Address of Heydar Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan Republic to people on the occasion of municipal elections on 12 December - December 10, 1999

Dear compatriots, sisters, brothers!

Citizens of Azerbaijan Republic!

In two days - on December, 12 - the municipal elections will be held in Azerbaijan. The municipal elections will be held for the first time in Azerbaijan. The appropriate regulations for creation of municipalities and carrying out of elections have found the reflection in the first constitution adopted by the independent Azerbaijan in 1995. Therefore creation of municipalities and carrying out of elections is, first of all, incorporated in the basis of the constitution Azerbaijan and testifies to realization of its regulations.

At the same time, a number of laws on municipalities, elections to municipalities, powers and responsibilities of municipalities was accepted in the course of the last four months. Thus, a necessary work for realization of municipal elections is done.

Overnight the Central Elections Commission has appeared on television giving wide information on the process of elections as well as preparation for municipal elections. This information is published also in press today. It appears clear from this that citizens of Azerbaijan show a very big interest to municipal elections, manifest huge activity. It pleases very much. I would like to say that carrying out of democratic elections in our country constitutes a basis for the process of building of the democratic, legal and secular state in Azerbaijan.

As you know in 1995 we have carried out the parliamentary elections based on the democratic principles. The presidential elections were carried out in 1998. A considerable experience in this sphere was gained.

However municipal elections differ from those mentioned above, because they are carried out for creation of more popular institutions. The activity of the citizens, number of registered candidates, number of municipalities testify to the fact that municipalities being the bodies of local government covering every corner of Azerbaijan, have a mass character. Hence, these elections are much more popular than previous ones. The number of municipalities is more and the number of citizens having nominated their candidatures and registered with respective election commission is extremely high.

For instance, I got familiarized with presented information. In the districts of Baku - if there is a municipality - while only 19 members of municipalities were envisaged, some 60-70, even 80 candidates were registered. Of course, it testifies to the interest and desire of people, at the same time giving the possibility of the voters to vote for those of their choice.

24 political parties nominated their candidates for participation at the municipal elections, the majority of their candidates is registered. And they, it is possible to say, constitute the majority of the registered candidates. The other part of candidates are non-party men, having nominated their candidatures by their own.

This pattern is natural, there are many parties in Azerbaijan, but many of them are moderate. In whole, the process of politicization, unifying in political parties in Azerbaijani society experiences its primary stage. Along with this I think that it is a positive phenomenon that 24 political parties nominated their candidates, representatives that were registered. Well, they will take part in municipal elections.

So, the preparatory work is over. Now the most important task is holding of elections on December 12. Municipal elections - this is a great part, great branch of the democratization process running in Azerbaijan. This is a great part, great sphere of the process of building of a democratic, legal and secular state. As I mentioned previously, we carry out it for the first time. So, we are creating non-governmental, completely independent local bodies of governance in Azerbaijan. It testifies to the development of democracy, at the same time it is an indicator of the fact that the citizens are granted the possibility for administration of the state affairs. If the municipal elections will be carried out successfully, if the people who really want to work in the regions voluntarily will be elected to the municipal bodies and after becoming the members of municipalities they will serve to the people honestly, it will play a considerable role in the development of our country and municipalities will take a part of the tasks to be fulfilled by the state.

That`s why it is a very important stage now. For reaching it we elapsed a long way. But I think that the main business is still far to be done. That`s why the municipal elections must be carried out successfully.

I mentioned and would like to do it once again that municipal elections are indicator of the development of democracy in Azerbaijan. But it can be a real indicator only if these elections will be carried out in the conditions of full democracy, liberty, when people will be able to express their wish, expectations which would be transformed in the results of the elections.

Addressing myself to the people first of all I invite all our citizens, voters to take part an active participation during elections. Of course, taking part or not in the elections is personal business of each citizen. But at the same time each citizen must use their extrinsic rights and not remain aloof. I believe that the citizens of Azerbaijan will take an active part in municipal elections for creation of local forms of government as they did during establishment of democracy in Azerbaijan, in the process of state-building.

The municipal elections will be held by election committees - local and territorial election commissions. The Central Election Commission will simply carry out general supervision. But the main powers belong to local and territorial election commissions.

According to received information these election commissions are well organized, they were constituted in democratic conditions, they reflect democratic principles. All layers of population, including the political parties are represented at these commissions. That is to say that they are represented at commissions as well.

Hence in the result of the work carried out the local and territorial election commissions have all possibilities for holding successful and democratic elections. Of course, the results will depend on the activity of voters, freedom of voting and well organization of elections by election commissions. I believe that our citizens will try to cope with these tasks in a worthy manner.

I would like to reiterate that in the process of our state-building the free elections take special place in establishment of democracy and in the democratic development. In the course of the last year we had good results in holding of elections and we gained a good experience.

Of course there were mistakes, violations and imperfections at the previous elections. And that is reasonable. Because carrying out of elections in democratic conditions after declaration of independence in Azerbaijan was a completely new business. Our citizens have been participating at the elections of the past system over long years, over decades. That`s why getting used of our citizens to genuinely democratic elections, interest each citizen to elections, and consequently to his state, his state bodies, his elected representatives is an extremely important thing.

I think that in the result of the past elections we have gained a wide experience. I would like that the gained experience would used effectively both by our commissions and our citizens. In order that our voters, as against the previous elections, first of all took an active part at these elections, and secondly, express they will freely, independently.

But for ensuring this it is necessary to eliminate the outside interference to elections. I noted that elections are carried out only by elections commissions. That`s why the interference of executive bodies of power and other state bodies to the process of election is completely inadmissible. I underline it particularly and warn all bodies of executive power, state bodies that they mustn`t interfere to the election process and they must prevent these cases themselves.

That is their duty. If we manage to achieve it, I think that we will be able to take a major step in the development of democracy.

Observers arrived for monitoring of the elections. They are from international organizations, parliament members of different countries, they continue to arrive today also. That is of great importance for us, because presence of international observers play to some extent a role of factor for performing of works in election commissions in democratic conditions. On the other hand, the observers will render a moral support for carrying out of democratic, free and independent elections.

Of course, after monitoring they will give us their opinion on the level of elections in Azerbaijan. It is very important for us that this opinion be positive.

But we hold elections not for obtaining a positive mark. Accepting the democracy, free elections as a strategic way for state-building in Azerbaijan we ourselves must strive for democratic, free and independent carrying out of these elections. If we succeed, in the result of the elections the international organizations, different states through the reports of their observers will have more complete, correct and fare opinion on current level of democracy in Azerbaijan.

Our country is a country, following the way of democracy, carrying out a process of building of a legal, democratic state. We have done great work in this process. But we still have more ambitious job before us, we have to do a lot.

Each process of elections in Azerbaijan brings people, citizens closer to the democratic principles. That is to say that democratic principles must be an integral part of internal moral needs of people but not simply one of the tasks, orders. In these conditions we will be able to develop democracy rapidly in Azerbaijan in the future. I believe that municipal elections will be a next stage and will give good results. That is my wish, my dream.

I would like to note that successfully carrying out of municipal elections will determine and organize the settlement of bodies of local governance in Azerbaijan. And bodies of local government will be able to do a lot within the frames of their power, within the legislation. Hence, they will take a part of the work to be done by the state and will discharge it to some extent. That`s why the election of municipal bodies, their organization, future activity are very important for our society, our state and each citizen.

Undoubtedly, we are not secured from mistakes, violations, imperfections during elections. Consequently, the citizens nominated their candidacy can complain. First of all, I address myself to the election commissions to respond immediately the complaints and dissatisfaction of each candidate, consider them and take a fare decision.

If the citizens will not be able to succeed, of course, they will be able to go to the law. I address myself to all courts, I ask them, to consider every complaint they received in the day of municipal elections and further, first of all in proper time, and justly. The ensuring of fairness of these elections is above all for us. Above all! Because we are creating a fair society. We want that fairness, truth and purity would be everywhere. And all these is possible in the conditions of openness and democracy. That`s why the open carrying out of elections in the conditions of democracy, the possibility of rehabilitation of rights after their violation, of course, enable us to fulfill the task before us.

I would like to express my confidence that my dreams, wishes will be firstly shared by our citizens and secondly taken into account by election commissions. Hence, we will successfully hold municipal elections.

I wish happiness and peaceful life to all citizens of Azerbaijan.

I wish that each citizen of Azerbaijan would get happier every day.

The government is doing and will do further everything possible for this aim.

I wish that every citizen take an active part in the process of state-building, in elections held in Azerbaijan. I wish successes to all of you. Thank you.