President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met in Hanoi with Vietnamese students educated in Azerbaijan.
The President of Azerbaijan made a speech at the meeting.
Speech by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Dear friends, first of all I would like to express to you, everyone whose fate was linked with Azerbaijan, a deep sense of respect on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan, salute you and convey greetings from your friends in Azerbaijan. I am very happy to visit your beautiful country. Today's meeting with the President, the negotiations held, as well as the upcoming meetings, will promote the development of friendly relations between our countries. We attach great importance to these relations. And they are developing very successfully. The foundation of this relationship was laid by you – those who studied in Azerbaijan, lived in our country and still keeps the memories of those wonderful days of youth, friendship and cooperation. And today, when we build our interstate relations on the basis of mutual respect, friendship and cooperation, we have a solid foundation, of course. The foundation is the relationship between people. The foundation is this mutual sympathy between our peoples. And this foundation was laid by you because your work and your active position on the development of our bilateral relations strengthens the positive trends in our relations.
You know very well how much love and affection the Azerbaijanis have for your country and people. In the most difficult times for your country the people of Azerbaijan always showed solidarity with Vietnam. We always stood by you in your struggle for liberation. And these feelings of friendship, cooperation and mutual support today determine the nature and form of our bilateral relations.
My visit to Vietnam is the first visit of the President of Azerbaijan to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. However, here in the lobby there is a photo exhibition: 31 years ago nationwide leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev visited your country as part of a government delegation of the Soviet Union. In 1959, great son of the Vietnamese people, President Ho Chi Minh visited Azerbaijan. These historical facts strengthen our relationship. These facts form the basis on which we are moving forward. There is no present and future without history.
The history of our relations, the relations between our two peoples is a history of friendship and brotherhood. And we need to develop and strengthen our relationship today in the 21st century, already as two independent and dynamic states. So I am sure that my visit will be an important step in the development of our relations. It will give a big boost to our relations in the political sphere, in the economic sphere and in the humanitarian sphere.
Today we discussed prospects for our cooperation at a high level. The trade between our countries is not very large, around 400 million dollars, but it has good prospects for growth. A Vietnamese-Azerbaijani business forum will be held this afternoon. More than 50 representatives from various Azerbaijani companies are here with me to participate in the business forum. I am sure that the results will be positive and allow us the opportunity to increase the turnover.
We have good prospects in the petroleum sector, and this was also discussed today. Many of the Vietnamese who studied in Azerbaijan went to the Institute of Oil and Chemistry, so they are well aware of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas traditions and the fact that Azerbaijan is the country where the world's first oil was produced industrially. Also, the world's first oil from offshore fields was also produced in Azerbaijan.
Today we are also developing cooperation in the humanitarian sphere, in education, and we want to restore these traditions because they were interrupted after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But today, I think, we should take a new look at cooperation in education. Now we are sending our students to study abroad, so we would like to take advantage of your opportunities on the specialties that are important to us. We are also ready to provide suitable conditions for Vietnamese students to come to Azerbaijan, study and restore these traditions. After all, your generation and our generation live with these memories. But it is also necessary for the younger generation, and I see a lot of young people here in the audience, to also know each other, communicate, respect, support and collaborate.
In the fields of tourism and culture we must make full use of the cooperation potential. Vietnam is a friendly country for us, a country with which our people share a great history – a history of friendship and mutual sympathy. We must strengthen our relations. Today, as an independent state, Azerbaijan reaffirms its position in the world, we enjoy a great authority on a global scale, and in the last two years we were members of the UN Security Council. We were elected to this structure with the support of 155 countries. Of course, it was not easy to win the support of the vast number of countries around the world in 20 odd years. But the main reason why we have been supported is the fact that we always conduct an independent course, an independent foreign policy and a very active regional policy. Our position is based on the principles of international law and the principles of justice. If these two main driving elements of progress and development are always observed in the world, there will be no wars, no occupation and no injustice. Therefore, while in the UN Security Council we firmly upheld the principles of international law, compliance with the resolutions of international organizations, as well as the principles of justice.
When you studied in our country, I am sure that you also witnessed the fact that Azerbaijani society is very tolerant. Our people are very hospitable. Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic country. It was the case in the Soviet era and it remains the case to this day. We have never had conflicts motivated by ethnic or religious incompatibilities or contradictions. Conversely, Azerbaijan was and especially now as an independent state is a territory and country where all peoples and representatives of different religions live in peace, cooperation, respect for each other. They understand each other and contribute to the development of a multi-ethnic Azerbaijan. So, I am sure that when you heard about a treacherous attack on Azerbaijan by Armenia, you were surprised because there were no preconditions for that. The Armenians, just like other representatives of different peoples living in Azerbaijan, enjoyed all the benefits. Unfortunately, the nationalist forces that got the upper hand in Armenia unleashed a treacherous and cowardly war against our country and displayed an exceptional sense of ingratitude to the Azerbaijani people whose bread they had been eating for decades. As a result of this war, our territories came under occupation. Our citizens were forced to leave their homes. Azerbaijanis were driven out of their native territories, of our historical lands. Now these territories are under occupation. Twenty per cent of our territory has been occupied by Armenian armed forces for more than 20 years. This occupation continues despite the decisions and resolutions of international organizations. So when I say that all the decisions of international organizations should be executed regardless of who has to fulfil them, I mean precisely the respect for international law. And what happens? In some cases the resolutions of the Security Council are executed in a matter of one day. In our case they have not been executed for 22 years.
The UN Security Council is the supreme body of the international community. It has adopted four resolutions demanding a withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijani territories, but they are not executed. But no sanctions are imposed on Armenia. Armenia is not subjected to international condemnation either. This is the main reason why the conflict remains unresolved. Other international organizations have also expressed their principled positions based on international law, but apparently this is not enough. But Azerbaijan will continue to enhance its potential – economic, military and political.
We, of course, will return to our ancestral territory – to Karabakh, Shusha, Khankandi. We will live there. As before, we will rebuild what has been destroyed and provide a decent future for our country. I must say that this conflict has, of course, caused a huge damage to the economy of Azerbaijan. But despite this, by conducting an independent policy and relying on our own resources, we have been able to develop the economy in a short time to such an extent that it has become the world’s fastest growing economy in the last 10 years. The main reason has been the consolidation of society around the national idea, namely the idea of independence. We have also pursued a consistent policy on improving the living standards of the population. Over the past 10 years our wages have increased more than five times and pensions almost 10 times. A lot of social programs have been implemented. Of course, there have been economic reforms without which we could not achieve the current level of development. We have actively attracted foreign investment, supported Azerbaijani companies at state level, established an active international cooperation and carried out reforms aimed at improving the economic environment, the business landscape and the reforms that were necessary for our country and people. When looking at the history of Azerbaijan, one becomes further convinced that only when national interests are placed above everything else can countries achieve success and development. And your country is a perfect example of that. You, too, have gone through aggression and occupation, through the suffering of tens of thousands of people, through irreparable loss, but you have recovered and created a strong state. And you are the masters of your own destiny. Therefore, I think that the example of countries such as Vietnam and Azerbaijan, where an independent foreign policy based on national interests is carried out, where there is cooperation and openness to the world, is quite indicative. It should be an example for all who seek to progress, for anyone who wants to build a stronger country and create a better life for the people.
A lot of issues are addressed in the field of education in Azerbaijan. Of course, it is one of the top priorities for us. The construction of schools and universities is powering ahead. Of course, we are also working on improving the quality of education, and the process is always the focus of our government.
Our country has made great strides on a regional scale in recent years. Today Mr. President and I discussed issues of the oil and gas cooperation. I must say that the oil and gas projects we have implemented in Azerbaijan have completely redrawn the energy map of the region. For the first time ever, we have linked the Caspian region to the region of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean through a network of oil and gas pipelines which allow us and our neighbors the opportunity to use this infrastructure for the realization of our oil and gas resources. In the future, we will carry out even more ambitious projects which are ranked among largest in the world. And this is all thanks to the fact that there is a lot of confidence in our development both domestically and abroad. We are conducting our policy on the basis of national development priorities and the strengthening of our independence.
When you lived and studied in our country, Azerbaijan was not an independent state. But even then you must have seen the development and openness of our society to friends and guests. Over the years of independence the positive trends in the development of Azerbaijani society have only intensified. We have become masters of our own destiny. We determine our own priorities ourselves. We define our own future, and there is no bigger happiness in the world than that. At the same time, our position is based on cooperation at the regional level and on a larger scale. Cooperation with your region is one of the priorities for us and with Vietnam one of our top priorities. It is no coincidence that the first Azerbaijani Embassy in your region has been opened in Vietnam. There has been an Azerbaijani Embassy here for a year now. It is a sign of our respect. This also reflects the importance of your country to us. I am sure that Azerbaijan will also be the main political and economic partner for Vietnam in our region.
Today's visit, of course, will go down in history because it is the first state visit of the President of Azerbaijan to Vietnam. I am sure that this visit will be followed by others. Today I invited the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan and the invitation was accepted. We will intensify our relations, strengthen political ties, support each other in all international organizations, actively invest in each other's economies, develop cultural and humanitarian cooperation. In other words, a full-scale cooperation between our two countries is becoming a reality. And, of course, this cooperation has plenty of room for you, for those who know Azerbaijan, who remember Azerbaijan and I hope have warm memories of youth. So you must be the main driving force in the development of our relations.
I am very glad that I have the opportunity to meet with you today. More than 2,000 students from Vietnam have been trained and studied in our universities at different times and, of course, we would like to see all of you in Baku. I want to take this opportunity to invite you to visit our country. I think that we must implement this idea, maybe hold a forum on Azerbaijani-Vietnamese friendship in Baku and on the sidelines of this forum hold a forum of Vietnamese graduates of Azerbaijani institutions. I want to tell the Minister of Education of Azerbaijan and our Ambassador to Vietnam right here, so that no-one forgets, to work with the Vietnamese side to prepare this forum and conduct it in the near future so that we could meet with you in Baku once again. Thank you for your attention.