President Ilham Aliyev attended an official ceremony to mark the 91st birthday anniversary of nationwide leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation -

President Ilham Aliyev attended an official ceremony to mark the 91st birthday anniversary of nationwide leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation

An official ceremony to mark the 91st birthday anniversary of nationwide leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been held in Baku.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, his wife Mehriban Aliyeva and other family members attended the ceremony.

First, a film dedicated to 10 years of operation of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation was demonstrated.

The head of state made a speech at the ceremony.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.

Today we celebrate the 91st birthday anniversary of great leader Heydar Aliyev. Last year, we gathered at this magnificent center named after the great leader to celebrate Heydar Aliyev’s 90th birthday anniversary, while on 10 May 2012 we celebrated the opening of this center. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Foundation named after the great leader. We have just seen a film describing the activities of the Foundation. The film provides a summary of the Foundation’s multifaceted activities. The work done by the Foundation over the course of 10 years is so great that it is certainly impossible to show it in a film format.

For 10 years, the Foundation has been managed by Mehriban Aliyeva. Under her leadership, the Foundation has become the largest nongovernmental organization not only in Azerbaijan but also in the region for the amount of work it has undertaken. Under Mehriban’s leadership the Foundation has implemented specific programs on a number of areas. In many cases, the initiatives of the Foundation were subsequently supported by both public organizations and government agencies, and became a kind of a state program. In particular, a project called "A new school for a renewing Azerbaijan" initiated by the Foundation has assumed great proportions. The state joined this program and managed to build around 3,000 new schools in the past 10 years. The "Justice for Khojaly" campaign was also launched on the initiative of the Foundation. Subsequently, this initiative was joined by state and public organizations, and eventually more than 10 countries have officially recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide in a short period of time.

The initiatives related to healthcare have also gained momentum. The Foundation has played an indispensible role in the preservation and promotion of Azerbaijani culture and our cultural heritage in the world. Our national asset, the art of Mugham, has been included in the UNESCO List of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Of course, all of this was shown in the film. Today I want to express my attitude to the activity of the Foundation. I can say that this is my first speech on the subject over 10 years. Therefore, on behalf of the Azerbaijani state I would like to express my appreciation to the Foundation and all of its employees. I also want to note that the number of employees of the Foundation is not very large. The Foundation has a very limited number of employees. But despite this, they are professional, energetic, knowledgeable, and the vast majority of them are young people.

Today, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation bears the name of the great leader with dignity. Its activities are worthy of the great leader. Heydar Aliyev is a historic personality, the creator of the independent Azerbaijan and our savior. He led Azerbaijan in two state systems which were completely opposite to each other. 1969-1982 and 1993-2003 will remain in the history of Azerbaijan as the years of development under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev. In two completely different public and political conditions Azerbaijan managed to climb the highest peaks.

At the first stage Azerbaijan was not independent and was part of another country. At the same time, the system was completely different. It was not a democratic system. The second period was one of independence, democratic development and rapid growth. In 1969, Azerbaijan was perhaps the poorest of all Soviet republics. This is confirmed by statistical data.

Those of you who remember those years can also say that Azerbaijan was the most backward republic of the Soviet Union at the time.

As a result of the great creative work carried out under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan managed to become one of the most advanced republics of the USSR in 12 years. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it became clear that only two republics of the Soviet Union were completely sustainable and acted as donors for others. One of them was Azerbaijan. It was in those years that a modern industrial complex was established in Azerbaijan in accordance with the requirements of the time. Azerbaijan turned from an agricultural into an industrial republic. In particular, it was in those years that very important issues for the oil and gas industry were resolved. Those projects are still serving the independent Azerbaijan. The development of the industrial potential and agriculture at the time opened up great opportunities for Azerbaijan. People’s well-being improved. I want to say again that Azerbaijan made the most of the opportunities available in those years and experienced a period of development.

Our country had a very rich cultural life. All this was due to the personality of the great leader. It was in those years that the fight against corruption and bribery was launched for the first time in the Soviet Union, and it was a novelty in the USSR. The author of this novelty was Heydar Aliyev. In 1982, his Moscow period began. This period was also very important because Heydar Aliyev was represented in the leadership of a large state, a superpower. He was the first deputy prime minister. Of course, he took great care of Azerbaijan. But in 1982 things in Azerbaijan gradually began to deteriorate. There was still the force of inertia in the first years, but then a period of stagnation set in. It is no coincidence that after Heydar Aliyev’s departure from all posts Azerbaijan was faced with very large problems and disasters. Hardly had two weeks passed from his political exit when Armenian nationalists raised the issue of secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and its annexation to Armenia. It was the absence of Heydar Aliyev from the government that inspired the Armenians because the factor of Heydar Aliyev did not allow them to make such dirty claims. After this, the undeclared war against Azerbaijan began, the bloody January tragedy occurred. In those difficult and tragic moments Heydar Aliyev raised his right voice again. Coming to the permanent representative office of Azerbaijan in Moscow, he condemned the actions of the Soviet government, condemned those who stood at the head of the Soviet Union. He told the whole world about this tragedy. It was a step that required great courage, as the collapse of the Soviet Union was still two years away. No-one could ever imagine that the Soviet Union may break up.

Heydar Aliyev just could not remain silent. In those difficult moments, he provided his people with moral support. After that, of course, the totalitarian machine, the totalitarian state launched an offensive against him. Preparations were made for his arrest. He was forced to come from Moscow to Baku. But he wouldn’t be left alone here either. So he went to where he was born – to Nakhchivan. Thus, the Nakhchivan period of his life began. This period was crucial both for Nakhchivan and for our independence because it was in Nakhchivan that the foundations of the state independence of Azerbaijan were laid. It was in Nakhchivan that the tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was declared the state flag of Azerbaijan on the initiative of Heydar Aliyev. Nakhchivan did not hold a referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union. Great effort was made to take Nakhchivan out of the blockade. A severe blow was dealt to Armenian invaders. Nakhchivan was protected and the territorial integrity of Nakhchivan was preserved.

It is no coincidence that when civil war began in Azerbaijan and some of our lands were under occupation, the people turned to Heydar Aliyev. In 1993, fraternal war began. At that time, the anti-national and treacherous government made up of the PFA and Musavat shed fraternal blood. On the one hand, our lands were occupied and, on the other, civil war was unfolding. Under such difficult circumstances, the return of Heydar Aliyev to power at the request of the people saved Azerbaijan from even greater misery.

When analyzing that period, one issue always attracts attention: if Heydar Aliyev had been in Azerbaijan, if he had been in the leadership of Azerbaijan at the beginning of our independence and during the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions would have never been occupied. But history is history. In 1993, with the support, trust and on the request of the people, Heydar Aliyev was elected President of Azerbaijan. After that, our country embarked on a new period – a period of stability, security and development. Drastic reforms were initiated, the foundations of statehood were laid, the Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan was adopted, the ideological foundations of our society were formed, the ideology of Azerbaijanism was adopted as state ideology, and very serious reforms related to democratic development and human rights began. Azerbaijan became a member of international organizations and we started to give tangible answers to the propaganda campaign against Azerbaijan. We managed to break the information blockade. It was in those years that the main principles of our foreign policy to which we are still committed today were defined.

In other words, at the most difficult and tragic period for our country the personal qualities, knowledge, courage, foresight of Heydar Aliyev and his love for the people proved crucial. Azerbaijan passed this difficult ordeal with its head high.In 1993-2003, various programs associated with the comprehensive development of our country and reforms were adopted. Heydar Aliyev's oil strategy was determined, and today every citizen of Azerbaijan sees the signs of this policy in his daily life. It was in those years that the foundation of our successful economic development was laid.

Azerbaijan is developing successfully and confidently today. We, the followers of Heydar Aliyev’s cause, remain true to his political course. For the last 10 years Azerbaijan has been going down this path, has been committed to the political testament of Heydar Aliyev, and the realities of today, the current situation of our country clearly demonstrate how true this way is.

In 2003, the people voted for the policy of Heydar Aliyev. I gave my word that I would remain committed to this policy. All our promises are embodied in life, and in 2008 the Azerbaijani people showed their confidence in us again. The unparalleled economic development of our country over the last 10 years, of course, preconditioned the people's choice in 2013.

Today, a new period begins – a new decade. In this period, we will further strengthen the powerful Azerbaijani state on the solid foundation laid in previous years. Over the past 10 years we have made great strides in all directions. We have asserted ourselves on the international arena as a very reliable partner. The international community supports our position. The vast majority of the international community is supportive of Azerbaijan. During the election to the UN Security Council, 155 countries believed in us and supported Azerbaijan. I am sure that they are well aware that they were right in their choice and never regretted voting for our candidacy.

Over the past 10 years, there was not a single country on a global scale that would develop economically as much as Azerbaijan did. This is also our great achievement, the result of our policies. It is the result of an independent policy. Azerbaijan is working on diversification. Azerbaijan is addressing issues of energy security, and we are further strengthening our leading positions in this area. All our projects are being successfully implemented. Given the economic and geopolitical situation, the implementation of these projects in very difficult conditions is also a historic achievement.

The programs on the development of Azerbaijani regions have been over-fulfilled. As a result of these programs, we can say that unemployment has practically been eliminated in a matter of 10 years. The poverty evil has been practically done away with. The successes already made and our growing strength will allow us the opportunity to implement all our intentions in the coming years.

A new period has begun. This is a 10-year period. Until 2023 we will complete all of the work on our agenda. I am sure that by that time Azerbaijan will be many times stronger than it is now. This is suggested by our 20-year history, the consistent development, our strategic views and concrete steps.

Azerbaijan as an independent state conducts an independent policy. Today, our economic strength forms the foundation of our independence. The work done so far and the projects we have just started will strengthen our power several times. It is a fact. So it will be as a result of the work we will do in the future.

Azerbaijan has strong positions in the region. These positions will only grow stronger each year. Not a single issue can be resolved in the region without our involvement. In short, we have defined our long-term strategy associated with the development of the country.

The fundamental directions related to the development of our country were defined by the great leader. But, of course, life does not stand still. The world is changing, and so are the international situation and the principles. We see that in order to strengthen our place we should become even stronger, we should have an even more powerful economy, industrial potential and the army. We should have an even stronger international position. We can speak our word from all high platforms. We speak your word. Our word is one of truth and justice. Justice and truth are on our side. Therefore, taking into consideration our strategic course, we are taking and will continue to take consistent steps. I am sure that every patriotic citizen of Azerbaijan is proud of the feelings of solidarity and patriotism existing in our society today. We are proud of the fact that Azerbaijan has managed to reach these heights.

Mobilization and solidarity in society are also very important. There are societies undergoing debate on ideological issues. There are societies where there is geographic division. Azerbaijani society is cohesive. The main factor that binds us together is solidarity and the correctly chosen objective. And the objective is very clear. We are building a modern state, creating a free society, development of democracy is the basic condition, the fight against corruption and bribery will continue to be carried out even more rigorously. We rely only on our own strength. This policy is paying off. Our growing economic strength will be complemented by the strengthening of independence. And independence is our greatest asset and the biggest achievement. If you look at history, Azerbaijan has had traditions of statehood in different periods. But Azerbaijan has never been as strong and independent as it is today.

Today, on the birthday of the great leader, we look back at our recent history once again. We see again how much great and historic work was done by Heydar Aliyev for the Azerbaijani people. Therefore, the people of Azerbaijan cherish the memory of Heydar Aliyev in their hearts. And we, the followers of his cause, remain committed to the political course of the great leader and take our native homeland forward.

Thank you!