President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani people will live in safety, and its well-being will improve every year
Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan 1
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Azerbaijani people on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and the New Year.
- Dear ladies and gentlemen!
My fellow countrymen!
2014 is being left in the past. 2014 was a successful year for our country. We have successfully completed all the tasks facing the country, provided for a dynamic development of our country and further strengthened our international position. Azerbaijan is recognized worldwide as a reliable partner and our influence opportunities are expanding.
As you know, in 2012-2013 Azerbaijan was represented in the world's most influential organization, the UN Security Council. We won this right with the support of 155 countries. And this year Azerbaijan chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, making a valuable contribution to the development of democracy and protection of human rights in Europe.
We have established equitable relations with all countries and have good cooperation with neighboring and all other countries. Our bilateral relations are developing. At the same time, Azerbaijan is playing a positive role in the multilateral format. In particular, Azerbaijan's role in regional development is also undeniable. Not a single project can be implemented in the region without the participation of Azerbaijan - be it political, economic, energy or any other.
In 2014 economic development was ensured. This is also very important because, as you know, the world is still undergoing a financial and economic crisis. Despite all this, the Azerbaijani economy is developing successfully, and this development is underpinned by our reforms. It is no coincidence that the world's most influential economic structure, the Davos World Economic Forum, ranks Azerbaijan in 38th place in terms of competitiveness. This is a great and historic achievement.
The development of the non-oil sector remains a priority for us. I am glad that this year our non-oil sector grew by almost 7 per cent. Investments worth $27 billion were made in the country's economy. This is also a very important event because there is a struggle for the attraction of investment in the world. In Azerbaijan, investments are at a high level. I am sure that it will also be the case next year.
The rate of poverty and unemployment is 5 per cent. This is a great indicator on a global scale. The foreign debt accounts for only 8 per cent of our gross domestic product. This is also a unique indicator. The macroeconomic situation is stable. Our foreign exchange reserves exceed $50 billion. The rate of the manat remains stable.
You are well aware that due to the decline in oil prices in the world, including our region, certain tensions are being experienced. Azerbaijan is an island of stability, a model country. Our country provides and will continue to provide both political and economic stability. The Azerbaijani people will live in safety, and the well-being of our people will improve every year.
The social policy has always been the main objective for us. This year, we invested heavily in the creation of the social infrastructure in Azerbaijan, built and repaired more than 60 medical institutions, 50 schools and kindergartens. I am sure that these positive developments will be continued next year as well.
In Azerbaijan, inflation is 1.4 per cent, and the growth of population incomes is about 5 per cent. The yearly increase of wages, pensions and social benefits, of course, improves the well-being of the people.
We are successfully addressing the problems of the internally displaced people - our compatriots who are in the most difficult situation. Every year more than 20,000 persons are provided with new homes. This year major funds were allocated for this purpose. We are gradually resolving this issue as well.
But unfortunately the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved this year either. The reason for this is the criminal and bloodthirsty regime of Armenia. Armenia does not want peace. All of its efforts are aimed either at not holding the negotiations or at conducting them for the sake of imitation. This year the mediators were more active - we have to acknowledge that. The leaders of Russia, USA and France held consecutive trilateral meetings in August, September and October. I appreciate that and am grateful to these countries. However, Armenia acted insincerely at these meetings. Moreover, less than two weeks after the Paris meeting it began a large-scale military exercise on occupied territories. The exercises pursued only one goal - to provoke Azerbaijan, to commit an act of sabotage and undermine the process of negotiations. We observed the same in the summer months when Armenian sabotage groups attacked Azerbaijani positions. But the Azerbaijani army gave them a fitting rebuff, killing more than 50 occupants. Similar events took place at the end of this year. And again, the Azerbaijani army gave an adequate response to the enemy. The occupying state should know that a strong Azerbaijani army may restore the territorial integrity of our country at any time. We still hope that the negotiating process can produce a positive result, and there are many factors enhancing this hope. We have political power, economic potential and a powerful army. Next year, about $5 billion will be spent on the development of our army, twice the total budget of the impoverished Armenia.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh can be resolved only on the basis of norms and principles of international law. UN Security Council resolutions must be implemented. The occupying forces must withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani lands and the territorial integrity of our country must be restored. These are the basic principles. On the basis of these principles we are ready to sign any agreement.
This year was declared the "Year of Industry" in Azerbaijan. As you know, our industrial capacity increases with every year. Azerbaijan has made tremendous progress in this area, and the work done in this area this year is no exception. Thus, this year we opened more than 230 new industrial enterprises, which had a positive effect on the elimination of unemployment and the development of our export potential. We are already providing ourselves with basic food commodities. We want to see a similar picture on the market of building materials, and we are getting closer to achieving this goal. As you know, this is the essence and the main objective of the state program on the socioeconomic development of regions.
At the same time, Azerbaijan has made significant investments in high technology, and this year became memorable in this regard. This year Azerbaijan acquired its second satellite. In November this satellite was handed over to Azerbaijan. So we have two satellites now: "Azerspace" and "Azersky". What makes "Azersky" special - only 20 countries in the world have such a satellite today - is that it observes the earth with high precision. Thus, we are fully providing for Azerbaijan's national interests, our security-related interests. At the same time, we are developing our space industry.
Serious fight is waged against corruption and bribery. A special role in this area belongs to the "ASAN xidmət" service. We have already created seven centers. 3.5 million applications have been made to these centers. "ASAN xidmət" plays a special role in the field of public services and in the fight against corruption and bribery. If we consider that this service was established only two years ago, we can see how much progress we have achieved. Serious fight against corruption and bribery will be waged in the future. We will apply penalties, administrative measures and systemic actions.
Azerbaijan is known worldwide as a center of multiculturalism. This year I signed an executive order on the establishment of the international centre for multiculturalism. Azerbaijan's unique role is widely appreciated in the world. Azerbaijan is a bridge between civilizations. From geographic, politically and all other points of view, Azerbaijan is a unique country. Our experience is being studied. I am sure that if Azerbaijan's experience is applied in other countries, inter-religious and inter-ethnic issues there will also be addressed in a healthy manner.
On 20 September of this year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the "Contract of the Century". It is quite symbolic that on 20 September 2014 we laid the foundation for the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor is the largest infrastructure project in Europe. Azerbaijan has once again demonstrated its leadership qualities in the implementation of this giant transnational project. It is thanks to energy policy Azerbaijan has pursued over the years and our strong policy that this major project is already being implemented. "Shah Deniz-2", TANAP and TAP are unique and irreplaceable projects for Azerbaijan. For years and decades they will ensure our national economic and political interests. As in the area of international cooperation, Azerbaijan took the lead in this project, and we will fulfill this mission with dignity.
Dear friends, it is the Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the World today. I am sure that all Azerbaijanis of the world are rightly proud of the fact that there is a strong and independent state of Azerbaijan today. Independence is the greatest asset and treasure for us. We have been independent and pursuing an independent policy for 23 years. This independent policy is based on national interests and national values. It provides for the current realities of Azerbaijan. Today, Azerbaijan is a dynamic and rapidly developing country. Azerbaijan is a country that successfully goes down the path of democracy, freedom, independence, progress and development. I am sure that all Azerbaijanis of the world are proud that there is a country such as Azerbaijan on the world map, a country that speaks and will speak its word. Our successful development will be provided in the future.
I heartily congratulate all Azerbaijanis on the Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the World and the New Year holidays. I wish every Azerbaijani family happiness, prosperity and continued successes.