Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the reception to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”
16 november 2012, 14:40
- Dear members of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”!
It is a very remarkable day today. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”. So I congratulate all members of our party on this wonderful occasion and wish every member of the party good health and continued success. Twenty years ago, on 21 November 1992, our young republic experienced a very significant event.
A historic event took place. Under the leadership and chairmanship of great leader Heydar Aliyev, a constituent conference of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” was held in Nakhchivan. It was a truly historic event. I can say that it was a turning point for our young nation. We all remember the first few months and years of our independence. Those were very difficult, tragic years. The government of the time did not have the strength to preserve the independence. At the same time, we lived in a time of war and military setbacks at the frontline certainly undermined our society a lot. The occupation of Shusha and Lachin in May 1992 was, of course, a great tragedy. But the new government which came to power in mid-1992 put our country in an even more deplorable situation. Due to its incompetence, lack of professionalism and treachery we were about to lose our independence.
The negative processes taking place in the country, crisis, economic recession and political instability dealt a major blow to our independence. Under such circumstances, the bright people of our society, intellectuals, people enjoying great respect rallied around great leader Heydar Aliyev and decided to establish the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”.
The holding of the constituent conference in Nakhchivan was explained by the fact that the then government did not allow it to be held in Baku. Representatives of that government, who are now calling themselves democrats but have failed to understand in 20 years what democracy means, did not allow for an ordinary democratic process to take place in the capital. Despite that, the ideas of our party, the wisdom of the great leader, his authority and role in society did not see any obstacles in the party’s way. In a short time the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” turned into a nationwide party. Since its inception, our party has covered a long, glorious and successful road. Our party has about 600,000 members today. Our party has broad foreign relations, which expand day by day. Our position in the country is very strong. We can say that our party unites all categories and age groups of our society. The “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” is a truly nationwide party. I am sure that our party will retain leadership in the coming years too. Today our party is the biggest political force in the South Caucasus. But in the early 1990s the situation, I repeat, was very difficult. The ascent of our party to power was necessary and inevitable. But we are mindful of the fact that the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” was set up as an opposition party. But in contrast to the current forces calling themselves the opposition, it has never been in opposition to the state and nation. Our party and its members have always been committed to our statehood.
The first steps of our party were aimed at restoring political stability in Azerbaijan. It was not by chance that in the summer of 1993, at a time when civil war started in Azerbaijan, all the hopes of our society were again linked with the genius of Heydar Aliyev. The great leader who came to power at the request of the people managed to stabilize the situation in a short time, which enabled the country to embark on the path of development. From that year on Azerbaijan has only been on the path of development.
Serious reforms have been held in our country. All the negative phenomena were thwarted, stability restored and an end put to the civil war. Azerbaijan began to integrate into the world community. Our foreign policy finally became focused, and this policy continues today.
The reforms important in those years still serve the development of our country. The deepening of democratic and political reforms, economic reforms preconditioned the current realities of Azerbaijan. At the same time, I must note that the establishment of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” essentially meant the creation of a political system in Azerbaijan. Because prior to that we did not have a political system.
The political culture of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”, the promotion of the rules of political struggle and, in general, the ideas of pursuing a civilized policy aroused great public response and were immediately supported. We are still committed to these ideas. We are engaged in a civilized political struggle and succeed in all political matters. The “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” and its representatives overwhelmingly won all the presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections. This proves again that our party is nationwide.
In the 1990s, the fundamental economic and political reform was necessary. But in those days there were different views on where the reforms will take us. There were different views on foreign policy and its directions. The wisdom of the great leader played an important role in the formation of very specific and targeted programs for all areas. Today we are going this way. The policy of Heydar Aliyev continues and, of course, is enriched today. The foundation of Azerbaijan’s successful development was laid in those years.
By realizing major infrastructure projects in Azerbaijan, improving the business environment and inviting foreign investors to our country, we made great strides in the economic sphere. It is no coincidence that Azerbaijan is known worldwide as the fastest growing economy now. In terms of political stability, Azerbaijan is an example, a model for many countries.
The foundations of our statehood in political, economic and ideological spheres were actually laid in the mid-1990s. The views of the great leader are reflected in real and tangible programs. A very important issue was the formation of an ideology because we were part of the Soviet Union for decades. Of course, the ideological frames were very tight. So the issue of forming the ideological foundation of our young independent country was of immense importance.
We remember those years very well. The great leader owns historic merits in resolving humanitarian issues and promoting the Azerbaijani language. It was on his initiative that the issues relating to the establishment of the Azerbaijani language as the state language were addressed. The philosophy of Azerbaijanism was, first and foremost, initiated by Heydar Aliyev and this ideology unites our entire society. This ideology is based on both history and the present day. It encompasses our past and, at the same time, our current policy in this area. The steps taken in this direction have already received acclaim in the world. So a strong foundation was laid for each direction and we are now developing on this foundation.
Of course, the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” and its members have put in a lot of work, played a huge role in this. I am very pleased that our party is still developing. Of course, I am pleased that the ranks of our party are expanding. At the same time, I am very pleased with the inflow of young people. So the ideas of our party, the actions of our members, our role in addressing serious political issues, our international reputation encourage members of our society to join the party.
We believe that this process must be continued. Of course, our party has very strong support, a very strong foundation. But life goes on, it doesn’t stand still, we are watching the processes ongoing within the party, in the world, we are looking for new forms of activity and using them. This will enable the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” to always prevail in the political arena.
Of course, the truth is that there is no force that can compete with us in the political arena today.
We are addressing major issues in Azerbaijan today. Our role in the developments in the country, in the region, in the world is growing. Our foreign political concept was also designed by great leader Heydar Aliyev. Today, this concept is successfully implemented.
Azerbaijan is a country enjoying great respect worldwide. A clear proof of that is our election to the UN Security Council last year. We won this place in a tough competition and with great support. For one year Azerbaijan played an active part in resolving global issues. This role is appreciated by the international community. Our approach, which I proclaimed after election to the Security Council, is that we will uphold justice and international law. It is being realized. Our candidacy was supported by 155 countries. This event is a clear sign of how accurate and effective our foreign policy is. At the same time, by becoming a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, we received the support of the absolute majority of the international community.
This support was immediately reflected at the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement and in the resolution on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It reflects reality, international law and Azerbaijan’s position.
I have expressed my thoughts on the main directions of our foreign policy broadly enough and there is no need for repeating them. I just want to note that the main focus of our foreign policy is the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We will continue our efforts. I want to reiterate that our position is very firm, it is based on international law, history, justice and on our growing strength. We are conducting talks and at the same time building up our military strength.
The gap between Armenia and Azerbaijan is already very large and keeps expanding day by day. Azerbaijan grows stronger and more powerful by the year, while Armenia weakens and declines every year. Evidence of this is the mass exodus of people from Armenia to other countries.
We will continue our efforts to isolate Armenia. This policy is working. We see its results. We will continue to expose Armenia’s aggressive policy in all international organizations. The number of our friends in the world is growing. A growing number of countries want to cooperate with us. We have started to invest in various areas in foreign countries. This is a new process. We will step it up. Thus, our political and economic relations with all countries of the world will become even stronger in the future. Three countries have already officially recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide. This process has already begun and will be continued. We must ensure that as many countries as possible recognize Khojaly as an act of genocide. So from a medium- and long-term perspective, the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is beyond doubt. Neither we nor the mediators involved in the matter have any doubts about that. That is why we believe that international mediators have been more active in addressing the issue lately. Everyone knows that the growing political, economic and military power of Azerbaijan will lead to a complete resolution of the issue in favor of Azerbaijan.
I want to reiterate that we are involved in negotiations. But along with that, we take all other steps and are ready for all the other options. I repeat that Azerbaijan has strong legal, historical and political grounds. I have no doubt that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. The solution to this problem is possible on the basis of these principles.
As for the issues related to other aspects of our foreign policy, all the issues are being resolved. The international events, forums, the Humanitarian Forum, the Forum on Internet Governance, other cultural events held in Baku almost on a weekly basis have transformed our country and capital not only into a regional center – this is already a matter of the past, but also into a major center on the global map. Everything is relative. We see the difficult situation in some developed countries. Every day we watch the developments unfolding in these countries, popular unrest. Tens of thousands of people take to the streets, tens of thousands voice their protest.
True, they are brutally beaten up and repressed. And we see it on TV. Of course, this can’t be tolerated. We urge developed countries to exercise restraint in this matter. It is wrong to bring people so much suffering and pain. People take to the streets to protest. It is unacceptable to beat them up with batons, throw tear gas and suppress them. These actions run counter to democratic norms. Seeing this in countries that call themselves democratic, the cradle of democracy, we feel genuinely surprised. Azerbaijan can serve as an example in this area too. As in all other areas, we can be a model here. We address these issues in a civilized and cultured way. These issues should be solved only in this way. Public unrest has a reason. If it didn’t, so many people would not take to the streets. And the reason is obvious. For many years governments replacing each other gave populist pledges, spent vast resources without any economic justification, borrowed a lot but could not repay their arrears. They actually stole this money from future generations and now owe a huge amount. The foreign debt of some developed countries exceeds the GDP by 100 per cent. Essentially, this means that these countries are already bankrupt. In Azerbaijan the figure is 7-8 per cent.
In some developed countries unemployment is 25 per cent. Among young people it is 50 per cent. In Azerbaijan unemployment stands at 5.3 per cent and poverty at 7.6 per cent. The internationally respected rating agencies lower the credit ratings of developed countries and raise the rating of Azerbaijan. So the Azerbaijani economy is competitive. On macroeconomic stability Azerbaijan is ranked among top 10 countries in the world. This is statistics. You can’t deny it. It is impossible to ignore it. This is a reality. This reality shows again that we have chosen the right way. This journey began in November 1992. If we hadn’t created the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” then and the people of Azerbaijan hadn’t showed wisdom by calling on nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev to take up power, our country could have gone in a completely different direction. What direction? Today we can see that in the actions of the elements calling themselves the opposition. If they were in power, Azerbaijan might have been wiped off the map long ago. Because their predatory, shameful and embarrassing actions in just one year brought the Azerbaijani people to a point when they could not stand them any longer and swept them into the archives of history.
In 1992, the foundations were laid for the present-day reality. We must not forget that, we have to remember that. The power of Heydar Aliyev’s policy is also in the fact that it is alive nine years on. Love and respect for his memory live in the hearts of the people of Azerbaijan. The reforms he initiated manifest themselves in every region of Azerbaijan.
Of course, members of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”, all of us, remaining committed to the political course of the great leader, have made efforts to conduct his policy in the modern world. This is natural and should be the case. But most importantly, we have not gone beyond the scope of this policy despite pressure and provocations. We remember those days very well. In 2003-2005, there were essentially attempts to overthrow the legally elected government. External anti-Azerbaijani circles were behind those attempts. We all know this history. But Azerbaijani society and government showed great wisdom, patience and determination at the time, protected and saved the successful development of the independent Azerbaijan.
If the idea to test our strength reappears in someone's fevered brain, we are ready to give an adequate response. I repeat that we conduct our policy based on the will of the Azerbaijani people. In the end, this policy is measured by specific numbers and specific work. The scale of our work is so great that it can’t be hidden. Everyone coming to Baku admires the city, falls in love with it. It is impossible not to see development in Baku. One must be blind not to see it.
The situation in the regions is also very positive and reassuring – there is recovery, development, creation, improvement everywhere. Most importantly, Azerbaijani society has a very strong desire, a great interest in these reforms, there is great elation. The districts are engaged in a sound competition. I often visit the districts. I see that in every district local activists, representatives of executive authorities are trying to make their district even more beautiful and comfortable. This is our development, this is in fact our approach to everything.
Our economic situation is very stable. A few days ago, when the draft budget for 2013 was discussed, the public saw again how big our plans are. I see no problems in the economic sphere in the future, it is impossible. We will only be developing. Political stability is fully established. Social issues are successfully resolved. Regarding foreign policy I noted earlier that our election to the UN Security Council is an indicator in itself. There is no need to say anything else.
Of course, we have a very positive and successful energy policy. The foundation of this policy was also laid by the great leader. Thanks to his determination, wisdom and foresight we see the benefits of the contract signed in 1994. The pipeline initiatives he made in the subsequent period in the conditions of a tense struggle and pressure and their implementation brought about a new reality. Today our oil and gas resources play a role in the energy security not only of Azerbaijan but also of Europe. Even more major steps will be taken in this direction in the coming years. There already is a large and strong base. Our new initiatives, new pipeline projects will ensure the successful and rapid development of Azerbaijan in the coming decades.
In short, if we analyze the present situation and add to that our plans for the future, we will see that Azerbaijan will only be developing in the future. We have very specific and precise plans for the future. These plans are reflected in the programs we have adopted.
The “Azerbaijan – 2020” program has been adopted. It states everything clearly. There is also no disagreement on the future development in our society. We will continue to develop as a modern state, import the most advanced technology to Azerbaijan. The Seventh Forum on Internet Governance held recently is an indicator in itself. There are all the freedoms in Azerbaijan – freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of the Internet. All the distinguished guests I meet note and appreciate the work we have done. The Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, an organization managing the Internet, and many others have praised Azerbaijan’s development in this field. But there are also those who came to our country to commit provocations. But their provocative mission was exposed. There are such forces – pro-Armenian, anti-Azerbaijani and Islamophobic forces which can’t come to terms with our success and development. Such forces exist and we know them. But their efforts and campaigns to tarnish us are in vain. Because, I want to repeat, it is impossible to conceal, not to see the development in Azerbaijan. We have created an open society. We have all the freedoms.
The number of Internet users in Azerbaijan has reached 65 per cent of the population, we are laying internet cables to every village. Under such circumstances, what stifling of freedom can we talk about?! It's a lie, it's slander. Those spreading this slander, especially people in high posts, should be ashamed of spreading slander and lies. It is impossible to hide anything in today's world. Perhaps 10 or 20 years ago it was easier to say something, to create an opinion about a country. Today it is impossible. Hundreds of thousands, millions of foreign visitors come to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has entered the global arena. We actively participate in international organizations. We watch all modern developments and resolve beneficial issues in Azerbaijan. So this slander, this lie, these allegations do not bother us. But what does it show? It shows that the fight against us will go on, it comes from different centers. I have talked about it before and I want to say it again today, for our society and party members to know. First, our main enemy is the Armenian lobby. I have often talked about it, I want to say it again without fearing anyone – our enemy is the Armenian lobby. Because Armenia as a country is of no value. It is actually a colony, an outpost run from abroad, a territory artificially created on ancient Azerbaijani lands. The Armenian lobby is our main enemy and we are the main enemy for them. In fact, the source of our enmity with them is their hostility towards us.
Secondly, the anti-Azerbaijani center, the structures and circles infected with Islamophobia. They also exist. Unfortunately, their number is always growing. Their growth was explicitly shown in the elections held in some countries.
Suffice it to look at the election results to see the growing rating of Islamophobic forces. A young, dynamic, truly independent, modern Muslim country, Azerbaijan has become a problem for them, it does not fit into their stereotypes. And their stereotypes are to show Muslims as a backward nation and people. The goal behind desecrating Islamic sanctities and provocations against us is to drive the illiterate mass and then, using them as an example, engage the media to blame the Muslims. We know what is at the heart of this. These are not just private initiatives of a newspaper or a tough step. These are carefully timed provocations aimed at further reinforcing and expanding the world's negative view about the Muslims. Unfortunately, the illiterate population is susceptible to these provocations. They should not give in to that. We are fighting in civilized ways. We have to prove and will prove that there is development, modernity, compassion, tolerance in the Muslim world, something certain developed countries lack.
Of course, today's Azerbaijan does not fit into the frames established by these forces. How can it be that in a short time, despite the economic and financial crisis, Azerbaijan has achieved development, that representatives of all religions live here like one family? International events on tolerance and humanitarian issues are held. Azerbaijan is an example of how representatives of different nations and religions can co-exist in an atmosphere of friendship and brotherhood. But these centers immediately launch attacks, pressure, provocations against us, and we see the manifestation of that in various forms.
There are other circles that are just not used to behaving with dignity. They are used to the existence of colonies, metropolises. They live with such thinking. When they see that there is a country which, as they say, always keeps its dignity, doesn’t bow to anyone, pursues an independent policy, it becomes a problem for some. And this center starts attacks and pressure on us. Why am I saying this? In saying this, I first of all want to express my thoughts. My words are not based simply on emotions. This is the result of a deep analysis I have made in the last few years. I have fairly ample opportunity to analyze – international contacts, meetings, plethora of information, etc. So this, as they say, is my conscious choice and opinion. I want our society not to be particularly responsive to such steps. Even if there are not three but five such centers, we will still go our own way and do what we think is right. Because, again, we have a strong foundation. And it is the people of Azerbaijan.
We already have a strong state – the independent state of Azerbaijan. We have a precise concept, a development program. As a result of this program, Azerbaijan will become one of the world’s developed countries. If we try to express our thoughts about the future in a single sentence, it must be said: we must become a developed country! There are criteria for developed countries. We know them and have to meet these criteria in each direction – political, economic reform, social policy and other areas. To achieve this, our society, as always, should be persistent, while the leading political force of our society, the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”, of course, must successfully do its work in the next 20 years – on the basis of modern regulations, modern methods! We must work on strong historical and ideological foundations.
Once again, dear friends, I congratulate you on this wonderful event. I wish all members of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party” good health and happiness. Thank you.