OFFICIAL NEWS


Speech by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the swearing-in ceremony

- Dear ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to my dear people of Azerbaijan again for the great confidence they have shown in me in the current election. I have always felt the support of the Azerbaijani people. This support gives me strength. I rely on this support and want to reassure the people of Azerbaijan again that I will continue to serve the nation and the Motherland with dignity.

The presidential election reflects the will of the Azerbaijani people. The Azerbaijani people have given a high assessment of the work done and voted for it. They have given their votes for development, progress, security, and for our further development. The election has been held fairly and transparently. Opinion polls conducted by local and international organizations prior to the election and the exit polls conducted by international and local organizations on election day coincide with the official election results. This shows again that the election reflects the will and the opinion of our people.

In 2003, in my address to the people on the eve of the presidential election, I said that if the people showed their confidence in me, I would remain true to the policy of great leader Heydar Aliyev and would continue this policy. I am proud that the people believed me, supported me, and I, in turn, kept my word. In the past 15 years, comprehensive development has been ensured in Azerbaijan. The main condition here is that we are on the path of the great leader. The path he has chosen is the only correct one, and the history of Azerbaijan's independence clearly demonstrates that.

Over the past 15 years, we have made great strides along this way. The Azerbaijani people have lived in the conditions of security and stability. Over these 15 years, very dangerous processes took place in different regions of the world, in our region, in Europe: bloody clashes, wars, civil wars, coups d'état. In other words, the last 15 years have been very tense in terms of security. Our people have lived in Azerbaijan in the conditions of security. We have eliminated all internal risks, were able to protect, are protecting and I am sure will continue to protect ourselves from external risks. Over these 15 years, the Azerbaijani people have lived in the conditions of stability. And this is the main precondition for our development. We see that when stability is disrupted, there can be no talk of development. When stability is undermined, outside intervention takes place, countries become uncontrollable, fraternal blood is shed, and the future of countries is called into question. The Azerbaijani people and our policies are the guarantors of stability in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the unity of the people and the government is the key precondition for our success. Azerbaijan today is known as a place of stability, an island of stability on a global scale, and this is our great achievement.

Over these 15 years, democratic development has progressed rapidly and all freedoms have been guaranteed in Azerbaijan. I believe that these 15 years have been very successful in terms of democratic development. By deepening political reforms, we guaranteed all freedoms – the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of political activity. Suffice it to say that 80 per cent of Azerbaijani citizens are Internet users today. The Internet is free in Azerbaijan. So our policy related to democratic development is correct and ensures our national interests. We are doing this not to please anyone, but to further deepen political reforms in Azerbaijan, so that the Azerbaijani people are always in charge of their own destiny, just as they are in charge of their destiny now, and the election and its results confirm this once again.

I can say that positive tendencies have also been observed in Azerbaijan in the field of the culture of political struggle over the past 15 years, and this was demonstrated in the presidential election campaign. Some critical thoughts were expressed in the speeches of candidates. I welcome this and consider it a positive fact. This shows that political struggle is developing in the right direction. I should note that the issues raised by candidates during the presidential election campaign will be carefully examined and valuable suggestions will be taken into account. In a word, over these 15 years we have tried to ensure that political struggle in Azerbaijan is carried out in a civilized manner, and we have achieved that to a large extent. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the candidates who ran for president, and wish them success in their future activities.

As for the anti-national grouping, it has been completely marginalized. This election has once again shown that it has no place in the political arena of Azerbaijan. The people of Azerbaijan have long defined its place – the dump of history. The Azerbaijani people have once again shown where these elements, operating at the expense of foreign grants and donations, working against our state and often engaged in national treachery, belong. The rallies they organized before and after the election show once again that the Azerbaijani people will never allow the group governed from abroad to take any position in Azerbaijan. We will continue to intensify our efforts related to democratic development. This direction will continue to play an important role in our future.

Azerbaijan has successfully developed over these 15 years. The Azerbaijani people have demonstrated unity and solidarity. National ideology plays a major role in our future work. The ideology of Azerbaijanism is fully established, the Azerbaijani people are rallied around a single national idea and our country is developing very successfully. Interreligious and interethnic relations in Azerbaijan are exemplary. Representatives of all peoples and religions live and will continue to live like one family and in the conditions of friendship in Azerbaijan. Our policy and the wishes of the society will determine the steps to be taken in this direction.

Azerbaijan has made tremendous progress in regulating interreligious and interethnic relations in the country. Over the past 15 years, we have demonstrated this to the world – not only to show ourselves but also for positive tendencies to prevail on the planet. Unfortunately, there have been very dangerous processes in the world in the last 15 years. Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination are already turning into state policy in some countries. A negative attitude is displayed towards representatives of other nationalities and religions. Therefore, we have tried and will continue to try to show our example and prove that multiculturalism is alive and will live on. At the same time, we are committed to our national and spiritual values, are attached to them. It is no coincidence that 2016 and 2017 were declared years of multiculturalism and Islamic solidarity in Azerbaijan.

Over the past 15 years, Azerbaijan has made great strides in the international arena. Our positions in the world are becoming stronger. Azerbaijan is a country with a very positive international reputation. The world community treats us with great sympathy and provides support. We feel that. It is also confirmed by the results we have achieved and the decisions made. Of course, the most obvious example of this was the election of Azerbaijan to the UN Security Council with the support of 155 countries. This is a huge achievement for a young state. It showed that the absolute majority of the world community supports us.

As for the anti-national grouping, it has been completely marginalized. This election has once again shown that it has no place in the political arena of Azerbaijan. The people of Azerbaijan have long defined its place – the dump of history. The Azerbaijani people have once again shown where these elements, operating at the expense of foreign grants and donations, working against our state and often engaged in national treachery, belong. The rallies they organized before and after the election show once again that the Azerbaijani people will never allow the group governed from abroad to take any position in Azerbaijan. We will continue to intensify our efforts related to democratic development. This direction will continue to play an important role in our future.

Azerbaijan has successfully developed over these 15 years. The Azerbaijani people have demonstrated unity and solidarity. National ideology plays a major role in our future work. The ideology of Azerbaijanism is fully established, the Azerbaijani people are rallied around a single national idea and our country is developing very successfully. Interreligious and interethnic relations in Azerbaijan are exemplary. Representatives of all peoples and religions live and will continue to live like one family and in the conditions of friendship in Azerbaijan. Our policy and the wishes of the society will determine the steps to be taken in this direction.

Azerbaijan has made tremendous progress in regulating interreligious and interethnic relations in the country. Over the past 15 years, we have demonstrated this to the world – not only to show ourselves but also for positive tendencies to prevail on the planet. Unfortunately, there have been very dangerous processes in the world in the last 15 years. Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination are already turning into state policy in some countries. A negative attitude is displayed towards representatives of other nationalities and religions. Therefore, we have tried and will continue to try to show our example and prove that multiculturalism is alive and will live on. At the same time, we are committed to our national and spiritual values, are attached to them. It is no coincidence that 2016 and 2017 were declared years of multiculturalism and Islamic solidarity in Azerbaijan.

Over the past 15 years, Azerbaijan has made great strides in the international arena. Our positions in the world are becoming stronger. Azerbaijan is a country with a very positive international reputation. The world community treats us with great sympathy and provides support. We feel that. It is also confirmed by the results we have achieved and the decisions made. Of course, the most obvious example of this was the election of Azerbaijan to the UN Security Council with the support of 155 countries. This is a huge achievement for a young state. It showed that the absolute majority of the world community supports us.

Over the past 15 years, we have established even closer relations with neighboring states. I can say that our bilateral relations are at the highest level today. We have no problems with neighboring countries and all issues are being addressed constructively. Bilateral cooperation creates conditions for multilateral cooperation, which is also carried out at the initiative of Azerbaijan. We have initiated four formats of multilateral cooperation with four neighboring countries, and these formats work. At these tripartite and quadripartite meetings, we discuss and address very important issues. The solution of issues brings great benefit to all the neighboring countries, including Azerbaijan. At the same time, our good relations with neighbors have a positive influence on regional stability and security.

Over the past 15 years, we have been very actively involved and will continue to participate in the international organizations that support the position of Azerbaijan, in particular, our fair position on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Suffice it to say that in the past 15 years many of the most authoritative international organizations agreed with our suggestions in connection with the conflict and adopted very important resolutions. They point out that the conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country. The UN General Assembly, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Economic Cooperation Organization, GUAM and other organizations have adopted resolutions supporting our position on the conflict. Prior to that, resolutions were adopted by the UN Security Council and the OSCE, which has created a legal framework for the settlement of the conflict.

We have able to fully gain the support of international organizations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and expose the aggressive policy of Armenia. We have succeeded in completely isolating Armenia from all regional projects. Resolutions of the UN Security Council are the legal basis for the settlement of the conflict. We have proved to the world again that we are right even though Armenian lobbying organizations are conducting campaigns against us. But these campaigns have failed to influence the decisions of international organizations. We have managed to achieve political and diplomatic successes. No-one recognizes and, I am sure, never will recognize the self-styled "Nagorno-Karabakh". Our neighboring countries and international organizations have condemned the so-called "referendum" held there.

Nagorno-Karabakh is historically Azerbaijani land. There is a legal framework. For 15 years, we have been strengthening this framework. Over the past 15 years, we managed to communicate the truth about the conflict to the world. Books have been written, maps, old maps have been demonstrated, presentations and exhibitions have been held. More than 10 countries have recognized the Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide. Our diplomatic and political successes are bearing fruit.

We have able to fully gain the support of international organizations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and expose the aggressive policy of Armenia. We have succeeded in completely isolating Armenia from all regional projects. Resolutions of the UN Security Council are the legal basis for the settlement of the conflict. We have proved to the world again that we are right even though Armenian lobbying organizations are conducting campaigns against us. But these campaigns have failed to influence the decisions of international organizations. We have managed to achieve political and diplomatic successes. No-one recognizes and, I am sure, never will recognize the self-styled "Nagorno-Karabakh". Our neighboring countries and international organizations have condemned the so-called "referendum" held there.

Nagorno-Karabakh is historically Azerbaijani land. There is a legal framework. For 15 years, we have been strengthening this framework. Over the past 15 years, we managed to communicate the truth about the conflict to the world. Books have been written, maps, old maps have been demonstrated, presentations and exhibitions have been held. More than 10 countries have recognized the Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide. Our diplomatic and political successes are bearing fruit.

Armenia has become a dead-end country. We are not denying that as a result of our efforts, we have isolated Armenia from all regional projects, and this policy is bearing fruit. We will continue this policy, and we are confident that we will achieve our goal. The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved exclusively within the territorial integrity of our country. There is no other option. Azerbaijan will never allow a second contrived Armenian state to be created on our territory.

We are also informing the world community, the world public that not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also the present-day Armenia are our historical lands. We are saying this to the world community not only in word but also with evidence. Researchers and history books are being written. Archive information is studied. There are quite a few of historical documents confirming this. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Azerbaijanis accounted for 80 per cent of the population of the Erivan Khanate. We experienced several deportation campaigns. We must communicate this information and we do. And this is producing effect.

Our principled position in connection with the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict enjoys the support of the Azerbaijani people. We will not deviate from this policy. We will continue to isolate the invader from all work and from all regional affairs in the coming years. We will continue to expose them in the coming years. We will grow even stronger in the coming years, because the major initiatives and projects being implemented today will multiply our strength.

At the same time, as we are well aware from history, from recent history and the processes taking place in the region, that the norms of international law often don’t work. Might is right. We have seen this many times and are seeing it today. It is possible to say that the international rules of conduct have changed in the past 15 years. Norms of international law have shifted to the background. The factor of force has become even more important. This is a reality. We live in a real world and must reckon with reality.

Reality also shows that the policy we are conducting in connection with army building is the only correct one. A lot of work was done at the beginning of this policy. The process of army building has rapidly progressed for the last 15 years. We were sometimes criticized: why do you spend so much money on these issues? But life has shown that we have pursued the right policy. Today, the Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies on a global scale. Our army is among the strongest in terms of equipment, weapons, ammunition, technology, and combat capability. We provide everything necessary for our army. The most modern weaponry is and will be acquired.

The enemy was also convinced of our strength. The April battles are a glorious page in our history, a great victory. The Azerbaijani army liberated a part of the lands in Agdara, Fizuli and, Jabrayil districts from occupiers. We are now in control of thousands of hectares of land. Life is returning to these lands. The Azerbaijani flag flies there, people are returning and a new settlement has been established. Our military victory demonstrates the strength and the indestructible spirit of the Azerbaijani people. It shows that the Azerbaijani people will never put up with this occupation. It shows that we will free our lands. To do this, we must and we will become even stronger.

The village of Jojug Marjanli has become a symbol of our revival. The life returning to Jojug Marjanli truly delights every citizen of Azerbaijan and instills a great sense of pride. The Armenian vandals, Armenian leaders have perpetrated an act of genocide also against our historical monuments. They have destroyed our mosques. However, they don’t understand that the destroyed mosques will live in our hearts. We have erected the destroyed mosques in our hearts. After liberating our lands from occupation, we built an analog of the destroyed Shusha mosque in Jojug Marjanli. Today our people can perform religious rites on these lands. This shows again that we will never reconcile ourselves to this occupation.

We are also successfully addressing issues related to the IDPs. About a hundred settlements have been built, 280,000-290,000 of our compatriots from amongst the IDPs have been provided with new houses and apartments. We will continue to support them. The household problems of the IDPs and their employment are always in our spotlight. Steps in this direction are to be made in the future too.

In general, I can say that over the past 15 years we have paid great attention to social issues. This is also confirmed by figures. Salaries have been increased almost seven times and pensions more than 10 times. A social infrastructure is being put in place. Over 3,100 schools and more than 640 hospitals have been built and renovated. In the regions, 43 Olympic sport centers have been established. In other words, social policy is always in the spotlight. I have repeatedly expressed my opinion on this issue and want to say again that the interests of Azerbaijani citizens and their well-being will always be the focus of attention in the future.

If we take into account plans to carry and deepen reforms in the coming years, I am sure that the living standards of our people will become even higher. Azerbaijan has made great strides in the fight against poverty. I can say that all international organizations dealing with these issues cite this as an example: our poverty rate has declined from almost 50 to 5.4 per cent. A lot of work has been done in connection with unemployment. Unemployment in Azerbaijan is at the level of 5 per cent. Over the past 15 years, our population has increased by 1.5 million people. But the number of jobs has also increased by about as much. I want to say it again: this factor will always be at the center of our attention in the future because the positive demographic situation we have today requires the process of creating jobs to be continuous. If we take into account the fact that new technologies which sometimes replace human labor are extensively applied in the world, including Azerbaijan, we plan to set up new technological enterprises. We must conduct a more flexible and effective policy to create jobs.

Over these years, Azerbaijan has become an exporter of intellectual products. “ASAN xidmət” is already being introduced to other countries. Our experience is being studied. It has created a revolution in the field of public services. This is a social project, as it provides services to people. We have 13 “ASAN xidmət” centers. Before the end of this year, their number will reach 15 and before the end of next year 20. More than 20 million applications have been registered by “ASAN xidmət” centers and the approval rating of this organization is close to 100 per cent.

This demonstrates our intentions and policies again. The fight against corruption and bribery is ongoing and will be continued. Administrative measures and penalties will be applied in this direction. The most effective systemic measures will be taken and institutional reforms carried out. “ASAN xidmət” has a special place among them. The people of Azerbaijan see that we are gradually expanding the scope of this organization.

In the past 15 years, we have carried out economic reforms and paid special attention to economic issues. I have repeatedly said, and life confirms this, that only countries with a strong economy can pursue an independent policy. If you depend on someone, be it a loan or assistance from another state, you can never pursue an independent policy in the true sense of the word. Therefore, we have tried to achieve economic independence and succeeded. We do not need any loans and actually we provide them ourselves. Our national accounts for 20 per cent of the gross domestic product. I have set the task of further reducing the public debt in the coming years. Over the past 15 years, the economy has grown 3.2 times. This is a very high indicator. Of course, the oil factor holds a special place in that. But at the same time, our non-oil exports have increased more than four times over the last 15 years. This shows that our reforms are producing great results.

Industrial production has increased 2.6 times. Our foreign exchange reserves have increased 24 times and now amount to 44 billion dollars. Investment in excess of 230 billion dollars has been made in our country. There is an excellent investment climate in our country. Foreign and local investments will continue to be made in our country. The Davos World Economic Forum ranks Azerbaijan in 35th place in the world in terms of competitiveness. According to the inclusive development index, we are in third place among developing countries. These indicators in themselves clearly show everything. They demonstrate that the successes and achievements in the economic sphere are historic.

The economy of Azerbaijan is developing today. We even managed to cope with the global recessions with minimum losses. These crises are already in the past. The economic and financial stability, of course, create positive conditions for the investment climate and improve the business environment. In the coming years, additional steps will be taken to improve the business environment. Economic reforms will be deepened. It is necessary to ensure full transparency in the economic sphere and put an end to all negative phenomena. All economic bodies should apply the best practices of the world’s developed countries. Such instructions have been given. I am sure that the people of Azerbaijan, our entrepreneurs will see the positive effect of our reforms in the near future.

Entrepreneurship has developed at a fast pace. Over these years, entrepreneurs were granted concessional loans worth more than 2 billion manats. These loans and the money of the entrepreneurs themselves helped create hundreds and perhaps even thousands of new enterprises. The non-oil sector has been developed. As I have already mentioned, reforms in the economic sphere will be continued and deepened further in the coming years, so that the Azerbaijani economy develops steadily and we can reduce our dependence on the oil and gas factor.

During these years, we have paid great attention to new technologies. Azerbaijan has joined the club of space-faring nations which has a limited number of members. We have two satellites now and plan to put a third satellite into orbit. Azerbaijan demonstrates leadership in this area as well. This shows that we are looking ahead, and the future is associated with scientific and technological development. That is why we are paying attention to education and science, and we should pay even more attention to that in the coming years because the successful development of any state is based on the use of technology. We should apply the latest technologies in Azerbaijan. To achieve this, we need well-trained human resources, and work in this direction will be carried out in the coming years as well.

Of course, the oil and gas sector forms the bigger part of our economy. Naturally, special attention has been paid to this sphere in the last 15 years, and this will continue to be the case. Over these years, we managed to make some historic achievements. In 2006, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was commissioned. Great leader Heydar Aliyev laid its foundation with his own hands. Thus, we began to receive major revenues. A year later, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline transformed Azerbaijan into a gas-exporting country. At present, we are implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project. This project is being implemented on our initiative. It was initiated in 2012. It is possible to say that the years preceding that were inconclusive, because discussions related to the supply of large volumes of Azerbaijani gas to European markets were held for years but there was no result. Seeing that, we realized that we must rely only on ourselves and made some historic decisions. We are successfully implementing a very complex project now. It is a finance intensive project both economically and technically. The investment made in the Southern Gas Corridor amounts to 40 billion dollars. A significant part of these funds was invested by foreign partners and banks. This coincided with the global economic recession, so it wasn’t easy to attract these funds to our country. Of course, we managed to achieve this through diplomatic, political and economic efforts. Three of the Southern Gas Corridor projects – Shah Deniz-2, the South Caucasus Pipeline and TANAP – will be commissioned this year. We have already redrawn the energy map of Europe and Eurasia. In the years to come, Azerbaijan will work in Eurasia as a country providing very important energy resources to world markets. Of course, we will receive additional revenue, which, of course, will be channeled into the development of our country. Over these years, we have taken important steps related to the further development of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field. A new contract was signed. The contract has been extended to 2050, and we managed to increase our share. We have also received a bonus of 3.6 billion dollars, and the first tranche already entered the treasury this year. In the coming years, we will work on other promising structures together with our partners in the oil and gas sector. It is possible to say that Azerbaijan has already achieved what it wanted in the oil and gas sector, and the Southern Gas Corridor will be fully put into operation in a few years.

Over these years, we managed to improve the energy supply in the country. Major infrastructure projects have been implemented. More than 30 power plants have been built in the past 15 years. Their generation capacity is 3,900 megawatts. For comparison, I can say that our current total generation capacity is about 6,500 megawatts. Of these, 3,900 megawatts were created in 15 years. Azerbaijan has evolved from a country that imported electricity into an exporter of it.

Before the end of this year, gasification in Azerbaijan will reach 95 per cent. I think that this is one of the highest indicators in the world. We will continue to work in this direction in the future.

Before the end of this year, if count from the beginning of 2004, a total of 15,000 kilometers of roads will be built in our country. This process will be continued in the coming years. We have already received proposals related to all rural roads. We will reconstruct all rural roads as far as possible. A lot of work has already been done in this direction.

In 2004, there were very serious problems related to water supply in Baku. At that time, only 29 per cent of Baku was provided with an uninterrupted supply of clean drinking water. Today this figure has reached 81 per cent. In the country in general, about 20 per cent of the population were provided with drinking water in 2004, whereas now this figure has reached 67 per cent. In the coming years, we will complete the work we have not been able to finish so far. People in all our cities and villages should be provided with clean drinking water. This is reflected in our programs. This sphere holds a special place among infrastructure projects.

Major land reclamation measures have been taken to develop agriculture. Four major water reservoirs have been built. Over the past several years, we have been providing more than 100,000 hectares of lands with a new source of water every year. I am sure that this will have a huge impact on the development of agriculture.

In recent years, we have been very seriously dealing with the transport infrastructure in the country. It is possible to say that huge amounts of money have been invested in the transport infrastructure. We have built seven airports, six of which have international status. These are in operation today, and the number of tourists coming from abroad is growing. The largest commercial seaport in the Caspian Sea is under construction in Alat. It is expected to be put it into operation in the near future. The railway infrastructure is being upgraded. Azerbaijan has the largest fleet on the Caspian Sea. We are strengthening our leadership in that too. The construction of a shipbuilding plant shows that it is no longer necessary to buy vessels abroad.

In a word, renovation and the creation of a new transport infrastructure was certainly necessary domestically. In addition, by working with our neighbors, we have created a regional infrastructure. The opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad in October 2009 was yet another historic achievement. Together with our neighbors, we put this historic road into operation, and the freight traffic through the territory of Azerbaijan is growing day by day. In parallel, we are currently engaged in the creation of the North-South transport corridor and have completed all work on the territory of Azerbaijan. We are creating the North-South transport corridor as a whole. I am confident that, in cooperation with neighboring countries, the remaining section of this route will be constructed and commissioned in the near future. Thus, Azerbaijan, a landlocked country that does not have access to the ocean, is about to become one of the transport centers of Eurasia. This is the result of real work.

On the one hand, our geographical location is beneficial, but on the other it is unfavorable. We are located between Europe and Asia. At the same time, we do not have access to the ocean. Otherwise, there would be no need for the construction of oil and gas pipelines. Therefore, our transformation into one of Eurasia’s transport hubs in such closed conditions is a historic achievement.

I should also note that we have made great strides in other areas as well. It is impossible to list all of them in one speech. I only want to say that whereas in 2004 one million people visited Azerbaijan from abroad, the number of visitors this year will reach 3 million. We have managed to popularize our country in the world. The hosting of international events, the European Games, the Games of Islamic Solidarity, Formula 1, as well as political and humanitarian events, have introduced Azerbaijan to the world. In parallel, the hospitality of our people, our wonderful climate, security, sophisticated infrastructure, modern conditions and historical monuments have turned Azerbaijan into a rapidly developing travel destination. Of course, this brings our country currency and further strengthens it. Thousands of jobs have been and will be created in this industry.

We can be proud of great sporting successes. Over the past 15 years, our athletes have won great victories in Olympic Games, championships of the world and Europe. We finished second in the European Games and first among all Muslim countries in the Games of Islamic Solidarity. In the Olympic Games in Rio, we were in 14th place for the number of medals. These are historic victories. Wherever you look, we see development, good results and success everywhere. Why? Because our policies are supported by the people. I return to the beginning of my speech: all this success has been possible due to the unity between the people and the government. We have been seriously involved in the development of our regions. Three regional development programs have been adopted. The third one is coming to an end this year. The appearance of our countryside has changed, cities have improved and become prettier. Baku has become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city of Baku is a source of our pride.

In other words, there have been many successes and achievements in the last 15 years. However, we should not be complacent with the successes achieved. We must look and are looking to the future. We have a very clear idea of the work to be done in the coming years. We have plans and programs. We will continue our efforts in the areas I have noted and turn Azerbaijan into an even more powerful country. We have specific programs and plans for each industry. We have specific programs related to international issues, strengthening of our regions, deepening of political and economic reforms, social policy, and army building. There is a strong political will and large financial resources. We have created these financial resources with our own hands and are living at our expense today. There is a unity between the people and the government. Therefore, I am quite sure that all the people of Azerbaijan and all of us are very optimistic about the future. Our common goal is to make the country even stronger and turn it into an even more powerful state, so that the people of Azerbaijan live even better.

In conclusion of my statement, I want to mention one more issue. All these successes have been possible only in the years of independence. The people of Azerbaijan can see the advantages of independence again. Our destiny is in our own hands and we are the masters of our destiny. We have achieved such a great success only in the years of independence. Independence is the greatest asset, the greatest benefit and the greatest happiness for us today. We will continue to follow the path of independence and victories.

Glory to the Azerbaijani people!

Long live Azerbaijan!

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