Inauguration Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev - Baku, "Republican" Palace, October 10, 1993

Dear compatriot

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I highly estimate my election as President of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan and express my respect, tribute and deep gratitude to the Azerbaijan people, to all the citizens of the republic.

The Azerbaijani people experiences the hardest, tragic period of its history. I deeply realize the degree of my obligation in this critical moment and want you to be confident that with all my activity and life I shall try to justify the high confidence and expectations of my people. Taking such a high and responsible post, I first and foremost rely on the mind of the Azerbaijani people its, wisdom and support. The hopes that the Azerbaijani people cherished in me obliged me to take the responsibility of this post. I assure you that I shall not spare my life any efforts to justify these hopes of my nation.

The end of the 20th century is remarkable with the political events which radically is changing the world.

The Azerbaijani people was not indifferent to these processes and finally it could realize its dreams since the earliest times, thus gaining its independence. The Republic of Azerbaijan gained independence, was the logical result of the socio-political processes ongoing on in the world and in the former USSR. Independence of our republic-is a historical event and national achievement of the Azerbaijani people and in no way we can not accept that a certain group movement or force has an exceptional role in the acquisition of this independence. At the same time the independence has laid great responsibilities and complicated objectives on the Republic and its citizens.  Strengthening the state independence, creating independent structures state, its attributes, ensuring the security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan helping the  country to end the war, improving the welfare of its citizens, creating  the necessary conditions for their life and work will be basic directions in my activity as  President and I will do my best to accomplish them.

Azerbaijan has an ancient history, rich culture and enormous natural resources. Independence created all conditions to make use of them effectively for the future development of Azerbaijan. It is our main task.

 The Republic of Azerbaijan gained its independence in extremely hard and difficult conditions. The most difficult problem for the Republic is the war experienced by Azerbaijan for more than five years. It is the aggression of the Armenian armed forces against our territories. As a result of this war the Azerbaijan people faced disasters. That is why, to help the republic to get out of war and create peaceful conditions and stability for the life of our citizens, is the main task facing us.

Azerbaijan faced such a difficult situation as a result of serious mistakes made by the former administration both in the republic and in the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, they did not take necessary measures in the past to help the republic to find way out of the situation. The economic, social, socio-political and moral crisis which the republic faced recently, deepened, and in 1993 it reached the crucial point. In the June of this year, the internal stability of the republic was completely violated. The confrontation of separate political forces, activities of some criminal groupings, separatists aimed at the breakdown of republic and some other reasons caused the intensification of tension to much extent. As a result of gross errors made by the administration of Azerbaijan, in June the republic was on the brink of a civil war, and there arose a real danger for the separation some regions. Thank God that we could prevent these dangers, liquidate a number of criminal groupings, and create conditions for ensuring the socio-political stability in the republic.

The last four months have been very difficult for Azerbaijan. During this period the republic itself and its citizens underwent terrible ordeals and it proved not once  that the wisdom of  national consent and solidarity, the civilian unity were able to overcome the difficulties and create conditions able to help the republic to find  a way out of this hard situation.

In spite of the gained relative stability throughout the republic, we are still facing a great danger. As a result of ongoing aggression for more than five years, the Armenian military forces have occupied a part of Azerbaijan. Now, approximately 20 per cent of our territory is under the occupation of the Armenian invaders. They occupied the former Nagorno-Karabakh province completely. It is already a year and a half that Shusha, a lovely and holy for every Azerbaijani town is under the occupation of the aggressor. The Armenian armed forces captured Lachin, Kalbajar, Agdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, Gubadli districts  of Azerbaijan, and as a result, hundreds of villages, towns, settlements  have turned into ruins and the population of these settlements have  became refugees and now they live in most critical conditions. Now all these caused intensify the tension in the socio-political and spiritual life. Our important task now is to get out of the war, to return the occupied territories, to ensure the territorial integrity and security of the borders of the sovereign persons and refuges home.

I assure you as President, and think it to be my main duty to mobilize all the efforts of the Azerbaijani people, do my utmost and spare no efforts to attain these objectives.

Of course, it is not an easy task to put an end to the war ongoing for five years, and return the occupied lands. There are various opinions in our society on how to achieve this goal. We occupy a peaceful position, we give preference to the peaceful solution of the problem, and by means of negotiations. For this purpose, it is necessary to effectively use the diplomatic chanells, to hold peace negotiations by defending the interests of Azerbaijan and as a result of it, to attain the objectives. By effectively using the efforts of the United Nations, OSCE, UN Security Council, great powers and all international organizations which take part in the settlement of this conflict, we shall further try and get our country out of the war and restore the territorial integrity.

However, along with it, Azerbaijan as an independent state should have an efficient army capable to defend the country. Unfortunately, since Azerbaijan gained independence, we did not carry out sufficient work in this sphere. If there is a need be and our peace negotiations fail, the creation of an efficient army capable to ensure the territorial integrity, to defend Azerbaijan will become one of the main tasks.

It is worth to note that during the five-year war, the Azerbaijani people underwent many trials, experienced the joy of victory and the bitterness of failure. This war is a great tragedy. At the same time, this war again demonstrated the power, heroism, wisdom of the Azerbaijani people in the whole world. Our people gave great losses in this war. Defending our lands, the heroic sons of our people fell in the battles, became martyrs. Today at this solemn ceremony l ask you to stand and remember memory of martyrs with a silence of one minute. They sacrificed their lives while defending the Azerbaijan lands, its sovereignty. Let the dear memory of martyrs live forever. Today, I announce it again the martyrs blood will not remain unrevenged.

We shall keep their memories in our hearts forever. Our youth and the coming generation will follow their heroic deeds as a example. The Azerbaijani people will straighten, join their hands, create a modern army, and henceforth it will protect the state independence and territory of as Azerbaijan as the apple of their eyes.

One of the main tasks facing the independent Azerbaijan is the formation of the statehood. Our way is clear and we have announced it many times, it is the way of democracy. We must establish a legal democratic state in Azerbaijan on democratic principles. Azerbaijan will follow and develop the democratic statehood by making use of its historical, national traditions by relying on the world experience and the common values. This is our way, and I promise you again we shall follow this way.

The way we follow is in harmony with our historical background, and at the same time it creates necessary conditions for the integration of our independent republic into the world civilization. We have created all conditions for it and we are going to continue it. Human rights, freedom of speech, religion, press, and conscience all these are the prerequisites enabling us to create a democratic, civil society in Azerbaijan, and we shall do our best to get these values consolidated. Azerbaijan is changing into a society with a multiparty system. There are several parties, and the birth of new parties is still going on. Azerbaijan will create all conditions for their formation and development, and, of course, multiparty society, oppositions, society built on democratic principles will undoubtedly help the development of Azerbaijan as an independent state.

Opposition plays a great role in a multiparty society. We shall hence treat the opposition with respect in future. I want to express my confidence that the opposition parties and political forces in Azerbaijan will follow the road of the constructive cooperation. This will open new horizons for the future development of real democracy in Azerbaijan. In one word, we regard the existence of different forces in Azerbaijan as a natural process, and at the same time, I declare my readiness for the constructive co-operation with them.

However, the opposing groups and independent political organizations should give up the illegal, abnormal ways and methods of struggle, recently used by them, methods whish contradict democracy. Political parties and movements can freely function in Azerbaijan. But none of the political parties or movements, socio–political organizations can possess armed groupings and armed forces! Today, I declare it resolutely to all the Azerbaijan people. Unfortunately the negative influence of the Popular Front, which once had a positive influence on the socio-political life of Azerbaijan, contributed to the formation of separate illegal armed units in Azerbaijan. We think that all the parties, movements, socio-political organizations will get rid off their armed units. There should be only one armed unit in our country that is the arms of the country. We must altogether do our best to liquidate the illegal armed units, it is the basis of the internal socio-political stability in the republic.

Protection of human rights is one of the chief duties of the state in the civil democratic society. I want you to be confident that during my term of office, I shall always focus my attention on it and guarantee the protection of human rights. In one word, all conditions will be created in our society for the complete freedom of man. From this view-point, liberty of conscience assumes a special significance at the present stage of our life. Our people returned to their religion. The Islamic religion has its historic place in the world. It had a great influence on the spiritual life, scientific thought of our nation. Thanks to Islam, our national traditions, culture passed from  generation to generation and as a national property reached the present generation. We have created all conditions for the religious freedom in Azerbaijan, and in future we shall continue it. We hope that our religion will play a great role in the formation of civic solidarity and civil unity in the hard period of the republic.

Azerbaijan is a multinational republic. This is a characteristic feature of our republic. It has a rich history and we are proud of the social and political life in it. All the citizens of Azerbaijan enjoy equal rights, irrespective of their nationality. In future, we shall also create all conditions for the equal participation, in the socio-political life of Azerbaijan.

Today, head of the Moslems of the Caucasus, representatives of the Christian and Jewish religions congratulated me on the occasion of beginning the execution of my duties. I express my gratitude and want to assure that we shall create all necessary conditions for ensuring the equality of each nation and religion in Azerbaijan.

One of the main conditions to consolidate the independence of our republic is the pursuance of a correct competent foreign policy enabling Azerbaijan to defend its interests on the international arena. Unfortunately, since we gained independence, we have not done enough work in the field of foreign policy. We have to solve many questions. Our foreign policy must safeguard the independence of Azerbaijan. The task is to create and develop the relations with all the world countries on the bases of equality and benefit. We must use them effectively for the consolidation of position of Azerbaijan, as well as for the development of its economy, science and culture. Our foreign policy is peace loving and it does not aim at violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country. However, along with It, we shall make every effort, whatever happens, to protect and defend sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the republic by means of the foreign policy. I think that if we work much, we shall create an opportunity, when Azerbaijan can widely be represented and the republic can occupy its worthy place in the world community.

On the occasion of my election as President, the heads of many sates have sent me congratulations. I accept them first as the recognition of the independence of Azerbaijan, its place in the world community. I express my thanks to the heads of the states who have sent congratulations, the representatives of foreign countries taking part in this ceremony. I want you to be confident that Azerbaijan as an independent state will also try in future to set up fruitful relations with these and other countries. It will try to make use of use efforts of the foreign countries to help the republic find a way out of the critical situation in which we are now. Thank you very much. I wish you and the leaders of your countries and our people success and happiness in all their deals. We should have also to solve many problems in the socio-economic sphere, to help Azerbaijan in this difficult, hard situation. You just fancy, although independence is a historical event, the actual situation of our economy still creates many difficulties for us. Unfortunately, the crisis which the republic is facing in the recent years, had a negatively influenced all the branches of economy. We can say that the economy is ruined, entirely misbalanced which consequently leads to the fall of the level of the welfare of the population. At the same time, I want to stress that the republic possesses huge socio-economic and scientific-technical potentials. The geopolitical location of Azerbaijan, its natural resources, the basic funds formed during many years enable our economy to overcome the difficult crisis. From this viewpoint, in our further activity we should make effectively use of the actual potentials, on the one hand, and conduct economic reforms leading to the market economy, on the other. This is a difficult and arduous way. Transition from one socio-economic system established in the course of the dozens of years to the free market economy will surely entail the great difficulties. The mistakes made in this sphere recently have worsened the situation greatly. We, anyway, have to follow this way, because we do not have another one. We must organize this work in conformity with our economy and with the traditions of Azerbaijan. Following this way, we have to use the existing economic potentials and not to get it destroyed. We have to try to use this potential in future as the national property of Azerbaijan for improving the welfare of our people of all layers.

Our goal; is to conduct democratic reforms in this sphere, to act cleverly, and I want you to be confident that we shall keep to this way. With this, I want to emphasize the alliance of Azerbaijan with the Commonwealth of the Independent States. There were long debates in Azerbaijan on this issue, and at last Azerbaijan joined CIS. We are confident that this step will create favorable conditions for the development of economy in the republic and we shall make an efficient use of these opportunities.

I want also to note that some circles try to present the alliance of Azerbaijan with CIS as a dangerous step. This is not correct. Being a CIS member, Azerbaijan will defend its independence all the time and its alliance with CIS can never prejudice its independence. As an independent state Azerbaijan will follow the way of democracy, obey the international democratic norms. We shall never re-establish the former communist ideology, communist regime in Azerbaijan.

I hope that the majority of the people of the republic are of the same opinion. Azerbaijan henceforth will never be a part and fall under the dependence of any other state.

Our home and foreign policy will be pursue the path of the world democracy based on democratic principles. By establishing the democratic principles in Azerbaijan, we shall place foreign policy at the service of the consolidation of independence of Azerbaijan. And as President of Azerbaijan I declare it publicly in front of my people and want you to be confident that I shall be faithful to these principles all the time.

Dear, esteemed compatriots!

This day is a historical and remarkable, significant day for me. I want again to express my deep gratitude, respect, love to the citizens of Azerbaijan, to all the Azerbaijan people for their trust. I want you to be confident that up to the end of my life I shall be faithful to my people and devote all my energy to the future development of Azerbaijan.

Putting my hand on the Constitution of Azerbaijan, I swear to devote all my knowledge, experience, efforts for the good deeds of the Azerbaijan people, for Azerbaijan.

I swear that I shall perform the duties of the President for the highest purposes, high ideas. I shall exert all my efforts to safeguard the full independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

I swear to be a guarantor for the implementation of the Constitution and the laws of Azerbaijan protect the rights and freedoms of Azerbaijani people irrespective of their nationality, religion and political convictions. I will be the guarantor of freedom, democratic changes and development of Azerbaijan as a legal democratic state.

I swear to serve Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan people worthily I shall try that to make our independent state be able to occupy its worthy place among the civilized states in the world community.

Putting my hand on the Holy Koran, I swear to be faithful to the national and spiritual traditions of the Azerbaijan people, ensure these traditions be established, supported and developed in our independent state.