To the First Congress of the Azerbaijani Journalists - March 15, 2003

Distinguished members of the press and representatives of the journalistic community!

I cordially welcome you at the republican forum of the Azerbaijani journalists. I wish successes to the work of the Congress.

In the age of globalization and information the value of free speech and press grows increasingly. Having the progressive traditions, national and universal values, the Azerbaijani press, as an important tool of democracy and transparency, now plays a crucial role in building an independent state and a free civil society. It is necessary to note that the achievements of the Azerbaijani press expressing the aspirations of our people for freedom, its ideals of independence, protection of national and spiritual values in making the topics public discussion.

The Azerbaijani government has taken measures aimed at consistent measures for ensuring freedom of speech and thought, for strengthening the material-technical base of media, creating a comprehensive environment for the members of press. Recently, several decrees and orders have been issued for raising the public concern for the media, providing the press with financial and tax incentives, for ensuring freedom of journalists to obtain information. The debts of newspapers to publishers have been delayed until 2005 and the government has started giving them loans on favorable terms. A democratic, liberal legislation has been created in the press. An extensive system of press and information has been formed in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of media, television and radio companies, news agencies, newspapers and magazines operate freely in the country. Today, Azerbaijan has refused the regulation of the press by the state. However, the practice shows that the press needs public regulation and self-civilized, democratic management relations like press and government, press and citizen, press and press. At the same time, a lot of work has been done for developing and strengthening the international standards of professional, unbiased and objective press in Azerbaijan in future.

I believe that the first Congress of Journalists of Azerbaijan and the decisions to be adopted here as a whole will be an important step for addressing the challenges of the society and major problems of journalism. The Press Council, where outstanding, objective and patriotic figures of the press and public will be represented, will form an authoritative structures for democracy and freedom of speech. . I wish successes to the work of the Congress once more; I express my most sincere wishes to journalists and press in Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev,
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan