Speech by Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the festivities dedicated to the fist anniversary of the Day of Youth of Azerbaijan - February 2, 1998

Dear youth!

I heartily congratulate you on the Day of Youth of independent Azerbaijan, on this holiday; I wish you happiness, youth, and successful future.

The most important wealth of Azerbaijan is its self-sacrificing people. The most valuable wealth of our people, of our society is our youth, you, dear sons and daughters of Azerbaijan.

You are creators, founders of strengthening and eternity of independence in Azerbaijan, building and development of democratic, civil and secular state in Azerbaijan and development of economy and social sphere in Azerbaijan, you are successor of all what we do. You are prosperous future of Azerbaijan and you will raise the flag of Azerbaijan higher in XXI.

While undertaking efforts and struggling, settling the difficult problems facing Azerbaijan, strengthening the state independence of Azerbaijan and developing the economy we count on you, we rely on you. The young people constitute the majority of society in our country. The today and future of Azerbaijan depend on your activity, your work and your devoteness. It is with a pleasure that I say that actually Azerbaijan has a youth worth proud. We are proud of you. We feel proud of your existence, your present day and future. Being the head of Azerbaijani state I am proud that Azerbaijani nation has such healthy, beautiful and talented young people.

Azerbaijan has passed great tests and coped with difficult problems in the course of the last years. The 6 elapsed years were years of protection and maintenance of independence of Azerbaijan, years of creation of an independent state and independent economy in Azerbaijan, years of creation of national army and state structures of Azerbaijan. We have passed all these tests and difficulties skillfully. A normal public opinion, social and political stability exist in Azerbaijan. The future of Azerbaijan is clearly seen and we look to this future with hope. Among all that was done in Azerbaijan one of the most important things is that there are young people in Azerbaijan that live with normal, high ideals and devoted to their country and people.

Dear sons and daughters, Azerbaijan having young people and youth like you is unconqureable and steadfast! I am very happy that there is youth that can keep the future of Azerbaijan in safe hands, protect Azerbaijan always from misfortunes and defend the state independence and democratic statehood of Azerbaijan. These are you, dear sons and daughters! Today, at this holiday, you presented your talents in this palace - sports, dances, songs. All this prove that Azerbaijani youth is of high talent, display the skills, capability, power, intellect and elevated culture. I congratulate you on these achievements and I want to stress my surety that you will please our society with new achievements and you will always raise and move Azerbaijan ahead.

Being faithful to Motherland, to state and your homeland is your sacred objective. No young man should forget it. In all cases the faithfulness to Motherland, nation and state will bring eternity to every young man and will help him to occupy a proper place in the society. I wish that you are faithful always. You should know that now we have an independent state, independent country, our beloved Azerbaijan. That belongs to us, to you, to Azerbaijani people forever and we are independent forever. Like a man protect his home, children, parents, property and things belonging to him, every young man, every Azerbaijani, every citizen of Azerbaijan must protect native Azerbaijani territory, Republic of Azerbaijan and guard it as the apple of his eye.

Your honor commitment is to fulfill your civic duty, to serve in national army, in armed forces of Azerbaijan. One must know that in past also our people prepared young people for serving in army. Our young people showed the examples of heroism in the wars in XX century. We were always proud of sons heroes of Azerbaijan and they memory will live always in our hearts.

However, every Azerbaijani young man should know, comprehend and think that he must serve in his native army only for the sake of his Motherland, homeland and people. Therefore the service in army now and further differs from that, existed before. Service in army must be a sacred wish of each young man. While bringing up their children, the first exhortation among those given by parents must be related with the service of son in army. Every son of Azerbaijan must dream about service in army from childhood. He must strive for it, hurry and wait for age of military service impatiently. Passing his military service in army one must fulfill his honorable duty before nation.

Nowadays tens of thousands young men do their military service in the National Army of Azerbaijan. I highly appreciate their service and their being in the army of Azerbaijan in the guard of the territory and lands of our country and I want to congratulate especially all Azerbaijani young men doing military service on this holiday. Strengthening, augmentation of power of Azerbaijan National Army is necessary for every citizen, every young man and child. Because we must be able to protect always our Motherland, independent state, country, republic. And it is army that is expected to do it - both today and in the future.

Strengthening and development Azerbaijan National Army is one of the most topical problems facing us. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was violated in the result of occupation by Armenian military forces. 20 per cents of Azerbaijani territori is still under occupation of Armenian armed forces. More than a million of citizens of Azerbaijan, residents of these territories, were driven out from occupied territories by force, they live in tents in other regions of Azerbaijan. As you know, we hold up military operations in may, 1994, we signed an agreement on cease-fire and we try to settle this conflict on a peaceful way. Many works were done in this sphere, they are being done and they will be continued in the future. I am confident that we will manage to settle this conflict peacefully.

However, our army must be strengthened. It must be strengthened, because country of Azerbaijan must have a powerful army that is worth Azerbaijan itself. It must be strengthened to prevent all possible invasion against our country today and in the future. It must be strengthened for being always able to protect Azerbaijan. For all these reasons the first, most important duty if the Azerbaijani youth is strengthenin of relations with army, serve in army, take care of army and raise the attitude toward army. Everyone serving in the armed forces of Azerbaijan must be considered the most respected and esteemed person of our society.

Dear youth! Make full use of period of youth, receive a good education, prepare yourself for life as better as you can. The years of youth are irretriviable. After a number of years one recalls these years with sadness. You, youn people, may be cannot understand it now, but we - aged people- know it very well. Every aged man remembers his youth with love and regrets the wasted days, reproaches humself for unuseful days spent in the youth period. For not repoaching yourself in the future for not doing something when you were young I advise you to make a useful use of the days, months and years of youth, do not waste your time, study well, receive a good education. Prepare yourself for the lifeç labor activity and future.

I am very pleased that having passed through difficult years Azerbaijan managed to keep the Azerbaijani school. Schools, universities and other institutions of higher education function normally in Azerbaijan, our youth has right to receive the education they want. I hope that young men people of today will be able to receive a better education than those in the past and they will be more competent and high-skilled in the future.

Our wish and our intent is that our youth, young people of Azerbaijan would be healthy. Physical, moral and spiritual health - all of them are important factors for our young people. I am pleased to point out that the youth of Azerbaijan is healthy in majority. Sportsmen of Azerbaijan performed us a perfect sport show today. There are a lot of world champions among our young people, they participate at different world sport competitions and receive high prizes and titles. All of these please us. At the same time, every young man should work on his physical health, to go in for sport and physical culture. The sport should be an integral part of life of every young man. Every young man should be healthy for useful work and serving to his country and his people.

The moral health is important too. The national, moral traditions, cultural and national values brought up our people in the spirit of high morality during centuries. We can be proud that our national, religious and moral traditions and values represented always the highest morality. We must try to remain faithful to these moral values.

Every young man should remain faithful to his national and moral origin. Our origin is worth to be proud. For successful performance, the adherence to the origin is the most important factor for every young man.

We live in modern world. Azerbaijan is a free, independent and open country, it establishes all-round relationships with all countries of the world and it will continue to do it further. The typical feature of our today`s life is that we escaped from that secluded situation. We are free, independent, open to the world and we should make use of it. Presenting of our country and nation to the world as they are and propaganda of moral values and achievements of our people is one of our most important tasks. At the same time, enrichment of spirituality of our people by full use world, common to mankind values, unifying them with our moral values is one of our most important objectives. One must know all of these and realize these objectives cleverly and deliberately. That`s why the synthesis of our national and moral values with global values was enriching the spirituality of our people and will do further. That is our strategic way to follow in the future.

However, following this way let us not commit errors and allow the strange to our spirituality elements influence our society, people and youth. The free economy, market economy brought a lot of successes and will do further to Azerbaijan. But there is a danger that this free economy, market economy and entrepreneurship can negative elements to our society and some of them exist already. Therefore, while developing the market economy, giving a big place to the free economy, developing the entrepreneurship and creating strata of entrepreneurs we must found all of this on our moral values. During these processes, we must not let the negative elements strange to Azerbaijan and our society to enter our society, influence and undermine it from inside. This is both our and your, dear youth, duty.

For fulfilling these duties, we do all necessary on our behalf and we will continue to do it in future. You know that I have adopted recently some very serious decrees and orders. I adopted decision on closing of activity of some casinos and nightclubs. I gave orders on liquidation of different enterprises dealing with business harmful to the spirituality of Azerbaijan and that of our people.

I suppose that you support and accept my decision, you are for my decision and you will take an active part in their realization. All of my decisions are for protection of health of our people, our society and our youth. Giving this decisions and with all my activity I try that our people, every citizen of Azerbaijan and especially you, youth enjoy a normal moral education and be morally well-educated.

Abuse of alcohol brings a lot of problems to people. Use of drugs causes a lot of problems, ilnesses especially to young people, and finally, it causes death of people. We cannot allow the spread of this in Azerbaijan and know, that we will not. This is only for the sake of the health of you, the youth.

Dear youth, all of you is aware of the mission awaiting you. But I would like to touch upon some of them. I am sure that you will cope with all duties with honor and you will achieve successes in education, work, family and any other sphere of social life. I am confident of it. While seeing you I feel more encouraged, you inspire me and inspired by you I try to make Azerbaijan more powerful. You can be confident that the state of Azerbaijan and the President of Azerbaijan were always guarantors of protection of your rights and they will remain to be further. I assure you that we will do our best for well-being, good education, good work performance of young people of Azerbaijan. I assure you that Azerbaijan has a happy future and you are creators of this happy future.

I reiterate once again: I rely on you, and relying on you, I was working with courage so far and I will continue to work with courage henceforth. I wish you, the youth of Azerbaijan, health, prosperous life and happy future. Thank you, thank you, thank you.