The Heydar Aliyev Center has been opened and an official ceremony marking the 89th birthday anniversary of great leader and the eighth anniversary of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been held in Baku.
The ceremony was attended by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, his wife Mehriban Aliyeva and their family members.
The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center.
In designing the Heydar Aliyev Center, a unique pearl of world architecture, the architectural flavor of Baku has been meticulously considered. A perfect reflection of the unique Center’s idea in its architecture imparts special individuality to the ensemble. The construction of the Heydar Aliyev Center, which represents particular importance in terms of promoting the nationwide leader’s philosophy of Azerbaijanism and participation of Azerbaijani citizens in momentous and large-scale projects for the country and its people within the framework of global developments, reflects the modern realities of Azerbaijan. Also, the establishment of this culture center, an important event in the public and political life of the country, demonstrates the scale and significance of the measures being taken under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev.
President Ilham Aliyev addressed the ceremony.
Remarks by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Today we are marking the 89th birthday anniversary of the great son of the Azerbaijani people – Heydar Aliyev. On this remarkable day we are gathered for the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center. I heartily congratulate you on this occasion.
The Heydar Aliyev Center is a unique monument of architecture. The idea of establishing the center emerged six to seven years ago. The plan was to create a multipurpose center in Baku that would also be an architectural monument and bear the name of the great leader. We began to conduct research. The main issue was the choice of a location. As you know, there was a plant named after Sattarkhan here for many years. The plant was outdated and its products did not meet modern requirements. Despite this, in order not to close the plant, it was moved to another location, the area was cleared and the construction began. The plant covered an area of 16 hectares. Now this magnificent building has been constructed here and a beautiful park laid.
The second issue was the center’s architecture. Proposals were made by renowned architect Zaha Hadid. They were immediately analyzed and the decision was made that the Heydar Aliyev Center should be established on the basis of this project. Because it is a unique piece of architecture. It has no analogues in the world and is a multipurpose building symbolizing modernity. The appearance of the building allows one to put forward various theories. Some think is resembles a wave, others associate it with wind. This is natural – everyone’s thoughts are based on fantasies. In any case, this building is unique from both architectural and functional points of view.
Five years ago, in 2007, the foundation of this building was laid and the construction began. Of course, it was necessary to turn this beautiful architectural design into reality. And today I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to world-famous architect Zaha Hadid and everyone who was engaged in the construction for doing such a remarkable job.
Dear friends, you have come to this building for the first time. I have visited it several times during construction.
Construction was constantly under control. Both you and the people of Azerbaijan will have the opportunity to see the building because it is a multipurpose center. There are meeting rooms and a concert hall, a hall for official receptions and a conference hall. There will also be a museum of Heydar Aliyev here.
There will be a library, exhibition halls here, there are other rooms and halls. The building will be fully at the disposal of the Azerbaijani people.
As I have said, the center covers an area of 16 hectares. There are beautiful parks here. There are moving staircases for the convenience of people. I am sure the center and its surroundings will further adorn our city and become a place of recreation.
Baku is rapidly developing and becoming prettier. Antiquity and modernity form a unity in Baku. Baku is an ancient and modern city. Baku has traditional ancient symbols which we are rightly proud of. One of the main symbols of Baku is the Maiden Tower. The seaside boulevard is also a symbol of Baku.
The Palace of Shirvanshahs, the Gobustan Reserve, the Old City are ancient symbols of Baku. And the symbols of modern Baku are emerging now. These include the Baku boulevard which has been extended from 3.5 to 14 kilometers, the old part, the new part and the boulevard built to the State Flag Square.
The State Flag Square is a modern symbol of our city and country. The world’s highest flagpole and the most magnificent state flag square are in Baku. The square covers an area of 60 hectares. This is a grand and unique architectural monument and a symbol of our statehood.
Speaking about new symbols, I should certainly mention the Flame Towers. They are also a symbol of the modern and developing Baku; the recently commissioned Baku Crystal Hall; and finally the Heydar Aliyev Center. These buildings are also modern symbols of Baku. I am sure that anyone coming to Baku, all visitors will see the ancient and modern symbols of the city. They will see that Azerbaijan treats ancient history with great attention and respect. At the same time, Azerbaijan is a rapidly growing and modern state and it is developing so fast that we can create such beautiful works of architecture.
The Heydar Aliyev Center is already included in the list of world architecture. The Heydar Aliyev Center is an architectural marvel. Naturally, this center is named after the founder of our independence – Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev has always loyally served his nation. He owns an invaluable contribution to the development of our people and the state.
He has always made great efforts to improve the well-being of the Azerbaijani people and develop Azerbaijan. In the 1970-1980s, Azerbaijan covered the road from being one the most backward to the most advanced republics of the Soviet Union under his leadership. It was in those years that Azerbaijan created a powerful industrial potential which still serves the modern and independent Azerbaijan.
Heydar Aliyev’s activities were calculated for a long-term development. The projects launched and the enterprises built on his initiative are still serving our nation and state. After Heydar Aliyev was sidelined from the political leadership of the Soviet Union in 1987, Azerbaijan began to experience problems. Two weeks after his dismissal, as a result of a campaign launched by the Armenian lobby, the idea was planted of severing Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and annexing it to Armenia. United around this idea, Armenia and its patrons began an aggressive policy against Azerbaijan.
Heydar Aliyev and his authority had been preventing such claims. And two weeks after his resignation these plans started being implemented.
In 1988, yet another provocation against Azerbaijan took place – the Sumgayit events. Investigation materials have been published. It is no secret that the Sumgayit events were perpetrated by Armenian nationalists.
It was their provocation, it was the Armenians who showed particular cruelty there. The goal was clear: to use these events to advance unfounded claims against Azerbaijan and justify the subsequent genocide against the Azerbaijanis.
In 1990, an act of aggression against the Azerbaijani people was committed – the bloody January events took place. The Khojaly genocide was perpetrated in 1992. In May 1992, Shusha and Lachin Districts were occupied. Kalbajar District was captured in April 1993, thus bringing about a geographical link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
Just look at how many disasters befell the people of Azerbaijan in the time when Heydar Aliyev was not a political leader.
Fortunately, the people of Azerbaijan showed wisdom and in 1993, when the country was ravaged by civil war, turned to the great leader, urged him to take political leadership and help Azerbaijan get out of this difficult situation. Only thanks to the policy of Heydar Aliyev, his wisdom, determination, attitude towards the people and authority were we able to get out of the crisis. All the illegal armed groups were disarmed, stability set in, order was restored, an end was put to civil war and the country began to develop.
So we make no mistake when saying that Heydar Aliyev is the founder of the modern and independent Azerbaijan. This is true because our modern history, the glorious history began in 1993. From that time to 2003, Azerbaijan covered a long and successful road and laid the foundations of statehood. A progressive constitution was adopted, the process of state building began, fundamental political and economic reforms were implemented, Azerbaijan earned worldwide recognition and became a member of international organizations.
The economic reforms conducted on Heydar Aliyev’s initiative were based on the principles of market economy. This too was a revolutionary change. Both political and economic reforms have preconditioned the present-day development.
Azerbaijan’s oil strategy started being implemented on the initiative of Heydar Aliyev in the difficult circumstances of that time. Launched then, this strategy is continuing and being enriched today. One of the key contributors to Azerbaijan’s successful development has been Heydar Aliyev’s oil strategy.
The process of army building began. Azerbaijan practically had no regular army. The separate armed units subordinated to different political forces were unable to wage war at the proper level. The creation of a regular army was a historic event. Today our Army is strengthening and can fulfill any task. So we can see the legacy of Heydar Aliyev in all spheres of life today. The ideological foundation of our state was laid on his initiative. The construction of a modern state on a strong and solid foundation, on national values has been one of Heydar Aliyev’s main policy directions. It was Heydar Aliyev who introduced the ideology of Azerbaijanism. Today, the philosophy of Azerbaijanism is one of our main ideological pillars.
In other words, the merits of the great leader in the 10 years are invaluable. The love for Heydar Aliyev lives and will live on in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people. We, the followers of the great leader’s cause, must ensure that his policies always prevail in Azerbaijan. I have no doubt about that. The experience of the past nine years shows that we are committed to this policy. We are committed to Heydar Aliyev’s political will. In late 2003, he said: The things I have begun will be completed by my successors. And so it happened.
In 2006, we commissioned the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline established on his initiative. He personally laid the foundation of it. In 2007, we commissioned the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline – a part of the Shah-Deniz project which was signed on his initiative. This new corridor has enabled us to implement a third strategic project. The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is successfully continuing and will be completed in the coming months. The establishment of the new Iron Silk Road will provide for long-term political and economic interests in Azerbaijan.
Political reforms are ongoing. Azerbaijan is strengthening its positions. The process of democratization is well under way. There are all the freedoms in Azerbaijan. Reforms in this direction have been positive, successful and valuable.
These reforms will be continued. Over the past nine years Azerbaijan has experienced a period of unprecedented economic development. In nine years, our economy grew threefold. Industrial production has tripled. The number of people living in poverty fell from nearly 50 to 7.6 per cent. Unemployment has declined sharply. Over a million jobs have been created. The rate of unemployment in Azerbaijan is 5.3 per cent now.
There is practically no budget deficit. It is at 1 per cent perhaps. But the deficit-free budget is not a problem for us. Our foreign debt accounts for only 7 percent of the GDP. This, I think, is one of the best indicators in the world. Our economic success is recognized by international financial institutions. Even in the most difficult and critical years for the world and the continent, the Azerbaijani economy is growing. Three main international rating agencies – Moody's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's – have raised Azerbaijan’s credit rating.
Azerbaijan has successfully continued the policy of economic diversification. This is confirmed by the results of the first quarter of this year. The non-oil economy has grown by 7.7 per cent and the non-oil industry by 16.5 per cent. These are the dynamics and realities of the present-day Azerbaijan. At the same time, we are conducting a strong social policy. We significantly raised pensions last year. This year we started the process of repaying the deposits of the Soviet period, or rather, the payment of compensations. The coefficient we have applied is the highest and most beneficial in the FSU republics. So Azerbaijan will be repaying the highest amount in the shortest time because all the compensations must be paid before the end of next year.
Azerbaijan has made great strides in building the army. Today, our military spending exceeds the state budget of Armenia by 50 per cent. We have a great power, a strong army. Our armed forces are capable of fulfilling any task. I have repeatedly expressed this idea, let me say it again: I am absolutely sure and I know the people of Azerbaijan are also absolutely convinced that if Heydar Aliyev had been a leader of Azerbaijan in the decisive years for our country, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, not an inch of our lands would have been occupied.
This is exactly why the Armenian lobby – this spiteful entity – channeled all its effort into neutralizing Heydar Aliyev.
Unfortunately, it succeeded. Unfortunately, the national traitors from Azerbaijan contributed to that dirty campaign. The “fifth column” existed then and, unfortunately, it still exists now. They are very few, but they do exist. And their job is to deal blows to our independent country, denigrate and undermine its image. Anti-national forces are becoming an object of condemnation. Azerbaijani society rejects these forces, and we will never allow anyone to encroach on the independence of Azerbaijan, our sovereign right to develop.
Over the past nine years Azerbaijan has made great strides in the foreign political sphere. The number of our friends is increasing. We have established mutually beneficial and equal relations with all countries. This is our approach. It is a fair approach. We respect international law and encourage all countries to honor it. In short, our credibility in the region is growing. No initiatives or projects in the economic and political spheres can be implemented without the participation of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a center, the strongest and fastest growing state of the region. We will continue to develop bilateral relations with all countries. I am very pleased that there are many countries sharing these principles, the number of our friends is growing.
We, as always, express our principled position in international organizations. We have a principled and unequivocal position on each issue. This position is based on justice, international law and national interests of the Azerbaijani people. Thanks to our foreign policies, Azerbaijan enjoys great trust and respect on a global scale. I knew about that.
This confidence was generated my participation in bilateral contacts, forums of international organizations and, in general, the initiatives relating to external relations. I knew that Azerbaijan enjoys great respect. But today the whole world knows that. A few months ago, Azerbaijan was elected a member of the most recognized body in the world. Azerbaijan was elected a member of the UN Security Council. I think this is our biggest diplomatic success in the years of independence. We have won the support of the international community. The “international community”, of course, means the United Nations because the UN is the only organization that unites all nations of the world. Our representation in the highest UN body is a great historic achievement and historical justice.
Having received the support of 155 countries, Azerbaijan became a member of this authoritative body and is currently presiding in the Security Council. A week ago, the President of Azerbaijan chaired a UN Security Council meeting. This is also a great event in our history.
Dear friends, I want to say again, and I am saying this in all sincerity: the foundation of these realities was laid by the great leader. Of course, life goes on. New challenges, new problems emerge. Our diplomacy is always flexible. Of course, there are new challenges at home, we are trying to resolve all the social and economic issues in the country.
Budget expenditure has increased by over 12 per cent. I have already spoken about other economic indicators. But underlying all these successes is the policy of the great leader because in 1993 and afterwards, the main directions of our development were defined precisely on his initiative. The political and economic reforms regarding both foreign and domestic policies were shaped by his outlook, philosophy and vision. We are moving forward in these directions. We do not depart from this course. At the same time, of course, by analyzing the experience of the previous period, we go forward. And this is natural. Every society should develop. Azerbaijani society is also developing – in line with certain directions and strategies. All our steps are considered and calculated. We are building our policies on the basis of a common strategy and concept.
The present-day realities of Azerbaijan are further evidence of the fact that we have chosen the right path. We will go forward along this path. This path is illuminated by the policy of Heydar Aliyev. We are committed to this policy. I am sure that this path will only bring us further successes. Thank you.
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Then a film was demonstrated about the Heydar Aliyev Center, one of the unique masterpieces of world architecture.
The film describes the idea behind the Center, the measures taken in this direction and the importance of the architectural complex which will become a symbol of Baku under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev.
Then a ceremony marking the 8th anniversary of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation was held.
In remarks at the ceremony, the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva, conveyed her congratulations on the occasion of the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center and described the building as a tribute to the memory of the great leader.
Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva spoke about the activities of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, saying that the organization she is leading has successfully participated in many international projects.
First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva said the Heydar Aliyev Foundation would do its best to ensure that the forthcoming “Eurovision-2012” song contest due in Baku shortly was a success.
Then, Ambassador of Lithuania to Azerbaijan Kestutis Kudzmanas received the international award “Golden sycamore” established by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for a great contribution to the Foundation’s activities in the field of education.
The same award was handed to Honored Master of Sports Ilham Zakiyev for successfully representing Azerbaijan in international sports competitions.
The ceremony was concluded with a concert.