Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.1 / Trend /
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulated Azerbaijani people on the occasion of Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and New Year.
"Dear ladies and gentlemen! Dear compatriots!
I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year.
Year 2011 is being consigned to history. It has been a successful year for our country. The key issues facing the country in 2011 have been resolved. Azerbaijan has secured a successful economic development. It is gratifying that the non-oil sector of our economy has substantially expanded. Our non-oil economy has grown more than 10 per cent, which is evidence of the reforms conducted in previous years.
All sectors of our economy are developing. Extensive creative and landscaping work is under way in the country. Azerbaijan is invigorating its positions in the region. Our economic development statistics are very positive. The country's currency reserves are growing. We already have over $40 billion of currency reserves. Billions of dollars in investment are channeled in the national economy and this process is ongoing. The volume of investment is growing by the year.
Our districts are developing successfully. This year, up to 100,000 jobs have been created. Overall, more than one million jobs have been created in the last eight years, the vast majority of which have been permanent. Population incomes have increased 20 per cent. The level of inflation is under 8 per cent. The level of poverty is falling. At the end of 2011, the level of poverty will be below 8 per cent. The unemployment rate is decreasing. The rate of unemployment in Azerbaijan is 5.5 per cent. All these indicators suggest that our country is developing successfully and dynamically. Despite the negative developments unfolding in world and European economies, Azerbaijan is moving forward confidently. All social issues are being resolved. This year, the average pensions of about 900,000 people have been raised by approximately 40 per cent. The minimum wage was also raised on 1 December.
Other social programs are under way. Schools, hospitals and sports centers are built. In other words, Azerbaijan is experiencing all-round and dynamic development. Political reforms are well under way. Democracy is successfully developing. Specific steps are taken to modernize the country. We are vigorously fighting corruption and bribery and seeing excellent results of this fight. It should be even more focused and vigorous in the coming years. All the necessary orders have been issued. In short, we are building a modern state. We are building a modern, secular state confident of the future on the basis of deep national and spiritual values and roots.
The problem worrying us the most is the unresolved status of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is stepping up its efforts in all countries, especially in the recent period. But as you know, a solution of this issue depends not only on us.
Unfortunately, Armenia's non-constructive stance, its hypocrisy in the negotiations and the practical defiance of talks have dealt a serious blow to the process. Unfortunately, the world community and the countries directly dealing with the issue are shying away from naming the party responsible for disrupting the talks.
There are positive statements. We are hearing and supporting these statements. In particular, this year's novelty has been a repeated indication by co-chairs that the status-quo is unacceptable. We support these statements. But statements should be followed by specific steps. Unfortunately, these steps are not taken.
We will continue our diplomatic and political efforts. We have a principled stance in the negotiations. We will not back down a single step from it. Nagorno-Karabakh is native and historical Azerbaijani land. The international community and the United Nations recognize and support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. The international community views Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. The conflict must be resolved precisely on these principles. The territorial integrity of our country must be restored. Occupying forces must withdraw from all our occupied territories. Azerbaijani citizens must be able to return to occupied territories, including Nagorno-Karabakh and Shusha. Only then can a lasting peace be established. We will never tolerate a second Armenian state on native Azerbaijani lands. This is our principled position. I want to reiterate that this position is based on history, international law and justice.
At the same time, as is the case in the economic sphere, we are conducting all-round reforms in the military area. Our military strength and potential are growing. In 2011, our military expenditure exceeded $3 billion. This is more than Armenia's total expenditure. Next year our military expenditure will increase further. The latest weaponry, hardware, warplanes, helicopter gunships and ammunition are and will be brought to Azerbaijan. In addition, more than 600 types of military products are manufactured in Azerbaijan through the Ministry of Defense Industry which was established several years ago.
We will continue doing our utmost to strengthen our military potential in the future. Our current military potential enables us to free our native lands from occupiers at any time. We simply haven't lost hope in the negotiations and for the time being these negotiations should be continued.
In 2011, our country achieved great successes in the highly important energy sector. Azerbaijan has managed to further reinforce its positions. Earlier this year, the European Union and Azerbaijan signed a very important declaration on strategic cooperation. Azerbaijan is already viewed as a country capable of supplying Europe with energy, in particular natural gas. Our opportunities are growing.
The new gas fields discovered this year and those discovered last year have substantially bolstered our gas potential. We will have our say in the world as a gas nation for many years to come.
All the necessary transit agreements were signed in 2011. We now have the opportunity to transport Azerbaijani gas to world markets through various routes. I think major investment must be made in our immense gas fields in 2012. Our gas potential will prove to be a highly important asset for our country in a matter of several years.
There is development in other sectors of the economy. Agriculture, industrial production and the non-oil sector are growing. Additionally, humanitarian issues were also successfully dealt with in 2011. Azerbaijan has asserted itself in the world as a tolerant state. The First International Humanitarian Forum was held in Baku this year. All forum participants have left Azerbaijan with wonderful impressions. Azerbaijan's rare experience, the experience of conducting an inter-religious, interethnic dialogue and the dialogue between civilizations, is of great interest to the world. Of course, our positive experience, the great atmosphere in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani society, the fact that representatives of all nationalities and confessions live like one family in Azerbaijan are a rare phenomenon in the present-day world. Unfortunately, discrimination, mutual distrust and apathy trends are becoming increasingly widespread in different parts of the world and on different continents. These are very dangerous trends. Azerbaijan's positive experience must be studied and, in a broader sense, other countries should take advantage of it.
A very important event for country occurred in 2011. Azerbaijan has been elected to the UN Security Council for the first time. This is a major historic victory. I think that this is our biggest victory in the 20 years of independence. We have earned the confidence of the whole world in a difficult struggle. From the very first to the last round of voting Azerbaijan was in the lead. As a result, a total of 155 countries of the world voted for Azerbaijan, showed their confidence in us and supported our policies. There is great confidence and respect for Azerbaijan. Our policies enjoy support. Because our policies are based on justice. Our policies are independent. I have repeatedly stated in the last eight years that Azerbaijan is pursuing independent policies. Azerbaijan has a road of its own. This is a road of development, progress and democracy. This road has been chosen by the Azerbaijani people. All our steps proceed from the interests of the Azerbaijani people.
Underlying all our work are the interests of Azerbaijani citizens and Azerbaijan. We have achieved great successes in the area of state building. The whole world now supports Azerbaijan. When we say the international community, the first thing that comes to mind is the United Nations. Because this is the international community. The opinion of the international community is not the opinion of a small organization, a regional group or an NGO. The opinion of the international community is the opinion of the UN, the opinion of 155 countries. This support and confidence inspire us even more. We will be defending the principles of justice in the Security Council for the next two years.
This year we have celebrated the 20th anniversary of the restoration of our independence. There have been difficult and great days in the 20 years. And there have been more great days. I am absolutely sure that there are only great days in store for us in the future. Azerbaijan will continue to develop and grow stronger. The 20 years of independence have shown that the people of Azerbaijan can live as an independent nation and live well. The state of Azerbaijan has asserted itself in the region as a stabilizing factor. No projects can be implemented in the region without Azerbaijan's participation. The experience of recent years has shown this yet again. Azerbaijan is reckoned with in the economic, energy, political, diplomatic and regional cooperation matters. We have achieved this ourselves and we must protect this achievement. We must and we will protect our country."
President Aliyev also spread congratulations on the occasion of Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis.
It is also the Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the World today. I would like to send my greetings to all Azerbaijanis of the world and express my regards and love for them. The people of Azerbaijan is a great nation. We have a great history and a bright future.
All Azerbaijanis of the world know that there is an independent and strong Azerbaijani state on the world map, a state that always thinks about its compatriots, shares their problems and does its best to ensure their well-being. I would like to congratulate all Azerbaijanis of the world on this remarkable holiday.
We are entering 2012. I am confident that our country will continue to succeed in 2012. I would like to repeat that underlying all our work are the citizens of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani families.
I wish all our citizens, all the people of Azerbaijan good health, happiness and well-being.