Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of the Oguz-Qabala-Baku water pipeline

28 december 2010, 12:36

Dear friends, today we are celebrating a wonderful and remarkable event. We are commissioning the Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline. Let me heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this wonderful event.

Indeed, this is a great historic event. As you may know, the issue of the availability of clean water sources in the Oguz-Gabala zone was raised several decades ago and proposals were made on how to deliver the water from this region to Baku.

However, it was impossible to implement the project then. Today, in independent Azerbaijan, we have implemented this project, a project that has tremendous importance for our city and country.

This is a great achievement, a great victory. It shows that Azerbaijan, the independent Azerbaijani state can do anything. We are doing everything to strengthen our country, to conduct successful economic reforms, to improve the health and well-being of our people.

The initiative to build the Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline was made five years ago. I remember those days very well. In 2005, I initiated to conducted an expanded government meeting. During that meeting we discussed various parameters of the project. Of course, we could never even imagine how large and complex this project would be. However, our will and desire have allowed us to implement it. In 2007, we laid the foundation of the Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline, and then construction began. Today we are already celebrating the commissioning of this line.

This water pipeline will be very important for the residents of Baku. As you know, more than 60 per cent of the Baku population receives water intermittently. Of course, this is an intolerable situation for a modern city. The problem with water has existed in Baku for centuries. Various measures were taken at all times to supply Baku with drinking water, but due to the expansion of our capital and population growth, the measures did not produce the desired effect. Therefore, the delivery of clean and high-quality water to Baku from a new source was one of the major challenges facing us. I am very pleased that we have achieved this. According to the information available to me, the Oguz-Gabala-Baku pipeline will provide 75 per cent of the Baku population with uninterrupted clean and quality water meeting the standards of the World Health Organization.

We must continue working towards complete solution to the drinking water problem in Baku. Additional measures will be taken with this aim. Following the construction of the Takhtakorpu reservoir and the commissioning of the Samur-Absheron water facility, the volume of water in Baku will further increase. Additionally, even before the Oguz-Gabala-Baku and other projects, a lot of work had been done. Reservoirs and distribution lines were built in Baku. In other words, we need to completely renovate this infrastructure to ensure that the situation with water supply in Baku is not worse than in any other major city around the world, maybe even better.

We have all the opportunities to achieve that. First and foremost, there is a strong will and a sound policy. Our policy is socially-oriented. We have allocated significant resources for the construction of the pipeline and are aware that these funds may never be recovered. As you know, this is not a commercial project. This is purely social project, and the allocation of significant resources for it shows that the Azerbaijani government is doing everything to provide its population with high-quality drinking water.

If we did not have the economic capacity, then, of course, we could not have implemented this project. I do not believe that some international financial institution could have allocated a loan under this project. I do not believe in this because funds are usually allocated for projects of commercial nature. On the other hand, if Azerbaijan did not have strong financial resources, the issue of borrowing money from abroad would not even be on the agenda. Our successful economic policies initiated by great leader Heydar Aliyev and being successfully implemented today, as well as Azerbaijan’s oil strategy, have made all this possible.

Today we have all the opportunities to attract funds from abroad, from foreign financial markets. However, we have implemented this project ourselves, at our own expense, without any loans. This project has been implemented using the funds from the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan. As you may know, the projects financed by the State Oil Fund are of priority importance for the country. The inclusion of every single project on the investment portfolio of the State Oil Fund is, of course, widely discussed and necessary decisions are made. The projects implemented through the Oil Fund are of top priority for us, and the inclusion of the Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline project on the Fund’s portfolio illustrates our intentions very well. If Azerbaijan had not carried out a successful oil policy, this project would have remained on paper. On the other hand, it is quite symbolic that the project has been financed from the State Oil Fund. The revenues derived from oil production, from the operation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline have been channeled into the construction of the Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline.

This issue is very symbolic indeed, it demonstrates Azerbaijan’s successful policy again. It also shows that the biggest wealth for us, our greatest asset is the citizen of Azerbaijan. We have natural resources and a strong economy, but our country is made stronger and led forward by the citizens of Azerbaijan. We have achieved all these successes through the hard work of Azerbaijani citizens.

We will continue to work hard to successfully fulfill all the tasks facing the country. The Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline shows this very clearly. I want to say again that it is a large project requiring funding and technical expertise. We did not build pipelines of this size and volume before. But today we have successfully implemented this project. The main issue now is to take similar measures in all other areas. We have specific programs – a program on the development of districts, a program on further development of our country. We work in accordance with these programs. The successes achieved in recent years, the growing economy, the improving cities and infrastructure – all this is the reality of Azerbaijan.

Our country is successfully moving forward. The infrastructure projects currently under way will serve the successful development of our country in the future, for decades – power and gas lines, roads, social infrastructure, construction of water pipelines. The Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline is the biggest drinking water project. At the same time, specific work is already under way in Azerbaijani districts to resolve drinking water and sanitation problems. In some districts preparations have been started. In all our districts, this difficult and, unfortunately for us, perennial problem will be resolved. At the same time, following the construction of wastewater treatment plants in the villages situated on riverfronts, over 300,000 Azerbaijani citizens are provided with drinking water conforming to World Health Organization standards. This process is ongoing. These people used to consume poor-quality river water before.

In other words, one of the major issues facing us today is the implementation of projects relating to drinking water and sanitation. We strive to resolve this issue in Azerbaijan at the level of international standards. I do hope that this problem will be solved in the entire country soon, within a few years. I want to reiterate that we have all the opportunities to do that, a strong political will, a sound policy, specific programs, qualified professionals, competent local companies. We are successfully cooperating with foreign companies, and they have participated in this project as well. We already have strong financial opportunities, extensive domestic resources. We are capable of carrying out any project and are doing that. The goal of all the ongoing projects is to make Azerbaijan stronger, accelerate economic development in Azerbaijan, improve living standards and well-being. These are our main goals and objectives.

This day will go down in history. Once again, this pipeline will bring people comfort and health, because water means health. Clean drinking water is the biggest contributor to human health. Clean water, clean air – we must achieve this all. This is the purpose of the work carried out in Baku and other regions - work aimed at improving the environmental situation. Today, a large waste recycling plant is being built in Baku, the Balakhany landfill has already been cleaned and the smoke that used to cloud the city is no longer rising from there. This means cleaner air. We have already switched to the Euro-2 standard. Now we must move on to Euro-3, then Euro-4 and other higher environmental standards. Where will this lead to?! This will make our air cleaner.

There is extensive building and creative work in Azerbaijan. This certainly pollutes the air. The standard of living increases, as tens of thousands of new cars are brought to Baku every year. This is another contributor to air pollution. We must clean the air. Drinking water must be of high quality, so that the citizens of Azerbaijan are healthy. Doing sports is also great. The construction of new hospitals and diagnostic centers is a health improving factor. Clean drinking water, clean air, clean environment - all this also means health. We must make sure that the citizens of Azerbaijan are healthy. We must ensure that the most advanced criteria existing in the world are applied to Azerbaijan, including those relating to drinking water which are essential for human health.

I want to cordially congratulate you, the residents of Baku, all Azerbaijani people, on this wonderful event. I want to assure the citizens of Azerbaijan that we will continue to do everything for the country's development, for the solution of social problems, and will successfully lead our country forward. Taking this opportunity, let me warmly congratulate you, dear friends, on the upcoming Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and the New Year, and wish you good health and happiness. Thank you.