Ilham Aliyev attended a ceremony to distribute apartments in a building for journalists

22 july 2013, 12:15

On the occasion of the Day of the National Press, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended a ceremony to distribute apartments in a building for journalists.

First the head of state reviewed the stand describing the technical and economic parameters of the building.

The head of the department for public and political matters of the Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov, informed the President that the total area of the two-entrance 17-storey building is 17,600 square meters. It was noted that the building was constructed in a short time and with high quality. The total area of the building is nearly 22,000 square meters. The courtyard has been extensively landscaped, a playground and a variety of attractions installed. There is an electronic telephone exchange No 354 and two water tanks.

Then President Ilham Aliyev met with representatives of the media.

The head of state delivered a speech at the ceremony.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear friends, dear journalists and media workers.

First of all, I want to sincerely congratulate you on your professional holiday and wish you success in your future endeavors. On this auspicious day we are gathered for the opening of this beautiful building. A building constructed for journalists is being commissioned today. I congratulate you on this wonderful event.

I can say that this initiative is being implemented for the first time in the world. I am glad that Azerbaijan demonstrates leadership in this sphere too. As you know, journalism is a very difficult and demanding profession. But most journalists would not be able to buy an apartment in a house like this. With this in mind and in order to reward the journalists who have demonstrated expertise in their profession and worked in the media for many years, I think that this initiative is the most viable option. This initiative was put forward by journalists in one of my meetings with the media. It was immediately supported and such a beautiful building was built in a short time. I am sure that this building will be surrounded by a large complex in the future. The location of the building is also very nice. It commands beautiful views of the State Flag Square.

All of these areas will be landscaped. There are plans to create new infrastructure facilities here. The Baku Art City will be set up here. A large aquatic center is under construction. In other words, the area around the building will undergo extensive development, and I am sure that we will meet again for such ceremonies in the future.

As you know, the journalists who have received an apartment in this building include representatives of various media outlets and people with different political views. This is natural. This initiative and the distribution that is taking place today demonstrate that there is no and should not be any discrimination in any field in Azerbaijan. That is why I believe that there is a very healthy environment and a sound atmosphere in our society. Of course, the professionalism of journalists and their work towards formation of public opinion will make the atmosphere even healthier.

Azerbaijan has fully secured the freedom of speech. As you know, the initiative to abolish censorship put forward by great leader Heydar Aliyev gave an impetus to the development of a free press. There can be no talk of a free press in a country with censorship. I believe that it was from that day that the formation of a free press began in Azerbaijan, and today the freedom of speech in Azerbaijan is fully guaranteed. There are hundreds of free print media. Of course, there can be no talk of censorship. Azerbaijan also has a say in the application of modern technology. As you know, online journalism is also growing very rapidly, including Azerbaijan. There is free Internet in Azerbaijan.

The Internet is spreading fast, government programs are being implemented, including a project to be realized by the State Oil Fund on laying broadband Internet to every city. The number of Internet users exceeds 70 per cent of the population.

Under such circumstances, of course, we can confidently say that the freedom of speech is fully guaranteed in Azerbaijan. And this is the way it should be. After all, we are building a modern state and have to become a developed country. Therefore, all criteria in Azerbaijan should be at a high level. Economic, social and public developments must also be based on progressive criteria.

The role of independent journalism in Azerbaijan is great. Journalists play a very large role in the formation of a democratic society in our country, and I appreciate that role. I am sure that the freedom of speech and all other freedoms will continue to be guaranteed in Azerbaijan in the future. Azerbaijan is taking major steps to promote democracy. We have all the freedoms – the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly. There is a place for conducting sanctioned rallies nearby, and journalists will not have big problems with coverage of these rallies. You can watch them right from your balconies. All other freedoms are fully secured in Azerbaijan – the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, etc.

International organizations highly appreciate the work being done in Azerbaijan in this field. In other words, the principles of a modern state should enable us to move forward in every field, apply the most advanced experience in Azerbaijan and develop our country. Today, the independent state of Azerbaijan develops in the true sense of the word, and the fact that public processes are moving in a positive direction certainly enhances our strength.

The responsibility of journalists, of course, is a constant theme of discussion. Especially when there is a free press, the responsibility of journalists comes to the forefront. I am glad that there have been positive developments in this sphere too in recent years. Journalists are fully aware of their responsibility. We don’t come across too many false and insulting articles in the media. And these are the factors pointing to the responsibility of journalists. At the same time, in today's society, in the age of the Internet, any false information can’t live long.

Therefore, I believe that the responsibility of journalists should be at the center of attention in the future. I know that the media community and the Press Council constantly keep these issues in the spotlight. As any person has a responsibility to observe the law and rules of public conduct, so journalists should bear responsibility. In fact, their responsibility should be even greater.

I do not want to talk about the professionalism of journalists. I know that you have been raising this issue yourselves and putting forward new proposals. I believe that the state can also provide support in this direction. If the state has to take any further action, we will take it so that professionalism could grow and the training of young journalists in Azerbaijan could go even faster. Of course, the patriotism of journalists, I think, is also a very important issue. In general, Azerbaijani journalists are attached to their state, people and statehood. Regardless of political views, the interests of the state are mostly dominant. But there are also cases when personal, party or corporate interests come to the fore. This, of course, can’t be tolerated. Patriotism should be even stronger in our young independent state, and I constantly express my views on the matter.

I want to reiterate that this is not just a slogan and mere words. This is a necessity. Our young people should grow up in the spirit of patriotism, and journalists have a very large role to play in this. We have been living as an independent state, as a free people for about 22 years. It is our great happiness, a great asset. Our society must appreciate that.

Therefore, the patriotism of journalists is an issue of great importance. The principles of statehood should prevail. First of all, we should defend our state interests. Any steps that can damage the state are unacceptable. At the same time, the problems existing in society should be addressed within the country. I have repeatedly expressed my thoughts about that.

I want to say again today that every country has its own development dynamics, its own problems and achievements, including Azerbaijan. All problems must be addressed within the country. If we have lived as an independent country for 22 years, I think we should be able to resolve all our problems ourselves.

There are no differences in society in respect to the overall development of the country. We can say that there are no disagreements on the strategic course of the country - both in regard to foreign policy and economic reforms. This being the case, domestic problems, of course, should be discussed within the country because this is the main advantage of independence. Our destiny is in our own hands, in the hands of the people of Azerbaijan. Our country is governed by the will of the Azerbaijani people.

Therefore, I believe that the subject of patriotism should be covered in the media more broadly. We need to allocate more space to topics related to independence. What are the benefits of independence? We do occasionally come across articles and materials on these topics. But I think this is not enough. This topic should always be on the agenda. The ideas, judgments and exchanges on the benefits of independence, the signs of independence and our future life are very important. I want to say again that the biggest happiness of our generation is that we live in an independent state.

Previous generations also cherished this dream, but could never materialize it. Our happiness lies in the fact that we live in an independent and free country as citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We should appreciate that and put independence above everything. Independence, as I said, is not only about state attributes. Independence means an independent life, an independent policy, protection of the interests of the state and national interests.

Particularly extensive work should be done in terms of the coverage of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in foreign media. Of course, this problem is sufficiently covered at home. But the main goal is to take this topic to foreign media.

Government and public institutions have taken important steps in this direction in recent years. Nongovernmental organizations have also been active in this area. Media workers are also accessing foreign media. We have to cover this topic even more broadly. The state is ready to provide its support. I believe that using various projects and grants we have to further expand our activities in this direction.

The communication of information about the Khojaly genocide to foreign media is highly important. In recent years, several countries have recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide. How? Both state and public bodies, and the society in general, keep the subject in the spotlight, and this reflects the realities in the world.

We have something to say. Azerbaijan has achieved a lot in a short time. In many respects our achievements are unparalleled in any area. Now this development is recognized by international institutions. In other words, it is impossible to deny that. No matter how hard some of the anti-Azerbaijani forces try to deny this, it is impossible not to see that. We have to take the realities of Azerbaijan to international media. You journalists are well aware that the aggressive Armenian lobby is conducting an orchestrated campaign against us in the countries it has power. Why?! With the aim of proving and forming an opinion that Armenians can’t and will not be able to live within Azerbaijan. Therefore, from time to time foreign media publish slander and fabrications that do not represent true information about Azerbaijan. They are doing this through their network.

Therefore, we should try to fully communicate the realities of Azerbaijan to foreign media. Today we have such a versatile tool as the internet. We need to make broader use of it because the realities of Azerbaijan should be communicated to the international community - in the public sphere, in the sphere of national and religious tolerance, in the area of economic and foreign policies. Of course, there are problems and shortcomings awaiting solution in the country. We know about them, and journalists also support the government in identifying these problems. But there are also many achievements!

We are rightly proud of the fact that Azerbaijan has emerged in a short period of time, strengthened as an independent state, has great potential today and decides its fate itself. We enjoy a great authority in the international arena. We are a member of the most prestigious global structure - the UN Security Council. In addressing economic and social issues we can serve as an example for many countries. Many criteria of developed countries are already available in Azerbaijan, particularly in the economic sphere. So we have a lot to say. We simply need to do this work in a more coordinated manner. Let me go back to the previous topic again – the feelings of patriotism and statehood must be above everything.

Within the country, of course, there are different views and different political tendencies. These discussions are natural.

Any normal society should have that. But we shouldn’t sacrifice national interests on the altar of personal ambition because independence, I want to say again, is the greatest asset and the greatest achievement. We must continue to defend our independence. We should try to ensure that the principles of independence, statehood and freedom are provided in full in Azerbaijan. Sometimes we see that there are still those who have a slave mentality. Unfortunately, there are still those who are looking for a foothold abroad. When I say "abroad", there is no difference for me what pole and what direction it is. Azerbaijan's problems must be resolved within Azerbaijan. I do not think that support from abroad can be a sign of independence, especially in today's world. We see that in different regions processes are going in a negative direction. There are standoffs, crises and mass protests. Who can guard our interests better than ourselves? No-one, of course! So I think that we have to think more seriously about these issues in the future. The state, for its part, will provide full support for journalists and make every effort for the development of a free press in Azerbaijan. Thus, this sphere will reach the highest peaks in Azerbaijan.

I want to congratulate you again, dear friends, on this wonderful event. I want to note, as you probably know, that the number of journalists who will live here is fairly large – more than 150. But there are still journalists who have deserved state awards. Taking this into consideration, the journalistic community has put forward another initiative, i.e. the suggestion that this project should be continued. I look at it positively. Additional measures will be taken to ensure that the journalists who haven’t received an apartment in this building but deserve it are provided with housing. I do not exclude the possibility that this place will be called "A township of journalists" in the future. Thank you.

Х Х Х

Then President Ilham Aliyev cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the building.

The head of state visited the apartment the chief editor of newspaper "Iki Sahil", Vugar Rahimzadeh. It was noted that all of the apartments had been renovated in line with modern requirements. The building has 84 two-room, 68 three-room and four four-room apartments. The area of smallest apartment is 65 square meters and of the largest 120 square meters.

Then, President Ilham Aliyev reviewed the apartment of AzerTAg employee, Vugar Seyidov. All apartments in the building are equipped with high-speed Internet, IPTV and an independent heating system.

After that, President Ilham Aliyev attended the groundbreaking ceremony of another building for journalists. It will be a three-entrance 17-storey building with 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-room apartments. The building will be equipped with the necessary infrastructure.

In conclusion, a photo was taken as a souvenir.

We note that the development of the national press began in accordance with international standards under the leadership of great leader Heydar Aliyev. The social protection of journalists has always been in the spotlight. In 2003, this process entered a new stage of development. Comprehensive measures have been taken in the country thanks to the comprehensive support of President Ilham Aliyev on the basis of the Concept of state support for the development of the media. In 2010, another important step was taken to strengthen social protection of journalists. In an effort to improve the housing conditions of journalists, funds in the amount of 5 million manats were allocated from the Contingency Fund of the President of Azerbaijan to the Fund of State Support for Mass Media under the President of Azerbaijan for the construction of a residential building. These funds were used for the construction of a 17-storey 156-apartment building for journalists, where all apartments have been refurbished to a high standard. In general, 22 million manats were spent on the construction of the building and landscaping of the adjacent area.