Dear workers of the press,

I congratulate you cordially on the remarkable holiday – Day of National Press and extend my best wishes to you all.

The press of Azerbaijan has always proclaimed progressive public ideals, contributed to the realization of the most inmost thoughts of our nation, played an important role in strengthening its ideas and independence, progress of moral values, formation of national sense, culture.

Our press has special merits in strengthening of statehood traditions, democratic principles in our country, which re-established its state independence at the end of 20th century, as well as in rise of international prestige of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is successfully building democratic, legal and secular state. Freedom of speech and though, main principles of democracy, are reflected in the Constitution of the Republic. The demands of political pluralism are steadily observed in our country. Ensuring the freedom of speech and thought, creation of necessary conditions for multi-sided development of mass media, their independent activities are the main tasks for me as a leader of the State of Azerbaijan.

After gaining independence, problems of mass media, taking their peculiar place in making public urgent problems of the society in our informational century, in regulation of public relations between different layers of the population, in the process of integration into civilized world, has always been a prior attention of the state. Today, hundreds of mass media, news agencies, TV and Radio companies operate freely in Azerbaijan and constitute a media-network of our country. All favorable conditions for the activities of independent press by using world experience have been created today in the country. Besides, all necessary steps have been taken to improve material and technical situation in mass media, professional level of journalists and their rights

For the past years, obstacles influencing negatively the development of mass media have been terminated by decrees of the President of Azerbaijan, state regulation of the press has been cancelled, and multi-billion debts of newspapers to the governmental printing house have been frozen: moreover, the newspapers were given lax credit.

Our state supports the foundation of the Council of the Press as a public body formed on a voluntary basis to regulate activities of the press, and pays a special attention to its activities. The foundation of the National TV and Radio Council has provided regulation of the activities of Radio and TV, activities of electronic mass media according to the requirements of law.Journalism is a profession requiring huge efforts, professional approach, ability to appraise the events objectively, analyze the processes. As a President of Azerbaijan, I have always highly appraised hard and responsible activities of workers of the press, have showed and will show care about their problems.

The main task of independent press as an indicator of the level of democracy in each country lies in the further deepening of political pluralism, freedom of speech and thought, satisfying informational demands of the citizens. At the same time, the press should be the mirror of shortcomings existing in the society, to become an active member of the process of foundation of a democratic state, to be a messenger of the truth, a means calling people to high ideals, humanity, mobilizing them.

On this remarkable day, I want to express confidence that the Azerbaijan press, which passed the glorious and thoughtful way of development, has progressive traditions, and is represented by the army of journalists, will always value the freedom of speech, and speaking from true national and civil positions while providing the public with information on local and international events, in particular, informing the world community on vital problems of Azerbaijan, will show objectiveness, high professionalism and adherence to principle.

Heydar Aliyev,

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

July 21, 2003.

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