Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the Fifth Congress of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party"

07 june 2013, 11:00

Dear friends!

Dear members of the “Yeni Azerbaijan Party”!

It is a very significant day in the life of our country today. The "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" is holding its regular congress.

This is a truly great event because the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" plays a central role in the political life of our country. The decisions and the activities of the party have a strong influence on the successful development of our country.

The "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" is the leading political force in Azerbaijan and the biggest party of the South Caucasus. Our party has been in power for 20 years. In a week from now we will celebrate the Day of National Salvation. The Day of National Salvation was a turning point in the modern history of Azerbaijan. Over the last 20 years our party has overwhelmingly won every election. The "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" is a truly people's party. All categories and age groups of our society are united by our party and work for the successful development of our country.

In the period that has passed since the previous congress, our party has become even stronger. There has been a large influx of people to our party. The party now numbers more than 600,000 people. This in itself is an indicator that the goals and ideas of the party are very attractive. In particular, it is very encouraging that young people are joining the party. This shows that the activities, ideas of the party and its role in society appeal to people, and the activities of the party enjoy great popular support.

The establishment of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" in 1992 was a historic event, as we all well remember only too well that the first years of independence were very difficult for our country. The then authorities were leading the country to an abyss. Incompetent, inept and incompetent people dealt a severe blow to the state independence of Azerbaijan.

Therefore, the people who rallied around Heydar Aliyev first of all showed great courage, because the then government did not even sanction the founding congress of the party to take place in Baku.

On the other hand, these actions were motivated by their love of the motherland.

The work done by Heydar Aliyev in the 1970s and 1980s, his contribution to the development of Azerbaijan, his activities and courageous steps on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the condemnation of the 20 January massacre, his severing himself from the ranks of the Communist Party, the declaration of the flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as the national flag in Nakhchivan, the renaming of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, the refusal to conduct a referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union - all this, of course, multiplied people’s love for Heydar Aliyev tenfold. The establishment of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" in November 1992 gave people great hope.

Finally, an end was to be put to negative phenomena, a serious political force and a political system were about to emerge in Azerbaijan.

At the same time, the establishment of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" meant the establishment of a modern political system. Prior to that, the various political factions existing in the country were trying to engage in a political struggle at a very primitive level. There was no political system. The establishment of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" meant the creation of a political system. The establishment of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" as an opposition party also clearly showed how opposition is supposed to act.

The "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" was in opposition to the then anti-national and corrupt government. The main ideas of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" were statehood, independence, development and security. After our party ascended to power, these ideas and these factors became a reality in Azerbaijan.

It is no coincidence that less than a year after the establishment of the party the people of Azerbaijan said their word. The anti-national forces left, the people turned to great leader Heydar Aliyev and urged him to take power. The history of our party is actually the same as that of our independence. The activities of great leader Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan as President were complemented by the strong support of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party". Heydar Aliyev and the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" are our political course. Heydar Aliyev is the founder of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" and of the independent state of Azerbaijan.

I want to repeat that the historic event which took place in 1992 paved the way for to the current realities of Azerbaijan. It was in 1993 that an end was put to all the negative phenomena in the country, stability was established, the civil war stopped, and a period of development, stability, creativity and statehood set in. The main ideological pillars of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" are independence, Azerbaijanism, modernity, development, social welfare, economic and political reforms.

Under the leadership of the great leader Azerbaijan covered a long and glorious road in 10 years. The 1993-2003 period has gone down in history as a period of stability and development in our country. The foundations of statehood were laid in those years. Azerbaijan managed to present itself to the international community. Our international relations developed. Azerbaijan managed to secure a rightful place on the world map. Political and economic reforms were successfully carried out. Azerbaijan became a member of several international organizations. Major investment was attracted to our country, which helped Azerbaijan to develop in those years and today. Azerbaijan has earned the image of a reliable partner. This is also a very important issue, because there wasn’t sufficient information about Azerbaijan at the time. Azerbaijan introduced itself to the world for what it is thanks to the hard work of the great leader.

Under the leadership of the great leader Azerbaijan covered a truly successful road in 10 years. At the same time, the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" managed to expand its activity both at home and in the international arena. Today we have multilateral international relations. We collaborate with various parties operating on different continents. We will continue this cooperation.

After 2003, Azerbaijan’s successful development was continued. I want to say again that a major role in this development was played by the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party". 2003 was a year of trials. History seemed to be testing the strength of our statehood. At the same time, it seemed to be testing how faithful the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" was to its leader and to statehood. Our party passed all the tests with honor. We managed to come out of all of those tests even stronger.

In 2003, we can say the future of Azerbaijan was at stake: either we take the path of development or end up in a state of decline again. The hateful forces could seize power in Azerbaijan again, as they did in May 1992. So, as they say, there was a choice between these two trends. Thanks to the organized activities of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party", its commitment to its leader and popular support for this policy, the people of Azerbaijan chose the path of development, and have been successfully moving forward along the path of development for the last 10 years.

Over the past 10 years Azerbaijan has developed at the fastest pace in the world. It is impossible to find a second country on the world map that would reach as many successes as Azerbaijan. These successes are diverse and cover all areas. In domestic and foreign policy, political and economic reforms - no matter where you look, Azerbaijan is developing successfully, confidently and rapidly.

This development is being noted and assessed by all influential international organizations. Azerbaijan's experience is studied as being very positive. It is no secret that the path we have traversed is a beacon and the guiding light for developing countries or countries that are experiencing difficulties. This, in turn, places even greater responsibility on us.

In 2003-2013, in the last 10 years, Azerbaijan managed to achieve the biggest success in the international arena by being elected a member of the UN Security Council, the world’s top organization. It is a victory and triumph of our diplomacy, policy and statehood. There is no higher organization in the world. And in May of last year, Azerbaijan chaired this influential organization.

Today we are addressing global problems. Our position and opinion are very important. We are engaged in successful activities and defending our position in other international organizations. In the organizations we are a member of we defend our interests and at the same time make a great contribution to the development of these organizations both from political and all other points of view.

Our foreign policy rests on a bilateral foundation and is exemplary for many countries. This policy is based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's affairs. This is our approach.

We do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. I think that if these trends prevail in the world, there will be less war and confrontation. In general, the world will develop in the direction of cooperation. Therefore, our activities both in the bilateral format and within international organizations, as well as our overall foreign policy concept, deserve approval, enjoy respect in the world and enable us to carry out a successful policy within the country too. Each country should be interested in living a stable, calm and peaceful environment, so that the events around it develop in a normal manner.

A lot has been done in the area of domestic policy in Azerbaijan. I want to say again that the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" is the main pillar of our political system, a party with the biggest clout. The "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" has made a special contribution to the deepening of political reforms in the country. For 10 years, thanks to the economic reforms, we have achieved the most rapid economic development in the world. It is impossible to find a second country where the economy has grown more than three times in 10 years and other statistics are also at the highest level. This can serve as an example for any country. Poverty was reduced to 6 per cent and unemployment to 5.2 per cent. More than 1,100,000 jobs have been created. Our foreign debt accounts for only 7 per cent of the gross domestic product. All international credit rating agencies have upgraded the credit rating of Azerbaijan. In terms of competitiveness, our country is already in 46th place in the world. Major economic initiatives are being put forward. Major reforms are under way. This is a reality. Of course, this reality makes us optimistic about the future and plan accordingly. And we plan our future. We are already realizing the "Azerbaijan 2020: vision for the future" concept. We look to the future. The projects ongoing in Azerbaijan are aimed at the future. We must ensure successful and sustainable development of our country in the decades to come. And I have no doubt that we will achieve that.

Over the past 10 years Azerbaijan has made great strides in all other directions as well. Underlying all of these achievements is the policy of Heydar Aliyev, the course he has defined, the activity of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" as the leading political force in our country. There is a great development in addressing social issues, in the area of foreign policy, in economic reforms, in domestic policies - in all directions. At the center of our policy are the citizens of Azerbaijan. The reforms carried out in Azerbaijan are fundamental reforms that are of a very serious nature. We know from history and the developments unfolding in some countries that in many cases drastic economic reforms lead to mass protests because they are often carried out at people’s expense. We have completed the economic reform - today 83 per cent of our economy is generated by the private sector. At the same time, we have implemented strong social programs.

Over the past 10 years the average salary in Azerbaijan rose five times and the average pension eight times. Social welfare, improvement of the material condition of the people, various social programs - these, of course, are our main goals. Another manifestation of this policy has been the repayment of people’s deposits left from Soviet times. Therefore, the work done gives grounds to say that we will further strengthen these successful trends in the future and ensure the successful development of Azerbaijan.

All of this work being done certainly enhances the authority of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" in society. The "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" has no serious rivals in the political firmament. This is a reality, and not because we create problems for someone or enjoy any special privileges. We operate within the same framework as any other political force. The work we have done, the reforms, the growing living standards, our strengthening international positions further increase the people’s confidence in us. But, of course, political struggle is and should be under way. I want to say again that the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" has also defined the rules of political conduct, and I am very pleased that the majority of parties engaged in political activities adhere to these rules of civilized political conduct. But there are also incorrigible ones. And this does not apply to them. These are anti-national forces. These anti-national, treacherous and corrupt groups have been in power once and are living with the dream of coming to power even today without any reason. They see their work in a completely different direction. Their political activity - if it can at all be described as political activity – goes in a completely different direction.

The method of their political struggle is not a word or an opinion, but a "Molotov cocktail". Their pillars are not the people and their will, but the grants and money they receive from abroad. To them freedom of speech means writing denunciations, tarnishing Azerbaijan and spreading fabrications and slander about our country in international organizations. Their rules of conduct consist in teaming up with the Armenians to slander and form a negative opinion about Azerbaijan.

Of course, there is no and can’t be any room for such groups in the political life of Azerbaijan. The history of the past 20 years confirms that there is no room on Azerbaijan’s political scene for the forces that do not think about the future and the independence of Azerbaijan. We have built an independent state. The great leader built an independent state at the cost of his life. We are protecting and defending this independence. For us, independence is the greatest asset and the greatest value. Independence is not only about the attributes of the state. Independence means an independent policy and the protection of national interests which are of paramount importance. Today Azerbaijan is a truly independent state from economic and political points of view. We have to strengthen this independence.

I want to say again that we have established equal relations with all partners. This is the only type of relationships we accept. It can’t be otherwise. And those who are trying to compete with us are acting on the instructions of their foreign benefactors. Central to them are the funds and the instructions coming from abroad. They are ready to make any concessions to come to power. We know that. We know what is going on and what processes are taking place in Azerbaijan. In order to come to power, they are even prepared to make great concessions in the most important issue for us - the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. And they are making no secret of that. They promise that if they receive a lot of support, they are ready to give Karabakh to the Armenians.

I am saying this because, as they say, this has become a reality in the political arena. Not because it bothers us. Absolutely not! I repeat – I do not see any force that can compete with us because the work we have done over the past years has raised this trust.

I would simply like the political struggle in Azerbaijan to be based on statehood. Of course, there should be political struggle. There should also be a relationship between the government and the opposition. We do have representatives of the opposition thinking about the state, and their ideas are different. They may have their own thoughts associated with the development strategy or with the country's economic and political spheres. This is natural. But the most important thing is that all political forces should be committed to statehood and independence. The forces that are not committed to this must be renewed. New people should take lead, while the outdated "leaders" reeking of mothballs should be consigned to history. As a matter of fact, they have long been consigned to history, but can’t fully acknowledge that.

We are successfully developing. We will successfully go to the polls because our goal is to build a mighty Azerbaijan, to enhance our independence, development and social well-being. The goals on the country’s agenda can be successfully met under the leadership of the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" in the future too. Of course, the primary goal among these is the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Our position is principled. I have repeatedly stated this. The Azerbaijani people and the "Yeni Azerbaijan Party" unequivocally support this position. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not and never will be a subject to negotiation. Nagorno-Karabakh is native Azerbaijani land. This is the case today and so it will be tomorrow. Azerbaijan will restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity at any cost. This conflict can be resolved only on the basis of the norms and principles of international law and four UN Security Council resolutions. No other option is considered. No other option can be acceptable.

I believe and am confident that we will resolve this issue. Our growing internal and external power, the growing military capabilities and economic development will determine our victory.

Armenia, one may say, has suffered a complete failure. The criminal, corrupt and dictatorial regime that has seized power in Armenia is leading the country into the abyss. There is a mass exodus. About 100,000 people leave the country forever every year. First of all, they have no hope and the economy is in a completely paralyzed state. On the other hand, the incumbent bloodthirsty, rapacious, criminal and gangster regime ruling this country is committing massacres against its own people. All the elections in Armenia are rigged, while political struggle there leads to bloody tragedies. This is a terrorist country which is run by terrorist and gangster methods. Under such circumstances, the longer the current criminal authorities remain in power there, the sooner Armenia will suffer a complete fiasco.

I am absolutely convinced that because of this and, on the other hand, because of our growing strength we will restore our territorial integrity. This simply requires time and strong policies, the policies not making concessions, uncompromising policies based on the national interests which can by provided by our government and our government alone. Only our government can withstand all the pressures, threats and provocations. In many cases, at the heart of the campaign being waged against us is this conflict: to weaken and tarnish Azerbaijan, deal a blow to its image and snatch concessions in the Karabakh issue. This will not work because our cause is just, and our people support our policy.
In connection with the domestic policy I have to say that we will continue to develop democracy in Azerbaijan. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly - all of these freedoms exist in Azerbaijan. There is a free internet in Azerbaijan, no restrictions are placed. For us, the development of democracy is the main goal. Today, Azerbaijan is not inferior to anyone in terms of democratic development. In some cases, the democratic situation existing here can and should serve as an example for other countries.

In connection with the economic sphere our main focus is on diversification. Great success has also been achieved in this area. In the four months of this year our non-oil sector grew by 11 per cent. This is perhaps the highest index in the world. All the decisions adopted earlier are being implemented. We are reducing our dependence on the oil factor. This year, the oil sector already forms a minority in our gross domestic product. In other words, diversification has taken place and the industrialization process will go even faster in the future. We will create large industrial estates. This is also one of the major challenges facing us. We will continue taking serious steps in dealing with social issues. Wages, pensions and benefits will be raised. Work on improving the livelihoods of the internally displaced persons will be continued in the future. We will continue our policy in all areas. We must fully ensure food security. A few years ago we set the task of providing ourselves with staple foods. We are approaching this goal.

Azerbaijan plays a major role in the transport security now. The completion of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will change the transport map of the region, continent and beyond. And Azerbaijan is the initiator and the main partner here too.

All the steps associated with our energy policy are taken prudently. As for the issue of energy security within the country, we have fully resolved them. We as partners are working with Europe to address the energy security issues of the continent. Azerbaijan is a major player, the main initiator of the Southern Gas Corridor. The decisions adopted in Azerbaijan will give an impetus to all the issues related to energy security in the future. It is our great success and great responsibility. We are ready for this responsibility, because the oil strategy defined by the great leader has been successfully implemented to date. Today the gas factor further enhances this strategy.

In other words, we have specific programs, plans, concepts and implementation mechanisms on all areas. At the beginning of next year we will adopt the third state program related to the work in the regions. As a result of the first and second programs, the districts came to life, the appearance of our cities has significantly improved, a modern infrastructure is being put in place, our villages are thriving, improving and their infrastructure is upgrading - roads, schools, hospitals, Olympic facilities, gasification, power lines and water supply. We are fully updating our entire infrastructure, so that the infrastructure we are creating could serve our people for at least 50-100 years.

In other words, there are many more tasks on the agenda. If I start enumerating all the tasks, it will take a few hours. I often talk to citizens in connection with these questions and express my opinion. So we have no hesitation or doubts about our future development. Azerbaijan will confidently and successfully move forward. To achieve this, the policy of Heydar Aliyev should continue to dominate in Azerbaijan.

I am confident that we will achieve that. Thank you!