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President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of a new administrative building of the Shaki Court Complex VIDEO

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Shaki, November 4, AZERTAC

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of a new administrative building of the Shaki Court Complex.

Minister of Justice Fikrat Mammadov informed the head of state about the construction of the building and high-level conditions created here. It was noted that the construction of the five-storey complex, which occupies a total area of 19, 800 square meters, started in November, 2012, and ended this October.

The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the building.

President Ilham Aliyev familiarized himself with the conditions created at the complex. The building was constructed as part of the Justice Ministry's “Modernization of the Justice System” project jointly financed by the government of Azerbaijan and the World Bank. Photo stands depicting national leader Heydar Aliyev`s and President Ilham Aliyev`s care and attention to the development of judicial-legal system in the country were installed in the foyer of the building.

It was the second court complex, which was constructed as part of a joint project with the World Bank. The complex houses the Shaki Court of Appeal, Shaki Administrative and Economic Court, Shaki Court on Grave Crimes and Shaki District Court. The complex will serve nearly 1,370,000 people. The Shaki Court Complex will employ 250 people, including judges, more than 170 employees of court administration and 35 justice officials.

President Ilham Aliyev toured the court halls.

There are 16 court halls. All necessary measures have been taken in the complex in accordance with the Azerbaijani President`s decree on the establishment of e-Court system. The complex also has conference halls and an auditorium. All conditions have been created here for judges and employees. The administrative building of the District Court, which was located in the territory of the complex, was reconstructed. All conditions have been created in the two-storey building.

President Ilham Aliyev met with employees of court and justice bodies.

The head of state addressed the meeting.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev:

- Today we mark the opening of the Shaki judicial complex. I congratulate you on this occasion. It is a beautiful building. It meets the highest standards in architectural and functional terms. All the necessary conditions have been created. It is equipped with modern facilities. In short, this judicial complex meets the highest standards.

In recent years, the construction of court buildings has successfully continued in Azerbaijan. We have recently celebrated the opening of the Sabunchu judicial complex in Baku. According to the information available, new courthouses are built in 10 districts. Thus, serious steps are taken to strengthen the material and technical infrastructure of courts. They are built with public funds and with the help of the World Bank. This is a result of our successful cooperation with international financial institutions.

The process of improving the judicial system is well under way in Azerbaijan. I want to emphasize the activities of the Judicial Council. The Council has been functioning for 10 years. The reforms carried out in this field and the results achieved have contributed to the strengthening of the judicial system in Azerbaijan and increased transparency.

Azerbaijan is successfully going through the process of building a law-governed state. This process was initiated by great leader Heydar Aliyev. On his initiative, very serious steps were taken in the early 1990s. The Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan was adopted. At the time, we determined the strategic direction that Azerbaijan should have a rule of law, provide for the supremacy of law and the judicial system should be based on the best practices existing in the world.

I believe that we have achieved a great success in this direction in recent years. Azerbaijan is going through the process of building the rule of law. A special role here, of course, is played by the transparency of courts and their work. According to the data available, the number of complaints relating to the court decisions has decreased in recent years. This indicates that the vast majority of court decisions are fair, because we constantly study public opinion. The petitions sent to the Presidential Administration and other state bodies are examined very carefully and every complaint is investigated. There are grounds to say that changes for the better in this area are obvious.

I believe that as a result of the forthcoming measures and the reforms to be undertaken in the future, we will be able to maximize the transparency of the judicial system. An important role in this area is played by the decisions made in recent years. In particular, the creation of the "Electronic Court" information system, which is already used in this building, will ensure transparency and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles. In short, it will turn the judiciary into a more modern system enjoying even greater confidence.

Currently, the "Electronic Court" information system is being installed at all new judicial complexes. This is a very serious reform, because the decisions of courts must be fair. Actually, everything in life should be based on justice. If justice is undermined, then, of course, there may be resentment and, in general, the positive development of society will face difficulties. Fair decisions increase people's trust in the state and, at the same time, regulate our lives. All decisions must be fair. That is the purpose of the decisions made in the judiciary and the reforms.

There should not be a biased approach. The fight against corruption should be even more rigorous. In short, the judicial system should be as transparent as possible. The use of international experience in Azerbaijan is of paramount importance, because we often see the transparency of courts in developed countries. Of course, there may be unreasonable decisions in any country, but if we view the situation as a whole, the judiciary in developed countries, in Europe is transparent and fair. This is a very important condition for democratic development.

Of course, there are problems, errors and negative phenomena in any country. In some cases, we express our opinion on the situation and on the shortcomings in Azerbaijan and in Europe. In other words, we are also open to criticism. Every country should be open to criticism. No country is perfect. There are mistakes and shortcomings in any country. Recently, very serious mistakes have been committed in politics and international affairs on the European continent. However, I believe that the judicial system of European countries can serve as an example. We must say this openly here. We in Azerbaijan need to apply this positive experience. That practice is obvious. There is no need to invent something. We simply need to do this work in accordance with the decisions made. The decisions made and the steps taken need to be in the right direction. At the same time, it is governed by the laws and decrees signed by the President. The main thing is that this should also be reflected in life. The correct implementation of these decisions will increase the transparency of the judicial system in Azerbaijan and make our policy against negative phenomena even more effective.

Azerbaijan wages a very serious fight against corruption and bribery. I have repeatedly expressed my opinion on these matters and have given appropriate instructions. We must continue our work in three directions here. Of course, administrative measures and penalties are and will be made. Recently, the Azerbaijani public sees that those engaged in corruption, bribery and lawlessness will face with a serious punishment regardless of their position in society. No-one in society can be untouchable. No-one can be immune. All are equal before law. Therefore, punishments will be continued.

Unfortunately, there is a need for that. But along with this, of course, there is a great need for systemic institutional reforms. We must, so to speak, narrow the space for corruption and bribery. Azerbaijan must and does carry out reforms to further narrow the scope for corruption, so that this evil, this plague is fully eliminated.

I believe that the steps related to transparency and institutional reforms in recent years have largely narrowed the space for corruption and bribery. But there is still a lot to do, and the activities of the judicial system in this area are very important. First of all, it is necessary to eliminate cases of corruption in the judiciary. This should not be tolerated. At the same time, court decisions must make our fight against this evil even more effective.

Azerbaijan has done a great job in building the rule of law. There are major achievements. Complete establishment of transparency and justice in the judiciary has a positive impact on our overall democratic development. Azerbaijan is on the path of democracy. All freedoms are guaranteed in Azerbaijan – the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of conscience and religion, the freedom of political activity. There are no restrictions. Azerbaijani citizens see it in everyday life.

There are hundreds of media outlets and a free Internet in Azerbaijan. Seventy-five per cent of the population is Internet-users. The freedom of assembly is fully guaranteed. It is a different matter that the rallies of some political groups bring together 200-300 people. But the fact is that there are no restrictions.

The latest parliamentary election showed once again that Azerbaijan is making good progress towards democracy. The latest parliamentary election fully reflects the will of the Azerbaijani people. Hundreds of international observers have given a very positive assessment of the election. Election observation missions from the CIS, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a formal conclusion that the election was conducted democratically, fairly and transparently. The election was also praised by representatives of other international organizations. This is yet another great victory for our state and people, and it shows again that Azerbaijan's democratic development is rapid.

Today, Azerbaijan is a country where developments are determined by the people. People say their word through elections. The unity between the people and the government, the beautiful public climate and democratic processes reinforce our country. This is why Azerbaijan ensures maximum stability. There are no differences related to the development of our country, because our policy fully reflects the interests of our people. Our policy is based on the interests of the people. Security, domestic stability, economic development, social justice, democracy, freedom and independent foreign policy – these are our basic principles, and we see a good picture and successful results in every direction.

Today, Azerbaijan is a country that stands out globally for economic and social development. No crisis can seriously affect our economic development. It may to some extent. In general, our socioeconomic indicators for the year are obvious. There is a growing economy, social and infrastructure projects, including those in this region, are being executed. Today, we celebrated the start of infrastructure projects in Zagatala. There is construction and creative work in Shaki, in all our regions, cities and districts.

At the same time, our international authority is growing. Azerbaijan plays the role of a reliable partner in the world. Our policy is treated with great interest and sympathy – first of all, because we have an independent foreign policy, and I want to say again that the Azerbaijani people are at the heart of our policy. No outside force can affect our policy. There were and are such attempts, but they have reduced. Despite this, we are going down our own path, and the result is obvious.

The processes taking place in the world today, the bloody conflicts and wars have captured the global agenda. They have become commonplace. Therefore, the preservation and strengthening of stability and security in Azerbaijan deserves a lot of approval. To conduct an independent policy and achieve social and economic development under such circumstances suggest that we are pursuing a correct policy. Our people see and endorse that and express their position in elections.

Therefore, the work carried out in Azerbaijan and the implementation of our plans in the future will further strengthen our country. I do not see any serious problems related to our future social and economic development. Our financial situation and the rate of the manat are stable. We have enough foreign exchange reserves. We are implementing all social and infrastructure projects and creative work is carried out.

The role of Azerbaijan in the global energy sector is gradually growing, and today we are implementing such an ambitious project as the Southern Gas Corridor - the most important energy project in Europe. We are demonstrating leadership in that. All of this work will be continued. To expedite this work and achieve even better results, we need to address the issues of concern to the authorities and the people that still exist in society. The first and foremost among them are corruption and bribery, because corruption undermines the foundations of our state, prevents development and free competition and to some extent causes mistrust. Therefore, courts have a huge role to play in this. I want to say again that we should first stop corruption and bribery in the judicial system.

Among the reforms, I should note that in recent years we have greatly improved the material security of judges. What for? For them to live normally! In other words, they are provided by the state properly and, if possible, this provision will improve even more. The judicial system should be such that our fight against corruption, bribery and injustice becomes more efficient and effective, so that these obstacles to our development are eliminated.

To achieve this, there is a strong political will - the will displayed by the state. At the same time, there is great public support – the support of the people. With regard to civil servants, they should honorably fulfill their duties, avoid mistakes, not offend people or put forward unreasonable demands. Unfortunately, we are still faced with an ugly picture. I believe that only a fair investigation and equitable court decisions will lead to a serious progress in this area.

We have recently revealed facts associated with entrepreneurs. They are horrible facts. So much injustice has been committed in respect of businesses by representatives of the state. They faced unreasonable demands. In some cases, their possessions were taken over. They were asked for bribes in large amounts. In some cases, there was racketeering. This can’t even be called a bribe. A bribe is given when someone wants to do something and gives a bribe to make things easier. But in some cases business people were simply deprived of their property and money. They were frightened and tortured. Therefore, a fair judicial system should give an adequate assessment to these facts.

No society is perfect. There are violations in every country. For example, developed countries have established secret prisons. Several years ago this caused a major international scandal. Such things were done by developed countries that are considered the cradle of democracy. People were illegally kept in prison for years without trial. Does that suit developed countries?! Of course not! In some cases, in developed countries, people are arrested and detained for political activity. In some cases, they were kept hostage for several years. Sometimes, developed countries pass unfounded and unfair sentences. This is obvious. Whoever has money hires a good lawyer and evades responsibility.

That is the case in any country. But I don’t want this to be the case in Azerbaijan. I want things in Azerbaijan to be fair. I am sure that this is what you want as well. This is what the people of Azerbaijan want.

Therefore, a lot depends on the activities of the courts. I want to reiterate that the reforms carried out in this field recently and the decisions made will provide positive momentum. But much still remains to be done. I am sure that courts will continue to carry out their duties with dignity and there will be no discontent in society associated with the activities of courts. When we no longer receive complaints relating to judicial decisions, I will know that we have been able to achieve our goals.

I congratulate you on this wonderful event again – the opening of the Shaki court complex. I wish you success in your work.

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Minister of Justice, chairman of Judicial Legal Council Fikrat Mammadov and chairman of the Supreme Court Ramiz Rzayev also made speeches.

Then, President Ilham Aliyev familiarized himself with the conditions created at an administrative building of the Shaki District Registration Department.

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