Congratulation from Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Azerbaijani people on the occasion of Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the World and New Year - December 31, 2002

Dear compatriots, citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan!

I cordially congratulate you on the occasion of the forthcoming 2003.

We are living the last minutes of 2002. We can say with proud that the year of 2002 was successful for Azerbaijani people, for our country. The state independence of Azerbaijan strengthened, the legal, democratic and secular state that we are constructing developed, the civic society established in Azerbaijan, the freedom of press, human rights protection were major priorities of Azerbaijani government this year.

The economy of Azerbaijan develops in a sustainable way. The economic reforms are carried out and in this result the market economy takes an important place in Azerbaijan. Favorable conditions are created for entrepreneurship activity. There are many indicators proving development of economy in Azerbaijan. I would like to note some of them.

The GDP increased by 10,5%, the production of rural industry increased by 6%. Industrial production increased by 3,5%. The most pleasant indicator is that some 2 billion of US dollars worth amount was invested to Azerbaijan. 1,7 billion US dollars fall on the share of foreign investors, and the other 300 millions - that of domestic investors. This is one of the great factors for the development of economy in the future. In the result of this the well-being of our people improved. The salary was increased by 20%, the pensions increased by 20% as well.

The army of Azerbaijan became stronger, the performance of law-enforcement bodies providing rights of our citizens was improved.

Hence, our country achieved great results last year. A favorable opinion established in Azerbaijan and we are about to celebrate the year of 2003 with this opinion. The year of 2003 will be more successful for Azerbaijan. Because all works that we have done and internal and external policy that we have conducted in 2002 and earlier make Azerbaijan to develop annually.

The results that we achieved in the field of foreign policy were aimed at reinforcement of position of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is represented at all international organizations, Azerbaijan has declared its viewpoint at different meetings held by international organizations and managed to get its viewpoint recognized.

The state budget that we have adopted will provide the rapid development of Azerbaijan in 2003. The state budget is declared, all necessary decrees for its implementation are issued and its execution must be carried out starting from early 2003. I am sure that successive execution of state budget will contribute to the more active development of economy in Azerbaijan and will improve the well-being of Azerbaijan.

The state budget of Azerbaijan in 2003 equals to 1,2 billion dollars. For comparison, I would like to say that the state budget of Azerbaijan was increased from 1994 as many as 17 times. In 1996 the budget of Azerbaijan was 640 million dollars. And now, as you see, it is 1,2 billion dollars. This shows that economy of Azerbaijan is developing annually and incomes of Azerbaijan increase. This provides a basis for achieving our tasks in the future.

We have many problems. Problems exist at every sphere, this is evident. The issue settled today doesn`t meet the requirements of tomorrow. That`s why we are always in movement, we are developing. But one problem that is the wound of Azerbaijan is Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict of Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and it remains unresolved so far. A lot of work was done in this regard in 2002. Firstly, I highly appreciate the activity of Minsk group co-chairs. Moreover, the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan hold direct meetings. O want to say that Armenian -Azerbaijani Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict constitutes the main part of negotiations of Azerbaijani President during his visits to any international organizations and states, his discussions with heads of states either in Azerbaijan or abroad. I can say that every speaker had 5-minute time limit at Prague meeting of NATO held recently. I spoke a little more than my time-limit but all my speech was dedicated to this problem, liberation of occupied territories of Azerbaijan, restoration of its territorial integrity, return of our compatriots that had to leave their homes to their native lands.

I hope that we will continue our efforts in 2003 and we will deal with this problem more actively and I am sure that we will settle this problem peacefully. Sometimes the ideas on armed settlement of this problem emerge in our society. This way is not ever rejected. But we should still try to use all possibilities of peaceful settlement. I hope that following this way we will achieve our task.

We look at year of 2003 with a great optimism. The social and political stability, established in our country, is continuing. We have created favorable conditions for our people to live in comfort and we will do our best further improvement of the well-being of our people monthly, annually. I hope that our joint efforts will give perfect results in 2003.

Today is Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the world. I congratulate Azerbaijani people, our citizens and all Azerbaijanis of the world on this occasion I call upon them to unity and solidarity once again.

Dear friends, Happy New Year!

Thank you.