Baku, January 26, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Rashad Nabiyev due to his appointment as Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies.
The head of state made a speech at the video meeting.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- You are being appointed Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies. Great confidence has been placed in you and I am sure that you will live up to this confidence.
I have always attached great importance to the areas you will be leading, and I continue to do so to this day. In recent years, these areas have developed successfully. When I was elected President, we were not pleased with the situation in both transport and communications. At that time, there was no talk of high technology, the roads were in disrepair, the railway infrastructure was outdated, there was no progress in maritime transport. On the contrary, our fleet was very old. In general, the situation in this area was not reassuring. As a result of the measures taken, Azerbaijan today is one of the world's leading countries in the field of transport. Azerbaijani citizens see this. At the same time, Azerbaijan always occupies high places in the rankings of international organizations. Suffice it to look at the report of the Davos World Economic Forum to see that very serious reforms are under way in this area. Azerbaijan is a frontrunner in the world in terms of ratings. We are in 24-27th places for the quality of roads. We are in 11th place in the world for the efficiency of railways. We are in 12th place in the world for the efficiency of air transport. In other words, it required great effort and thought-out policies to achieve these high places. Of course, the investment in transport infrastructure has created this new situation. Today, investments in the transport sector have a positive impact on the development of the country's economic sector, especially the non-oil sector. Because where there are no roads, there is no development. If there are no roads, farmers cannot deliver their produce to the market. Where there are no railways, there can be no transit. Therefore, first of all, we have completely rebuilt the infrastructure within the country. At the same time, we have created transit opportunities that are very important for our country and are aligned with our long-term development strategy. Over the past 17 years, more than 17,000 kilometers of roads have been built, including highways, rural roads and intercity roads. This process continues to this day. At the same time, the establishment of the road infrastructure in the liberated lands began this year. We will do this in a planned manner. The new road from Fuzuli to Shusha shows that we can actually do this work in the shortest possible time.
Important projects have been implemented in the field of railway transport in the country. Projects to rehabilitate our railways have been implemented. The Baku Circular Road has been built, and this is a very important event for passenger transportation and for people's comfort. Railway stations have been built in various cities.
Of course, the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway on the initiative of Azerbaijan has created a new transport map in our region and in Eurasia as a whole. Our partners are currently using this route to deliver their products in different directions. I must note that the diversity of roads passing through the territory of Azerbaijan greatly increases our opportunities. Despite the global economic downturn during the pandemic, I must say that the volume of cargo transported through the North-South transport corridor has increased by about 20 percent. Many countries use our railway infrastructure. At present, there are routes such as China-Kazakhstan-Caspian Sea-Azerbaijan-Europe route and Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Caspian Sea-Azerbaijan-Europe. We have actually connected the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway with the Lapis-Lazuli road and, of course, the diversified transport infrastructure has played a role here. Because our opportunities have expanded. The Baku Shipyard, which was commissioned on my initiative a few years ago, manufactures all types of vessels, and we increase this production every year. The plant currently produces tankers, Ro-Ro ships and cargo vessels. We have eliminated our dependence on foreign countries in this area, created thousands of jobs and opportunities for companies involved in oil and gas operations. They are also placing their orders with this plant.
We have modernized the Caspian Shipping Company, have the largest fleet in the Caspian Sea and introduce new vessels to the fleet every year. Baku International Trade Sea Port plays an invaluable role in the organization of cargo transportation in the Caspian Sea. First, we moved the port out of Baku. This has had a positive impact on the environmental situation in Baku. We have also created a new recreation area. The launch of the most modern seaport in Alat has greatly increased our capabilities.
When it comes to air transport, suffice it to say that our aircraft fleet is one of the most modern fleets today. Both our cargo and passenger planes are modern and manufactured by the world's leading companies. Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku is a five-star airport and there are about 10 such airports in the world. Heydar Aliyev International Airport has been number one in the CIS for several years. The airports built on my instructions in our other cities have greatly reinforced our transport potential. Seven airports have been built in recent years. Six of them have international status and can accept all types of aircraft, including the largest cargo aircraft. As you know, the construction of a new international airport has begun in Fuzuli, and a second international airport will be built on the liberated lands – either in Lachin or Kalbajar.
In short, the attention being paid to the transport sector and our thought-out policies have created this new reality. Today, our transport sector is modern and allows us the opportunity to fulfill the tasks our country is facing. At the same time, billions of dollars of investment in this area are already having a positive impact on our non-oil economy. Investments in the transport sector are not the type of investments that will be recovered in a year or two, not even in five to 10 years. This is a long-term investment. These investments are made to achieve the comfort of the people and long-term sustainable development of the country.
As for other areas, there is positive dynamics and progress there too. I think that Azerbaijan plays a central role in the region in the field of communications and high technologies. It is no coincidence that the “Bakutel” exhibition, which has already gained a great reputation around the world, is traditionally held in Baku. My numerous meetings with the leaders of the International Telecommunication Union show that our investments and attention in this area are highly valued by international organizations. I think we have solved all the major issues in the field of communications within the country. The number of Internet users is above 80 percent. Everyone knows that the Internet in Azerbaijan is free – there is no censorship and there are no restrictions.
Of course, I must mention the satellites among the work done on technological development. As someone in charge of this field, you will know all it well. When we launched the satellites into orbit, some people asked why this was necessary. But life has shown that we need it very much. Both during the war and in the post-war period, the use of satellites gave us a great advantage. Both our telecommunications and Earth observation satellites have allowed us the opportunity to fulfill all our objectives. We are a member of a limited club of space-faring nations. Of course, staff training plays an important role here. Personnel working in this field are already strengthening our overall intellectual potential. At the same time, of course, it gave us an additional advantage to watch the actions of the enemy online during the Patriotic War and prevent their provocations. It is no coincidence that military experts around the world have branded the Patriotic War and the operations Azerbaijan carried out as a war of the 21st century because it was an innovation in terms of technological development.
After the war, satellites are also very important for our reconstruction plans. Based on the information you provided to me, we are now working on deme clearance with greater efficiency. At the same time, satellite data on the future development of agriculture, forest resources, water resources and the environmental situation are of particular importance. We do not depend on any country in this area. At the same time, these opportunities, of course, give us a great advantage for the proper organization of future restoration work. In a nutshell, the work done in the field of transport, technology and communications in Azerbaijan can be unequivocally assessed as positive. This positive assessment has also been provided by the world's leading financial institutions and the Davos World Economic Forum.
As far as objectives for the future are concerned, this positive trend must be maintained, of course. At the same time, it is no secret that technology develops fast in the world, and we must take steps in accordance with this development. Of course, even bigger steps must be taken to develop technology in Azerbaijan. We need to involve young people in this work on a larger scale. During meetings with talented young people, I saw that some of them go abroad to apply their knowledge and innovations. For example, our policy on startups is certainly positive. However, during the meetings with these talented young people, it transpired that many of them work abroad and come to Azerbaijan on visits. We must create conditions for our talented young people to work in Azerbaijan, fully realize their knowledge here, serve the country's economy and strengthen our country. Therefore, the application of new technologies in Azerbaijan is one of the priority issues. First of all, of course, we are talking about the application of the most state-of-the-art technologies in Azerbaijan. We must do that. The most modern technologies should be applied to all areas in Azerbaijan. At the same time, the activities of talented people must be better organized so that Azerbaijan can play its role as a producer of technology and have a say in this area. For example, why have we become a country that invents and exports technology in the field of public services? Because the right goals have been set, the staffing has been chosen correctly and the President has always paid attention to this area. However, all institutions should pay attention to that. In some cases, my instructions are implemented only for a certain period of time, after which they are not implemented, are forgotten or another unpleasant situation occurs. Therefore, government agencies, ministries and state-owned companies must follow my instructions to the end, and there will be no disruption in that case.
The introduction of new technologies will allow us the opportunity to maintain our military strength at a high level. Today, Azerbaijan has shown its superiority on the battlefield. The courage and self-sacrifice of our heroic sons, as well as technical equipment and, of course, the application of new technologies, have been the key contributors to our victory in the war. Technological support, of course, created additional opportunities for us. I have said this many times and I want to say again that it was Azerbaijani soldiers and officers who liberated our lands. It was Azerbaijani citizens who brought the flag to the liberated lands and raised it high.
Nevertheless, we must always focus on technological development and bring military innovations to Azerbaijan. Given that we have very close friendly relations with leading countries in this area and there are no restrictions on technological exports to Azerbaijan, we must always take proactive steps in this area. We must always build our policy in such a way that Azerbaijan's military potential and defense capabilities are always at a high level and no-one will ever try to commit any provocation against us.
High technologies must be applied during the restoration work on the liberated lands. The mine clearance process is under way. At the same time, urban development projects are being implemented. Once the urban development projects are ready, we will start hands-on construction work. Along with infrastructure projects, transport and technology must be in the spotlight at all times. I have already stated that the liberated areas should be a green energy zone as a whole, and there are ample opportunities for that. Our water resources are quite extensive. At the same time, there are opportunities for the creation of solar and wind energy. It is necessary to involve foreign partners and investors in this work and create conditions for local companies. Liberated lands should be areas of high technological development.
Along with the green energy zone, cutting-edge technologies should be applied to agriculture. Given that the lands in the liberated territories are very fertile, there are extensive opportunities for both crop production and livestock breeding. There are very large pastures, where the development of agriculture on the basis of the latest technologies must be ensured. We must plan this work now so that productivity is high.
Cities and villages to be established in the liberated areas should be based on the concept of “smart-city”, “smart-village”. You should plan this work now so that the world's most advanced technologies are used in urban planning and project implementation. After that, perhaps even in parallel, we need to implement similar projects in other cities and villages. Because if we don't do it today, we will be left far behind tomorrow. We can't stay behind. As you know, during my participation in the Davos World Economic Forum, I meet with about 10 companies, the vast majority of which are technology companies. During these meetings, I see what is new in the world, what positive development there is, and I try to attract those companies to Azerbaijan. Therefore, the “smart city” and “smart village” concept must be developed and applied.
Staff training holds a special place. I think that there is sufficient professional potential in this area now. We have implemented large-scale programs to educate our youth in leading universities abroad, and this process continues to this day. I am glad that the vast majority of our young people studying abroad have returned to our country, which strengthens our human resources. I think that your ministry should be in close contact with relevant universities in this area, in the area of education. Personnel training must be consistent with the economic and technological development of our country. Only in this case can we achieve what we want.
Major transport projects have been launched in the liberated areas, and the construction of the Fuzuli Airport has begun. As I mentioned, a second airport will be built in Kalbajar or Lachin. We have started the construction of the Fuzuli-Shusha highway. At the same time, major projects in the field of transport and communications are being discussed for this region. Here, of course, the Horadiz-Zangilan railway, then the Zangilan-Nakhchivan railway, the Nakhchivan-Turkey railway projects are a priority, and so are other projects. I think that the situation after the war opens up new opportunities for countries of the region. Azerbaijan is ready to cooperate in this field and is contributing to this work. I have ordered to start designing the Horadiz-Aghband railway. Other projects have already been launched as well. The most modern technologies must be applied here so that Azerbaijan can always maintain its leadership in this area. I do hope that you will fulfill all these tasks with dignity.
New opportunities have now opened up for the development of our country. Azerbaijan has asserted itself in the world as a dignified, strong and responsible country. The war has shown many what Azerbaijan's potential is. We have won the war on the battlefield. We have also won in the civil field because if we hadn’t built a strong economy, we could not have built a strong army. Therefore, the synthesis of all these factors preconditioned the victory and will further determine the dynamics of our development. Even during the pandemic our non-oil industry grew to a great extent. Last year, our non-oil industry grew by 12.5 percent. Why? Technological development, industrialization, investment, concessional lending, public-private partnerships – all these factors have played a role. Many local companies have already been established in the field of technology and telecommunications, and operate both in Azerbaijan and abroad. We must support them as well. We must support their activities abroad, and here, too, public-private partnerships should be an example. This is a crucial area for each country, for the future of every country. Whoever is ahead in technological development will win and whoever is left behind will be dependent. It is no secret that there are professions that will disappear in five years from now. New professions will appear, and we must be ready to master these professions. We must be ready, our human resources must be aligned with the ongoing processes of industrialization in the world, especially the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and ensure the development of Azerbaijan. It is no coincidence that the Davos World Forum chose Azerbaijan as one of the centers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It was on their initiative that this happened and a relevant document was signed.
This is why your ministry has extensive functions. I am also pleased with the work of the minister who worked in this position before you. He has also fulfilled his duties with dignity, resolved many important issues and ensured the development of Azerbaijan in this field. But reforms are going on everywhere, reforms are inevitable and the country faces new challenges. I think you can do these things – at least I hope so. I want to emphasize again that this is a great confidence and a great responsibility for you. You have to justify this responsibility with your work.
Minister Rashad Nabiyev said:
- Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, if you allow me, I would like to congratulate you on the great victory achieved under your leadership. The professionalism shown by our Army in the 44-day war demonstrated that Azerbaijan has a strong human resource potential in any field. I would like to thank you very much for your confidence in me despite the extensive choice, and this fact in itself increases my responsibility.
Regarding your assessment of the work done, I would like to note that it is both honorable and responsible to hear these words from you. Of course, if our country did not have the image of a reliable partner as a result of your foreign policy, no state would export high-tech products such as satellites to us. At the same time, Mr. President, as a result of your domestic policy, if our country did not have the economic power and, as a result, financial resources, we would not have access to these satellites. Most importantly, Mr. President, your continued attention and care for the development of the space industry has been a key factor in our success. All my colleagues and I had to do was simply to justify your trust by taking advantage of these opportunities. I fully understand my responsibilities with the new appointment and my personal responsibility arising from that. In addition to understanding the importance of corporatization of enterprises under the Ministry as soon as possible, our main task is to implement an effective state policy in the field, i.e. to create fair regulatory mechanisms and, as a result, a fair competitive environment.
Mr. President, you always say that if a fair competitive environment is created, then there will be an influx of foreign investment in that sector, which in itself will encourage the development of innovation and technology not only in that sector but also in the country as a whole.
Mr. President, in the end, let me assure you that we as a ministry will do our best to contribute to the objectives you have set for the deepening of economic reforms. The main evaluation criterion of all the decisions we will make and all the steps we will take within the powers of the ministry together with my colleagues will be the protection of the social interests of Azerbaijani citizens, which is an integral part of your policy. Thank you again for your high confidence. We will try to justify your trust in all our work. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
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