Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva viewed landscaping work carried out in the Balakhani settlement

23 september 2020, 13:15

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyevaviewed the landscaping work carried out in Balakhani settlement, Baku.

President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva were informed of the landscaping work done in the Balakhani settlement.

President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva were also informed of the restoration of Haji Shahla Mosque and Shakir Agha Tomb in the settlement. The Shakir Agha Tomb is considered to be one of the most valuable monuments of Balakhani.

The head of state and the first lady picked figs and watched pigeons.

President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva then met with Balakhani residents.

Greeting residents, President Ilham Aliyev said:

- A new era begins for Balakhani village. I congratulate you on this occasion. You know that I have been paying particular attention to the Balakhani settlement. A few years ago, the cleaning and removal of that notorious Balakhani garbage dump signaled the start of the environmental work underway here. It had been causing significant discomfort to the residents of Balakhani and having an adverse impact on residents of Baku as a whole. The smoke from that dump was polluting the air and also causing great harm to human health. In a recent interview with TV channels, I expressed my thoughts related to this project so that I won’t repeat it. What used to be a garbage dump has now become a nice landfill and jobs have been created. There is an industrial park and a waste incineration plant here. At the same time, most of Lake Boyukshor nearby has already been cleared and a road has been built over the lake. Therefore, there are good travel opportunities now.

As for the current stage of the work, it is evident. All the work has been done with great love and taste. Infrastructure and sewage projects, the comfortable environment created for our people, the power lines, the repair of buildings, roofs, roads, the aesthetic appearance of streets – all this is done for people living here to feel comfortable, to create the appropriate environment for them. At the same time, jobs have been created. According to the information available to me, residents are involved in the work. They grow trees, flowers, shrubs and, at the same time, there are people from other places working here. In general, about a thousand people have been provided with jobs in this landscaping work.

This is the first stage of our work. Work is not over yet. Only a large part of it is. But there is still much to be done and we will do everything gradually. I want to say again that the main goal in Balakhani, an ancient settlement of our country, is for people to live comfortably, better, provide them with jobs, have an excellent ecological situation, clean air and clean water. Of course, one of the goals was to discover and restore historic sites. Some of the historical sites shown to me today were underground, including a sand bath, other sites – the sites built in the 14th century, in Soviet times. They are also our national treasure. These sites show that this settlement has an ancient history and ancient culture because only people with advanced civilization could have constructed such buildings. This includes the reservoir, the bathhouse – this means culture.

Of course, there are ideas about the future development of Balakhani. People from Baku and other cities are already coming here to relax, walk and take pictures. I was briefed that information about Balakhani is published in foreign media, and there is great interest in Europe and Russia. Of course, the influx of tourists will become more significant. This will create new opportunities for settlement’s residents. It would be great if residents of the settlement were active in tourism-related issues and use these opportunities to provide tourism services to visitors.

Residents of cities, small settlements and historical places in many developed countries join the tourism business, earn money, provide information about their history and culture and, at the same time, create excellent conditions for tourists. Therefore, it will depend on the people themselves. The government will also provide the necessary support. The catering facilities, cafes, teahouses, other facilities that can attract tourists should be created with good taste, so that life here is active, people live better and visitors from abroad can see this beauty.

I have said this before and you know very well that Balakhani has a great history. But this history was somewhat left on the sidelines. Because of the poor environmental situation, the dilapidated roads and other problems prevented even the citizens of Azerbaijan from having full information about Balakhani. Now Balakhani has made it to the world media, and this is only a beginning. This is why Mehriban khanim and I are here today. I said that I would come and visit to get acquainted with the work done. Most of the work has already been completed, and the upcoming work will give a greater impetus to the development of Balakhani. I congratulate you again.

Residents: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Alihasan Valiyev: Mr. President, dear Mrs. Aliyeva, as an elder, I want to express my deep gratitude to you for taking care of our settlement on behalf of all our residents. Thank you!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you!

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: Thank you very much. There are talented artists here. Are you an artist?

Emin Alakbarov: Yes, I am.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: Great! I have seen some of your works. They are lovely and created with great taste.

Emin Alakbarov: We tried to do our best. As residents, we have realized our old dreams and tried to show our potential.

President Ilham Aliyev: We had our photos taken against the background of these pictures.

Emin Alakbarov: Thank you, we are proud of you. On behalf of all artisans, scientists, intellectuals, artists and people affiliated with culture living in Balakhani, thank you for supporting us in creating this beauty. Thank you again!

President Ilham Aliyev: Of course, we have plans to do work in other settlements as well, relevant instructions have already been given. At the initial stage, similar projects will be implemented in about seven to eight settlements. But of course, it won’t be an exact replication. Each settlement has its architectural style and historical appearance. Therefore, the landscaping work carried out in each settlement; the residents should be involved in discussions. First of all, issues of concern to residents, such as infrastructure, sewage, roofing, repair of buildings, power lines and other day-to-day problems, as well as repair and restoration work, should be carried out with the participation of residents and on the recommendation of local elders. Because the elders keep the history of these settlements alive, they are living witnesses of that history. At the same time, the younger generation is joining in, so that each village has its own appearance.

Vusala Salimova: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Balakhani settlement is known in the world media for its oil. From now on, it will also be known for this beautiful landscaping work carried out thanks to your help and attention for this sheer beauty. Therefore, on behalf of the residents of Balakhani, we express our gratitude to you.

Elchin Rikabov: As a Balakhani resident, I also express my deep gratitude to you for this beauty around us.

President Ilham Aliyev: Balakhani also has delicious fruits. We picked and tasted the figs.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: I remembered our summer house in Pirshaghi when I was a child. Figs were precisely the same –green but sweet.

President Ilham Aliyev: I said that these fruits should also be preserved. Absheron grape varieties - “Shani”, “White shani”, “Black shani” – there are fewer of them now, in some cases, they have entirely disappeared. But they were as sweet as honey, the bunches hung right on the sand. We must not forget or lose these varieties. These are the wonderful gifts from Absheron. Therefore, this must be taken into account.

Emin Alakbarov: We are trying to fulfill everything that has been said. Of course, local artisans must preserve our national values, preserve our roots. You have seen our ceramic samples. We have carpet-weaving shops where the younger generation is provided with jobs. In other words, the younger generation already realizes its potential in these places and, of course, benefits from them.

President Ilham Aliyev: Right. I had said this many times, back when I started my tenure as President, that we must turn ‘black gold’ into human capital. This is it – “black gold” is human capital. We have used oil revenues for the well-being, health, comfort and safety of the people, and today I can say that we are among the world's leading oil-rich countries for this policy. Leading international financial institutions note that oil in Azerbaijan serves to improve the well-being of the people. The reduction of poverty and unemployment is a clear example of this. In some cases, unemployment occurs in oil-rich countries, poverty, social injustice and other problems become severe in society. In Azerbaijan, the oil serves the development of the people, the development of our country.

Balakhani and Bibi-Heybat are the oldest oil centers in the world. The world’s oil production started here. A similar project is being implemented in the Bibi-Heybat settlement, where we first cleaned the Bibi-Heybat Harbor. Do you remember the state it was in? It was horrible just to look at it – all the land was black, the sea was black, those rigs, those poles were all black and looked like a zone of ecological disaster. But today, there is a park where we held the European Games. Now the marathon starts from there, an art camp and a sports camp have been set up there, the country’s largest swimming pool is there, there is a boulevard. The second stage is to landscape the Bibi-Heybat settlement. Work there is also underway. How are things going?

Bunyad Gasimov, General Director of the “Baku Landscaping Service” LLC: Mr. President, Bibi-Heybat is clearly smaller in scale. More than half of the settlement has already been landscaped. We have only one street left. Sewage work has also been carried out there, and all power lines have been laid underground.

President Ilham Aliyev: When it is ready, do let me know, we will go and see. Yes, Balakhani and Bibi-Heybat are the most ancient oil centers in the world. While visiting Bibi-Heybat, I said that the whole world should know that the first oil was drilled here. But is there any site that reflects this? No! This is why I suggested that model oil rigs made of old construction materials be built. Foreign visitors can now come and see where the world's oldest oil well was drilled. I said recently that if Azerbaijan had been independent, then if that oil had reached our people, we could be the wealthiest country in the world now. But when we gained independence, Balakhani and Bibi-Heybat were in an ecological disaster. What did our people gain? It is a rhetorical question. This is why we must turn these places from ecological disaster zones into zones of environmental paradise, and we are doing that.

May I ask you, as an elder, to convey my greetings to all the local elders. You, too, please, do convey my greetings to all the young people, all women, all residents of Balakhani. I want to say again that I am glad that this work is already being completed. Thank you!

Elchin Rikabov: Thank you very much. Everyone in our society, young and old, says: May Allah protect you!

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: Please convey our deep respect and greetings to all the residents. Thank you!

Residents: Thank you! Thank you very much!