Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of new residential complex for IDP families in Kurdakhani settlement, Baku

05 april 2019, 10:50

It is a very significant day today. We are celebrating the opening of a new settlement built for internally displaced persons in Sabunchu district. I sincerely congratulate you on this occasion.

I am very glad that such a beautiful settlement has been created here. It will be home to 810 families. All conditions are available. I have been shown around and seen the apartments. They are spacious and nice. A large school has been built. The kindergarten and public areas are quite spacious. In other words, all conditions are available. The IDPs who lived in difficult conditions will move here soon – the IDPs who lived in dormitories, boarding houses and other make-shift places for years. A new period begins in their lives. The conditions created here meet the highest standards. There are beautiful buildings, spacious rooms and apartments. This demonstrates our policy. Our policy is centered on the people of Azerbaijan. The solution of the problems of the internally displaced persons is the top priority for us. This policy was carried out by the great leader. As you know, the first IDP settlement was built on the initiative of great leader Heydar Aliyev. At that time, first payments from the State Oil Fund were spent on that. Since that time, more than 100 settlements have been erected for the IDPs, and a large portion of them live in these settlements now. We are creating excellent conditions for the internally displaced persons in Baku, Sumgayit, the Absheron district, other cities and districts. This process will be continued. As you know, the last tent camp was removed in 2007. Until that time, the vast majority of our IDPs lived in tents. Last year alone, more than 5,000 apartments were built for the displaced persons. They are moving into these apartments. This year, we plan to commission at least 6,000 apartments. This process has already been launched, and I am sure that we will achieve our goal by the end of the year. Over the course of two years, approximately 11,000 IDP families will be resettled in new homes. This is an immense task. About 50,000 people on average will live in these apartments and solve their everyday problems. Major funds are being allocated for this purpose. As you know, funds have been allocated from the State Oil Fund for this purpose for years. The establishment of the State Oil Fund was also a historic event because this Fund provides support for our budget and also facilitates the solution of social issues, implementation of projects of strategic importance for our country. In the first place, the problems of internally displaced persons are addressed. Without this, of course, it would have been impossible to help the displaced people in such volumes. The State Oil Fund, which has evolved as a result of our successful oil strategy, has allocated and will continue to allocate large funds for this purpose. This is our policy. We must and we will resolve the problems of all displaced persons.

I should also note that some of the settlements were built on the lands that were once occupied and then liberated from occupation. This includes the practically rebuilt city of Horadiz, which is one of the most beautiful places of residence today. More than a thousand displaced families were resettled in Shikharkh settlement, a territory that used to be under occupation. A beautiful settlement consisting of 150 houses has been erected in Jojug Marjanli. Modern infrastructure, jobs and communications have been created there. In other words, life has returned to this land.

Of course, our main goal is to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Consistent work is carried out in this direction. There are no changes in our position of principle. This issue must be resolved within the framework of the territorial integrity of our country, on the basis of norms and principles of international law, decisions and resolutions of influential international organizations. Azerbaijan is doing everything necessary in this direction. Historical justice is on our side. Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied lands are our ancestral lands. International law also supports our position. Of course, the economic and military potential further strengthens our country. We will continue to pursue a consistent policy on this issue. I want to say again that this conflict can only be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country.

As for the solution of problems for the internally displaced persons, these problems are addressed comprehensively. Buildings are constructed, new settlements are built, social conditions of the internally displaced persons are improving, and social support provided by the state is growing. A large social package was recently approved. In particular, benefits paid to displaced persons have been increased by 50 percent. In fact, we have increased this amount several times. Today, the benefits paid to every IDP has been increased by 50 percent. This reflects our attention to the IDPs. Other social projects have been implemented. As you know, we are implementing very serious economic reforms now. These reforms expand our financial capabilities. We channel additional funds primarily into social issues. Thus, the popular support I received in last year’s presidential election enables us to fulfill all our promises. In the run-up to the election, I said that we will move to a new economic model and strive to address all social issues. In other words, major reforms, reforms in the economic and social sphere were announced on the eve of the presidential election. Serious reforms were launched after the election. These reforms are comprehensive. You and the public can certainly follow these reforms. The decisions I made and the orders signed will have a positive impact on all spheres of our life. Our country is renewing and modernizing. We are working on a new economic model and should make sure that the country's economy continues to develop steadily. We have always paid great attention to social issues, even in the years of crisis. The economic crisis that gripped the world in 2015-2016 affected all countries, including us. Just imagine – our revenues dropped three- to fourfold. In other words, the decline was measured not by percentage, but by times. This has been a great test for any country. Of course, as a result of the prompt action taken, we managed to mitigate the consequences of that crisis, and by taking serious steps afterwards, we succeeded in maintaining economic stability and moving on to development. Last year, economic development began. There are results for the first two months of this year. They are very positive, economic growth is quite high and accounts for about 3 percent. Industrial production in the non-oil sector has increased by more than 15 percent. Incomes of the population are increasing, inflation is at a very low level – at less than 2 percent, strict control is exercised over consumer prices. In other words, I want to say that a new stage of economic and social reforms was launched after the presidential election, and we are seeing their results today. I can say that as a result of the measures taken, budget revenues in the first quarter of the year have increased by more than 200 million manats. At the expense of what? At the expense of transparency, a new approach and reforms. This allows us the opportunity to channel these funds into improving the well-being of our citizens, and this is what we have been doing. The minimum wage, the minimum pension have increased by almost 40 percent, social benefits have been doubled on average. The allowances paid to the families of martyrs, those disabled in the Karabakh war, the internally displaced persons, scholarships to students – all this has been made possible at the expense of this. Our economic situation has enabled us to carry out these reforms. They cover all areas. I want to say again that we have entered a new stage of development.

I can say that all the steps taken are highly appreciated by the population. The letters and appeals from the ground give grounds to say that the reforms enjoy popular support and are highly appreciated, which creates additional opportunities for us. We should modernize our country and develop Azerbaijan. We should make sure that all problems are resolved. All negative phenomena in the economic, social and judicial spheres, in the field of public administration must be stopped. Transparency must be fully ensured in Azerbaijan, and we will achieve that. This will give us extra opportunities. Budget revenues will further increase and social issues will be addressed even faster.

When we raised the minimum wage and pension, I said that this process would be continued. It is possible to say that we have implemented major infrastructure projects. True, there are still projects that need to be implemented, including the fairly large events provided for in the fourth state program on the socioeconomic development of the regions. But we will focus primarily on social issues. Of course, there are opportunities to do that and we are creating these opportunities.

Azerbaijan is a completely independent country both economically and, of course, politically. We do not depend on anyone, our financial situation is stable, our incomes are increasing, the large-scale projects being implemented, including the Southern Gas Corridor project, will bring us additional income in the near future. These revenues will be distributed fairly. I want to say again that they will be channeled primarily into the social well-being of our citizens. Thus, this beautiful settlement opened today is a demonstration of our policy, the care to the internally displaced persons and the increasing opportunities of our country. Today, Azerbaijan is doing a great deal of creative work in all areas – economic, social. Hospitals, schools are built, new social facilities are put into operation, roads are laid, such excellent conditions are created for the IDPs. Creation, improvement and development are the factors Azerbaijan is noted for today.

I want to congratulate you on this wonderful event again. I want to express my reverence and respect to all displaced persons. I want to assure the IDPs still living in a difficult situation that their problems will also be resolved. They, too, will improve their living conditions in turn. We have the will to do that, and we will do that. I heartily congratulate you again!