Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of welcome to the head of the UN Development Programme James Gustav Speth in Sumgayit - June 2, 1996

Dear Sumgayit people!

Dear compatriots!

I am cordially greeting all of you. I am very satisfied of being in Sumgayit, one of the beautiful cities of Azerbaijan today.

Sumgayit is one of the young cities of Azerbaijan. During a very short period - less than 50 years Sumgayit has turned into a big city, an industrial and cultural centre. It is important for us that our citizens from different parts of Azerbaijan have settled here, created a community of the Sumgayit people.

Sumgayit represents Azerbaijan. People from all the regions of Azerbaijan live here. It is a feature and importance of Sumgayit. Thus, Sumgayit is a city of solidarity of the Azerbaijani people, a nice place of our country.

All our citizens living in Sumgayit have developed this city up to a high level during the recent decades. Nice living apartments, cultural palaces, schools, hospitals, industry, greenery have turned Sumgayit into a nice place of Azerbaijan.

Some say that Sumgayit is a dead city. I don`t agree with that. It is not true. Sumgayit is a city of heroes and nice people. Sumgayit is your city. You live here, you grew up and worked here. You develop the domestic industry, culture here.

You are nice people. I am very happy to see you. All the people living here - the old, young, male, or female are nice and brave. Now living as an independent country, Azerbaijan strengthens its independence relying on the will and support of every citizen.

As President of Azerbaijan I rely on the support, will of all our people, as well as you, of those of the Sumgayit people. The programme on the development of the industrial complex of Sumgayit, transformation of the city into a free economic zone elaborated for over two years will be discussed; presentation of necessary documents, as well as book will be held. Mr. Speth, head of the United Nations Development Programme assisting and supporting us in the elaboration of these programmes, as well as a UN delegation have visited here.

I welcome the UN, its Secretary-General Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, its delegation visiting Azerbaijan, the head of the delegation Mr. Speth on behalf of the Sumgayit people. A new stage is starting in the life of Sumgayit today. Sumgayit is proud of all successes gained up to now. We regret for all losses and mistakes in the life of Sumgayit. At the same time, great potential of the working force, intellectual and engineering-technical potential created here, as well as literate, cultural level, diligence and heroism of the Sumgayit people form a good ground to turn it into a nice city, develop it, ensure and improve the living conditions of its citizens. Today we shall discuss this programme here. I hope that the programme will be successful.

The new stage starting in the life of Sumgayit will lead it to a bright future. Sumgayit will develop day by day. All this is for you, the Azerbaijani citizens, as well as for the Sumgayit people. We also strive for this. This programme is set for you. I have come here to discuss the programme.

I am very satisfied with my meetings today. I am happy to see the Sumgayit people in good mood. Dear sisters and brothers, I know that your welfare is not so good today. You have difficulties. Your economic welfare may be poor or even hard.

I am informed about them. Tens of thousands of refugees are settled in Sumgayit. The refugees who have lost their homes and wealth live in hard conditions here. I know this. I always think about you, the refugees, the people who have lost their families and relatives. We try to make your situation, also the situation of the Azerbaijani people better. Be sure that I shall do my best.

Despite all the difficulties, the population of Sumgayit is in good mood with optimism. This is the feature and tradition of our peole. This feature has always kept us strong in difficulties, will keep us in future, too.

I thank all of you for your good mood, optimism, for accepting our national interests above all, tolerating all difficulties for strengthening the independence of our state.