Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of Heydar Mosque in Baku
26 december 2014, 15:00
- Your Holiness Sheikh!
Distinguished religious figures, dear guests and ceremony participants!
It is a very remarkable and historic day in the life of our country today. We are gathered for the opening of the largest mosque in Azerbaijan – the Heydar mosque. I cordially congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.
Believers and public figures have come from all parts of the country to attend this ceremony today. Our guests also include the muftis of the North Caucasus. I cordially greet them, too. I express my appreciation to them for accepting my invitation to attend today's ceremony. Their participation in this ceremony is further evidence of the unity among Muslims of the Caucasus.
Two years ago, a relevant decree was issued on the construction of this mosque. In September 2012, its construction began. In a matter of two years we have created such a great piece of architecture. I repeatedly visited here and examined the progress of construction. I am very glad that we have built the Heydar mosque in a short time. This area has been expanded and new roads laid. Roads have been built to the mosque from three directions, the area around it landscaped and a ceremonial hall built.
This is a truly historic event, as it shows the strength and dynamic development of Azerbaijan. It shows how deeply we are attached to our national and religious traditions. This mosque is named after great leader Heydar Aliyev. And this is natural. Heydar Aliyev was a great personality. He served the people of Azerbaijan with dignity at all times. Azerbaijan experienced a process of rapid development under his leadership back in the Soviet times – in the 1970-1980s.
Azerbaijan became one of the leading republics. The great industrial potential created in those years is still serving the successful development of Azerbaijan. In those years, during the Soviet period, the great leader paid great attention to national values. His work in this area is very much appreciated by the people. Heydar Aliyev was always attached to his people, while his famous words "I am proud to be Azerbaijani" are the guiding light for every Azerbaijani today.
In the years of independence the great leader made invaluable contributions. Heydar Aliyev was the first to set foot on the path of independence even before the actual independence was achieved. It was on his initiative that the tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was adopted as the state flag during a session of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan back in the Soviet times. These were the paths leading to independence.
After the people of Azerbaijan had shown great confidence in the great leader and elected him as their leader, the situation in the country began to change for the better. We remember those years too well. The early years of independence were very difficult for our country. The very existence of Azerbaijan as an independent state was called into question. There was an economic crisis, a political crisis, a decline in industrial production – the country was practically paralyzed. To make matters even worse, the Armenian occupation and civil war were shaking up the foundations of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani people demonstrated their wisdom again and urged the great leader to take power. By providing Heydar Aliyev with great support, our people elected him as President in 1993.
This marked the start of a period of stability and development in Azerbaijan. It is thanks to the world outlook, views and political skill of the great leader that Azerbaijan managed to overcome all of the hardships with honor and dignity. The strategic course laid down by him remains unchanged to this day. Great leader Heydar Aliyev identified the strategic objectives of Azerbaijan in all areas. We are striving to meet these goals and have achieved great success along the way.
At the same time, it is thanks to Heydar Aliyev’s work in those years that the relations between the state and religion were built on a sound basis. He always pointed out that while remaining true to our national and religious customs and traditions, we must build a strong state. This was his strategic view. The construction and establishment of relationships between the state and religion is our tremendous success. This policy continues today.
It was under Heydar Aliyev’s leadership that more than 500 mosques were built in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of mosques were repaired. The great leader prayed inside the sacred Kaaba. I am very glad to have been very lucky to do so too. In other words, the attention paid to national and religious values in those years, as well as the direction identified at the time, contributed to the strengthening of Azerbaijan today because we have a strong economy. Our political foundations are also very strong. And most importantly, there is a common approach and a common position on the development of our country in our society. The public and political situation is positive, and a huge role in this is played, of course, by the relationship between the state and religion.
In other words, the great leader owns incomparable and invaluable contributions to the development of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani people always cherish love for the great leader in their hearts. We as his successors are moving forward along the path shown by him, further strengthening our country and continuing his political line.
Today Azerbaijan is the fastest growing country in the world. Heydar Aliyev's policy lives on in Azerbaijan, being strengthened and enriched with new forms. There is a great public and political situation in Azerbaijan. The unity between the people and the government is strong and unshakeable. Underlying this unity is the popular support for our policies.
Our policies are based on national interests. The interests of the Azerbaijani people are above all for us.
In the economic sphere Azerbaijan has been able to achieve the greatest success on a global scale. This is acknowledged by all authoritative international organizations. The economic development, the economic reforms, the solution of social issues, the attitude exhibited to the people, regional development – all of this is a reality. As I said, our compatriots attending the opening of this mosque today represent all regions of Azerbaijan. As people living there, they can clearly see the opportunities ushered by these changes and how much comfort they bring. Infrastructure projects, social projects, economic development, the elimination of poverty, unemployment – all these are the realities of Azerbaijan.
We have achieved all that in a rather complex international situation. At present, the world is going through the second stage of the financial and economic recession. But I have always said that Azerbaijan is an island of stability. We are protecting and will continue to protect Azerbaijan from all troubles. The Azerbaijani people should be able to live in safety and prosperity. We protect our security and provide for a dynamic development of our country, thus demonstrating once again our commitment to the path of the great leader.
Azerbaijan can have its say in the world today. Our international authority strengthens by the day. The vast majority of members of the international community support Azerbaijan by means of the votes cast in our favor. Azerbaijan has established itself worldwide as a reliable partner. The work Azerbaijan has carried out for regional development plays a crucial role. Regional security, cooperation and solution of regional issues – this is our contribution to the common cause in the region.
In other words, the political situation is stable and the problems existing in the country are being resolved. Our international positions are fairly strong, while economic foundations are manifesting themselves. Even the negative facts experienced in the world, in the region and around us are not affecting Azerbaijan. Not because we are isolated! On the contrary, we are open to the world. The policy conducted in Azerbaijan is based on national interests. Where policies are based on national interests, there will be stability and development. I have repeatedly said this and I want to repeat this in this beautiful mosque named after the great leader that Azerbaijan is on the path of independence, pursues an independent policy and resolves its issues itself. For me as President, the main task is to justify the confidence of the people and serve the nation. I have repeatedly called on all public officials to do that. I gave them instructions. I said: all of us, including the President, are civil servants. This is our task.
All the freedoms – freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience – are guaranteed in Azerbaijan. All religious freedoms are fully provided in Azerbaijan. This area, it seems to me, is very important for our overall development. The freedom of religion is fully guaranteed in Azerbaijan.
Over the past 11 years about 250 mosques have been built or repaired in Azerbaijan. These include the Bibi-Heybat mosque, the Tazapir and Ajdarbay mosques, the Shamakhi mosque built in 743. They are of great value for our people. Repair and restoration is currently under way at the religious, historical and cultural center Imamzadeh. Today we are opening our country’s biggest and majestic Heydar mosque. The temples of other religions are also built and repaired in Azerbaijan, including at the government’s expense. I should also note that this mosque was built with public funds, as was the case with the construction and repair of the Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Albanian churches. Synagogues are also built and repaired in Azerbaijan. In other words, Azerbaijan has accumulated a unique experience in this field. It is natural for us, as it is a normal way of life for our society. At the same time, this is our state policy. These two factors create a very positive atmosphere. On the one hand, there are requests and orders coming from society, and on the other there is our state policy.
Security is fully provided in Azerbaijan. There is a positive public climate. A special role is played by the relations between the state and religion, as well as inter-religious relations. This is the case today and it will be the case tomorrow. Representatives of all peoples, faiths and religions live and will live like one family in Azerbaijan. Our country has never had and never will have any standoffs on religious grounds. There shouldn’t be and there is no misunderstanding. We are going down this path and showing this to the world.
Today we hear different thoughts about the dialogue among civilizations. Scientists, journalists, public figures and even politicians sometimes are not very positive about the future of these relations. I am very sorry about that. Let them watch and study the experience of Azerbaijan. Let them see representatives of all religions living in an atmosphere of goodwill in one country, where the rights of all nations are provided. How did we achieve that? Sometimes foreign guests ask me about this. It would take a few days to explain because, I repeat, this is our state policy. At the same time, this has been the case throughout history. Both Azerbaijan and our society, seeing this beautiful picture, contribute to the fact that this process is always continued.
At the same time, we are making a valuable contribution to the strengthening of inter-religious dialogue in the international arena. It is no coincidence that Azerbaijan has become one of the world centers of multiculturalism. The international events, dialogues, the intercultural dialogue, the humanitarian forum, the summits of religious leaders of the world held in our country – all these are the realities of the present-day Azerbaijan. We strive to ensure that these activities contribute to our common cause and to the fact that there is no misunderstanding and confrontation on religious grounds in the world. Unfortunately, in many cases we see the opposite. In the Middle East, Europe and other regions there are wars, conflicts and bloody clashes due to the religious factor. We, of course, are very concerned about that. Let me repeat: I hope that Azerbaijan, sharing its positive experiences with other countries, makes and will continue to make a huge contribution to universal human values.
I want to say again that we in Azerbaijan are addressing all issues consistently and purposefully. The source of our policy is to the people of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani government puts the desires of the Azerbaijani people into life. We will continue to follow this path. I am sure that all the problems facing the country will be successfully resolved. In particular, we will resolve our most painful problem – the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity.
Today, the strong Azerbaijani army, the strong Azerbaijani economy, our international positions enable us to achieve what we want in this direction. This is our right. We have fair demands. We want to restore our territorial integrity. We want the Azerbaijanis to live on all historically Azerbaijani lands, in Nagorno-Karabakh and all other occupied territories. There will come a time when the Azerbaijanis will also live on our historical lands – the Erivan khanate, Goycha and Zangezur.
Therefore, we have to work even harder. Everyone on the ground should contribute to our common cause. I am fully confident that the day will come when we will restore the Shusha mosque, the Agdam mosque and all other Azerbaijani mosques destroyed by Armenian vandals. We will do a joint prayer there. We will restore our territorial integrity.
I want to sincerely congratulate you and the people of Azerbaijan on this historic event – the opening of the Heydar mosque. The Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and New Year holidays are approaching. I want to wish the people of Azerbaijan happy holidays. I wish the Azerbaijani people peace, prosperity and progress. Thank you.