Opening speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening Heydar Aliyev Center in Sumgayit

27 september 2016, 11:50

Dear residents of Sumgayit, dear friends! My warm greetings to all of you! I am very please to be back in Sumgayit. I have repeatedly visited Sumgayit before. The development of Sumgayit is always in the spotlight. Today, we will celebrate the opening of a number of beautiful facilities in Sumgayit. Among them, of course, the Heydar Aliyev Center stands out for its magnificence and grandeur. This center is a great landmark both in terms of architecture and functionality. This Center is worthy of the great leader’s name.

Heydar Aliyev is the founder of the independent Azerbaijani state. It was under his leadership that Azerbaijan confidently embarked on independent life. If Heydar Aliyev had been in power in 1991, Azerbaijan would never have encountered problems. We would have never been faced with civil war and our lands would have never been occupied. Our happiness lies in the fact that Heydar Aliyev came to power on people’s request in 1993, and the subsequent period of independence was one of stability, progress and development. The reforms carried out in Azerbaijan in those difficult years, the security measures, the signing of the oil contract, the strengthening of our statehood, and the adoption of a new Constitution determined the further development of our country. It was at that time that the strategic choice on with the further development of our country was made: the Azerbaijani state will retain its independence, the ideology of Azerbaijanism will be pursued in the country, Azerbaijan will establish international relations based on mutual respect, profound socio-economic reforms will be carried out, and Azerbaijan will pursue a policy open doors with foreign investors. This strategic choice justified itself. Today, we clearly see that again. Today, Azerbaijan is a country enjoying great respect in the world. We are a country to be reckoned with, our opinion is of great importance not only in the regional plane, but also on a global scale.

Next month, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the restoration of our independence. Twenty-three of these 25 years have been years of development, progress and renewal. When Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991, other Soviet republics also became independent. The first two years were very difficult and tragic for our people and state. The anti-national forces that seized power at the time were essentially destroying our country, and the people of Azerbaijan lived in great suffering and anxiety. After tolerating the PFA-Musavat tandem for only one year, the Azerbaijan people consigned these negative elements to the annals of history. The processes taking place in Azerbaijan today, the development of our country and the referendum held yesterday demonstrate the will of our people again. They show again that the people of Azerbaijan support the current policy. They have demonstrated again that the people of Azerbaijan have chosen security, stability, development, dignity and independence.

The referendum held yesterday is yet another indicator of the people's great confidence in our policies. This confidence gives us strength. Without that it would be difficult to defend the national interests of our country in the international arena. Our policy is based on national interests. Our policy is based on the interests of the Azerbaijani people and national values. Today, Azerbaijan speaks its word in every international forum, goes its own way, the way of independence and dignity. We are not indebted to anyone and will do nothing under someone else's dictation. This policy is supported by the people, approved and respected in the international arena.

The referendum held yesterday determines the further development of our country. The absolute majority of the Azerbaijani people clearly said "yes" to the referendum, supported and approved our proposals. I want to express my deep gratitude to the Azerbaijani people again for that.

Over the past 13 years, I have been trying to live up to this confidence with my work and activities. I am glad that Azerbaijan is one of the countries that stand out on a global scale today. We have ensured security, the Azerbaijani people live in peace and calm, the international authority of the country is growing, and army building is successfully under way. The April fighting demonstrated the power of the Azerbaijani army again. Despite the ongoing global recession, Azerbaijan is steadily developing in the economic sphere. All social projects are being implemented. Our energy policy is of great importance not only for the country, but also for the region and the world. Azerbaijan is a leading country in terms of energy security. We are implementing giant industrial projects.

As you know, this year has been declared a "Year of multiculturalism" in Azerbaijan. Representatives of all ethnicities and religions live in our country like one family. These are our realities. Our people appreciate these realities, and this underpins the referendum results. If someone wants to dictate something to us from abroad in the future, let them think twice. First, we do not speak the language of dictate and do not accept such an approach. Second, which is very important, we do not depend on anyone. Our policy is about relying on our own strength, not depending on anyone politically or financially, and being in charge of our own fate.

The development of the regions of Azerbaijan remains a priority. I put forward this initiative in 2004, and from that day on, all the cities and districts are developing and improving. The regional development program enables our country to comprehensively develop both economically and geographically.

Sumgayit holds a special place in the implementation of that program. Sumgayit is a large industrial city. The population of Sumgayit is also quite large. It is the second biggest city of Azerbaijan after Baku. The development of Sumgayit has always been in the spotlight. I am sure that the current state and appearance of Sumgayit delight the people of Sumgayit and all the people of Azerbaijan. A lot has been done in Sumgayit in recent years. The opening Ceremonies I have attended today are graphic evidence of that. In just eight to nine months, we have created such a grand Heydar Aliyev Center. Today we celebrated the opening of a chess school and a school of arts. These are beautiful and majestic buildings where children can study. I believe that the Sumgayit boulevard a just a miracle. A few years ago I asked the city administration to establish the Sumgayit Boulevard. The people of Sumgayit will probably recall that a presentation was held for me a few years ago.

I have regularly enquired how things are going. They said there were difficulties here and there. Today, the Sumgayit Boulevard is already open. A special role in the creation of this boulevard has been played by the city administration. A large role was played by the people of Sumgayit. I wanted Sumgayit to have the same boulevard as in Baku. And we have achieved this. The Sumgayit Boulevard has been created in just over a year, maybe even less. The 4-km boulevard is pleasing to the eye. There is both a beach and the boulevard here. A road has been laid, the entire infrastructure has been set up, there are recreation areas. I am sure that the boulevard will delight residents and visitors to Sumgayit. What does this mean? It means that we can handle any job in Azerbaijan. In Soviet times, Sumgayit was a chemical industry center. Who would have thought that it would become so beautiful and environmentally friendly city? Today, air in Sumgayit is very clean. Sumgayit has resolved environmental problems. The city is landscaped with great taste and love. Streets are laid, landscaping is under way at the entrance to Sumgayit, trees are planted. So this can only be done by people who love their city and nation.

I am very pleased that all the tasks set out in our policy are being met. One of our problems is that sometimes the tasks are not performed due to negligence or are executed only in part. I make those in public service perform this work properly. Here in Sumgayit, you to take the initiative yourself. You want Sumgayit to become even more beautiful and landscaped.

I should also note, as I have repeatedly said, that our capital Baku is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We should try to make all our cities look like Baku: not in terms of architecture, as each city has its own history and appearance, but in terms of landscaping, comfort, the standard of living. Every city should strive to come closer to Baku. I think that Sumgayit has already reached the level of Baku. I heartily congratulate you on this.

Infrastructure projects are being successfully implemented in Sumgayit. I am told that the level of gasification is about 100 per cent. Eighty per cent of the city population is uninterruptedly provided with drinking water. We should try to raise this figure to 100 per cent. There is no problem with electricity, because the first major power plant was built in Sumgayit on my initiative, and we have celebrated its opening. The 525MW power station was built at the time because I foresaw the successful development of Sumgayit. I was sure of it and knew that Sumgayit would need even more electricity.

Roads are laid, social infrastructure is upgraded, Olympic and Paralympic centers have been set up, the “ASAN xidmət” Center has been established, and hospital has been renovated in Sumgayit. In other words, the city is comprehensively developing, which, of course, makes me and you very happy.

Sumgayit was historically established as a city of chemists. It was a center of the chemical industry of the Soviet Union. Today, Sumgayit has become a world-class industrial center. This is our task now - Sumgayit should have the most modern industrial enterprises. This will enhance our overall industrial capacity and create tens of thousands of new jobs. I am very glad that the already existing and future sectors will help us meet this objective.

In recent years, the industrial potential of Sumgayit has grown considerably. Most importantly, a lot of attention is being paid to environmental issues. In Soviet times, Sumgayit was always portrayed as a city full of environmental problems, and the foreign media always listed Sumgayit among environmentally unfriendly cities. There was some truth in that. You, the people of Sumgayit, are well aware of that. But today, Sumgayit is one of the cleanest cities in the world. While walking on the boulevard and in the city, one can see the beauty and feel that the air here is very clean. In fact, the air in Sumgayit is getting close to that of resorts.

I am sure that the tourism sector will also play a role in the further development of Sumgayit. A few years ago, it was hard to imagine that we would want to see Sumgayit also as a center of tourism. Today it is a reality - a beautiful coastal area, beaches, clean air, parks, public spaces, recreation areas. Now Sumgayit is a city parks. I was informed today that new construction projects would be implemented. New residential buildings and hotels will be constructed not far from the boulevard. Therefore, Sumgayit should manifest itself also as a tourist zone of Azerbaijan in the future.

The key condition for the construction of industrial enterprises is full compliance with environmental guidelines. We need to create environmentally-friendly enterprises.

The industrial potential of Sumgayit strengthens our country. Today Sumgayit is the second largest industrial center not only of Azerbaijan, but also of the South Caucasus. Speakers today will report on the work done and future plans. I have specifically asked for these reports to provide the people of Sumgayit and indeed all our people with information on the work done and future plans. You surely know well what work has been done in your city, but these presentations will provide broader context. Everyone will see that if Sumgayit is the second largest industrial city in the South Caucasus today, it will always bear this honorary title because large industrial projects and enterprises we have laid the foundations of today are world-class projects.

The Sumgayit Technology Park has operated for many years now. A Chemical Industry Park is being established in Sumgayit. Some companies are already in operation, including those exporting pipes. This is particularly important for us because we need to produce exportable products.

A polymer plant is already under construction. I personally laid its foundation. Investment in the amount of about 1 billion manats is expected. A nitrogen fertilizer plant will be built. It will also meet domestic needs and create great export potential. There are light industry enterprises in place. Food industry is developing. So the development of Sumgayit is comprehensive. First of all, there is urban infrastructure because there are new projects relating to transport. I was shown the new buses today. This is also a very important area. People should be pleased with public transport. Work on landscaping, public areas, leisure centers, industrial capacity – these are the main goals.

The main issue for any country and city is to provide jobs where people would receive good salaries, to have good schools, kindergartens, public health, security, urban transport, and justice. Today we are going this way, and in Sumgayit we clearly see the progress our country has made in recent years and the policies we have implemented.

This is my 16th visit to Sumgayit. I will come again in the future. The development of Sumgayit will always be in the spotlight. And today I want to once again congratulate the people of Sumgayit and the city administration on all the successes achieved.