Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of a Youth Center in Lankaran

05 september 2013, 21:40

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of a Youth Center in Lankaran.

While touring the Center, the head of state met with the young people from the southern region of Azerbaijan who have been admitted to universities with the highest admission score this year.

The President made a speech at the meeting.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Today we are gathered at the new Youth Center in Lankaran. First of all, I want to congratulate all the young people of Lankaran and Azerbaijani youngsters as a whole on the opening of this center. It is a beautiful center, and overall it is a great initiative. Beautiful youth centers are built in various regions of our country, perhaps even in every city. And they are provided for the disposal of young people. These centers are pleasing to the eye from an architectural point of view. At the same time, their functionality is very important as well. It is possible to conduct various activities here. Young people can also discuss their problems here. There are opportunities for entertainment – a cinema, a shooting gallery, etc. I am sure that young people from Lankaran will make the best use of this center. As I said, modern youth houses or centers are built in every city. They have already been built in many places.

In general, Azerbaijan pursues a well thought-out and targeted youth policy. Underlying this policy are the recommendations of great leader Heydar Aliyev. Since 1993, very important steps have been taken in the area of youth policy and indeed all other areas. As a result of the work done, the Azerbaijani youth has accomplished great things and played a very important role in society. The activity and knowledge of young people are strengthening our country today.
Today Azerbaijan is conducting a successful youth policy. Various projects and programs are implemented. I would like to emphasize the State Program "Azerbaijani youth". When this program was adopted, a broad debate was held in society, especially among young people. Many proposals put forward by young people were incorporated into this program. The program is quite specific. It reflects specific issues that are successfully resolved.

Afterwards, also on the proposals of young people, a Youth Fund of Azerbaijan was established on my order. The fund is mainly financed from the Contingency Fund of the President. This, too, is a manifestation of our attitude towards youth policy because the Contingency Fund is only intended for the most important national projects. The Youth Fund is successfully operating and various projects are implemented. Young people are involved in this work, and the Youth Fund uses its funds for various projects related to the future of our country and the developments unfolding in it.

Everyday problems of young people are being resolved. I think we need to pay even more attention to this in the future. I know that one of the issues of interest and concern for young people is the housing problem. Azerbaijan is already applying mortgages. I think that young people should be more actively involved in these things. Relevant instructions have been issued. The Youth and Sports Ministry is preparing a package of proposals, so that we could cover young people with mortgages.

In short, the Azerbaijani state constantly strengthens its policy in this regard. As a result, let me repeat that boys and girls of Azerbaijan are active members of society and play a very positive role in society. You are young people representing the region. You have gained the highest scores in entrance exams. I heartily congratulate you on this occasion. As President, I want to thank you for studying well at school. As a result, you have managed to gain the highest scores today.

This shows that those who wish to learn and think about their future, talented and educated young people can choose their own path in the field of education. I am sure you will do well in higher education schools as well and will be excellent students. The results you have shown in school give grounds to say that. Eventually, after a few years you will have a say in our society as qualified professionals.

Of course, your activity will primarily determine your own future. People with good knowledge can find themselves good opportunities in Azerbaijan. There is an opinion in society that those who study well and have extensive knowledge can attain good conditions for themselves. Azerbaijan is an open society. Azerbaijani society is democratic. Azerbaijan fully applies the principles of a market economy. Therefore, qualified specialists and professionals will certainly find a place in society and provide for their own happy future. At the same time, your knowledge should and I am sure will contribute to the development of our country because Azerbaijan is developing very fast and dynamically today. The development of any country is determined by the knowledge of its citizens. You, talented young people, can follow the developments unfolding in the world and have the opportunity to analyze them. You can see that leading countries are developing because there is a high level of knowledge, education and science there. The development of any country is determined by knowledge. This was also the case before, throughout history. The most important inventions developed countries.

Inventions in the military sphere created a military power, while inventions in the field of science brought countries additional incomes. Today, development largely depends on knowledge because we are living in the age of information and communication technologies. Information and communication technologies are developing very fast. Today, the future of any country depends on the level of knowledge in society. This is an axiom. Of course, all of us, both the government and citizens, must strive to ensure that the overall level in Azerbaijan is high and that talented young people are in the forefront.

I am sure that your future activities will be a success both for yourself and for our country. Thus, each of you will contribute to the development of our country in the future.

The development of our country is very dynamic and successful. Over the past few years Azerbaijan has been the fastest growing country in the world. We have ambitious plans for the future. The work to be done will enable Azerbaijan to join the ranks of developed countries. In any case, such a task has been set. I believe that we have the possibilities to do that. The last 20 years of our independence have confirmed this. In the past 20 years, Azerbaijan has only been developing.

Of course, you are young and can’t remember the early years of our independence. But you probably know this from history and must have read or heard about it. The first years of independence were very difficult for our country. The country was out of control and in crisis. The military, economic and political crisis was leading our country into an abyss.

Years 1991-1993 are a "dark page" of our history. Unfortunately, the then leadership failed to use the independence opportunity and we wasted two years. Those losses were very serious. Some of our lands were occupied. There were negative developments in the country. The economy was in a completely paralyzed state. But after the return of great leader Heydar Aliyev to the leadership in 1993, all the negative trends were nipped in the bud and Azerbaijan began to develop. Today, his political course continues. I am sure it will be continued. The experience of the last 20 years shows that there is no other policy that could benefit Azerbaijan. In the future, young people such as you will have a say in the dynamic and sustainable development of our country.

Of course, after five to six years you as young professionals will be actively involved in the processes taking place in our country. Only young people like you will run our country in the future. Managerial experience should be passed down from one generation to another in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan should cherish all the traditions.

We are very attached to our national and spiritual values. Education in the national spirit is very special, especially at the current stage, in a globalizing world. Globalization has both positive and negative sides to it. We have to protect ourselves from the negative influence. The only way of doing that is for young people to be brought up in the spirit of patriotism, attachment to their motherland and love of the country. National independence must be considered above anything else. Today, Azerbaijan is a truly independent state which conducts an independent policy and lives at its own expense both economically and politically. We are a country enjoying a great reputation in the world precisely because we have an independent policy. In the future, these trends should be maintained and strengthened.

The current government will maintain this positive trend. But the generation that will come after us should be as patriotic as we are and should be attached to the motherland, so that Azerbaijan could become an even more powerful state in the future. We are now laying a solid foundation for that. Many of the projects we have launched and are implementing are designed for the future. The future development of Azerbaijan is being shaped now. The economic reforms, the political developments unfolding in a positive direction, the work under way in the social sphere, our build-up of the military power, the steps being taken in the field of energy, in particular the oil and gas sector, will contribute to the power our country for at least for 50 to 60 years to come. Under such circumstances, attempts to put pressure on Azerbaijan will inevitably grow. As long as we develop, we will be in the focus of attention.

I think that we, the people leading Azerbaijan today, have already shown that no external influence can force us to deviate from his path. I want the younger generation to grow and be brought up in such a spirit – the spirit of independence.

Azerbaijan is independent today. The Azerbaijani people are free today. Our destiny is in our own hands, and this is a historic opportunity. Never before in our history – and you, as people who have studied well, know the history of Azerbaijan very well – has Azerbaijan been so strong. Our independence has never been so strong before.

There have been traditions of statehood at different stages of our history. The Azerbaijani people lived in different frameworks. But Azerbaijan has never been as free, independent and strong. This is a great value and a great asset. We are protecting it. You too have to take care of that in the future, so that Azerbaijan never falls under external influence. To do this, of course, there must be an economic foundation. Of course, if Azerbaijan did not have a strong economy today, this could have an impact on our political course. But even more important than economic factors are national and spiritual values, the national spirit and the factor of independence. I am sure that the realities of the present-day Azerbaijan and the dynamic development of our country inspire and please every young person, and every individual is proud to be a citizen of Azerbaijan. Today the successes of our country in various fields deserve the commendation and approval throughout the world. There is no other country in the world that would develop in the economic, international and all other areas as much as Azerbaijan. Underlying this, I want to say again, are the attachment to and love of the homeland and people. This is the foundation, and we should always protect it. The future generation should also protect it.

Our generation was born during the Soviet era. When the Soviet Union collapsed, I was 30 years old. Of course, I remember that period very well. Most of my life occurred on that time. This is probably why our generation is more appreciative of independent life because you were already born in the period of independence. Now, when one recalls some events of the past in discussions with young people, they sometimes do not believe how this could be possible.

For example, there were various limitations and people could not go to many places. There were ideological frames. It seems strange to young people, as if it were a different reality. But our generation grew up at that time. Therefore it is natural that the feeling of independence and the benefits of independence are closer to us. We are older and more experienced. But you, both children and young people who were born in the years of independence, should know that this independence did not fall out of the sky. The Azerbaijani people lived with the dream of independence for centuries.

Previous generations lived with the dream of independence. But their dream was never materialized. The previous generations lived with the dream and hope, wanted to see their country and people free, but failed to do so.
We are happy to live in an independent, strong, self-sufficient and developing state. We live in freedom, peace and security. This is a huge achievement. The result of our policy is that Azerbaijan is a place of stability and security in the region. It plays a stabilizing role not only at home but also in the region. International observers also note that Azerbaijan plays a stabilizing role.

Today, the state policy on the development of Azerbaijan and various other areas is prudent, coherent and based on national interests. The national interests of the Azerbaijani state and people should be paramount. Know and remember that! This is an axiom. No other factor can be higher than national interests. We must defend national interests by all means and be prepared for that. I think that recent history shows that sometimes, when our national interests were not taken into account by some countries, Azerbaijan spoke its word, managed to protect its national interests and showed their strength. So I want to say again that I recommend you to continue studying just as well as you did at school. Over the next five years you should become excellent professionals, find your place in society, determine your own future and contribute to the development of the country. And the state will spare no effort to support and pay attention to every talented young man. In the future, in 10 or 20 years, always think about the people, the motherland and the state. Try to enhance the power of the state by your hard work. Today, the Azerbaijani state is capable of protecting its citizens at home and abroad. I want to repeat that this is confirmed by recent history. We will never leave our compatriots in distress. Using all the possibilities, we can save them from a difficult situation, and we have proved that. Therefore, every citizen of Azerbaijan is backed by the strong state. But, at the same time, every citizen should strengthen the state through hard work. In other words, these processes are linked with each other. I am sure that you are well aware of these issues. The fact that you studied well at school shows your responsibility. I am sure that in the future you will be valuable citizens of our country. In fact, you are already valuable citizens. But you will speak your word as professionals and as young specialists. I greet and congratulate you again! I wish you all the best in your lives.

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Student Mirhadi Samidzadeh said:

- Mr. President, by scoring 659 points this year, I entered the law faculty of Baku State University. On behalf of all the young people present here and all the youth of our region, we express our gratitude to you for coming to our region.

The World Economic Forum yesterday circulated a report that in terms of competitiveness Azerbaijan has advanced to 39th place and is ahead of a number of countries. This is a great achievement. This success is underpinned by economic reforms carried out by you. One of the reforms implemented for the development of our country has been the student cards. These cards have already been issued to more than 100,000 students. They give students a number of benefits. Our request is that these benefits also cover public transport and medical examination.

Thank you.

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President Ilham Aliyev: Okay, we will take this into consideration. Student cards, as they say, are a relatively new initiative. We should try to resolve all the problems of students, their everyday problems. The problems associated with the dorms are being resolved. As you know, many of our citizens affected by the Armenian occupation were placed in dorms and tent-camps. Tent camps have already been eliminated. We got rid of them six years ago. This process is now under way with the dorms. New dormitories will be built. Student scholarships are being raised. I believe that this is also a very positive development. So, of course, this issue will also be resolved.

As you have noted, the Azerbaijani economy is strong. This is confirmed by international organizations.

The World Economic Forum is forum number one in the world. Forums are held in Davos every year. As President of Azerbaijan, I have been invited and participated in it for the last seven years. This year, the Davos forum held in Baku for the first time. This is really a great achievement because the Davos forum is a format that is significantly higher than other economic structures and economic forums. It is called an economic forum, but it is actually a political forum, as it is attended by heads of state and government from leading countries of the world. The number of the forum participants is very limited. Only members of the world’s political and economic elite are invited. Of course, this assessment deserves a lot of attention and shows again that Azerbaijan has come to the fore in terms of competitiveness in recent years.

I remember the time when I started working as President 10 years ago. Some foreign guests were saying that the future development of Azerbaijan would be lop-sided, that Azerbaijan was tied to the oil and gas factor and that the economy would not be diversified. This was the forecast for Azerbaijan. But life has shown that the Azerbaijani economy is not very dependent on the oil and gas factor. If we look at the structure of the gross domestic product, we can see that the bulk of it is formed in the non-oil sector. In seven months of this year, our non-oil sector grew by more than 10 per cent. The development of regions means the development of the non-oil sector.

I have repeatedly visited this region. This is my ninth visit to Lankaran in the last 10 years. I have been to Masalli eight and to Astara six times. So I have repeatedly visited this region. Yesterday and today I visited seven districts. Of course, the purpose of my visits is to get acquainted with the situation and monitor the execution of instructions. But at the same time, there are so many opening ceremonies now that it is hard to find time to attend them all. Today, a drinking water project has been opened in Lankaran. After a while I will attend the opening of the central hospital and a rural road. A big hospital was opened yesterday in Jalilabad, water lines in Bilasuvar and Yardimli, and a hospital in Astara. There is creation, development and improvement not only in this region, but also in the whole country.

And I would like to recommend that our citizens, i.e. people living in different regions, find time to visit other regions, spend weekends in different places as tourists. There are excellent opportunities in different places now – camps and motels. Of course, young people will probably not stay in expensive hotels. But there are places now where they can stay.

There are flights. In other words, guys from the south can travel to the north and from north to south. If this happens, then people living anywhere in the country will be able to see clearly the overall development of the country. I see that because I have visited the regions perhaps a thousand times in the last 10 years. There may have been over a thousand events.

But most people living in the regions only see the development of their own district. So I would want you to try to visit all parts of Azerbaijan in your student years and to see that Azerbaijan is a beautiful country. There is natural beauty and at the same time a variety of cultures. This is our great advantage and asset.

Student Gulay Seyfullayeva said:

- Dear Mr. President. Having scored 683 points in entrance exams this year, I entered the department of medical affairs of the Azerbaijan Medical University. I salute and thank you for hosting this meeting. Today, the education of our youth in foreign universities has been made possible thanks to the implementation of the State Program on education abroad in 2007-2015. I have a request in this regard. I would like the students entering universities with a high score to have the opportunity, along with local universities, to indicate foreign universities when choosing a specialty. I would also like to note that, as you know, the state program on education abroad is completing in 2015. I would very much like this program to be extended. Thank you!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Of course, your suggestions will be taken into account. We will consider them. Of course, after 2015 the program will be continued. There can be no restrictions here. If the students who get a high score want to go abroad, the Ministry of Education should take their desire into account. Some work has already been done in this area. The issue of education of students abroad is already being resolved. Since this is a very important issue, funding is provided from the State Oil Fund. As you know, only the most strategic projects for our country are financed through the State Oil Fund. For example, the Fund has financed the construction of settlements for the displaced people and large water reservoirs. The Takhtakorpu water reservoir will soon be opened. This is also being addressed through the Oil Fund. The education of young people abroad is also organized by the Oil Fund. Tens of millions of manats are allocated every year and thousands of young people go to foreign universities. This program will be continued, of course.

You probably know that the young people studying abroad at the government’s expense do not have any requirements.

When we started this program, there were different opinions. Some suggested that it was necessary to stipulate that they should return to Azerbaijan. Or that they should leave a deposit, otherwise they will study at the expense of the state and then stay in those countries and our money will be wasted. But I didn’t allow that. We can’t put forward any conditions to the young people. We started this program to enable young people to study at different universities around the world. At the same time, I said back then that we must create favorable conditions in Azerbaijan for these young people to return here. Our youth is very attached to its land. If there are good conditions, jobs and opportunities here, why wouldn’t they come back? No-one will stay in other countries.

I am very glad that these predictions of mine are being realized. The vast majority of the young people educated abroad are returning home. In various government agencies and state-owned companies there are special programs. There are programs on the employment of young specialists. In general, systematic work is done to increase the number of young people in state agencies. You probably know that this issue is directly related to the issue of retirement because in many cases those who have reached retirement age do not want to retire. And by not retiring they practically hamper the next generation. Therefore, pensions should be high enough for retirement not to be seen as a tragedy.

In developed countries, people look forward to retirement. They wait for this day: I will retire because the provision is good. However, because of the crisis, there are some problems there now. They even want to raise the retirement age.

Retirement benefits are also being curtailed. But, in general, retirement in developed countries is everyone’s dream.

Therefore, these issues are interrelated. People should retire on time, so that representatives of the next generation could come and work in these positions. Thus, they will open the way for young people.

But I want to mention one more issue. I believe that we need to create favorable conditions in the education sector in Azerbaijan to eliminate the need to go abroad. The initiative to send young people to foreign universities was put forward by me as a necessity, because there was a great need for that. But I believe that the ongoing education reform will raise the level of higher education in Azerbaijan in the near future. So there will be no need to travel abroad. But this, of course, is not an issue of today. And this program, of course, will be continued after 2015.

I want to note that the Azerbaijan State Medical University has built two beautiful academic buildings in recent years. A therapeutic unit has been commissioned. A surgical complex will be put into operation this year. So you will study in Baku in excellent conditions. Are you already thinking about your future profession? What area would you like to choose?

Gulay Seyfullayeva: I want to be a surgeon.

Student Farhad Hasanli said:

- Dear Mr. President, I am 15 years old. I scored 650 points in entrance exams this year and entered the medical faculty of the Azerbaijan Medical University.

Mr. President, we, young people from different regions, availing ourselves of the conditions available in our country, have won the right to receive an excellent education. Our future employment, when, after graduating we come back to our districts, is also one of the most important issues. We would very much like certain measures to be taken to organize work in this area. Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: What district are you from?

Farhad Hasanli: From Astara District.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yesterday, we celebrated the opening of a great hospital in Astara. I also want to note that when I attended the opening of the main building of the hospital last year, I saw another building that was in disrepair. I reviewed it and saw that although the main building had been renovated, the outpatient clinic and the diagnostic center were in poor condition. So after returning to Baku, I signed an executive order and allocated funds from the Contingency Fund of the President for the Astara District Hospital to be completely overhauled and repaired. Last night we celebrated the opening of a second building of the Astara hospital. So there are excellent opportunities to work as a doctor in Astara. You will study for five to six years now. By then new medical facilities will be built in Astara. Of course, there is a process of job creation on the ground. Over the past 10 years about 1,200,000 jobs have been created. The vast majority of them were opened in the regions. This program was very instrumental in eliminating unemployment in the regions.

So you have to study hard to become a good professional. Of course, if you think that you should come back to Astara, I will be very happy about it because the hospitals built in the regions are no inferior to those of developed countries.

A diagnostic center was opened in Jalilabad earlier, and now we have opened a large hospital. This hospital is an architectural masterpiece. It will be a great happiness for every doctor to work there. Last week we celebrated the opening of a large hospital in Agjabadi. Such hospitals are usually built in major cities of developed countries. And we have built them in the districts. Only the Bilasuvar District Hospital is still not in good condition. Now, after returning to Baku, I will sign an order to overhaul the Bilasuvar District Hospital. So there will be no central hospital without renovation in this whole region from Salyan to Astara.

Student Sona Asgarova said:

- Mr. President, I scored 652 points in the exams this year and was admitted to the department of medical affairs of the Azerbaijan State Medical University. It is very nice to see you in our district. Just like all the young people present here, I also feel very proud to participate in this meeting. We represent the youth of our region and want to share our thoughts with you. We know that a lot of competitions among students are held in our country. Currently, there is a law according to which winners of international Olympiads are entitled to enrol at universities without examination. We would like this rule to apply to the winners of national competitions as well in the future. As you know, students have a common dream – dormitories. We would very much like the campuses and dorms of higher education institutions of our country to be upgraded and increased in number in the future. Thank you very much for your attention!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. This issue can be considered. Of course, our exams are conducted in the test format.

I think that is the right option. Exams are conducted fairly. Tests are an accepted practice all over the world. But, of course, the young boys and girls who have shown good results in international competitions should probably have some privileges. This issue can be considered. As for the dorms, I have already addressed this issue. There is a great need for that. The idea of building campuses is being discussed. It will probably be implemented.

New universities are established in Azerbaijan now. A university of information technologies should be established. A building of the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy has been constructed. A building of the Baku branch of Moscow State University has been constructed. Two large hospitals for the Medical University have been built. As you can see, these buildings meet the highest standards. Buildings of other universities are renovated. The building of the Technical University is being renovated. Of course, dormitories will be built.

The dormitories of Baku State University used to accommodate the internally displaced persons. We have already moved them out of there. It is no longer possible to live there. They can’t be refurbished either and are being knocked down. New dormitories will be built. This issue is in the spotlight. But you probably know that many of our fellow countrymen affected by the Armenian occupation were placed exactly in the dormitories, kindergartens and schools.

Some kindergartens of Baku are still occupied by the IDPs. Some schools are home to the IDPs. One section of a kindergarten functions as a kindergarten and the other as a home for the IDPs.

Every year we provide 20,000 displaced people with new apartments and houses. You could say that a small town is built every year. But so far we have accommodated about 200,000 persons. Therefore, as the IDPs are moved out of dormitories, schools, kindergartens and in some cases military units, the construction of dorms, of course, will go faster.

This, of course, is part of our plans. I know that issues related to education are resolved successfully today. And they must be addressed successfully. This idea is probably repeated many times, but the truth is that education is the future of any country. The development of any society depends primarily on education, as well as scientific and technological progress.

We should strive to make our young people well-trained and qualified. We have to apply all the innovations that exist in the world to Azerbaijan. We have to apply all positive trends to Azerbaijan, so that our country could always develop rapidly, our citizens could live in prosperity and Azerbaijan could move forward as an independent state and achieve success.

I congratulate you again! A new period, a new life is starting for you. You are about to begin your studies in higher educational institutions. This is a very interesting period. I wish you all the best, so that you could contribute to the development of our country in the future. Thank you!

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In conclusion, a photo was taken as a souvenir.