Speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev in his Inauguration Ceremony - October 18, 1998

scotch egg
scotch egg

Dear compatriots!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Distinguished guests!

I cordially greet you and thank all of you for coming to the inauguration ceremony of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I want to express my deep gratitude to the Azerbaijani people and citizens for reelecting me President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

I am proud to be reelected President of the independent Azerbaijan and I appreciate this trust as a high estimation given to my activity as President of Azerbaijan.

Just in front you, in front of all the citizens of Azerbaijan, I have taken the oath by putting my hand both on the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and on the Holy Koran, I declare that I shall be always loyal to this oath and up to the end of my life, truly serve our native Azerbaijan, our nation and our people.

The heads of many states and governments, public and political figures, men of science and cultural workers have sent me congratulations on the occasion of my electing President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I express my gratitude to all them.

The heads and high officials of the neighboring states have arrived in Azerbaijan to participate directly in the inauguration ceremony of the President of Azerbaijan. Today they are together with us here in this palace. The ambassadors of foreign countries and representatives of the international organizations in Azerbaijan are taking part in the inauguration ceremony. A lot of guests have arrived in Azerbaijan. To all the visitors who have arrived in Azerbaijan I say: "You are Welcome!"

I appreciate all this as a striking example of our friendship and cooperation. The arrival and participation of the presidents, heads of governments, and delegations of the Caucasian republics in the inauguration ceremony in Azerbaijan, assume great importance. It is the manifestation of the solidarity and unity of the Caucasian peoples and displays the reality of the "Common Caucasian Home" It proves that the Caucasian people and republics are able to make close cooperation. This also displays that the Caucasian peoples and republics want to have close relations with each other. It expresses their desire for peace as well as for security in the Caucasus.

Establishment of peace, transformation of the Caucasus to a region of peace and settlement of the existing conflicts in the Caucasus peacefully are the main desire and dream of the peoples and republics of the Caucasus.

Today, the arrival of the representatives of the Caucasian peoples and presidents of the Caucasian republics in Azerbaijan once again evidence that we - the peoples and republics of the Caucasus want peace prosperity and changes in the Caucasus, transform it into a region of the lasting peace and prosperity in the world. I am confident that we shall achieve them it with our common efforts.

Dear friends!

On October 18, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Azerbaijan, expressing the will of the people, adopted the Constitutional Act on the independence and declared the independence of Azerbaijan to the world. Today it is the seventh anniversary of this historic event. It is the holiday of Azerbaijan. With all my heart I congratulate the Azerbaijani people and citizens on this holiday and I wish them new successes on the road of independence.

In 1993 the people invited me to the power and in October, 1993, I was elected President of Azerbaijan. For the last five years Azerbaijan lived, survived, the independence of our country became stronger and developed. The past five years the Azerbaijan people have covered a difficult, hard, complicated, but at the same time a very glorious way. Both the civil war, which broke out in 1993, and as well as the splint of Azerbaijan, attempts of coup d'etat, terrors and sabotages were prevented.

In 1994, the regime of cease-fire was set up in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, and this regime is still maintained. As a result of it, the socio - political stability has been provided in Azerbaijan. For this purpose, we have passed a hard and difficult way. In those years, an end was put to chaos, anarchy, disorders. The illegal armed groups were liquidated, and the criminal groups were neutralized in Azerbaijan. Now in conditions of political stability the Azerbaijani citizens have an opportunity to live in peace, freely, and quietly in our republic.

The home and foreign policy of Azerbaijan is conducted deliberately, consistent in accordance with the national interests of the people. The process of construction of a democratic, legal and secular state is going on in Azerbaijan. All the state institutions based on the division of powers and democratic principles have been established in Azerbaijan. The independent Azerbaijan has adopted the first democratic Constitution. On the basis of democratic elections, the first parliament of the independent Azerbaijan has been elected, and it has adopted numerous laws concerning the activity of the legislative power in Azerbaijan. All this shows to the world the existence and development of the independent Azerbaijan exists and develops.

The process of the army construction was the most important issue for the last years. Today with a feeling of pride it is possible to say that in our country a regular, professional army has been created and it is capable to protect the sovereignty, statehood, independence and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

The previous years were the years of creation, deepening and development of democracy in Azerbaijan. On the basis of democratic principles, the state and government have adjusted their activities and the Azerbaijani society has been established. Protection of human rights and ensurance of freedom were the focus of attention in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani citizens have equal rights irrespective of their religion, language and ethnicity, and they enjoy these rights as they wish.

A pluralist society is formed in Azerbaijan. The freedom of press, speech and conscience are fully guaranteed. Political parties, social organizations, different groups and mass media freely operate. Freedom, and, at the same time, the rights of citizens are being protected and will be protected by the state. As a result of all the mentioned above, it was possible to adopt the first democratic Constitution through the nationwide referendum and the election of the first Parliament based on democratic principles.

The presidential elections held in 1998 in our republic, once again demonstrated to the whole world that the independent Azerbaijan follows the way of democracy. Execution of the powers of the president, elected in 1993 for the term of 5 years, and holding new elections after this term confirm in itself the existing democracy and its development in our country.

It is known to everybody that after gaining its independence the statehood of Azerbaijan could not develop because of the lack of socio-political stability and some other reasons. The last five years were the years of establishment and development of the statehood. The presidential elections have been held on full democratic principles. In Azerbaijan free, independent, fair elections have been held.

Active participation of some parties and organizations, presence of six candidates in these elections, conducting of pre-election campaign in conditions of freedom, publicity, very serious competition among the candidates, presidential elections taking place as a result of it, activeness of voters, which has never been in so high , and the participation of the majority of electors in the elections, and finally, conducting the presidential elections in due time, all this testify that the democracy exists and big steps have been in a direction of development of the democracy in Azerbaijan.

The public institutions have strengthened their struggle against crime in order to maintain political stability in Azerbaijan. Today with satisfaction I can say that this struggle has yielded positive results. The organized criminals groups which existed some years ago, have been rendered harmless, abolished, and the offenders have been punished, and, thus, necessary facilities for have been offered the Azerbaijani citizens to live and work quietly. At the same time, in the last years, we strengthened the statehood, introduced proper order, achieved observance of discipline, and on the other hand, carried out a policy of humanism.

One of the main directions of our present policy is the humanism of the Azerbaijan state. Just as a result of this policy, for the last two years, 1856 people have been released from prisons and exempted from punishment by my decrees. As a result of the amnesties, which conducted on my initiative, more than 40 thousand people have been liberated from jails and exempted from the punishment. We shall continue this policy in future as well. I declare that I will also issue decrees on pardoning and realize the new initiatives for the large-scale amnesties in the nearest future.

The process of state construction in Azerbaijan is carried out side by side with the process of economic construction. The past of our economy is known to everybody. During the period, when Azerbaijan gained its independence, the great economic potential of Azerbaijan fell into a decay to a certain extent connected with the collapse of the Soviet Union and as a result of the military aggression launched by Armenia in 1988 against our country. From the end of the 1980s, the economy in Azerbaijan began to fall into decay. Recession in economy in 1992-93 made 20-25 percent.

As a result of the right economic policy, we could make visible changes in the situation in this regard. Democratization in all the spheres of the life of Azerbaijan is the foundation of it. Besides, by implementing the reforms in the socio-political sphere and in the application of the democratic principles, we carried out basic reforms in the economic and social spheres for the democratization and liberalization of economy. The basis of all this is the strategic course we follow.

The Republic of Azerbaijan is establishing its economy in accordance with the world economy. Our country is reconstructing its economy on the market principles. Our essential mission is to use the experiences of the economically advanced countries of the world with apply them to the realities of Azerbaijan and build a market economy in our republic. I declare with satisfaction that we have got great achievements in this regard.

Azerbaijan has started the economic reforms considerably later than other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, because of the known conflict with Armenia and the internal unrests. However, in spite it, within a short period of time we conducted economic reforms and we already see their positive results.

These reforms, it is possible to say, have been conducted out basically since the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996, and are still going on. As a result of it, in 1996, we prevented the decline in the econo9my and gradually achieved stabilization and development on it.

We could establish stability in 1996, 1997 and 1998 were the years of increase and development in economy, in industry, in agricultural production and gross domestic product.

As a result of it, in Azerbaijan during the last two years, a lot has been done for the improvement of the people's social welfare and solution of their social problems, and a basis was laid for continuing them future. We could slow the speed of inflation in Azerbaijan. In 1994-95, the inflation was suppressing the economy of Azerbaijan. Conducting of economic reforms, liberalization of economy, and the measures taken in the financial sphere enabled to prevent the inflation.

You know that in recently a financial crisis has broken in some regions of the world. This crisis broke in Russia, too and it penetrated to some other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

We build close relations with Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Therefore, this financial crisis, undoubtedly, could have affected Azerbaijan as well. But, the measures taken earlier in relation with this issue prevented them. Today the financial situation in Azerbaijan is stable, the national currency of Azerbaijan - the manat - is absolutely stable.

Among the measures taken in the economic field, our fruitful cooperation with many countries of the world in this regard assumes a great importance. We have opened our country to the whole world. Our country follows the way of open and free economy. Basing on this, Azerbaijan signed contracts with some large oil companies of the world on the joint development of oil and gas deposits of our country, which are of historical importance. These contracts are already materialized. We see their practical results. These and other activities conducted in the economic field, guarantees the foreign capital to be invested rapidly.

Foreign investments arriving in Azerbaijan make 160 dollars in per capital. This is the highest indicator among the countries of the CIS. We consider the work, conducted with the large oil and gas companies of the world, very significant not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the whole Caucasus, Central Asia and the Caspian Sea Basin.

Approximately 45-50 billion US dollars will be invested into the oil and gas projects in Azerbaijan within the forthcoming 25-30 years. The income of Azerbaijan from these contracts will make about 200 billion dollars. The activities Azerbaijan in this sphere, as I have noted, created ground for the construction of the Trans-Caucasian oil and gas pipelines in the territory of Azerbaijan and the implementation of such big project.

All these are of much greater value for today and the future of Azerbaijan. However, our cooperation with other countries covers already all branches of the economy. Now more than 1300 companies of foreign countries operate in Azerbaijan.

On the basis of the program of privatization, economic reforms are widely conducted. The implementation of the program of privatization yields its positive results. The privatization of small and medium enterprises has been completed, we are big enterprises.

The land reform is one of the basic issues in the realization of economic reforms. At the end of 1995, we took very bold steps, adopted a radical law "On Land Reform", and in the past short period we have been realizing it. The law "On Land Reform" in Azerbaijan is carried out on the principle of the transfer of the land to the private ownership. We are already implementing it into life. Up to now 80 per cent of the land in Azerbaijan, which is going to be transferred, is already in the private ownership.

The cattle-breeding branch of the agrarian sector has been completely privatized. As a result, the output of agricultural, food products has increased a lot in Azerbaijan. I hope that Azerbaijan will supply itself with food in the nearest future.

Yesterday, I listened to the information of the Moscow TV. It was about holding a referendum on the transfer of land to private ownership in Kyrgyzstan. It pleases us. However, we have already carried it out due to the adopted law. Our people could understand it correctly and is realizing it. It is well-known that in the Commonwealth of Independent States the question of land reform, the question of land transfer to the private ownership are a very acute. But Azerbaijan has demonstrated that its people is really striving for the creation of the property, entrepreneurship and free economy. Therefore, the adopted laws and took measures, and they are approved by people, citizens, and they will implement them into life successfully.

Thus, for the past five years Azerbaijan has overcome the political and economic crises. Socio-political stability has been ensured in Azerbaijan, and this process is going on. We have achieved macroeconomic stability in the economy. All these have laid the foundations for the further successful development of Azerbaijan in the future.

Along with these achievements, we also see the mistakes and shortcomings in all the spheres of life. And we know these problems very well. We are fully aware of the harm done to our country. Unfortunately, there are some persons in the government structures, state and executive bodies of Azerbaijan, who are still unable to exercise their duties properly. There are also such persons who abuse their office in their own interest, break the laws and are engaged in bribery and corruption. There are still hostile elements creating obstacles for the free economy in Azerbaijan. On the one hand, we are trying to develop entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan, we want to form a section of entrepreneurs, to inculcate in people businessmen qualities, and on the other hand, we want to create such conditions that each person would have a job, to follow his job, and work as he wishes, thus, we want to develop the free market economy.

Unfortunately, there are persons among the government authorities hampering the progress in the country. Lawlessness and shortcomings in local executive bodies, separate ministries and mistakes in law enforcement bodies obstacle the realization of our policy and measures.

It is well-known that the implementation of economic policy and reforms along with economic growth, on the whole negatively affect the low income groups of the population. Therefore, we pay special attention to social orientation of our reforms, and it will be in the focus of our attention. We shall take efficient measures for improving the living conditions of the people in future too. Taking into account the development of economy, increasing our incomes, developing the budget for the next period we shall increase the wages, pensions and allowances. Thus, we shall pay a special attention to low-incomed category of our citizens. It is one of our primary objectives.

In this respect, we shall keep in the focus of attention, in particular, the position, living and material conditions of those people, who were forcibly driven from their native homes and became refugees as a result of the occupation of their lands by the armed forces of Armenia. Today, I have to admit that in spite of all our deeds and efforts, our countrymen in tent-camps, live in difficult and unbearable conditions. On one hand, the people who sees them living in these tents are horrified. On the other hand, we think how tolerant our people is.

I have met those people expelled from the occupied territories and refugees living in camps before and especially last months. I have met them recently. I can say, I have been to most of the small tent towns. I visited tents, talked to people and once more I saw their situation with my own eyes. Really, they display great endurance and heroism. They lost their homes, relatives and belongings. Now they live in tents in hot summer and in the severe frost of winter.

Therefore, I declared it before and I repeat today that we should take additional measures to improve and facilitate the situation of this category of the population, before we liberate the occupied lands. But, along with all this, each person, each official, working in state structures, each citizen should take care of them, if they are able. It is our national duty. It is our civic duty.

Today I declare once more that we shall take serious measures for the elimination of existing shortcomings in different spheres of life and improve the activity of authorities. The activity of the Cabinet of Ministers should be improved. The work of ministries should be improved, too. However, I want to point out again that during the last two years there have been great changes in the structure of the executive bodies. A number of ministries, state committees and central administrative boards have been liquidated. The enterprises, the organizations subject to them are privatized, or are at the stage of privatization. Our similar measures will be continued further, changes in the structure of the ministries will be made, and activity of the Cabinet of Ministers will be improved as well.

All the work in the field of economy we carry on by making use of the world experience. From this point of view, we very closely cooperate with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Economic Commission of the European Union. We use their recommendations effectively. Today I declare that it yields benefit us greatly. I am satisfied that the work performed by us in this area, the positive changes in economy, the realization of economic reforms and their results are highly estimated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. I express my gratitude for this cooperation, and today I declare that we shall pursue the road to the market economy and economic reforms. We shall cooperate with world economy more closely. We shall use the world economic experience more effectively.

I declare as President re-elected by people, that we estimate the present situation objectively, correctly and fairly in Azerbaijan. We can see the achievements, but at the same time we can see the shortcomings, mistakes and miscalculations as well. Therefore, as President of Azerbaijan, in my activity I shall try to achieve the development of positive tendencies and the eliminate the existing problems. I think we shall achieve it.

For the last five years, Azerbaijan has proved and demonstrated to the world that we have built a democratic, legal and civil state, and Azerbaijan is following the course of democracy. Today I declare again that it is our strategic course and we shall pursue it consistently. We shall never divert from the chosen road.

The road of democratic development and democratic construction in any country, including Azerbaijan are based on the relations between the administration and opposition. It is natural, while we are creating, building and developing democracy, we realize the presence and existence of opposition. Therefore, I wish to regulate the administration and opposition relations in my future activity. I wish this to be raised to a healthier level by using the world experience. As a member of the present administration, I realize the existence of opposition and we fully realize the reality of this factor in Azerbaijan now and in the future.

Therefore, the doors of the ruling majority are always open for the opposition to establish mutual understanding and hold necessary negotiations. I hope that now, having already passed a five-year stage, having strengthened the principles of statehood in Azerbaijan, and finally, having held fair presidential elections on October 11, we have more opportunities for the regulation of these relations. The President of Azerbaijan and administration of Azerbaijan are ready for any negotiations and dialogues. I think the forces of opposition should place national interests of Azerbaijan, the independence, existence and development of Azerbaijan as an independent state above all. And only then we can cooperate with each other, on the principles and relying on these principles.

During the last five years, Azerbaijan has been pursuing a consistent and well-thought foreign policy. This policy was successful and has yielded positive results. For this reason during the last five years we have established close cooperation between with many other countries of the world, including the developed and leading countries. Numerous official visits from Azerbaijan to these countries have been organized. Heads of the states, governments, parliaments and high-ranking delegations from many countries of the world have arrived in Azerbaijan. A number of interstate agreements, contracts have been signed. For the past years, Azerbaijan was represented in all international organizations and participated in them fruitfully.

As a result of all that, Azerbaijan has taken a worthy place in the world community. As an independent and democratic state pursuing the way to free economy, it is recognized in the world. Many countries show great interest in it and launch initiatives to establish closer relations with Azerbaijan.

By its balanced foreign policy Azerbaijan has made its contribution to the Caucasian region. As a result of the work done within TRACECA program, the International Conference on Restoration of the Historical Great Silk Road was held on September 7-8 this year in Baku. The representatives of 32 countries took part in it, 9 countries were represented by presidents and heads of governments. Representatives of 13 international organizations also participated in it. After the interruption of the activity of the Great Silk Road in the Middle Ages up today, for the first time historical decisions were adopted at the international conference in Baku on its restorstion. In connection with the restoration of the Great Silk Road the Baku Declaration and agreements were signed. This is a historical event for us. At the same time it evidences the fact that it is too essential for Azerbaijan to connect the East and the West, Europe and Asia. It shows the fruitful activity of Azerbaijan in this direction.

We are on the European continent. But at the same time, in the intersection of Europe and Asia, our country in the history of its people, its national culture, historical roots and mentality are the synthesis of the East and the West, Europe and Asia. Therefore, we realize our historical mission and we have done necessary work for its performance. I think the Baku international conference is worthy a high estimation in this respect.

Further we shall continue our activity in this direction. We shall follow the way which we pursue in the foreign policy. Azerbaijan is a peaceful country. We want peace in the world, in the Caucasus, in the region and in the country. We are trying to achieve it. The military aggression started by Armenia against Azerbaijan 10 years ago became the reason of a military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time it led to the breach of peace in the Caucasus.

It is known, that as a result of the aggression of Armenia 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani territory is occupied by the Armenian armed forces. Over one million our Azerbaijanis have been expelled by force from the occupied lands. Now they live in the most critical conditions.

Historical monuments, holy sights and monuments, mosques, wealth and all economy of our country have been destroyed in the occupied territories. Azerbaijan has suffered great of damages. Tens of thousands of people became martyrs, sacrificed themselves, blood was shed. As a result of the war tens of thousands of people became invalids. There is a large group of martyrs families in Azerbaijan. All the mentioned facts are the result of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani people has not invaded, or attacked any country. It defended its sovereignty and lands. Brave sons of Azerbaijan became martyrs defending their Motherland. There was also bloodshed as a result of the aggression of the Soviet troops in 1990. The innocent Azerbaijani people became martyrs as a result of this aggression.

Today, at this ceremony, I pay tribute to the memory of all martyrs perished in the name of independence, sovereignty and defence of Azerbaijan. I ask to observe a minute of silence in their memory.

I express my condolences to you. May God rest them in peace.

Despite all the losses and injuries, Azerbaijan is seeking the way to solve the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict peacefully. In May, 1994, we signed an agreement on ceasefire. During the past four years, we have preserved the ceasefire regime and have been holding peaceful negotiations. The negotiations held in the past period and all the work done create a basis for settling the problem by peaceful means. It gives us reason for hope. The OSCE and its Minsk Group are involved in the solution of this conflict. At present, the Minsk Group of OSCE has three co-chairs. They are the Russian Federation, the United States of America and France. Today I appreciate the work done by the Minsk Group of OSCE. In particular, I highly appreciate the resolutions and statements adopted both at the Budapest Summit of OSCE in 1994 and the Lisbon Summit of OSCE in 1996. We also accepted the proposals made by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the OSCE both in 1997 and at the beginning of 1998. And on the basis of them we are ready to cooperate further.

Everyone, the OSCE and its Minsk Group, the whole world should know that the peaceful solution of this conflict must be based on the principle of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We have never committed aggression and not going to committee aggression against the territory of a neighboring country. When we declared Azerbaijan as an independent state we were recognized by the United Nations Organization. We defend and shall defend the full integrity of the territories of Azerbaijan within the framework of the frontiers of Azerbaijan recognizing by the world community.

The solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict can be settled within these frameworks. We can never give a part of our land to anyone. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is holy for us. We further shall try to achieve these sacred goals. We shall do our best to restore of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by all means.

Dear friends! Dear compatriots!

We enter a new stage in the development of the independent Azerbaijan. And thereby we face a number of problems. We are at the turn of the 21st century. The 20th century occupies a special place in the history of the Azerbaijan people. In the 20th century, Azerbaijan experienced great difficulties. It gained independence in 1918 and then it was lost. During 70 years, we lived under the totalitarian communist regime.

When we regained our independence, Azerbaijan suffered great hardships. The military aggression of Armenian, which started ten years ago, has aggravated it, the life of people grew strained, and it created difficulties for the development of Azerbaijan. However, in spite of it, we look forward optimistically. I can see perfectly the future of our country. Our activities and measures taken today will ensure the consistent development of Azerbaijan.

The future of Azerbaijan belongs to the youth. We are laying the firm foundations and reliable basic for the young generation and for the future generation of Azerbaijan. The most important factor is that the independent Azerbaijan has been built and strengthened, and it is developing. The independence of Azerbaijan is unshakable and eternal.

We want Azerbaijan to enter 21st century as a powerful and independent state. We want to create a happier life for future generations. We are trying to use the opportunities of the Azerbaijani effectively, to develop economy and improve the well-being of Azerbaijan people. In future, we shall also try to take a worthy place in the world community. We shall also cooperate with all the progressive countries and communities of the world. Azerbaijan will develop as a free and democratic country will play its historical role in the intersection of Europe and Asia.

Dear compatriots, you may be sure that I realize this hard and responsible duty. I want to express my gratitude for confidin of in me. With a sense of high responsibility I approach this trust. I assure you I shall do my best to justify your confidence. I shall achieve the intensive development of Azerbaijan in the forthcoming years.

Long live the Azerbaijani people!

Long live democratic, mighty and independent Azerbaijan!

The Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev was listened with great interest and met with stormy and lasting applauses.