Official inauguration of Ilham Aliyev, re-elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan - October 19, 2013

On 19 October, the official inauguration of President Ilham Aliyev, who has been re-elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was held at the Parliament.

The ceremony was attended by the Azerbaijani officials, members of the government, MPs and the family of the President.

The inauguration of President Ilham Aliyev, who has been re-elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan by a popular vote, was declared open.

The participants in the ceremony welcomed the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev with a standing ovation.

Under the accompaniment of the ceremonial march, the soldiers of the Armed Forces brought onto the stage the national flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the standard (flag) of the President of Azerbaijan.

The chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan Farhad Abdullayev and the judges of the Constitutional Court were invited to the stage.

Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan Farhad Abdullayev said:

«Ladies and gentlemen!

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, having approved by its decision dated 19 October, 2013, the findings of the Central Election Commission on the outcome of the presidential election in the Republic of Azerbaijan, has declared Mr. Ilham Aliyev President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In accordance with Article ten3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, who has been elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is being invited to the oath taking ceremony in the presence of the judges of the Constitutional Court.»

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, put his hand on the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and took the oath: «Exercising the powers of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, I swear to observe the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, protect the independence and territorial integrity of the state and serve the people!»

The national anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan was played.

Then the President took the oath putting his hand on the Holy Koran:

«With my hand on the Holy Koran, I swear to be committed to the national and spiritual values and traditions created by the Azerbaijani people over centuries and to cherish them all the time.»

On bended knee, President Ilham Aliyev kissed the national flag of Azerbaijan.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed the inauguration ceremony with an extensive speech.

Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the inauguration ceremony

«Ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to thank my dear people of Azerbaijan for their great confidence in me and electing me President. I want to assure the people of Azerbaijan that I shall continue doing everything in my power for the comprehensive development of our country and prosperity of our people, and faithfully serve our nation.

Azerbaijan celebrated the Day of State Independence yesterday. I consider that the presidential election and the results of this election represent another assessment of our state independence on the part of the people. The presidential election fully reflects the will of the Azerbaijani people. The election has been held in a transparent, free and fair atmosphere and the outcomes of this election reflect the will of the people of Azerbaijan. Thus, the people of Azerbaijan have given the highest assessment to the work done in the last ten years.

When I was first elected President ten years ago, I promised that if the nation confides in me, I shall remain committed to the policies of our great leader Heydar Aliyev. I am very pleased that all the objectives on our agenda have been successfully met over the past ten years. I think that the votes cast by the overwhelming majority of the Azerbaijani people in favor of this policy have shown again that we have lived up to all our pledges. The people of Azerbaijan have given their assessment, their votes for the work done. At the same time, they have expressed their views and wishes for the future in this election.

I am sure that the people of Azerbaijan are firmly convinced that Azerbaijan will continue to develop in the future too. The history of the last ten years gives grounds to say that. Stability has been protected in Azerbaijan in the last ten years. When celebrating the Independence Day, our thoughts go back to the early years of our independence and we see that one cannot speak of development when there is no stability.

Unfortunately, the early years of our independence were very difficult and Azerbaijan experienced major tragedies. We can say that our newly independent nation was on the brink of a precipice. The policy of Heydar Aliyev and the people`s confidence in him managed to take our people and nation out of that predicament, and Azerbaijan has been developing ever since.

Therefore, the protection of stability has always been on the agenda in the last ten years. Of course, the policy of the state plays a special role in maintaining stability. At the same time, the unity of people and the government plays a crucial role in ensuring this stability.

We have managed to protect Azerbaijan from all the risks and threats. We all remember too well the developments unfolding in the region and the world in the last ten years. Bloody clashes, wars, revolutions, political, economic and financial crises - all of them have been taking place in our immediate surroundings. We have managed to protect the people of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani state from these woes by our policy and determination. Therefore, the people of Azerbaijan have been living in conditions of peace, stability and security in the last ten years.

Without security and stability any development is out of question. Therefore, the reforms carried out and the initiatives put forward in all the directions over the past ten years have further strengthened our country. Thus, we have preserved a confident development pace of Azerbaijan.

Over these ten years, the public and political processes in Azerbaijan went in a positive direction. Azerbaijan has successfully moved along the path of democracy, and the results of the election and the fact the election was conducted at a high level are a celebration of democracy. All freedoms are provided for in Azerbaijan. There are political freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of media, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience. All the democratic processes went in a positive direction in Azerbaijan. Along with the economic success, political reforms carried out in the last ten years have also facilitated the successful development of our country.

Interreligious and interethnic relations in Azerbaijan have been a model for the world over the last ten years. The numerous international events, forums and conferences held in Azerbaijan have introduced our country to the world as a space of tolerance, a center of tolerance and multiculturalism. This is our way of life, while at the same time, it is our policy. Azerbaijan`s experience in this field is already being studied. Today, Azerbaijan is one of the countries that stand out in the world by their policies. In other words, all the steps related to democracy, human rights and the rule of law have further strengthened our country and contributed to its dynamic development.

Over the past ten years, our international relations have greatly enhanced and expanded. Over the past ten years, Azerbaijan has opened embassies in 39 countries, and now the number of our embassies has reached 57. In ten years, 28 countries have opened their embassies in Azerbaijan, thus brining the number of foreign embassies in Azerbaijan to 53. In relations with international organizations, Azerbaijan constantly upholds and maintains its position of principle. In ten years, we have become a member of several influential international organizations and defended our interests in them.

At the same time, our foreign policy pursued in a bilateral format has also been successful. The number of our friends is growing. There is a growing number of those who want to cooperate with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is noted for its principled stance in the world. Azerbaijan is known as a reliable partner. Our word and our signature are equally powerful. Given the fact that we are always faced with a campaign on the part of world Armenians and the forces that can`t come to terms with the successes of Azerbaijan and are unable to digest them, it was not easy at all to win this trust.

However, our policy, our actions, our good intentions and the construction of our foreign policy on the basis of cooperation have earned us a large camp of friends. It is no coincidence that Azerbaijan, with the support of 155 countries, was elected a member of the UN Security Council. It is our great political and diplomatic victory, a great success of the independent Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan currently chairs the UN Security Council, and over the past two years we have managed to gain even more credibility in this organization due to our principled stance, fair steps and respect for the international law.

Our foreign policy initiatives also expand our economic opportunities. From now onwards, the economic development of Azerbaijan will be associated, among other things, with the investments made abroad. This being the case, the more friends we have in the world, the better our economic development.

The priority of our foreign policy, of course, is the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, this conflict has not been resolved over these years. The main reason for that is the hypocritical policy and the unconstructive position of Armenia and, unfortunately, the indifference on the part of the international community and the parties directly dealing with the issue. For over 20 years the norms of international law are being flagrantly violated. Four UN Security Council resolutions are not fulfilled and no pressure is put on the occupying country. Under such circumstances, of course, our unilateral diplomatic efforts could not bring success.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a native, anchestral Azerbaijani land, an integral part of Azerbaijan. The whole world recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan`s position is unambiguous, based on justice and historical truth. Our historical land of Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan from both political and legal point of view. Any concessions on the issue of territorial integrity are out of the question. Azerbaijan will never allow or sanction the establishment of a second self-styled Armenian state on its territory. Our unequivocal position, I want to say again, is based on the historical justice and the international law. At the same time, the steps taken to resolve the conflict over the last ten years, the decisions adopted by the international organizations, of course, have further reinforced our position. Over the past ten years, several influential organizations have adopted fair resolutions relating to the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Among them are the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement and other organizations. I believe that our efforts in this direction should be continued because if these resolutions do not lead directly to the settlement of the conflict, we must further strengthen our legal framework. The countries belonging to the organizations which I listed constitute the vast majority of the world community. Thus, the position of the vast majority of the international community is clear. Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity is not in any doubt and the conflict must be resolved only within the framework of the territorial integrity. We shall continue to expand our political and diplomatic efforts and to hold Armenia in isolation. By our political and regional initiatives, by our economic initiatives we must put even more pressure on it. At the same time, our diplomacy on this issue will continue to be offensive because the truth, justice and international law are on our side. I have no doubt that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. In addition, the stronger Azerbaijan is, the sooner the issue will be resolved. With this aim Azerbaijan`s economic reforms and army building have been very rapid in the last ten years.

Our military budget has increased more than 20 times. Today, the Azerbaijani army is one of the strongest armies in the world. The weaponry, ammunition and military equipment acquired over the past ten years have dramatically changed the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We are by far ahead. At the same time, over the last ten years we have established a military and industrial complex which did not exist in the past. Today, there are dozens of plants producing military goods of 750 denominations in Azerbaijan. Thus, we are creating new production sites and at the same time reducing our dependence on foreign arms markets. I believe that we shall take further steps in the coming years to build up our capacity and further strengthen our army. I am confident that these factors, our diplomatic efforts and, hopefully, the attitude of the world`s superpowers towards this matter will lead to the solution of the problem. I want to say again: I have no doubt that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. We simply want to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Of course, this issue must be resolved on the basis of the norms and principles of the international law.

To have a much stronger army in Azerbaijan we shall continue to pursue economic reforms, of course. In terms of the pace of economic growth over the past ten years, there was no other country in the world that would develop as fast as Azerbaijan. I am confident that the progress we have achieved in the last ten years will be seriously analyzed by the international experts. In ten years the Azerbaijani economy grew 3.4 times. Whereas in the early years this growth was largely due to the oil factor, it is currently possible and will be provided in future due to the development of non-oil sector.

In the last ten years 1,200,000 jobs were created in Azerbaijan, of which 900,000 are permanent. We can say such a serious problem as unemployment has for the most part been resolved. Unemployment is at about 5 per cent. But we have to make sure that unemployment is completely eliminated in the coming years. We have implemented two regional five-year programs.

The regions have been landscaped and revitalized. A whole new infrastructure has been put in place in the regions. As a result of the implementation of regional programs, the gap between the regions and the capital has reduced.

Over the past ten years investment in the amount of $150 billion was made in the country`s economy. Almost half of it is made up of foreign investment. On the one hand, this shows that Azerbaijan is an attractive country for foreign investors. At the same time, domestic investment is also rising. Of course, the structure of local investments is dominated by domestic investment. The local private sector is also actively involved in this work. There is a favorable investment climate in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is registering a very successful economic development.

Over the last ten years excellent results have been achieved by the measures related to poverty reduction. In ten years poverty has dropped almost tenfold in Azerbaijan - from 49 to 5.5 per cent. This, of course, testifies to the success of economic reforms. At the same time, Azerbaijan has spoken its word as a welfare state. Radical economic reforms are in many cases accompanied by social problems. The country`s economy may grow, but the social situation of citizens may deteriorate. In Azerbaijan, we see exactly the opposite. Azerbaijan`s strong and serious economic reforms are complemented by deliberate social policies. We allocate huge funds for the settlement of social issues. Over the past ten years, the average wages have increased 5.6 times and the average pensions 9.2 times. Major funds were mobilized and channeled into the social infrastructure. Over the past ten years, 2,700 schools, nearly 500 hospitals, 35 Olympic centers have been built and our historical sites restored. In other words, the social policy will continue to be a priority in the coming years, as I am sure our economic successes will be continued. Our foreign debt is at a very low level - it accounts for about 7-8 per cent of the gross domestic product. This is one of the best indicators in the world.

Azerbaijan has become a very attractive country for investment, and investment will continue to be made in the coming years too. Over the past ten years, we have managed to increase our foreign exchange reserves several times. Even though we take the funds for large infrastructure projects from the State Oil Fund, Azerbaijan`s foreign currency reserves are currently close to $50 billion. This suggests that the economic and social policies are complementary. At the same time, our economic policy is built on a solid foundation. We are not dependent on the foreign debt. Despite the fact that organizations are lining up to give a loan to Azerbaijan today, there is no need for that. We do everything in a judicious manner. We conduct our economic policy so that it could serve sustainable development. Our foreign exchange reserves growing with each year, the jobs being created and the solution of social security issues show how strong our independence is.

We only have ourselves, the talent and hard work of the Azerbaijani people to rely on. Therefore, Azerbaijan has successfully developed even in the years of global recession. Some people tried to link our successes to the oil factor, especially in the early years. But at the present time, life and our results show that while the oil factor did play a role earlier, it is not as big now.

The key to our success is a thought-out policy. A role is played by the independent foreign policy. Our bold policy has predetermined our success. All the leading international organizations view Azerbaijan as a model country in terms of economic development and honor us with high places in their rankings. The leading economic structure of the world, the Davos Economic Forum, puts Azerbaijan in 39th place in terms of competitiveness. This is the result of serious reforms carried out in the economic sphere in Azerbaijan. These reforms will be continued. Azerbaijan is a part of the global economy. At the same time, we protect and will continue to protect our domestic market. We create and we shall continue to create more favorable conditions for domestic producers.

Over the past ten years we have made great strides in the development of entrepreneurship. Over the past ten years, preferential loans in the amount of one billion manats have been granted. These loans were directed into the real sector of the economy. We wanted to create jobs, increase local production and reduce our dependence on imports. Therefore, private enterprise development, the creation of the middle class and poverty reduction - all these issues are underpinned by a sound economic policy and course.

Issues of industrialization have been resolved. So I think that in ten years we have taken major steps to diversify the country`s economy, and this policy will be continued. Over the past ten years Azerbaijan has started to invest in new areas. Azerbaijan has joined the ranks of space-faring nations. Perhaps no-one even thought about that ten years ago, but today it is a reality. It shows that where there is political will, qualified professionals and a sound economic policy, any issue can be resolved.

Today, our satellite Azerspace-1 asserts Azerbaijan in the world as a space-faring nation. The development of the space industry will progress fast. Azerbaijan will certainly tell its word because the bulk of investment in this sphere is made up of public funds.

The last ten years have seen some historic events in our energy policy. The oil strategy of the great leader Heydar Aliyev has been fully realized. To continue this strategy, new initiatives have been put forward. In 2006 and 2007, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline were put into operation. Thus, oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea began to be delivered to the world markets for the first time in history. A corridor was created which is now used by us and our neighbors. The corridor in which Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is being implemented is of strategic importance. This project was also initiated by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has also undertaken the main financial burden.

Therefore, the initiatives related to our energy policy and the ongoing projects have long gone beyond the regional frames. Today Azerbaijan is known in the global energy market as a very reliable and serious partner. Our decisions, the decisions made in Baku play a crucial role in the energy security. We know that. We have created this reality by our course, bold moves and an independent policy. The construction of two pipelines - oil and gas - has practically created a new energy map of the region. Today, issues of drawing and modifying the energy map are also solved in Azerbaijan.

New gas deposits have been discovered in Azerbaijan in the recent years. Discovery of these deposits presents Azerbaijan as a major gas producing country in the world. Our proven gas reserves make up almost three trillion cubic meters. Azerbaijan will play a role as a serious player in this area and provide for our economic interests for at least ten0 years to come.

Last year and this year, there have been two important developments for the implementation of our oil and gas strategy. The TANAP project was started last year and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project this year. These are world-scale projects of strategic importance. These projects have been initiated by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has the key say in the implementation of these projects. Our initiatives, as well as a consistent and independent policy, have created these realities. These realities will serve Azerbaijan and its people and ensure our economic independence for decades to come. There can be no talk of political independence without economic independence. We are watching the events taking place around us and do not remain indifferent to what is happening in the world. We see the countries that are not independent economically becoming the object of blackmail and pressure. We see what this leads to. Such countries are among those asking for help. Azerbaijan is not asking, has not asked and will not ask anything from anyone. We conduct an independent policy. Our independent policy is underpinned by economic independence. The creation of economic independence has been one of the most important issues for me as President. Ten years ago I knew perfectly well that if we did not succeed in doing that, Azerbaijan may face great challenges in future. The existence of double standards in the world is no secret. It is not even worth talking about. It is an axiom.

Just imagine what decisions we would be forced to make if it were not for our economic independence. The economic independence, strong military potential, bold and unambiguous policies, and protection of national interests - all these factors have saved us from problems. To ensure the successful development of Azerbaijan in future, all these factors need to be further strengthened. And we shall do that. In the coming five years, I will provide that as President. Of course, as a result of the implementation of the oil strategy, our international and regional cooperation manifests itself in a new form today. I want to reiterate that Azerbaijan will continue to play a role in the regional and international cooperation as a reliable partner. I repeat: all of our foreign policy initiatives are built on friendship and cooperation. Non-interference in each other`s affairs and mutual respect - this policy is consistent with both international law and normal human behavior.

The past ten years have seen important events related to industrial development. We have already implemented major projects on the development of heavy industry. In the coming years, I am sure, this will be a priority direction. The successful development of Azerbaijan can also be traced in the demographic situation. I am very pleased to note that over the last ten years the population of Azerbaijan has increased. Ten years ago, our population was 8.3 million and now it is 9.4 million people. In ten years our population has increased by 1.1 million people. Demographics will play a major role in future. Demographic development should be complemented by a strong economy because demographic development is a positive factor only if the economy can handle it. We are aware of the problems faced in some countries. Some countries are experiencing a demographic decline and have to use special programs. In others, the demographic development is so rapid that the economy can`t catch up with it. Therefore, our economy and, in particular, our initiatives associated with agriculture and heavy industry in the coming years must also be based on the demographic factor. Our economic opportunities must always exceed the growth of population.

Over the last ten years a powerful energy potential has been created in Azerbaijan. Fourteen power plants have been built. If these plants hadn`t been built, so many enterprises would not be able to operate in Azerbaijan now. I can say that at present our total generating capacity is at the level of 6,000 megawatts, and 45 per cent of that has been created in the last ten years.

Today Azerbaijan exports electricity to foreign markets. Ten years ago we imported it. Today we export natural gas, but ten years ago we imported it and had major problems. In other words, the last ten years have seen great achievements in the energy sector as a whole, and I am confident that these positive trends will be continued in the coming years because we have specific programs and plans.

I am sure that programs on the development of every sector of the economy will be implemented. I have repeatedly expressed my thoughts on the country`s goals over the next five years. I want to reiterate that in the next five years we must preserve and enhance the successful development of our country.

The top priority, of course, is the restoration of our territorial integrity. This is the main task and the most painful problem for us. All of us must strive for resolving this issue on the basis of fair rules and principles of the international law in the coming years.

Economic power is on our side. Justice and historical truth protect our position. Azerbaijan`s state budget exceeds Armenia`s ten times, our military spending is ten times higher and the population is five times more. In the next five years, we shall continue our policy on the settlement of the conflict. In the first place, we shall conduct a state policy. Public organizations are also very active in these issues. There are already excellent opportunities for achieving the recognition of the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide in the world. A number of countries have already recognized the tragedy in Khojaly as an act of genocide. This process should be continued.

We should and will isolate Armenia from all the regional projects. We need to strive for Armenia`s economy to be in an even worse situation and for depopulation to go even faster there. Thus, we must create all the conditions for the settlement of the conflict. The experience of the recent years shows that we are on the right track. Armenia is forced to openly admit that it is unable to provide for its own security. Essentially, it already admits that it fears Azerbaijan and the strong Azerbaijani state. It is impotent before Azerbaijan. The myth created by the Armenians in the last 20 years that the Armenian army is strong and the Armenian economy is strong has been completely dispelled. This myth has been completely bashed. Today the strong Azerbaijani state is sending a serious message to the leadership of Armenia: if you care about the future of your people and the existence of Armenia as an independent state, then do the right thing and vacate the lands of others. We must restore justice. I want to say that the settlement of the conflict is a matter of priority. This issue must be resolved in full. Any incomplete option may be adopted only as a temporary measure. The complete resolution of the conflict, I am sure, will take place. Above all, of course, the Armenian occupying forces must withdraw from the occupied lands. At subsequent stages the Azerbaijani people should return to Nagorno-Karabakh. The flag of Azerbaijan must be raised in Shusha and Khankandi, and I am sure it will be. I want to note that the Azerbaijanis must go back to all our lands as a strategic objective. I am sure we will achieve that. Of course, this strategic goal will take time. However, our society, the younger generation, all the patriotic people have to live with the idea of restoring the historical justice.

I would like to say a few words about the other priorities. Our foreign policy will be continued. Azerbaijan will continue to demonstrate a principled stance. We shall defend our position in the international organizations we are members of. We shall continue building relations with the organizations we work with only on the basis of equality, non-interference in each other`s affairs and mutual respect. We shall try to ensure that the number of our friends in the world keeps growing. To achieve these goals, we have to use economic factors too. Conditions are created for foreign investors all over the world. Many countries invite foreign investment in an effort to improve their economic situation. And our economic policy, in contrast, consists in investment in foreign markets because we shall not be able to significantly increase the domestic investment in future. The laws of economics will not allow that either. Therefore, the acquisition of a large number of friends using the economic factor is one of the priority issues of our foreign policy.

In the economic sphere, the policy of diversification is and will be conducted. We must strive to ensure that our non-oil economy doubles over the next ten years. This goal was set a year ago. I think there are enough opportunities for that. This year`s performance gives grounds to say so. This year our non-oil sector grew by more than ten per cent. If we can increase our annual non-oil sector by more than ten per cent, we will achieve this goal.

Of course, these percentages and these figures are not the goal in themselves. The main thing is that if we achieve these goals, the Azerbaijani economy will grow much stronger, become much more sustainable, will further reduce its dependence on the oil factor and create much better opportunities for income generation.

I believe that our position on the social policy is well known. The experience of the last decade gives grounds to say that there are no and will not be any doubts on this issue in society. Programs to reduce poverty, improve the livelihoods of those living in poverty and other social initiatives will be implemented. The creation of social infrastructure should be continued.There is still a great need for that.

I am sure that our policy on industrialization will lead to much greater results in the coming years. There are excellent opportunities for the development of heavy industry. Technology parks and industrial estates are already being established.

Of course, the state should and will play the leading role at the initial stage. The private sector is also joining this work. All the goods that can be produced in Azerbaijan must be produced in Azerbaijan.

Food security must be provided in full. Over the past ten years we have made great strides in this direction. Today many basic foodstuffs are produced in Azerbaijan. Over the next five years we have to make sure that basic food commodities are made in Azerbaijan by ten0 per cent. There are opportunities and specific proposals to do this, and funds will be provided.

The measures related to agriculture will continue to be taken in future. Large irrigation projects are implemented. Thus, the farmers will have the best conditions.

We shall continue our policy in the field of information and communication technologies. These technologies develop the country`s economy. At the same time, they should govern the relations between civil servants and citizens at a normal level. These issues should also be given special attention. The relations between the civil servants and citizens should have a sound basis. Officials are expected to behave modestly and care about the people. They should not forget that they work in their posts in order to serve the people. Of course, all problems and concerns of the people must be resolved.

In the coming years we shall wage much more serious fight against corruption and bribery. This fight is yielding excellent results. Our national policy in this area is unequivocal. There is a strong political will to eradicate these negative phenomena in Azerbaijan. The administrative measures, penalties and system reforms, I am sure, will lead to much greater achievements in this area in the next five years. Of course, I have high hopes for electronic services. The «e-government» project and the number of e-services should increase. This confidence is further enhanced by the fact that «ASAN xidmÉ™t» («Simplified service»)has earned widespread approval within a short period of time. The fight against corruption and bribery should be a nationwide cause. The state will pursue its policy, but the public should also be actively involved in this work. Citizens should not remain indifferent and notify the government about all the negative things on time.

We have great plans related to the energy policy for the coming years. As I said, the oil strategy of Heydar Aliyev has been implemented for the last 19 years since the signature of the «Contract of the Century». Over the past ten years it has been more evident in the gas factor. Over the next five years we need to implement strategic projects. These are world-class projects. But, as I mentioned in my previous speeches, Azerbaijan plays a leading role here too. The TANAP and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline projects are particularly important among them. These projects require large financial resources. At the same time, these projects require broad international cooperation. At present, Azerbaijan has excellent relations with all the countries involved in these projects. We have built our business relations on the basis of mutual respect. We need to implement into life these two projects over the next five years. It is not an easy task. But I am sure that the steps taken so far, our strong and thought-out policies will help us implement these projects. The implementation of these projects will turn Azerbaijan into a very important international player for decades to come.

At present we are a country to reckon with. Our word has a great deal of sense. The decisions made in Baku in many cases determine the directions of the energy policy. If we implement these two projects, and I am sure we will, then our clout will increase further. As our clout grows, of course, so do our opportunities, and no-one would ever think of solving their own problems without taking Azerbaijan into account. In the future, no-one would think of isolating Azerbaijan from a project. Today, Azerbaijan`s unequivocal policy - a bold policy, a policy based on the will of the people, a policy based on national interests - allows us to speak about the future of our country with greater optimism.

There are sufficient factors to be optimistic about the future. The past ten years show that when the notions of «people» and «nation» are in the foreground, then any problem may be solved. Our policy is based on national interests. Our policy is aimed at strengthening the independence. Azerbaijan as an independent state has taken a rightful place in the present-day world. Azerbaijan has to become as much stronger country. We are building and, I am sure, will build a powerful state of Azerbaijan. In order to achieve all these goals, our independent policy should be continued. People support our policy. The people have voted for this policy. People`s faith and the fact that after ten years they have shown great confidence in me again encourage me, enhance my responsibility and send me the message to launch new initiatives.

The experience of the recent years explicitly shows the benefits of our independence. Only the independent Azerbaijan has been able to achieve this success. Only when our destiny is in our own hands we have made these achievements. This is the advantage of independence. The Azerbaijani people are the masters of their own destiny. Never before in its history has Azerbaijan been so strong! Our independence has never been so strong! All of us must and will strive to develop our country, make our independence eternal and irreversible.

Glory to the people of Azerbaijan!

Long live Azerbaijan!»


The President`s speech was listened with great attention and frequently interrupted by long applause.

The national flag of Azerbaijan and the standard (flag) of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan were taken off the stage at the end of the speech.

This ended the inauguration ceremony.

General historical background