Azerbaijani president attends opening of ASAN Hayat complex in Shamakhi (PHOTO) (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted at 21:10 on Dec.5).

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.5


President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the inauguration of “ASAN Həyat” complex in Shamakhi. The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the complex.

Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan - Head of the Department for Work with Law Enforcement Bodies of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan Fuad Alasgarov and Chairman of the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ulvi Mehdiyev informed the head of state of the complex.

President Ilham Aliyev then met with the complex employees and made a speech at the event.

Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

- An “ASAN Həyat” Center is opening in Shamakhi today. I congratulate you on this wonderful occasion. I am sure that people will be pleased and “ASAN Xidmət” will maintain its high quality. I am glad that this service, set up on my initiative, is received with great approval not only in our country but also abroad. I am glad that the approval rating of “ASAN Xidmət” is 99.4 percent. This suggests that the service is indeed a great achievement which has led to great changes in the field of public services. At the same time, “ASAN Xidmət” has contributed to revolutionary changes in the public consciousness of our society because the public services sector has always been problematic. The key problems of the services sector were bureaucracy, corruption and bribery. Since the launch of “ASAN Xidmət”, full transparency has been ensured in this field.

It is no coincidence that more than 34 million requests have already been received, and they didn’t go unanswered. “ASAN Xidmət” is expanding its geography. This is the 16th center and four more centers are to be opened soon. The Kurdamir, Agjabadi and Tovuz centers are ready, while the Balakan center will be commissioned next year. I am told that people are already queuing up in Baku centers, although there are five centers there. Therefore, I have issued the instruction to open two more centers in Baku, while second centers will be opened in Sumgayit and Ganja. Outreach services have been provided for a long time, more than 10 buses travel around our country.

There is also “ASAN Qatar”. We can say that all corners of our country are covered by these excellent services. Their number is growing, more than 320 services are already being provided. If we take into account the activities of “ABAD” centers, this figure reaches 350. This indicates that we have managed to significantly expand the scope of “ASAN” in recent years. This was necessary because work at “ASAN Xidmət” is built very well. Many areas of concern have also been included in “ASAN Xidmət”. Therefore, the growing number of services and their quality indicate that we are on the right track. When we started, there were about 20-30 services types.

“ASAN” is our intellectual product. I am very glad that today Azerbaijan invents and exports intellectual products. I believe that the export of intellectual products and services should deserve the greatest attention. The presentations I saw at the “Bakutel” exhibition suggest that we are already exporting services, including satellite services and services related to innovation. An “ASAN Xidmət” center already operates in Afghanistan, we have already signed memorandums of understanding and agreements with several countries. “ASAN” is expanding its activities in the world, and we can cooperate with many countries in the future. Our main condition is that the same services as in Azerbaijan are provided there because this is our brand. The name of the center in all countries should also be “ASAN”.

It is no coincidence that “ASAN” has already won international awards. This is the intellectual brand of Azerbaijan, which at the same time reflects our policy and intentions. Our policy is to ensure transparency and accuracy, provide civilized services in all areas, so that there are no violations. I believe that “ASAN Xidmət” is one of the most effective mechanisms against corruption and bribery. Thorough measures are being taken in connection with these issues. Tangible measures are being taken to eliminate or significantly reduce corruption and bribery in Azerbaijan. These measures are yielding and will yield results. Therefore, along with administrative and punitive measures, we should take institutional measures in order to reduce the scope of corruption and bribery and thus put Azerbaijan onto a modern and rapid development path. We are achieving this.

At the same time, “ASAN Xidmət” demonstrates our policy: the vast majority of those working in these centers are young people. This shows the talent and knowledge of our youth. At the same time, it is very important for personnel training, as thousands of “ASAN” volunteers already work in various important positions. Our youth trained or experienced in “ASAN Xidmət” centers is already gaining a start in their lives. Popular confidence in them as qualified professionals is growing, and employers are convinced that there will be accuracy, quality, knowledge and civilized service. I should also note that the volunteer movement began in Azerbaijan with “ASAN Xidmət”. Until then, there was no volunteer movement. Today, a thousand volunteers work in various areas of life in our country and bring benefits the state. Our youth should be exactly like that. At a recent event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Baku State University, I shared my thoughts with young people. Educated, competent and modern young people attached to their homeland are the guarantors of Azerbaijan’s sustainable success. Young people should not only possess knowledge but also be attached to their homeland. The homeland and state interests should be above everything for them.

“ASAN Xidmət” is also an innovation in the service sector. “ASAN Xidmət” shows what this sector should be like. All people coming and applying to “ASAN Xidmət” centers see you, see our wonderful youth, high culture, good attitude and friendly faces. This is indeed a great asset, and we have created it ourselves. I want to say again: this is our national brand and national asset.

Therefore, I order to increase the number of “ASAN” centers. At the same time, “ASAN Xidmət” and its management are working hard to expand the scope of “ASAN” centers. Every time I open a center, I see some innovations. I am informed that opportunities are created for introducing new innovations every year, and these innovations will be applied. One of the issues I was informed about today is the smart city project. We should definitely go for it. Corresponding instructions have already been given to take steps to apply the smart city system in Baku. Work will also be carried out in this direction in other cities and regions.

I am glad that this center is opening in Shamakhi. Shamakhi is our ancient land, a historical place. It has a rich history and culture. The historical monuments of Shamakhi are very dear to all of us. I am glad that the Shamakhi Juma Mosque was overhauled on my order. This is the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan and one of the oldest mosques in the Muslim world. It was built in 743. While preserving the historical appearance of Shamakhi, we are modernizing it. Recently, the district executive authority received fairly large funds for the implementation of infrastructure projects. Modern passenger buses, modern ambulances and municipal vehicles will be delivered. An instruction has been issued to renovate all roads in Shamakhi, all rural roads. Approximately in April-May of next year, the problem of drinking water in the city will be completely resolved, and the people of Shamakhi will be provided with drinking water that meets the standards of the World Health Organization. Gas supply level in Shamakhi district is 95 percent. Although many villages are far from each other and are located in the mountains, we have brought gas supply level to 95 percent. There are no problems with electricity. On my instructions, we have expanded the Baku-Shamakhi highway to four lanes – it is a very comfortable road now. The official opening of the final component of this road took place today. Rural roads are also under construction. Earlier, we built a Diagnostic Center and an Olympic Center here. The Shamakhi Observatory has been overhauled. Of course, not only the Shamakhi-Lahij highway has been renovated, but also the Shamakhi-Damirchi and Damirchi-Lahij roads have been laid for residents of the republic and for visitors. So the safest road to Lahij runs through Shamakhi. We are currently developing Shamakhi as a modern tourism center. Vineyards are established, a grape festival is held, the largest agricultural park in our country is being established in the Shamakhi and Hajigabul districts. The area of this agricultural park is 42,000 hectares. This will give a powerful impetus to the development of agriculture. Shamakhi is a traditional wine-growing region. The local traditions of viticulture are being restored, jobs are being created, including paid public jobs. Shamakhi is the birthplace of the great son of the Azerbaijani people, Imadaddin Nasimi. As you know, by my order, this year has been declared a “Year of Nasimi” in Azerbaijan. As a sign of respect and reverence for the memory of great Nasimi, a massive tree planting campaign will be held throughout the country tomorrow, as a total of 650,000 trees will be planted. The Nasimi festival has now become traditional. Shamakhi has an ancient history, and its outstanding representatives multiply the glory of the Azerbaijani people.

You are young and just entering an independent life. I am glad that your activity begins at the “ASAN Xidmət” center. I am sure that the experience gained here will help you in your future lives. You will put your knowledge and skills into the common cause of our country. I congratulate you and wish you success!

Employee Jala Huseynova said:

- Hello, dear Mr. President. We are very glad to see you in Shamakhi. As a student, I worked as a volunteer at an “ASAN xidmət” center in Baku. In February, on the occasion of the Youth Day, you met with young people of the republic. I also participated in this meeting as an “ASAN” volunteer. At this meeting, you counseled the Azerbaijani youth and gave examples from your own life path. You noted there that, despite the fact that Azerbaijan was under oppression for a long time, if it is independent today and is capable of defending and developing its independence, then it is obliged to protect and preserve its national values, its language. You advised young people always to be patriotic, defend their language, values, be professional regardless of their field of activity.

That meeting was a turning point in my life. I decided that I should follow this path and prepared for civil service. I am very glad to have met with you as a volunteer in February and as a civil servant today.

You always note that state policy of Azerbaijan is centered on citizens of Azerbaijan. Civil servants should always serve citizens. You can rest assured that we will always adhere to these principles at the Shamakhi regional center of “ASAN xidmət”. people coming to us from Shamakhi and adjacent districts to receive services will always see this and always feel the support of the state. On behalf of all the young people, I express my gratitude to you for the conditions created for us. Thank you very much!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much! Thank you! Have you come here from Baku or are you local?

Jala Huseynova: No, I came from Baku.

President Ilham Aliyev: Very good. Most of those working here are probably residents of Shamakhi district. Is there anyone from neighboring districts?

Employee: Yes, I am from Ismayilli.

President Ilham Aliyev: Great! Congratulations!

Jala Huseynova: Thank you very much!

Employee Togrul Jafarov: Dear Mr. President, we are very proud to see you at the Shamakhi Regional “ASAN xidmət” Center. As a volunteer, I have participated in many events held in our country so far. My first volunteer activity was at the Baku-2015 European Games. Then I was a volunteer at the Baku-2017 Islamic Solidarity Games, three Formula-1 events and the Chess Olympiad in 2016. And finally, as a member of the “ASAN xidmət” family, I became a volunteer of “ASAN xidmət”. I just wanted to tell you that the series of trainings and seminars for our development when we were still volunteers, the satisfaction of all our needs was the result of your care and attention to us, young people and volunteers. As a representative of youth, I have always felt your attention and care. I would like to express my gratitude to you for this. I want to note one thing: I am speaking to you as a successful volunteer, an employee of the Shamakhi Regional “ASAN xidmət” Center.

In conclusion, I want to say that in one of your speeches you said that there is volunteer activity in our country, and it will always be there. We, in turn, want to assure you that we will share the experience gained over the years with young people of Shamakhi. We will preserve volunteer work.

I want to say that today, 5 December, is the International Volunteer Day. Most people you see here were once volunteers. Thank you for being with us today. Thank you very much for your attention!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much! I am very glad that the volunteer movement in Azerbaijan is getting large. This shows that our policy is reflected in life. I want to repeat: the volunteer movement began with “ASAN xidmət”. After that, the young people who worked, like you did, in that same “ASAN xidmət” center, did a great job in prestigious international sports competitions. You know that I have awarded all the volunteers participating in the games with a personal honorary diploma. Because, indeed, during the games I watched their activities, saw the great love, professionalism and courtesy with which our young people served the guests, showed the way and helped them. You know, this is about proper parenting. The young people completing this program will remain as such in their future lives too. The national spiritual values inherent in our people, which we have preserved for centuries, rest on these very principles.

I have repeatedly said that in the future our youth must preserve the values that our people have created for centuries, just as we have preserved them. Only then can we preserve and protect our national identity and dignity. Therefore, the features inherent in our people coincide with the volunteer movement. We already have thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of volunteers. I must also note that relatively recently I told volunteers to start working in government institutions, to be involved there. Ministries and state-owned companies already have volunteer groups. Private companies should involve volunteers in their work, because it will benefit them and contribute to our common cause. Therefore, I believe that all horizons of opportunities are open to volunteers. You have already moved on from being a volunteer to the status of a civil servant, and I wish you an even more successful future.

Center employee Ulkar Mahmudova: Dear Mr. President, we are very pleased to see you in Shamakhi. I am a graduate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Baku State University, the 100th anniversary of which we recently celebrated. First of all, I want to note that we, the people of Shamakhi, have always felt your attention and care. You often visit our region and are always near us. You always pay attention to the condition of our houses and schools and exercise personal control over their renovation. As you know, in February this year, an earthquake occurred in Shamakhi. It is possible to say that you were with us at that moment. This once again confirms the importance you attach to us citizens. Tomorrow there will be a tree-planting campaign, as about 45,000 trees will be planted in Shamakhi. And this means that the nature of Shamakhi will become even more beautiful. All this is thanks to you. We feel that the leadership of our country is together with us. For this, we express our deep appreciation to you and promise that we will serve our citizens with dignity.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much! Indeed, I often visit Shamakhi – on the one hand, because special attention is being paid to Shamakhi, because it is our historical city. Shamakhi is present on the most ancient maps. Therefore, every citizen of Azerbaijan should know this. We must preserve the history and cultural heritage of Shamakhi. On the other hand, in recent years, many opening ceremonies have taken place in Shamakhi and I attended the launch of many facilities here. Therefore, I have been to Shamakhi as President 12 times. This is my 13th visit and third this year. The first trips were made in the aftermath of the earthquake. In February and afterward, I came here to celebrate the opening of the first houses that were rebuilt, including the house of Grandmother Saray. I should also note that the problems of people affected by the earthquake are always in the spotlight. I can say that I regularly enquire about this work. We will also celebrate the opening of a new apartment building today. The main burden, naturally, was borne by the state, but soon after my appeal the private sector also joined in this work. I said that the everyday problems of the people of Shamakhi and everyone affected by the earthquake must be resolved, and they are being resolved. The same applies to Ismayilli and Agsu districts. Major construction is also under way there. This is a further demonstration of our policy. Natural disasters occur in every country. We recently saw on television the historic city of Venice being flooded. No sewer system could withstand the torrential rains. Major floods have recently occurred in some European countries. It happens to us, too. When it rains, especially when there are torrential rains, no sewerage system can take the rainwater in full – even though we are trying very hard and have instructed to eliminate the consequences of rains and floods. Even in the most developed countries, floods cause big problems. The same holds true for earthquakes. In a matter of several years, a flood and an earthquake occurred in the northwestern region. In both cases, the state incurred all expenses. And this, I can say, is a rare situation. It is not the case in developed countries. Houses there are insured, and if they are damaged for whatever reason, people turn to the insurance company. After that, for about a few months, it remains unclear whether these funds will be reimbursed. In our case, things are different. We understand that our citizens are not used to that yet. Most homes are not insured. So what should we do? We cannot allow people to stay on the street. Therefore, the state takes on this work. Of course, this is a big expense.

But we live for the people, the state must protect its people. We must always keep the focus on those who are in the most difficult situation. Some consequences of the earthquake that occurred in Shamakhi District have been eliminated. Today I will be updated on further steps. Let those affected by the earthquake know that we are with them. I arrived in Shamakhi immediately after the earthquake. I have to say today too that this issue is always in the spotlight. This will always be in the spotlight – up until the last house in need of repair or construction.

Center employee Sabina Karimova: Dear Mr. President, we welcome you! Thank you for being with us on such an important day for us. I am a graduate of the law faculty of Baku State University. I worked in the private sector in her specialty. I received the biggest motivation to become a civil servant from you. I want to note that you always carry out reforms in various fields, and this is always monitored and remains in the spotlight. One of the reforms implemented in the social sphere was the creation of “ASAN xidmət” centers. Currently, “ASAN xidmət” operates on the basis of the principles of efficiency, transparency, courtesy, responsibility and comfort. I want to note that these principles have been put forward by you. Since these principles were respected, our people fell in love with “ASAN xidmət”.

Mr. President, you can rest assured that we, young people, always support your policy and reforms and are always with you. I want to note that the reforms you have implemented recently in all three branches of the government, that is, the reforms in the legislative, executive and judicial branches, have been received with great approval by both youth and the entire nation. I want to specifically note that you have been appointing young people to many leading positions of late. This, of course, inspires young people to work in the public service.

Dear President, we, young people and civil servants, want to assure you that your reforms in the field of preventing corruption and increasing transparency in the state will be communicated to people at the regional level. As a result, they will feel that the state stands by them and civil servants are at their disposal. Thank you!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much!. You have touched upon a very important issue. I also want to say a few words. You know, we have inherited corruption and bribery. Therefore, in order to get rid of that, of course, enlightening work, right policies must be carried out. At the same time, generations must change. My hopes are pinned on the youth because young people are growing up in a new environment, during the years of independence. Of course, violations and shortcomings do exist but the question is how we are fighting them. I want to say again: by administrative or punitive measures alone, we will be unable to achieve the goal. Along with all these measures, institutional reforms of a systemic nature must be carried out. A new period of reform began after last year's presidential election. In my speech at the inauguration, I brought to our people’s attention the main parameters of our strategic development, and we are consistently following this path. Look, the Presidential Administration has been completely reorganized. Young people have been attracted. The Cabinet of Ministers has been reorganized and the younger generation has been attracted. Early parliamentary elections have already been announced. I hope that young people will also be heavily involved in these elections because we need new faces, new ideas, a new approach. At the same time, I must say that we cannot allow contradictions between generations. They are present in any society. Many representatives of the older generation are always dissatisfied with the younger generation. We must understand this. There is a misunderstanding between generations in any society. But our society is conservative, it is a society built on traditional values. Of course, we cannot allow these natural contradictions to turn into a major problem. Therefore, I said that when I began to actively involve young people, I saw that some kind of a campaign was being waged against the older generation. I stopped it because we will benefit from the experience of the elderly, the modernity of the young and the unity of this. You and the vast majority of those working in “ASAN Xidmət” are young people. However, you provide services to the older generation because these services are sought by the older generation more. Politeness, warmth and kind words purify and lead our society forward. Therefore, I congratulate you again and wish you success. Thank you!


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