Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev in the ceremony devoted to the 28th of May – the Day of Republic - May 26, 2001

Dear compatriots! 

Dear brothers and sisters!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I congratulate you on the national holiday of Azerbaijan – on the Day of Independence, on the Day of Republic and I wish all the Azerbaijani people peace, security and welfare.

The 28 of may is very dear for Azerbaijani people, because on May 28, 1918 the advanced people of Azerbaijan adopted the Declaration of independence of Azerbaijan and then the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was founded.

Creation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan is a historical event in the life of our people in XX century.

Creation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, declaration of independence of Azerbaijan in this period were not accidental. In the second half of ХIX century, in the beginning of XX century as a result of the activity of the thinkers, and advanced people of our nation the feelings of national awakening, national revival began to grow in Azerbaijan. Already since the beginning of XX century our people and the advanced persons lived with the dreams of independence. The October Revolution of 1917, collapse of the Russian empire and the ongoing processes in the country created conditions for the declaration of independence of Azerbaijan and creation of a democratic republic.

The declaration on independence was adopted on May 28, 1918, in Tbilisi. The government of the democratic republic some time worked in Ganja, and then – in Baku capital of Azerbaijan. For a short term, within 23 months, a lot was done. The most is that the ideas of independence, freedom, existence as an independent state strengthened in the minds of people in Azerbaijan.

After 23 months the Democratic Republic fell because of different historical reasons. In those years the Communist-Bolshevik power aspired to build a state, and to disseminere its ideology in all the territory of the former Russian Empire and to create new and large state from territorial point of view. Because of it when Russia established its power in its central part, it carried out a vigorous activity for making the same changes into the life of peoples, who lived under the domination of Russia for long years. They attacked the Caucasus. Young, and fragile as an independent democratic republic Azerbaijan naturally, could not resist the attack of the Russian army.

It is true that, there were other reasons, too. Absence of a necessary unity inside the republic, conflicts and various processes weakened the foundation of the state. I think that even if the foundations of this state had not weakened, anyway it could have not resisted the dissemination of the Soviet, communistic ideology.

The next 70 years of Azerbaijan in XX century was the period of the Soviet power.

These years became for our people, our nation the years of tragedies, losses, deprivations on the one hand and on the other hand, they played a positive role in the education, formation, development of our people, in the creation of a great economic potential in Azerbaijan, in the integration of our people into the spiritual values of the world. To tell the truth, we were not independent. However, it is necessary to note such a fact that the communistic ideology dominated in the world and, particularly, in the territory of Russia, and as many people lived in the empire in critical conditions, a new system, socialist system, communistic system became attractive for the people in some degree. For this reason people endured various tragedies, deprivations - not only in Azerbaijan, but in all the former USSR, at the same time, as I have already told, they achieved great successes. Thus, if Azerbaijan due to activity of the thinkers in the beginning of XX century displayed interest in secular values, and secular values were already distributed in Azerbaijan, this process intensified the next years.

Thus, granting freedom to women, taking off the veil of the Azerbaijani woman became a great historical event. It was a great historical event irrespective of the structure and political-economical system in which Azerbaijan lived. Or the development of culture and raise of this culture in to the level of a high secular culture of the most advanced European countries were also our success in XX century.

Thus, this inconsistent period of 70 years, brought disasters, tragedies, deprivations to people of Azerbaijan, on the one hand and created conditions for the development of our people on the other hand. That was why, at the end of XX century the Republic of Azerbaijan became a country with high culture, higher and mass education.

The Republic of Azerbaijan became a country with a powerful economic potential, high intellectual potential. However, aspiration for an independent life, desire to live in conditions of democracy on secular values began to grow in people gradually.

As a result of political and economic processes in the world and in the Soviet Union at the end of XX century, the USSR collapsed, because of it, Azerbaijan simultaneously with other union republics of the USSR had an opportunity to declare independence.

To tell the truth, in those years, for example, at the beginning of 1990, we had many people living with the dream of independence. But those who did not understand it, wanted to live in structure of the USSR, they were more. I recollect the discussion which took place in March, 1991 at the session of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan. The discussion took place in the period of the USSR, the leaders were making attempts to save the Union, tried various ways to save it and to achieve it was decided to conduct a referendum in March. And each union republic had to state the results of the referendum. On March 7, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan discussed this question. Imagine, after hot discussions only 45 or 46 out of 350 deputies supported the declaration of independence at voting. The most part, it is possible to tell, about 300 deputies voted for the integrity of the USSR. It is strange, but also a reality.

Thus, for the first time declaration of independence in Azerbaijan in 1918 and creation of a democratic republic for an independent life took place in the heaviest and most difficult conditions. The people who proclaimed the independence of Azerbaijan, created a democratic republic and remained faithful to it up to the end, are the best, most outstanding citizens of Azerbaijan. The heads of the democratic republic Mammadamin Rasul-zade, Alimardan bey Topchubashov, Fatali khan Khojsky, Nasib bey Yusufbeyly, their colleagues and people who fought for independence in those years and worked in the government, will never be forgotten by the Azerbaijan people. They have gone into the history of Azerbaijan as great and valuable persons.

But unlike the independence of 1918, when Azerbaijan declared its independence, it is possible to say that in 1991 it was presented to the leadership on a tray, and they were still thinking whether we should be the independent or not. However, the history gave an answer to all these questions. The USSR collapsed, and its disintegration became a historical necessity. As a result of the collapse of the USSR Azerbaijan declared its independence. In spite of the fact that people not inclined to this independence or desired it, they resisted but could not achieve anything.

On October 18, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan adopted the Constitutional Act on the independence of Azerbaijan. This date became the day of the beginning of the independence of Azerbaijan. And though some people in Azerbaijan still are waiting for return of the USSR. I have all reasons to speak about it, because if the Constitutional Act on the independence on October 18 was adopted, it means, it that was necessary to hold a referendum immediately. But, the referendum was appointed only to December 29, 1991. However, on December 29 the USSR did not exist any more. The leadership of the USSR and the then president Michael Gorbachev already resigned, and the USSR disintegrated.

Speaking about it, I want to tell that our people since the beginning of the century in the person of the advanced intelligentsia, thinkers dreamed of the national freedom, independence. However, unfortunately, during this period people who benefitted from the Soviet power and not capable to think of the future of the people, did not make use at the chance in 1991 when such an opportunity appeared, even refused it. But because of the course of history, processes which developed so promptly nobody could resist them. Today with a feeling of boundless pride we can tell that at the end of the century, despite all the difficulties, obstacles, Azerbaijan found its state independence.

This year it is the10-th anniversary of declaration of the state independence of Azerbaijan. In October we shall celebrate the decade of this historical event. I have issued a special decree on this occasion. The plan of various activities has been prepared, and we should prepare ourselves seriously for celebrating the10-th anniversary and should show once more that despite all the difficulties, the Azerbaijan people have lived independently in these10 years and as well as henceforth will live independently.

The destiny of our people in a number of stages of history was very difficult and complicated. From this point of view, when it gained the state independence, it suffered great difficulties. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh started with a territorial claims to Azerbaijan, it created hard ships for our country since 1988. There was a war. Azerbaijan did not rule Nagorno-Karabakh anymore. Some districts around Nagorno-Karabakh were occupied. Naturally, in such circumstances our people had to mobilize the forces in two directions. First, to stop the aggression of Armenia, to protect our lands, to preserve the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and second, to strengthen the independence. However, unfortunately, in those years successes were not achieved in both directions, on the contrary, we faced very negative events as a result of the huge damages to Azerbaijan. It was necessary to unite the people in order to prevent the aggression of Armenia.

To tell the truth, then Azerbaijan had not a regular army. However the patriots were determined to defend our lands, the territory of Azerbaijan. It was necessary to use it effectively. However it was not done, because various groups, forces, as well as persons, in power fought to remain in their posts, and others using an opportunity wanted to come to power. And as a result, instead of uniting and mobilizing for the defence of the Azerbaijani lands, all separate armed groups which served various forces, did not serve the interests of the country and the to their own forces, and aggressors of Armenia very skillfully took advantage of it.

In those years there were fierce battles. Heroic, brave sons of Azerbaijan fought for the defence of our territory, the native lands, shed blood, were killed, became martyrs till the achievement of cease-fire regime in front in the May of 1994.

Today, celebrating the independence of Azerbaijan, we must commemorate the people who fought, become martyrs for the sake of territorial integrity of our republic, independence of our country. I ask all to stand up and to commemorate them with a minute of silence. May they rest in peace!

The ten year – period of independence of Azerbaijan consists of several stages as well. I can tell that unlike other union republics of the former USSR and the majority of republics, which simultaneously gat independence with us, Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence in very complicated conditions and started to live as an independent state.

I noted that there were two reasons. First, aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and the necessary repulse not been given to this, occupation of a part of the territory of Azerbaijan, and second, - political in stability inside Azerbaijan and struggle of various forces for power. In the first years of independence some forces not only wanted to strengthen, develop the independence of Azerbaijan, on the contrary, they created conditions for the loss of independence of Azerbaijan, the young independent state. They could not satisfy the desire of people, that is, the desire to live in the independent state. All this led Azerbaijan to great tragedies. In those years struggle for power went so intensively, that the administration changed five-six times from 1988 to 1993 in the country.

A civil war broke out in 1993 in Azerbaijan. The threat of splinter appeared in the country. The life in the republic aggravated. And consequently since the declaration of independence and till 1993, it is possible to say that, there was not an opportunity to organize Azerbaijan as the independent state, to create its state institutions and to use independence. And then again we suffered hardships. It was difficult to prevent the civil war which started in 1993, to escape the danger of the splinter of Azerbaijan. People, perhaps, forget it with the laps of time. But we prevented all this, this danger and we gradually started to establish political stability in Azerbaijan. Thus, we started to create the state structures of the independent country.

However, we were not given an opportunity to do it. You remember the attempt of the armed coup against the administration of Azerbaijan in October, 1994. The unity and the will of the people prevented this threat and enabled Azerbaijan to live as anindependent state.

In general those years Azerbaijan was delivered a blow not only from the inside of the country as a result of the struggle of various forces for power, but also by some external forces who did not want the independence of our country, seeing our republic as the independent state which in the future would possess the big opportunities, delivered various blows. Therefore these destructive forces both inside, and outside of the country, who pursued the purpose to destroy, splinter Azerbaijan and to use our republic, for their own purposes created this strained situation in Azerbaijan.

Yes, during the events of October in 1994 we faced such a phenomenon. A little later, a bitter struggle of the personnel of the former police detachment for a special assignment for power in the March events of 1995 and its relations with a number of political parties and foreign intelligence services threatened the fake of Azerbaijan seriously. We prevented it as well. The next number of diversions, acts of terrorism, naturally, pursued the purpose of weakening the administration of Azerbaijan, violate its internal political stability. But we prevented all of them.

Thus, if we are going to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the independence of Azerbaijan, it is necessary to divide these ten years into two periods. The first period covers the years after the declaration of independence, i.e.,1995-1996, when the independence in Azerbaijan saved, and all attempts, provocations both inside and outside directed against our independence were prevented. The second period the establishment of political stability in Azerbaijan after the prevention of all attempts of overthrow and the intensive realization of the tasks of the independent state.

Thus, it is possible to say that we lost five of the ten years of our independence. However despite the losses, our main achievement is that after having overcome all the difficulties, we prevented all dangers, protected, preserved our independence and now we develop it.

I have already told that declaration of independence in 1991 was simple very easy because it event was caused by a historical necessity. The USSR collapsed, and whether you wish it or not, it was necessary to determine the destiny of the republic. And there was no other way except independence. However, it was more difficult to protect, preserve this independence than to find it.

It was the same in 1918. Due to the birth of developed historical conditions our country, created the first democratic republic in Azerbaijan, declared its independence. It was a great historical event. But it could not preserve the independence to the end. I have already told that the Soviet power of that time was very strong and did not allowed it. If we compare the, independence gained as a result of historical necessity in 1991, it was also a great historical event for Azerbaijani people. But, to protect, preserve and develop this independence and make it live more than ten years in conditions of independence considerably, are incomparably more difficult.

We overcame all these difficulties, prevented all these obstacles, gave a worthy repulse to all the enemies of Azerbaijan, preserved the independence of our country, rescued Azerbaijan from threat of splinter, we develop and we will develop the independence of Azerbaijan henceforth.

Work on the creation of institutes of our independent state began since 1994-1995. As you know, in 1995 we adopted the first democratic Constitution, conducted elections to the Parliament in democratic conditions. We have started the process of the construction of our independent state, our country. Our way of the state construction process is known: to build a democratic, legal, secular state in Azerbaijan. From the very beginning we have chosen this way, we go and follow it consistently. If we in due time declared it, proclaimed it, I think that in itself it is consistent to the interests of our people. However, if we have put into practice these in our statements and despite all difficulties, we achieve successes, then there is already a process of a legal, democratic, secular state building, this state has been created, constructed. It, naturally, is much more valuable than the statements we made 5, 6, 7 years ago.

Much has been done in these years. And all work is and will be carried out in future within the framework of the concept of construction a legal, democratic, secular state in Azerbaijan. For this purpose we conduct necessary reforms in various fields, it is possible to say that, in all the fields of our life. We adopt necessary laws, codes for this purpose. We have already adopted many laws, codes of historical value, that they created a basis for providing the state construction in all the spheres of Azerbaijan.

Our reforms, as I have already said, are being conducted in all the spheres. It is natural that, first of all, we had to make changes in economy, that is, to strenghten economy, because economy is the basis of everything. When Azerbaijan gained independence, it possessed very powerful economic potentials. Among 15 union republics the then USSR, only Azerbaijan and Russia were capable to provide themselves. But, unfortunately, since 1988-1989, the destructive processes going on in Azerbaijan delivered a strong blow on the economy of our country. When our country gained independence and in the years which followed the economy of Azerbaijan not only was not developing, but suffering a recession year after year. And consequently we had to prevent this recession. And it was a hard question because many things have been destroyed. We could prevent the recession of economy only in 1995. Since 1996 in Azerbaijan development of economy began. Today with a feeling of profound pride I note that the economy of Azerbaijan in all the spheres is developing, and the created base is a foundation for the future development.

Naturally, it was necessary, to conduct great organizational work and also economic reforms to realize all this. We have done it. We conducted a land reform, transfered the land to the ownership of peasants, implemented the program of privatization and created opportunities for business, created maximal conditions for the businessmen, peasants who received the land for cultivation, all this provided the gradual development of economy.

I want to draw to your attention to some figures in order to confirm what I said.

If in 1991-1994 the total gross domestic product in Azerbaijan, which is the basic parameter of economy, on the average decreased for 20-25 percent per year, as a result of the work done by us since 1996 till 2000 it has increased for 39 percent. Imagine, we have prevented this recession, created stability in economy, then provided its development year after year, and only for 5 years the total gross domestic product has increased 39 percent. People who understand the notion of economy, know well what it means.

Azerbaijan had a great industrial potential. Unfortunately, its main part was destroyed. If some of it was connected with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, infringement of integration communications of separate enterprises with other regions of the former USSR, the most part of it was connected simply with the enterprises left on an arbitrariness of destiny and their opportunity was not used effectively. I want to confirm it in figures again. In 1991-1994 the average production of industrial produce reduced for 20-24 percent. We have prevented it. In 1996 we managed to prevent the recession, created stability in industrial production. Since 1996 till 2000 industrial products in Azerbaijan increased 13, 4 percent. You know, it is a significant parameter in our situation.

Agriculture forms an important part of our economy. It was like that in the past and it is the same today, and probably, it will be the same in the future too. Such parity will continue, because 50 percent of the population lives in the country and is engaged in agriculture.

In 1991-1994 production of agricultural products decreased every year in the average for 15-20 percent. We prevented it. And in 1996-2000 after the prevention of recession, production of agricultural products began to grow year after year and within five years the general growth was 19 percent. It is the result of the implementation of land reform in Azerbaijan, which started since 1995-1996. I can say that some of the countries, and probably, the majority of the republics of the former USSR, member of Commonwealth of Independent States, have not yet conducted out land reform till now. We liquidated 1300 collective and state farms. And some republics still have collective farms, and state farms, and a public property. We have undertaken very courageous steps. However, we achieved such figures not only it. We assisted the land owners. Finally, two years ago, we released the people engaged in the production of agricultural products, that is, the lands owners, manufacturers from all taxes, except the taxes for the land.

You know, it is not an easy problem. By, undertaking such a courageous step, we pursued the purpose to give an opportunity to the peasant to use the received land. If he still experiences difficulties individually to use the land, on the one hand, cannot find a tractor, and other machines, on the other hand - the tax should be paid - then his work will not produce desirable result. And consequently we cancelled all the taxes.

Let the citizens working in agriculture know that we shall assist the farmers, all the owners of lands engaged in agriculture in the future.

Growth is observed in the all branches of our agriculture. I spoke about it repeatedly. The majority sitting here in the hall, probably, remember it, including me. When I headed Azerbaijan in 1980-1981-1982, meat, oil were sold to the population with coupons. Why we did it? because we producted cotton, grapes and so on, and sent then to the USSR. Then in the USSR there was a was a kind of specialization. Ukraine, Belarus had to send us cattle-breeding products - meat, butter, milk, and other products had to be sent to us. But all was sent insufficiently, private formers did not existed as well. And the private cattle of people, naturally, could not provided all the population of Azerbaijan. And consequently we lived in such conditions. But now the livestock has grown, meat in Azerbaijan is inexpensive - naturally, in comparison with other places. We already do not have a need to import animal products from any country.

When we conducted reforms, we paid a special attention to the liberalization in all spheres. It created a basis for our reforms. Therefore we have achieved good results. For example, the foreign trade turnover in 1993 was 1 billion 300 million dollars, in 1994 - 1 billion 400 million dollars. And in 2000 it was 2 billion 900 million dollars. Imagine, in 1993 it was one billion 300 million dollars, and in 2000 two billion 900 million dollars, that is, approximately 3 billion dollars. I want to note one more very important question. Export of goods last year for the first time was more than the import in the foreign trade turnover of Azerbaijan. That is the internal production in Azerbaijan already enables for an output on the world markets, thus simultaneously internal manufacture provides both the country and export goods to the markets of other countries at the same time. And consequently there is already not such a need for import, that is, for the goods from abroad.

I think that one of the bases of our achievements in economy is the oil strategy of Azerbaijan. You know that since 1994 we developed and started to put into practice the oil strategy of Azerbaijan. Today I say with a feeling of pride that we have laid the basis of the use of huge natural researches – oil and gas in the Azerbaijan Sector of the Caspian Sea for the world. In 1994 we signed the first contract. Then we signed other contracts.

Now 21 contracts have been signed, 32 big oil companies of the world take part in these contracts together with us. All this together has brought foreign investments of 5, 8 - 6 billion dollars till 2000.

We already get oil from our first contract, take incomes. We have the Oil Fund of the country. It has already accumulated 360 million dollars. I want to declare to all the Azerbaijani people that the Oil Fund is under the control of the President and if anything is spent from this Fund for any purpose, everything will be made transparentey and all the people will be informed of it. But my purpose is to receive incomes from other fields in order to keep the Oil Fund, which will increase year after year, for the future generations of Azerbaijan.

Now foreign currency reserve of Azerbaijan is one billion dollars. However, in 1994 the foreign currency reserve of Azerbaijan was 10 million dollars. Imagine, 10 million dollars have turned to one billion dollars. How many times has it increased? Hundred times. Within a short time. What is its reason? It is as the result of the economic policy conducted correctly by us, and along with it, protection and preservation of the wealth, especially of the currency of Azerbaijan.

One of the major factors of the development of our economy and improvement of the well-fare of the people is the prevention of inflation by us.

In 1994 inflation in Azerbaijan was 1600-1800 percent. It means that the rate of the Azerbaijani manat fell every day, and thus, the salary received by the citizens of Azerbaijan, or their other earnings did not give an opportunity to get enough goods. We prevented it, and year after year reduced the rate of inflation. I said that inflation in 1994 was 1600-1800 percent, since 1996 it has been prevented, and now its rate is only 2 percent. In these years we did not have any economic crisis.

You see, the economic crisis, inflation exists in some other countries of the world which affects the material, financial position of people. We paid attention to this question, we bridled inflation, and inflation in Azerbaijan does not exist already many years since 1996. What does it mean? It means that the rate of manat in comparison to dollar has stabilized, prices of consumer goods have not grown, but fallen. The purchasing capacity of our citizens has grown.

The reforms conducted in all the branches of economy - both in agriculture, and in industry, in trade, and in other areas, - have already provided the development of the private sector in Azerbaijan. Today the share of the private sector in the production of total gross domestic product in Azerbaijan is 68 percent, 44 percent of the industrial production has been produced in a private sector. 99 percent of an agricultural production, 99 percent of trade, 64 percent of construction, 54 percent of freight transportation, 83 percent of passenger transportation belong to the private sector. What does the private sector mean? People are owners of the property, they do every possible work, on the one hand, serve people, increase production in Azerbaijan, and on the other hand, improve their own welfare and thato of the workers working with them.

The volume of the state budget in Azerbaijan grows every year. Thus, the state budget in Azerbaijan in 1994 was 682 billion mantas, in 2001 it increased 6, 7 times. In 1995-2000 expenses of a social orientation of the state budget increased for 2, 8 times. As you know, in the recent years the salaries of all workers financed from the budget, raised for many times, and I declare to you that they will be increased in the future, too.

In Azerbaijan pension sand, wages are paid in due time. However, in many countries, I mean the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, people cannot receive their wages for 10-15 months. In our country I am informed at the end of every month on the payment of pensions and wages. In some cases at the end of month it was impossible, but in 10-15-20 days they were paid or, after the beginning of the next month. Such cases happen. But, as they say it, is not such a big trouble. It is a trouble when the person cannot receive his salary for 15 months. And if it happens in important spheres of the state. The condition is like that in our southern-Caucasian countries. It is the same in a number of other countries.

The average monthly wages have increased. The sum of average monthly pensions has increased. Since 1998 I raise the sum of money paid for food for refugees. Within three years it has increased in 3, 5 times. Today I declare that it will be raised in future as well.

Probably, on this solemn day of the holiday there is not a necessity to load your minds with these figures. But you must know about it. You must know the real situation. Everything is better seen in by comparison. Speaking about it, I am not going to confirm that everything in Azerbaijan is fine. I always tell the truth, I tell it now and shall do it henceforth.

Along with the achievements in our work on all the levels there are a lot of shortcomings. The successes achieved by us, reforms conducted for the present have not allowed raising the welfare of all the population of Azerbaijan to a due level. The number of poor is not so small. Now we prepare a program for thw reduction of poverty together with international organizations. We prepare other programs, too.

However, as I have already said, we have lost five of the ten years of our independence, but in the recent five years have achieved these successes. I cannot appreciate it satisfactory and be content with it. I think that we have great duties to be performed for our people, citizens of Azerbaijan. Our duty is to use all the opportunities of economy of Azerbaijan to improve welfare of people more. We must normalize the life of people living in hard financial conditions. We shall do all this, the natural resources and other economic potentials of Azerbaijan have good opportunities for it. We shall effectively take advantage of these opportunities, the economy of Azerbaijan will develop year after year, and welfare of people will improve. We shall make it because I, President of Azerbaijan, understand the responsibility before the people.

My purpose, meaning and content of my life are to serve the people and achieve practical results in serving system.

We have conducted reforms in the state construction, in other spheres. These reforms, on the one hand, have created opportunities for our citizens to live freely, independently, and on the other hand, they have provided the elimination of many bureaucratic obstacles.

As you know, democracy in Azerbaijan gradually and, consistently develops. People have all freedoms given to people. Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religious - all freedoms have been. Each citizen is free.

In Azerbaijan political pluralism has been provided. Probably, in our country massmedia is the most free. If today I am asked what is abundant in Azerbaijan, I can answer: newspapers their number increase every day, the lies and slanders published in the majority of these newspapers – are also increasing.

Recollecting the past, in some cases the people ask: why are such things allowed? Why does Heydar Aliyev allow it? In some cases they write articles about our officials – unfair things. The official comes to me and says: look, they have written such and such things. I ask him: how many times have they written about you? He answers: twice, thrice. And how many times have they written about me? Every day. Is it fair? It is unfair. I do not want to say that the people working in our state structures, are completely honest. They have shortcomings, some of them has a lot of. Now we conduct structural changes in Azerbaijan aimed at the improvement of governance in Azerbaijan.

Now we merge many ministries, committees and others in Azerbaijan. It will lead to a certain reduction, it displeases some people. But what to do? If such a discontent will arise in people, who lose their jobs, more people suffer from the bureaucratic obstacles, from the officials of these organizations duplicating each other in various instances, it harms and, naturally displeases them. Now they will be dissatisfied with the reduction. However, I believe that our structural changes and improvement of government will prevent bureaucratism, bribery in the state bodies of Azerbaijan, strengthen the struggle against corruption. Thus, in this sphere we shall approach to the world standards.

Legal reforms conducted in Azerbaijan are of great significance. Corresponding laws concerning the judicial system, prosecutors, police, Ministry of Internal Affairs, other law enforcement-bodies have been adopted, and all these laws correspond to international standards. Each adopted law is preliminary examined by international organizations, their opinion is taken into account, and only then we pass these laws.

We have passed laws. It has created a good basis. However, now it is necessary that all the law enforcement bodies to carry out these laws, build their activity only inconfirmity with these laws. They must not violate the law, on the contrary, they must stand on guard of the law, ensure the command of law.

At the beginning of this year Azerbaijan became full membership of the Council of Europe. As you know, within several years we took part in this organization in the capacity of a visitor. There was a process of admission to this international organization. I must tell you that any country which has joined the Council of Europe, didn`t face such quantity of obstacles as Azerbaijan. The countries which supported Armenia in the conflict with us opposed the admission of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe. And not only they, but some others as well. For example, some wanted to admit Armenia and Azerbaijan simultaneously. They said that Armenia was ready for the admission to the Council of Europe, but to delay it in order to make Azerbaijan catch up with Armenia and be ready for admission together. Why? I do not know, has Azerbaijan violated the human rights, was there no democracy and so on - ?

I told many times, probably, you have seen it on TV, - violation of human rights, is naturally, an intolerant fact in the civil society, civilized countries. If someone`s rights in Azerbaijan are violated, it should be prevented. But Armenia with its military aggression has violated the rights of one million people, occupied the Azerbaijani lands, and these people for 8-9 years live in critical conditions, in tents, and do you really think that, human rights are not violated in Armenia, are they violated in Azerbaijan? Is such an injustice acceptable?

There are double standards in the world.

Dear compatriots!

Dear friends!

Overcoming all these double standards, proving the fairness of our work, we pursue this democratic road and shall pursue it hence. And as a result of it, Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe. This is a historical event, I congratulate you on this event cordially once more.

One of the basic aspects in state construction of Azerbaijan is creation of a strong army. I have repeatedly said and today I declare: we do not want to attack any state. We build mutually advantageous friendly relations and co-operation with all the states of the world and we shall continue it henceforth. We have great successes in this issue. Azerbaijan has already occupied its place in the world community, in international organizations and is able to tell its word everywhere, to advance its demands. On the one hand Azerbaijan, has been subjected to the aggressions of Armenia, and on the other hand, for the protection of its territories, its interests not only today, but also in future, it must have a strong army.

Today I declare to you that if five years have out of the ten years of our independence five years were last in the construction of army, the second period, in the second five-years sufficient work was done for construction of army in Azerbaijan, and now in our country there is a regular, strong army. We have soldiers, officers, national army capable to defend the lands and interests of Azerbaijan.

Dear compatriots, if we had not been subjected to the aggression of Armenia, we would have gained much more achievements. It is a reality that Azerbaijan suffered huge damages since 1988 when Armenia claimed to the territory of Azerbaijan, 20 percent of the lands of Azerbaijan were occupied. Over one million of our citizens have become refugees. As I have noted, in fierce battles we have lost very worthy people, youth. However, all this has not provided the protection and preservation of the Azerbaijani lands. And consequently in May, 1994 with the mutual consent of both parties - Armenia, and Azerbaijan – a ceasefire was achieved. In the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict the regime of cease-fire is being observed for seven years. It is a positive fact, unlike in other conflicts in other countries of the world in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict the regime of cease-fire is observed only due to the will of these two countries. That is, there is no other forces dividing us from each other or maintaining the regime of cease-fire. It shows that Armenia is also interested in the settlement of the conflict peacefully. And, since 1994 and up to this day, we support the peaceful resolution of the conflict and today I support it as well.

You know that the Minsk Group is engaged in the solution of this conflict. 90 percent of negotiations on the conflict has been held by me - if we count the number of the meeting, I can say that I have met them hundreds of times, perhaps, thousands of times, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, their representatives, heads of international organizations, heads of various countries, all my meetings have been devoted to the liquidation of the Armenian -Azerbaijan conflict, occupation of the Azerbaijan lands, restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. However, the reality is that Armenia has occupied the Azerbaijani lands and from the very beginning it pursued the purpose of attaching Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Using the superiority of its position Armenia does not want to make compromises.

Last negotiations were devoted to concession of the parties. In some cases we reached an agreement, but in some cases we could not reach it. And consequently the questions remain unsolved. You know that we held our last meeting on the initiative of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group and America on Key-West Island of USA Florida State. We stayed there for some days. This meeting differed from the previous ones, the co-chairmen very seriously considered this issue. Co-chairmen - Russia, the United States of America and also France really wanted to settle this conflict. However, the Key-West negotiations did not produce any result.

In spite of the fact that in the February in Parliament we held broad discussions, spoke about the situation in negotiations, now in our country the opposition, separate forces, on the one hand, try to inspire the mood of war in public, and on the hand, being unaware of the events in the world, say that, it should be made so and so. Some people even, as they say, want to conduct a kind of pill among the population to find out who supports war and who does not. You know, all this is not peculiar to our state and society. But there is nothing to do, we have given freedom to everything. Both independent TVs and newspapers are free, and people are free. Everyone can speak what they want.

I have many times said that they could express their views. If we had not been able to do something, then tell your opinion, maybe it will be helpful. Recently some people say: it is necessary to wage a war, it is possible to return our lands only by war. These people should know that when it will be necessary, we are ready to wage a war and we are able to do it. But now there is no necessity for it.

It is those people, who try to win cheap glory, or some score. They say: "Let`s wage a war, liberate our lands". And it is those people, who have been inside the war since 1990, occupied various posts in the years of war and know what the war is. If you could wageb a war, why have not you prevented the occupation of the lands? Why have not you prevented it?

I have seen, heard on TV - some people say that the President of Armenia has disclosed his position, but the President of Azerbaijan has not. Should I explain my position every day? As the President of Azerbaijan, on April 3-4 in Key-West I expressed the position of Azerbaijan. I want to note that when we there, the State Department of the USA and the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group were against any statement, they said that they were to make find compromises, to come nearer to peace. And I demanded to make the statement known to you which has already been published in the press. They opposed it, did not give me an opportunity. And I raised the question very sharply that if I would not make this statement and if it would not be sounded on TV, and disseminated in the world, in our country, I would not participate in any negotiation. Only in this way I achieved to make this statement. This statement is known to you, there is no need to explain it. After all, what kind of statement should I do everyday?

That is the statement, and those are our principles. This statement has been published in our press. I can tell that after my statement a number of questions were published in the American press. It appeared from these articles that the principal reasons, stages of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict were not so known to these newspapers. Very positive articles were published there. And it made a great impression on the public opinion.

I repeat, I have made the statement. But every day I will not make statements. In spite of the fact that in Key-West we could not reach a consent but I think that the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group, that is the heads of the states, co-presiding in the Minsk Group, very closely contact and cooperate with each other, make efforts for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. We should use it and should try to solve the problem peacefully and reach it.

I believe that due to certain compromises it is possible to achieve it. You know, probably, some people have no necessary imagination about the compromises. Yes, if in this circumstance there are no compromises it will be impossible to reach peace. However, both parties make compromise. Compromises should be equal. I spoke about it in Key-West and in other places. And consequently you can be sure that as President of Azerbaijan I am engaged in these problems day and night and it is possible to tell, the most part of my time is devoted to this.

Last time when the co-chairmen came to Azerbaijan, they visited Agjabedi district and met refugees. From there, from the front line they arrived in Agdam, and saw Agdam, and other things. I think that all this proved once more to them that Azerbaijan was innocent and aggression was accomplished against our country. I think that in such way we can achieve the peaceful settlement of the question.

Thus, dear friends, today we sum up XX century. The road passed by the Azerbaijani people in XX century, should be deeply analyzed by researchers, scientists and fairly, correctly, objectively must be written about all. I think that the ten-year period of our independence must be analyzed, written very fairly and objectively. These are intended to be done in the preparation for the 10th anniversary. I address to all our citizens to do their best for this purpose. But all this, that is, strengthening, the independence, development of Azerbaijan now and in future must be based on national unity, solidarity in the country. Unfortunately, we cannot reach it in Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, separate people, living with the claims to power, do not render assistance to Azerbaijan in national interests of our people. On the contrary, they obstacle it. When we joined the Council of Europe, I said that a number of countries impeded us. Was it only countries? Opposition in Azerbaijan did their best to prevent the admission of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe. Why? If you really put national interests of Azerbaijan above all – whether you like or dislike somebody, you like the President or not, - there is the nation. Nobody can replace neither people, nor the nation. It is necessary to understand it. To tell the truth, when we were admitted to the Council of Europe, the forces in our delegation, some of them belong to opposition, cooperate within very effectively. It pleases me. I would like the cooperation in such small frameworks to become warm, widen cooperation every way in Azerbaijan for providing our national interests. I would like all to think of the consolidation of independence of Azerbaijan. I would like all think of the rescue of Azerbaijan from the occupation of Armenia, instead of their personal ambitions. They must not think of when they will come to power. Let they come when they can. But if they can…

I once again call our people, our nation, our citizens, political forces in Azerbaijan to unity, solidarity in the name of the present day and future of Azerbaijan.

Once again I declare that overcoming all these tests, difficulties the present administration of Azerbaijan is able to cope with any arising difficulty henceforth, and we shall lead Azerbaijan consistently forward on the way of democracy, defend the independence of our country as the apple of our eye, make independence of Azerbaijan eternal, irreversible.

Once more I cordially I congratulate all the citizens of Azerbaijan on this holiday.

I congratulate heartily the soldiers of Azerbaijan, worthy officers of our national army, all its staff standing on guard of our republic, boundaries and front line.

Once more I congratulate the families of martyrs, invalids of war and all the Azerbaijan people.

You can be sure that the rudder of Azerbaijan is in reliable hands. You can be sure that our independence will live forever! Long live, long live independent Azerbaijan!