil sector grew by almost 10 per cent and in the first two months of this year – by about 9 per cent. That is to say it shows that the major challenges related to the economy facing us are being successfully addressed. In the coming years, reforms in this area will continue. Powerful industrial potential will be created in Azerbaijan. In the future, the Azerbaijani economy will grow at the expense of the non-oil sector. We are already seeing this, and the work being carried out in the regions, the development of industry and agriculture and initiatives related to food security are bearing fruit.

The reforms we are carrying out in the economic sector received a high evaluation of the world's leading economic structures. The World Economic Forum, which is the leading economic structure of the world now, put the economy of Azerbaijan on 39th place in competitiveness. These are successes achieved through reforms. But any reform, above all, should manifest itself in improving living conditions for people, and this is obvious. Today, the number of our compatriots living in poverty is gradually falling and unemployment is being eliminated. The country's economy is developing and will develop.

Of course, Azerbaijan plays a role in the world as a very important supplier of energy. At the end of last year in Baku, we launched the largest infrastructure project in Europe. Azerbaijan managed to demonstrate leadership in this area and is the initiator and driving force of a grand global project. Negotiations on the creation of the Southern Gas Corridor have been conducted for many years. Over the last 7-8 years, I have participated in more than ten international events. But these events were unsuccessful. Besides statements, no practical steps were taken. Taking the lead and full responsibility, political, economic and financial, in this area, the Azerbaijani state launched this project. This project will ensure our future success and help solve social problems in Azerbaijan. This project will present Azerbaijan globally as an important centre of force and will determine our long-term, sustainable development.

On all these issues Azerbaijan demonstrates a principled position. If we did not have a position of principle, if we depended on someone or feared someone, we would never have implemented these major projects. The basis of our policy is independence, justice and courage. We are taking all our steps in order to serve the interests of the Azerbaijani people. Azerbaijan's interests are above all else, and they must be above everything for every citizen. In short, we have very optimistic thoughts about the future development of our country. In fact, we are creating this future.

This reality was made possible thanks to political and economic reforms conducted in recent years and our energy policy. At the beginning of this year, important steps related to our future development were taken. Last month we adopted a state programme on the socioeconomic development of regions. As a result of the implementation of this programme, the remaining social and economic issues must be addressed until 2018.

Thus, Azerbaijan will continue to grow steadily. Also, the state programme on the socioeconomic development of Baku and its settlements is being implemented. Until 2016, this programme should be fully implemented, and thus, in Baku there should not remain a single problem related to social infrastructure or an economic problem. Such a task has been set. As a result of the implementation of these programmes, our country will develop even faster. The implementation of programmes will be ensured. Until now we have been faithful to all the promises we made, implemented all programmes and will continue to go this way.

Our Baku is also becoming prettier and landscaped. Today, Baku is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This is seen by Baku residents, guests coming from other regions, this is noted by foreign guests. We have big plans for the future development of Baku. We have big plans for the creation of public areas in Baku, implementation of new infrastructure projects and urban transport. Some of them are already being implemented. Our National Park, our boulevard, which is one of the most attractive places in Baku, is being landscaped and becoming prettier, the traditional part of the boulevard has been renovated to the highest standard. Today, hundreds of thousands of people use these opportunities, especially in the spring and summer months. A new avenue, which stretches as far as the Flag Square, has been opened. A boulevard is being built, which will stretch from the Flag Square as far as Bibiheybat, and I hope that by the end of the year, this part will also open to the public. New areas are being created there – an area of arts called Baku Art City and a sports area. In a year's time, this part will become one of the most beautiful places in our city.

Work is under way in the opposite direction of the boulevard, the White City boulevard is being built. By the end of this year, a 2-km boulevard, a road, public places and parks will be built in that direction. Thus, the boulevard will stretch from White City to Bibiheybat. And this is about 16 kilometres. To this end, instructions have already been issued to launch eco-friendly special minibuses on the boulevard, because it will not be so easy to walk these 16 kilometres.

The Carpet Museum, which will be opened soon, is being built. A new grandiose building of Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which will be commissioned in the near future, is under construction. In short, very serious work is being carried out to develop and improve Baku and restore our historical monuments. The renovation of the Maiden's Tower, the symbol of Baku, was completed recently. A few days ago another historical site – the Palace of the Shirvanshahs - was opened after renovation.

In short, Baku is our capital and a beautiful and beloved city. Specific instructions have been issued concerning the future development of our city, infrastructure and improvement, we are preparing for the first European games and major preparations are under way. These games will again present Azerbaijan to the world as a modern, dynamically developing country and demonstrate the potential of Azerbaijan and the talent of our people. We intend to hold these games at the level of Summer Olympic Games. I am confident that we will achieve this.

Dear friends, on this wonderful day, in anticipation of the wonderful holiday, I once again express my respect and love for the Azerbaijani people. I congratulate all Azerbaijanis living in the world on this beautiful holiday and wish the Azerbaijani people peace, tranquility and happiness.

Happy Holidays!


Then, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva visited the Seaside National Park.

The head of state and his wife were welcomed by the main characters of Novruz - Kosa and Kechal.

Kosa and Kechal congratulated the President and his wife on the holiday and competed with the head of state in beating eggs.

After that, President Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva listened to ashugs and mugam performers.

The Oriental Bazaar organized in the National Park gave celebrations a special flavour. Performances by amateur groups from various regions of the country and samples of craftsmanship caused a great interest here. Young pahlavans competed and athletes demonstrated their skills on the carpet nearby.

The head of state and his wife took photos with pahlavans.

The Azerbaijani president and his wife tried grilled kebab. At the ceremony, where ancient pieces of folk art inherited by the current generation from our ancestors were on display, a variety of sweets - symbols of Novruz - were also presented.

President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and other participants in the festivities watched these scenes and samples of ancient folk crafts with interest.

The head of state and his wife looked at samples of Azerbaijani carpets demonstrated here.

President Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva also looked at the works of young artists, fashion designers and artisans.

The head of state and his wife visited the exhibition of products grown on the fertile land of Azerbaijan presented within the framework of the celebrations. Novruz dishes brought from different areas also caused an interest among participants in the festivities.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva were presented with gifts.

The President and his wife watched a presentation on the First European Games Baku-2015 organized at the festivities and performances of athletes in various sports.

The Azerbaijani President expressed good Novruz wishes to Baku residents and guests who had come to meet him.

The Novruz celebrations were attended by Prime Minister Artur Rasizada, Chairman of the Milli Majlis Ogtay Asadov, the head of the Presidential Administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev, and other officials.

The festivities continued with a concert featuring various artists.