Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the IV International Congress of Pediatric Societies - Azerbaijan State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, September 21, 1997

Our dear friend, brother, respected Insan Dogramag!

Dear leaders of the International Pediatric Society!

Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen!

I heartily congratulate you with the beginning of the work of the IV International Congress of Pediatric Societies. I wish you every success in your honourable work!

Conducting of the IV International Congress of Pediatric Societies in our Republic, the forum of pediatrists of the Turkish-speaking states, we perceive as a great interest and attention of international organizations to the Azerbaijan Republic. On our part we have accepted the realization of this congress in Azerbaijan with gratitude and we did and we will do all possible for your fruitful work to achieve objectives ahead of you. I hope that this international congress will do valuable work in Turkish states, in all countries of the world for the defense of the health of children, in the sphere of treatment of children diseases and will give important recommendations and proposals for the future. There is a great requirement for it. The children are the future of humanity. Each child has a special place in any country.

We live at the turn of the XX century. There is a XXI century ahead. Children who are born today, the infants making their first steps today will settle the world problems in the XXI century and will continue to live. Therefore this field that is to say the heath of children, securing and protection of their physical and mental health is a holy and noble duty of every state So we understand this duty in the independent Azerbaijan Republic. Making use of all possible opportunities, the Azerbaijan state has tried and will try further to provide and protect the health of children.

At the present moment our country survives hard time. Because Azerbaijan is one of the hot beds of the world, one of the countries surviving heavy period in the flame of military conflicts. Thank god, at the present time there are few such hot beds in the world. After the most terrible war in the world - the World War II, it is about 50 years that mankind almost lives in the conditions of peace and calmness. In a number of developed countries the social problems are being solved successfully, including the defense of the children`s health, and there are established all conditions for their growth in a good atmosphere. We wish these countries better life and prosperity. At the same time everybody knows that is not the same everywhere, including Caucasus the region where we live. The situation in Azerbaijan is difficult and hard. The main factor complicating our situation is the military aggression of Armenia to Azerbaijan which appeared on the basis of territorial claim. There was a bloodshed as a result of this aggression, devastated cities, villages, ruined houses, the people who were killed for faith and invalids, unfortunately there are children among them. This is the realities of our modern life.

The military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan has begun since 1988. As a result of this aggression 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan Republic was occupied by the Armenian armed units on the known reasons. About more than a million of Azerbaijanis were banished forcibly from the occupied territories, and the majority of them live in tent-camps. They are those who have rescued their lives during aggression. Ten thousands of people became martyrs defending our native lands and children also became martyrs. There are also children among the people who were imprisoned. This is a tragedy which is befallen to the Azerbaijani people at the end of XX century. But the most terrible event of this tragedy is Khojali genocide. It is known in the world and today everybody must know that brutal annihilation of people in Khojali which is a large inhabited settlement of Azerbaijan. We can say that this is one of the most terrible and black pages of the history of XX century and in the whole history of all the mankind, this is the most terrible crime. We are not reasoning only the assassination of the people. The matter concerns the death of the people after brutal tortures, about their sufferings and the problem of a genocide. All these affected the social and political environment of Azerbaijan, and also it was aggravated the social situation in the republic, causing big harm to the health of people. There are 400 thousand children among the million of forcedly driven out people, refugees, most of them live in tents. It is a horrifying picture!

Along with the social, political and economical measures, very big problems stands before us in the sphere of safeguarding, including the sphere of securing the health of children. We try to carry out these objectives. The workers of public health service of Azerbaijan work selflessly. Pediatrists of Azerbaijan try to carry out their work worthily. On our part we take measures as a state for more organized realization of this work. But all these cannot cure our wounds. These wounds in a literal sense are corporal and moral wounds, spiritual wounds to our people. Therefore, conducting this kind of international congress in our republic is very important for us and for Azerbaijan.

Doctors and pediatrists participating in this international forum can render assistance to the workers of public health on the one hand, by their experience and knowledge. We are expecting effective results from the work of this congress as a whole. On the other hand, numerous guests arriving to Azerbaijan - doctors, pediatrists can bring to the notice of the world community, international organizations of public health, UNICEF and all international organizations the problems of today's life of our country. I hope that we will feel the results of this assistance.

In the conflict lasting between Armenia and Azerbaijan more than three years, we achieved the regime of cease-fire. The agreement of cease-fire was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan and we observe it on our part. We have signed an agreement because Azerbaijan does not want to wage war with anybody, the Azerbaijani people is a peace-loving people, the Azerbaijani people want to put to an end to this conflict and to solve it by a peace way. We have suffered big losses, our people were killed and 400 thousand of children live in tents in a condition of refugees. In spite of that we have undertaken peaceful step and we observe the regime of cease-fire, we preserve it and we hope that the problem will be solved by peace way. We undertake all possible measures and take constructional steps as well.

The resolutions adopted lately by the international organizations and in particular at the OSCE Lisbon summit in December last year, testifies to the fact that our initiatives and steps undertaken by us on the peaceful settlement of problem give positive results, and this process is underway. We nourish the hope to this. Carrying on negotiations with the heads of states last time, being the co-chairmen of the Minsk group of OSCE - with the President of the United States of America Mr. Bill Clinton, with the President of Russia Mr. Boris Yeltsin, with the President of France Mr. Jacque Chirac - I can conclude that really the leaders of these countries try and will try to put to an end to this conflict. They want to reach peaceful settlement of this conflict. We believe in it very much.

But at the same time the damage and the wounds made to Azerbaijan by this conflict will remind of themselves many long years. We should do much work to cure them, including provision of the health of children. It is natural that the children living in tents in the condition of refugees are in need of much care and attention.

The world should know about this. Imagine yourself there are families who live in tents about 4-5 years in a hard winter frost and in hot summer heat. Being protected from cold and illness people continue to live in tents, create families and give birth to children. Women are compelled to give birth in tents. And in fact 10 years ago women in Azerbaijan used to give birth only in maternity hospitals. In former times, women gave birth at home, but afterwards they have been relieved from it, a lot of maternity hospitals have been constructed in Azerbaijan. They exist even today. But unfortunately the families living in tents cannot enjoy this opportunity. This is a reality of our life, hard moments passed by our people. But our people are patient, they suffer everything. They suffer because they believe in the happy future of Azerbaijan, because the state independence and national freedom of Azerbaijan are above the personal interests of each Azerbaijani. We stand to these difficulties and our people will survive it in the name of great historical achievement, in the name of existence of Azerbaijan as an independent state, in the name of constant preservation of our national freedom. I believe that children who are born today, the present day's infants will create beautiful future for Azerbaijan and for the Azerbaijani people, they will live freely in its independent state.

And to achieve all that, the workers of public health are laid down big duties. The doctors, figures of public health including pediatrists have very honorable profession. The profession of a doctor is, I think, much respected and noble profession. The people who dedicated their life to the profession of doctor and medical treatment are happy, as the society is always in their need. At the same time doctors are people who bring kindness, peace and calmness. They work for the sake of people. Doctors by virtue of their profession are against the war. They do not want bloodshed or military conflict. Therefore the activity of doctors as all workers of the public health is very important and it is necessary for the people, as it is directed to the protection of the health of our community, the establishment of peace and calmness.

Our country has external and internal problems. The external problem is to reach armistice with Armenia, to attain peace in the region and to live in conditions of peace with all the neighboring countries. The internal problem consists in establishment of democratic, legal, secular state, in creation of prosperity for every citizen and in improvement of their living conditions day by day. Therefore our duty is to keep constantly the social and political stability in Azerbaijan, not allow distempers, disagreements, disorders within the republic. In recent times alongside the foreign aggression there were cases of local confrontations, discords, contractions, battles and bloodshed in Azerbaijan. The doctors have large opportunities for their removal. I reiterate that due to their profession the doctors would never want war, collisions, and conflicts.

The profession of a doctor demands faith to their people, and their profession. There is such an oath in any profession as in the Asclepiades' Oath. Each doctor swearing an Asclepiades' Oath must be faithful to this oath until the end of his life. I hope that the workers of public health of Azerbaijan, doctors being the owners of their profession in independent Azerbaijan must remember the Asclepiades' Oath and never forget it.

In spite of the fact that Azerbaijan is in a difficult situation now, all infectious diseases are completely eliminated. There are no terrible infant diseases in Azerbaijan. It was mentioned here today it is executed in hard conditions, at times in conditions of deficiency of medicines, absence of necessary medical accessories of health authorities and lack of resources. All these have been accomplished during the period of realization of reforms in the sphere of public health. And therefore medical treatment and non-admission of terrible diseases in Azerbaijan in such complicated time and conditions, conducting of decisive struggle with diseases in their conceptual stage are worthy of attention. Taking an opportunity I express my gratitude to all the workers of public health of Azerbaijan and I want to express confidence that in the future you will work in this way of life selflessly.

I want to note that conducting of the IV International Congress is a big event in our social and political life. I hope that congress will grant good results. I wish that pediatrists and all workers of public health of Azerbaijan make good professional relations with the esteemed guests, who arrived to our republic and these relations will develop in the future. They are one of the branches of Azerbaijan to promote contacts with the entire world in all spheres. At the same time these professional relations will promote the development of pediatrics in Azerbaijan. I think they will assist.

I express once more my gratitude to the participants of the international congress. I congratulate you with the beginning of the work of congress. I wish you success in your further work. I hope that the doctors, the workers of public health along with their profession will struggle for peace in the entire world including the Caucasus, and they will make efforts for the establishment of peace in the world.

I wish you health, happiness, and success in your work.

"Heydar Aliyev: Our independence is eternal" (reports, speeches, statements, interviews, letters, addresses and decrees)

Azerbaijan Republic Baku-2004.