The speech of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of inauguration of Yenikend Hydroelectric power station - May 23, 2000

Dear sisters and brothers!

Respected builders, power engineers, Shamkir residents!

I heartily congratulate you with this great and significant event in the life of Azerbaijan, with completion of construction and putting into operation Yenikend Hydroelectric power station on the Kur River.

Construction and putting into operation of Yenikend Hydroelectric power station today, after gaining of independence by Azerbaijan, could be said that indeed this is first case of completion and putting into operation of such huge construction. By saying "huge", of course, I meant its significance for Azerbaijan, for our state, our nation and people. Its significance means that additionally 112 megawatts of energy have added to power system of Azerbaijan. After completion of last segment of this construction, i.e. assembling of fourth turbine, aggregate, we will get 150 megawatts of electric power.

Today much electric power is produced in Azerbaijan, but it can`t meet present requirements of our country. Therefore, naturally, completion of construction of such hydroelectric power station will meet major industry requirements and other economy fields, agriculture, and particularly the requirements of people in electric power.

Generally, no society, no country in modern period can live without electric power. For last 40-50 years electric power, as it could be said, penetrated into all spheres of life, beginning with family apartment, with its kitchen and finishing with transport, industry, trade, road, agriculture, with all production sectors.

In the past people used electric power just for illumination. But in remote past it wasn`t even there. For instance, if to take 30-s, 90% of Azerbaijan`s population was deprived of electricity, they used just paraffin-vapor lamps. I myself lived in such conditions. When I finished secondary school and entered in institute, we had never electricity at home. I used to prepare all my lessons under light of small paraffin-vapor lamp. Older generation remembers it well. The young people already do not know it. They think that the life was always same as today.

But later production of electric power had grown and its application areas were also expanded. At last, approximately beginning from 1950-s, electric power was used in Azerbaijan not just for illumination of houses but in other fields as well. I repeat it again, today it is impossible to do something without electric power. It means that the electric power is one of the major factors for public, people, country, state.

In view of that we had put enough efforts in 1970-s for independent electric power supply of Azerbaijan. Today I can say with pride that we had achieved good results.

That time we were part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had all-union program, united energy system, which meant the necessity to provide each region, city, area of the Soviet Union with electric energy. But this electric power could be produced in various places and supplied everywhere on united electric power system.

Therefore if to proceed on feelings of those days it might be thought that electric power is delivered to us from the North, from Russia, and Azerbaijan also had some its own electric power stations and so, there were no reasons for anxiety. But early 1970-s we, personally me, had prepared expanded program of construction and commissioning of system of electric energy enterprises while thinking about the future of Azerbaijan, for provision of independence of our republic in this field, and we had successfully completed this program in 1970-1980-s. At the result of all these we created in Azerbaijan one energy system that capable to produce electric power of 5000 megawatts, which had been providing whole Azerbaijan.

If it is to be considered that the majority of electric power was consumed that time by industrial enterprises, the industry took most part of electric power, and that time Azerbaijan had no such requirement like today, our achievement enabled us entirely provide Azerbaijan with electric power. That time we managed to export electric power outside of republic having power capacity of available electric power stations. Then 2 billion kilowatts of electric power were exported from Azerbaijan. That was our big achievement of those years. I could say that it was our most valuable achievement, because if we could not provide it then, Azerbaijan would not be able to live like that after gaining the independence. He just could not live like that but rather might appear in hard situation. As some republics of the former Soviet Union did not take such actions, few of them are among of our neighbors, they live in hard conditions for many years.

The major part of development program of electric energy sector consisted of creation of big blocks in Mingachevir. As it was noted here, it was not easy to achieve that. You should know that all energy sectors were financed from central state budget of the USSR. Central state budget of the USSR, as the USSR was a huge country, used to finance just one part but not the other one. Our republic had to fulfill hard work for getting means for this purpose, to demonstrate big skill for that. We had such opportunities that time and we received huge means using these opportunities and created 8 big energetic blocks in Mingachevir, each having the capacity of 300 megawatts. We had to create 9th block as well but it remained uncompleted. Today I state that we will find new means for completion of this block and will put it into operation.

Usage of rivers, water is the profitable and cheapest mean for producing of electric power. In that case the Allah was merciful to us. The Kur River, running across the territory of our republic (our people get accustomed that there was always the Kur River) is irreplaceable blessing for Azerbaijani people, its soil. Naturally, people used the Kur River for various purposes, for production of agricultural products, in housekeeping, and for other purposes. As Shollar water pipeline appeared to be insufficient to supply expanded Baku city with water, we laid on 135 kms of water pipeline from the Kur River in 1970 and delivered first time the Kur water to Baku. Later we laid on two water pipelines too. Today they provide Baku city with water. But I see it is not sufficient too, and therefore some new action is also to be taken in this regard.

I want to say that the Kur River is of use for whole Azerbaijan, in places where it runs and wherever it does not. I have already told that we created big structures for water supply of the capital by laying on 135 kms of water pipeline from the Kur to Baku. Seizing an opportunity I want to point out another fact that we have received from the World Bank, from the EBRD the credit of USD 90 millions for better water supply of Baku, for improving the quality of water and replacing outdated structures. It is all aimed for people, for our nation, for capital of Azerbaijan, Baku.

Using the water for getting electric power is not a new thing. It was started in Azerbaijan in 1950-s and at first time in 1954 the Mingachevir Hydroelectric power station was put into operation. But later in 1970-s we begun to seek ways of using the Kur water for purposes of getting the electric power.

Today I want to note with thanks that our engineers, specialists, projecting institutes had done very fruitful job that time in this field and gave suggestions to us for construction of some hydroelectric power stations on the Kur and for producing the electric energy for long-term period. That is they had accepted our initiatives in this regard and as a practical response to it they had submitted certain projects to us. They were very valuable projects but huge amounts were required for its implementation. We had started this work that time and had done a lot in this field considering principle of usage of rivers potentials for production of electric power in Azerbaijan as one of the main direction.

Few words were told here about the Kur hydroelectric power station. Indeed I had discussed this project several times in 1970-s. I still remember that our specialists, today I am recalling with sense of gratitude that Director of Project Institute was the late Bosovsky, I was thoroughly informed during few hours in that place where the Kur settlement is located now, on the river bank, in place of dam construction. Today I will visit and see that place.

They convinced me that a big dam and huge hydroelectric power station might be built here. I agreed with that, later first workings were conducted. As it was told already I again went there on the bank of the Kur in 1975 and laid the foundation of the Kur hydroelectric power station. At present it produce more electric power than even Mingachevir hydroelectric power station. However at one time in 1950-s it seemed to us that there couldn`t be a station bigger than Mingachevir hydroelectric power station.

The Kur hydroelectric power station serves to Azerbaijani people, produces 380 megawatt of electric power but Mingachevir hydroelectric power station produces today 360 megawatts of hydroelectric power. Look, what a huge work was done by us that time. Really there was a certain program that time which gave opportunity to build on the Kur River, in few places, some hydroelectric power stations one after another. One of them is Yenikend hydroelectric power station.

As it was told already there were projects on construction of Tovuz hydroelectric power station in the upper section of the Kur, upward-stream, and later Poylu hydroelectric power station. That is it was foreseen to build Tovuz, Kur, Yenikend hydroelectric power stations.

I had made a decision on construction of Yenikend hydroelectric power station in 1979, and this work was started. We told here about it. Work had been carrying out at construction site and huge amounts were being invested there.

However due to certain reasons known to you, which were clarified here, there is no need for repeat, works were suspended.

Azerbaijan became an independent state. There was no other state, from which means could be received and works could be carried on. Therefore we started to seek means in other places, we had established ties with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), we had got credits for the amount of USD 53 millions and continued the construction of Yenikend hydroelectric power station.

Naturally, the main work was done after it. Today I am addressing at meeting with you with the sense of unlimited pride and pleasure. I see fruits of seed sewn by me in 1970-s. But I did not wait passively to see when seeds would be grown, sprouted. I watered them, cherished, made a lot, and could get a construction of such huge hydroelectric power station here. Whom all these are meant for? For our nation, Azerbaijani people, state, for independent Azerbaijan. Just with these steps, with these deeds we are strengthening, developing independence of Azerbaijan every day, making it irreversible. If we don`t not carry out these works, Azerbaijan would not be able to survive as independent state. Obviously skill, will, experience, knowledge and first of all a great desire is required for carrying out all these works.

All works completed by me till date and as well as works that are being carried out now, works which are conducted for the sake of our people, I realize it with the great desire. You may be sure that I will remain the same in future too.

Once again I congratulate you with the completion of construction of Yenikend Hydroelectric Power station. I highly appreciate the work of all our citizens which made their contribution on construction and putting into operation of this Hydroelectric Power station, took part in this action; I express my sincere gratitude to them. I am grateful to all, to designers, to construction workers, to erectors and to power engineering specialists in this regard. I want to express hope that the good organization of this excellent labor collective that took part in completion of construction of this Hydroelectric Power station will be demonstrated on other fields and this experience will be used there. One may be assured that people that worked here, who completed the construction will not remain unemployed.

Those who had speeches here appealed to me in connection with Tovuz Hydroelectric Power station. You are applying to me with this request just now, but I had thought about it 25 years ago. Therefore everything is ready there, the project, and the people which have got enough experience for construction of this station. Today the only thing is required – to find means. This is most difficult today.

You know, many specialists were invited from Russia, from other republics in past for construction, assembling of electric power station, as well as hydroelectric power station, for carrying out there other kind of works. You probably remember it. Such concept was prevailing that these works were difficult to carry out without them. Engineers, technicians, even workers, i.e. skilled workers had been invited here from other republics and they had been working during many months, years on our construction sites. Once more I am repeating that such opinion prevailed then as if we couldn`t work, survive without them.

However today we have an experience in this field too, which was gained during those years, we have specialists, trained by us, construction specialists in the field of construction of electric power station, erectors, welders, engineers, and technicians, all of them are our national cadres. We did not invite anybody here from other countries. All of us here are Azerbaijanis, Azerbaijani nation. Today it is our biggest achievement. Being an independent state we perform everything basing on capability of our own staff, specialists. We do not invite anybody from outside.

I can say to you, as you know, beginning from 1994 we are engaged in oil extraction together with major world oil companies in Azerbaijani sector of Caspian Sea, we carry out a huge work. Presently 32 companies from 14 countries operate in Azerbaijan. Prominent specialists arrived at our country from abroad. But 90% of all of those who work in various fields, are Azerbaijanis, our national cadres. Companies bring here just some of their specialists and after passing of some time, they reduce the number of their own specialists being made sure on high level of Azerbaijani specialists. Every time meeting with me, you know that we have some ceremonies, they note it especially that Azerbaijan has high skilled engineers, technical employees, workers and men of other specialties. Such staff exists in oil industry sector, in electric energy sector, in construction, everywhere. Once again I am repeating that this is the biggest achievement of our nation.

I share your opinion regarding the Tovuz hydroelectric power station. Its construction should be started.

A voice from spot: Long live Heydar Aliyev, heroic son of Azerbaijani people! Long live Heydar Aliyev, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk pasha of Turkic world.

Heydar Aliyev: But USD 220 millions are required for construction of Tovuz hydroelectric power station. You should know that we have got a credit for the sum of about USD 500 millions during last 4-5 years from various foreign banks, from Japan, WB, EBRD for purposes of development of electric energy system. The majority of these credits are low rated credits. Thus, credit granted by Japan for restoration, reconstruction and modernization of state electric power station "Northern" makes as a whole USD 332 millions. They granted this credit to us for 40 years. Of course, it is suitable for us. This electric station is also extremely important for us. We have to complete all works there.

There is steam thermoelectric station #1 in Baku. This station was built at early century. We initially got credit from German bank for the sum of USD 50 millions for its reconstruction, now we again taken USD 50 millions. So, we had got USD 100 millions of credit as whole for it. We had taken credit for Yenikend hydroelectric power station too. You see how many credits we had taken? I am sure, we will return it, as industry of our country will develop, after 3-4 years incomes will be received from oil sector and we will return all these credits well in time.

We have returned USD 12 millions of credit, which was taken for Yenikend hydroelectric power station. It means we are responsible for all our work, promises. Therefore, today mine and as well as your desire is that Tovuz hydroelectric power station be built. Of course, it will bring a big profit, as there is no useful source of energy than hydroelectric station. Thus, thanks to construction of Yenikend hydroelectric power station further this power capacity will reach 150 megawatts. So, as it was told here already, imagine that 160 thousand tons of fuel will be saved. But we annually use 4.5 million tons of black oil for working of electric stations. How much does 4.5 million tons of black oil cost?

A voice from spot: More than billion manats.

Heydar Aliyev: Now imagine that if we have had an opportunity not to use such quantity of black oil for it and to sell part of it, we could be able to build two Tovuz hydroelectric power stations. But what to do? Thermal electric stations in our republic require either gas or black oil. At one time we had enough gas, therefore we used gas. Now gas became lesser and using of black oil costs us very expensive. I`d like you to know about it. You should know all these details. You know, our nation, people should understand that all these do not come down to earth.

Presently we are trying; we have discovered a new gas deposit. God grant, after two-three years we will get enough gas from there. We will export gas; it will meet our requirements in gas. We should know that all of these are our future. However you see that we are moving towards this future step by step.

If today we had completed works in this electric station, then tomorrow we would construct another one and later one more. Transitional period has its own difficulties, but we overcome all these difficulties thanks to our activity and we improve our work, welfare of people every year.

I think about Tovuz hydroelectric power station. We will work in this direction, but I can`t promise you that it will happen tomorrow or after a month. In any case I am telling you, it is some dearest work for me. Construction of some hydroelectric station on the Kur is a program, which appeared in 1970 on my initiative. It is my dear work. It was prepared to me by fate and I had started to implement this work in 70-s. Then I left these places, I was absent for a long period in Azerbaijan, this work was suspended. Now thanks to the God I came back and had an opportunity to continue this work, and this opportunity felt to my lot.

Supply of Azerbaijan with hydroelectric energy is one of main task faced by us. As you remember we faced some tensions, problems in winter in this regard. Therefore I had a very serious meeting, punished some persons. I issued the Decree; the Council of Ministries worked out a program, which should be implemented by autumn in order not to face any problems in Azerbaijan in autumn-winter season in the field of electric energy. It is enough real program. I was reported about some of its parts. However we additionally received 112 megawatts of electric energy. Today your task, i.e. task of "Azerenergy" JSC, our power engineers is avoidance of losses, effective use of these electric stations. You must mobilize your potentialities to increase electricity supply by using producing capacity of these electric power stations. Particularly, there should be no problems with electricity supply in Azerbaijan during autumn-winter season. Today I am giving you an instruction in this regard in front of all people gathered here and in front of all Azerbaijani nation and requiring their fulfillment.

Today we, as it could be said, are here in holiday of construction workers, energy specialists. It is our common holiday, as I told already, this field is needed to everybody. But at the same time we are in the territory of Shamkir region. I think that the overwhelming majority of people gathered here are Shamkir residents, not only construction, energy specialists but residents of Shamkir region as well. While coming here I saw how people of villages along the road were greeting me staying off the road. Therefore I once again greet residents of Shamkir. I want to express my respect to Shamkir region.

Shamkir is one of the major agricultural regions of Azerbaijan. At one time we made great efforts for development of this region. Cotton had been grown here, then instead of cotton we laid out grape plantations. A lot of grapes were being cropped here. All of these later reduced, changed due to certain reasons. I do not want to recall the past. However as you remember 120 thousand tons of grapes and 30-40 thousand tons of cotton was cropped in Shamkir annually. I still remember all of these. I did not forget it, as I used to visit here; I was engaged in these affairs. I used to visit cotton and grape plantations as well. All had been changed now. Now there is no need to talk about it. But land and people remained here. We had implemented a land reform, distributed land to peasants, to its owners. Now the efficiency of land use had been grown significantly in Azerbaijan.

Aslan Aslanov, head of Executive power of Shamkir region also told about that. It became known from his information that the growth in some other regions is higher than here. You also have a growth. But it does not mean full use of all your potentialities. Anyhow its is clear to all that reforms carried out by us in all spheres, including land reforms, assignation of land to private property are radical measures which we had been undertaking effective from 1996.

You should know that in some independent republics, states of the former USSR land was not given to peasants till now. Kolkhozs and sovkhozs exist even in some places. They visit us and talk to us. When we tell them about works carried out by us and our achievements in this sphere, they become amazed.

Why we do all of it? How many time I spent for getting more products in public economy in 1970. It should be said clearly that we indeed had a high level of products` production and people used to live well. Today there is not a single house in Shamkir region built of clay. Three-storied houses, apartments were built here and roof of all of them covered with iron. They had been built that time, but today more construction works are carried out here. Is it right or not?

A voice from spot: Right

Heydar Aliyev: By which meansthey are built from? It means we had created conditions for better life of people; they crop products in their economies, get profits and build such palaces. This is our aim.

Today we go forward on the way of market economy, we conduct reforms in all spheres, carry out privatization. But we started to conduct privatization in agriculture much earlier than others, significantly improved the welfare, living conditions of peasantry.

At present we face some problems in cities, as industrial enterprises do not operate with previous capacity, therefore number of workers is reduced, there is unemployment as well. You have good land in your region; everybody has his land lot, economy, and livestock. Those who works that gains. And those who do not work can not earn as well. Now everything is based on that principle, this is the requirement of market economy. The more effectively one can use given opportunities (certainly, in the legal frameworks, with observing the law) and to develop his economy, the better he would live, the more profit would he bring to state, the more taxes would he pay. This is the principle.

Basing on this principle I express a hope that you will gain more successes in agriculture of Shamkir region. There are separate industrial objects. They have good opportunities for effective work after its privatization, as when such small industrial enterprises were under state control, they operated thanks to big enterprises. But while making privatization of small enterprise, when it passed to owner, he may use many methods for exploitation of it, to get profits. I want you pay attention on this field of work and use these opportunities.

Azerbaijan lives in its ninth spring of independent statehood. We will celebrate the day of our national independence on May 28. At the end of this year 9th year of restoration of state independence of Azerbaijan will be celebrated. This is a great event. Though by historical point of view it is not a big period of time but from point of view of human life it is a full history. We work on settlement of many problems, including peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

It is six years already we had been living in regime of cease-fire. We ceased the fire, we want to liberate our land by peaceful means and we will do it, we will succeed in achieving it.

Azerbaijani lands occupied by the Armenian Military forces, will be liberated. Refugees live in Shamkir and in other places. People, driven out from native places will return to their soils. We will again revive those lands, will restore them and secure territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan follows with confidence the way of independence. Azerbaijan follows with confidence the way of democracy. Azerbaijan follows with confidence the way of reforms. It is our strategic way. Nobody can turn us aside of this way, nobody can hinder us.

Azerbaijan will always remain independent. Azerbaijan will be a democratic state. Welfare of every citizen of Azerbaijan will be improved every day.

Once again I congratulate you on occasion of this holiday. I wish all of you health, newest successes in all your activities. Thanks.