Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the Gabala International Airport

18 november 2011, 12:10

- Dear friends, let me salute you all from the bottom of my heart. On this wonderful day I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the opening of the Gabala International Airport.

It is a great and remarkable day today. On 17 November 1990, at the initiative of great leader Heydar Aliyev, the flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was adopted and raised in Nakhchivan as the national flag for the first time. That event brought us closer to independence. It was still more than a year to the collapse of the Soviet Union. That wise and courageous step demonstrated again how firmly the great leader was attached to his people. By adopting this flag as state flag, the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan also petitioned to the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan to adopt this flag as the state flag of Azerbaijan.

We are meeting on this beautiful and historic day. The opening of the Gabala International Airport is also a logical result of the work carried out in Azerbaijan in recent years. This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of our independence. Over these 20 years our country has covered a successful and glorious road. Over the 20 years Azerbaijan has made great progress and become much stronger. The reforms under way in the country since 1993 have greatly advanced Azerbaijan. The country has successfully addressed both economic and social issues. Azerbaijan’s international authority is growing and opportunities expanding. We are a country enjoying and deserving great international respect. While developing every sphere, we pay great attention to the transport sector. Development of this sector is evident. Several international airports have been built in Azerbaijan in recent years – in Nakhchivan, Ganja, Lankaran, Zagatala. Finally, an international airport is starting to operate in Gabala. This airport can receive any aircraft, even the biggest cargo planes. The runway is large enough and can withstand the weight of any aircraft. The airport meets all international standards. So I am sure that the future of the airport will be very successful. I do hope that international flights will also be arranged from this airport in the future.

We are investing heavily in the development of air transport in general. Our policies are clearly illustrated by the construction of airports, including the reconstruction of the Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, the construction of new airport terminals and runways. Azerbaijan is rationally using its geographical location, and the reforms ongoing in the transport sector are facilitating these realities. Not only do we build airports, we also deliver new modern aircraft to the country. In recent years, we have purchased the most modern and the best liners to Azerbaijan – Boeing, Airbus, ATR. We can say that our aircraft fleet has been completely updated and corresponds to the highest level now.

Our international airports in Ganja, Nakhchivan and Lankaran also organize international flights. This provides comfort to people and facilitates their travel to other countries. This infrastructure is already available in Azerbaijan and I think that the establishment of the Gabala International Airport is one of the last steps of this program. The exchange of views on the construction of new airports in Azerbaijan will be held in the future too. If necessary, we will continue this process. But the Gabala airport has a role to play. The goal of this airport is to ensure and enhance tourist flow to the region, Gabala and surrounding districts. If we consider that Gabala has a beautiful and modern tourist infrastructure and that this process is still ongoing, I hope there will be many people coming here and Gabala will receive direct flights from other cities.

Our transport sector is growing. Both air and sea transport is developing, we are purchasing new tankers, ferries, cargo vessels. A new shipyard that will meet international standards is under construction in Baku. The construction in the biggest international sea port on the Caspian is ongoing near Baku, in the Alat settlement. The capacity of this port will be increased from 10 to 25 million tons. So the Baku port is to become the biggest port on the Caspian Sea. Railways are under construction. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is under construction. It will demonstrate Azerbaijan to the world as a reliable transit country and link us with our neighbors. Azerbaijan is successfully implementing this project together with its partners. Azerbaijan has initiated and played a role in this project.

Our roads are renovated, new roads are built. This includes major overhaul of the road leading to the Gabala International Airport. There is construction on all trunk roads. There is a very comfortable and beautiful road from Baku to Gabala. This road will run to the border, to Balakan. Roads are built in all other directions. So all matters relating to transport in Azerbaijan are resolved successfully, professionally and at a high level.

There are specific programs and proposals on further development of this region. I pay equal attention to all the regions. Each region is special. Our north-western region is special because it has a great tourism potential. But this potential can only be realized if there is a proper tourism infrastructure, and we are creating it. Modern tourism facilities, hotels, campgrounds, recreation areas are under construction in all our districts from Baku to the border – in Gobustan, Ismayilli, Gabala, Oguz, Shaki, Gakh, Zagatala and Balaken. The infrastructure is being upgraded.

As to Gabala, it has become an international center in recent years. The traditional music festival held here has gained popularity all over the world, the number of its participants is growing every year, it is joined by prominent people of art from around the world. I have attended the opening of the Gabala Olympic Sports Center today. A new Culture Center is under construction and will be opened next year. Earlier, we built a Diagnostic Center which can provide proper medical service. There are new processing enterprises. These are the most advanced and biggest enterprises not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the region. New jobs are created, industrial facilities, houses, hotels are opening. The hotels built here are world-class. All these are the realities of recent years. We have achieved all this, all these successes ourselves. Gabala District, the city of Gabala have already regained their historic place on the map. Gabala is an ancient population center, an old city. The name of Gabala can be seen on ancient maps. Now the historical glory has been returned to Gabala. In the coming years extra measures will be taken and extra funds allocated for the development of Gabala. In the next two years all infrastructure projects will be implemented, and this will fully engage the district’s potential.

The construction of this airport, its opening on such a great and historic day are quite symbolic. This is one of the successes we have achieved in 20 years of independence. There are so many successes it is impossible to enumerate or count them. But this airport, this beautiful building and amazing work of architecture will always serve the people of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan state. This is a strategic facility. It has a strategic purpose and meaning. I am sure that the launch of the airport will facilitate tourist flow to Gabala.

Let me congratulate you on this wonderful event again and wish all the people of Gabala good health and further successes. Thank you.