Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev in the solemn meeting dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the establishment of Azerbaijan`s Customs Committee and professional holiday of customs employees - Cultural Center named after Shahriyar January 30, 1997

Dear ladies and gentlemen! Dear guests!

Customs service employees!

I congratulate you with my heart on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of establishment of Azerbaijan`s customs service, I wish you successes in your activity which is very important for our country.

The customs service is one of the state structures established after our state has gained state independence. It is true, Azerbaijan has a certain history in customs field about which it was told here. When Azerbaijan was not independent - notwithstanding some customs offices as a frontier post were located in this territory in XIX, XX centuries - Azerbaijan did not have its own customs service. When Azerbaijan was in the structure of the Soviet Union there were customs service bodies belonging to the Soviet Union. Because import-export was few in this post and all these were not connected directly with the activity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Therefore, establishment of real customs service, customs organization is connected with gaining the state independence of Azerbaijan. And it is natural because each independent state has particular bodies, structures providing its independence and one of them is customs. Therefore, in comparison with our other spheres the customs service is really five years old. It is a very young organization. It is a very young service body. However, at the same time the customs service is very important, necessary for ensuring, protecting, developing the state independence both economically and politically.

It was spoken about the duties for the customs service. I am glad that representatives of customs organization - Kamaladdin Heydarov, chair of the Customs Committee, and other persons demonstrated that they have right notion about the importance and obligations of customs service when they delivered a speech. It shows that you, the Azerbaijani citizens working in the Customs Committee, perceive how much your duties are important and responsible. It, at the same time, gives a basis that you are able to carry out your duties properly.

Actually, customs service attaches great importance for preserving Azerbaijan`s economic independence. Azerbaijan goes on the way of free economy, Azerbaijan tries to be integrated more closely into the world economy day by day and we have already achievements in this sphere. On the basis of laws, decrees, orders adopted in Azerbaijan import-export, foreign trade have become unrestricted. We encourage growth of investments in Azerbaijan by all means and offer all necessary facilities. We implement necessary measures so that Azerbaijani economy would have closer relation with the world economy by means of foreign trade. The customs service has special role in implementation of these actions. Measures carried out in recent years in Azerbaijan for development of free economy yield already its results.

Entrepreneurship, initiative and creating necessary condition to establish contacts with all countries for each businessman to carry out an economic activity - all these are the picture of today`s economic life in Azerbaijan. Together with other state structures, undoubtedly, the customs service makes and should make a lot for creation and development of this picture day after day. I repeat, it assumes great and important tasks.

The customs service in Azerbaijan has been arranged for five years. But this five-year way has not always been successful. Today I can tell on the basis of available economic indicators that the activity of the customs service in last two years can be considered satisfactory for both protecting Azerbaijan`s state interest, domestic market, and for its advantage to Azerbaijan`s economy. Although the customs service is five years old, the way passed for these five years has been complicated and difficult. This is undoubtedly related to the changes and processes going in the Republic of Azerbaijan and in its life. But simultaneously due to wrong construction of works in the first years by the customs organization since the date of its creation, the customs service has brought insufficient advantage to Azerbaijan, both from economic and statehood view points. Since January, 1995 serious mistakes in customs service began to be observed connecting with that, I have seriously discussed work of customs service and made very drastic decisions. Leadership in the Customs Committee was replaced and as a result of these serious measures and requirements in 1995 and 1996 the work done by the Customs Committee has already shown that the Customs Committee takes a place inherent in Azerbaijan.

Figures have been brought here. Really, these figures are very interesting. If in 1994 export-import in Azerbaijan made 1, 140 billion US dollars and the customs duties made only 16 or 17 billion manats, in 1995 export-import was approximately same, may be, it was less than it, but if taxes coming from customs services to the state budget made 65 billion manats, in 1996 export-import grew -and it is a positive parameter - and reached a level of 1, 600 billion or 1, 700 billion dollars. However, the customs duties from these import-export operations reached 272 or 273 billion manats, in 1995 it raised approximately by 4 times. If in comparison with 1995, export-import increased by one and a half time in 1996, undoubtedly, it is praiseworthy. On the one hand, it shows what greater opportunities the customs service of the republic possesses, on the other hand, it shows fruitfully using of these opportunities. But these are not the last extent yet.

Stating a positive estimation to the successes achieved in 1995 and 1996, at the same time I want to note that it is not the last extent of economic potential, export-import transactions of the Republic of Azerbaijan yet. I consider that the given parameters should involve workers of customs for even better work in 1997. You should exceed your obligations. In 1997 the income to the State budget from the customs tax is intended the sum of 403 billion manats. I wish to express hope that as well as in 1995-1996, in particular, in 1996, this figure will be exceeded too.

For this purpose the customs organization of Azerbaijan has opportunities. These opportunities are undoubtedly, related to our works carried out in the economic policy. That is, customs duties, customs taxes do not fall from the moon. The customs are directly connected with foreign trade, export-import transactions of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Our plans, the intended works show that in 1997 the economy of the Azerbaijan Republic will promptly develop, trading relations of the Republic of Azerbaijan with all countries, export-import transactions will be extended. Therefore the income from the activity of customs service should exceed the figures intended in the plan.

Thus, the way which has been passed by you for five years on the one hand in the first years was erroneous, on the other hand for last two years led you to positive results. Generally, I consider these positive results in the activities of the customs service only the initial steps. I consider that obligations before the Customs Committee, the customs organization are greater and you should mobilize yourselves for their implementation. Obligations of customs service have not only economic character, but also these are important for protection of Azerbaijan`s state independence. You should execute these functions all decently. In order to protect a home trade of our republic, - and it is directly connected with import-export transactions, - and also not to harm the export of the goods from republic to economy of Azerbaijan, the customs service should strengthen its control, its activity even more.

In this area you have greater opportunities and estimating the successes reached by you, I note once again that there are also a lot of negative points in your work. And among these defects are many tax evasion. Here you have brought some figures about detention of illegally taken currency and narcotic substances and other goods. I consider that illegal operations exceed your figures.

We receive many signals about it, there are conversations among the people and these are not unreasonable. Therefore, observance of the law, providing implicit implementation of laws of Azerbaijan, fidelity to duty, people, state by customs workers are the basic conditions of your work. Unfortunately, cases of abusing authority by customs workers, illegal prosecution of personal interests instead of state interests for mercenary purposes are observed, and it is known to you. It is necessary to conduct uncompromising struggle with it, I consider that if the work in all customs bodies, customs posts would have met high requirements of the law, first of all the income from customs service in 1996 would be much more than your parameters, there would be no loss in republic`s economy. Today in a holiday I would not like to mention the concrete facts and to spoil your mood. However, I hope that you will draw conclusions from all my sayings.

We estimate positively the work done by the Customs Committee, customs service, the customs organizations for last two years. But at the same time we mark also serious lacks in your work. And I demand from you to carry out necessary measures for liquidation of these lacks, to achieve good results in 1997. You have both lacks, and greater opportunities to lift customs service to a high level, therefore I put before you these requirements.

Especially it is necessary to combat contraband from foreign countries which get across secretly, through borders, customs posts. Struggle against contraband is the primary goal of the customs organization. The figures resulted by you, do not characterize a degree of contraband in Azerbaijan. It is much more than you say. You could prevent only a part, the rest has passed by you. Contraband is not a usual crime. It economically strikes the independence of Azerbaijan. It has some kinds. There are such kinds, which people smuggle goods or currency in order to hide from the customs, and other kinds, which they smuggle drugs, weapons and other equipments to use in criminal action. You assume total responsibility in this field.

Undoubtedly, together with our boundary troops, other law enforcement bodies the customs service is the body directly supervising transportation of the goods. Therefore, we first of all demand it from you.

Any illegal event, that is, happened by contraband way first of all strikes Azerbaijan`s economy. Weapons, drugs and other equipments used for the mentioned crimes through contraband are not just economic strike, but they also increase the number of criminality inside Azerbaijan, distribution of narcotism and secret criminal selling of drugs. Besides, our country is located between the South and the North, the West and the East. Therefore, the goods crossing through our border are not only Azerbaijan`s import-export. Goods are taken across from the East to the West, from the South to the North and to opposite direction via our territory. We should prevent the contraband of all kinds as well. Especially, we should prevent the contraband of narcotic substances, the weapons, other tools, which can be used in criminal cases, by means of transit transportation through the territory of Azerbaijan. This is also the obligation and responsibility before the customs organization.

It is necessary for you to master your profession well for the realization of all these. Achievements reached by you for five years are praiseworthy. However, it is necessary to do a lot to come nearer to the level of customs services of the advanced countries. Five years for this purpose are little. To master world experience, to establish close relations with customs services of the developed countries, to make use of their experience, to create thorough customs service in Azerbaijan are your major duties.

Azerbaijan will always live as the independent state. To keep independence of Azerbaijan and to develop it is possible only as a result of the measures undertaken in all directions. One of these directions is the organization of work of customs service at a higher level. For this purpose, I repeat, it is necessary to make use of world experience. Don`t think that you have already achieved all. There was neither customs school, nor customs university in our Azerbaijan.

The majority of customs workers have received various specialties, but those who received special education on customs specialties, probably, are not enough. Therefore, you can receive such education by working, that is, you should educate, improve yourselves in the field of a customs science. In the Customs Committee for improvement of the workers` skills, getting a special customs education, adding experience it is necessary to have yearly, two-year, three-year plan and you should carry out your education work on its basis. This is more important for your field than others. Because in the past, during the Soviet Union, we had special schools in all areas and in this area we did not have such special schools and consequently you should do it.

You have entered into the World customs organization. It is necessary to use it effectively, but it is impossible to be satisfied with only membership, participation in their separate meetings. Using all opportunities of such customs organization you should try to raise the level of knowledge of Azerbaijan`s customs workers.

Undoubtedly, the material and technical basis of customs service should develop as well. For last years we have created the certain opportunities for you in this area. You know that by the corresponding order we have enabled you to use 60 percent of the means received from customs services for development of the material and technical basis. It is important to use this rationally. Two basic conditions are necessary for the organization of the real customs business. First, the worker of customs should be well knowledgeable, should be the person who has well mastered his trade, is morally pure, loyal to his business, the Native land, the country, wishing to strengthen economy of independent Azerbaijan. Secondly, it is necessary that alongside with his experience, knowledge, he has material-technical basis and modern equipments. These should be created. It is also your duty. I consider that in 1997 you should finish strengthening of material-technical basis of customs posts, all customs services, customs organizations, supplying all customs offices, posts with techniques, equipments corresponding to world standards or you should lift this service to a higher level.

But at the same time customs employees should know that they work in very important and serious branch of the independent Azerbaijan state. The people who have devoted themselves to this trade, should not pursue material interests or have the purpose of getting illegal profit. Unfortunately, when the customs organization was established in Azerbaijan, there were many similar unhealthy aspirations. I remember, in 1992 there were a lot of people, youth aspired to work in this organization. Also I remember that in the 1970th the majority of youth tried to go to work in law enforcement bodies, not because that some of them loved it, but considered that there they would have more profits. Certainly, by illegal way. Such inclinations, activities, such spirit have arisen from the date of creation of the customs organization. It is necessary to struggle against it.

The person selected a trade to himself, should love it, devote himself to it and work by realizing the conformity of the trade with the internal morals. The people who have come to the trade of the customs service with other purposes, certainly, cannot benefit this body and the state. Therefore principles demanded from workers of all state bodies are moral cleanliness, observance of laws of the state, fidelity to the business - all these are the requirements for customs employees. And you should provide restoration of these principles in each cell of the customs organization, customs committee.

Our wishes consist of that all the state bodies of the independent Azerbaijan Republic adequately carry out the duties with the purpose of strengthening Azerbaijan`s statehood and Azerbaijan as a democratic legal state, as the country being loyal to moral values, take its worthy place in the world community. For this purpose everyone should try. But customs service employees are in the front row, ranks. Because any person who comes to our country, first of all meets with customs office. If customs employees operate under the law and at the same time show high culture, they will make the first positive impression in foreign citizens who have arrived in our country. You should consider all this in you work.

I note once again that the successes achieved by you in 1995-1996, have created a basis for the best work in 1997 and the next years. It is necessary to use it effectively. I want to express confidence that customs employees of Azerbaijan, the State Customs Committee will serve for the development of Azerbaijan`s statehood, independent Azerbaijan state in the future too. I wish you successes in performance of these honorable tasks. Thank you!