The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has congratulated Azerbaijani people on World Azerbaijanis Solidarity Day and New Year, APA reports.
Message of congratulation from President Ilham Aliyev to people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and New Year:
"Dear fellow compatriots!
2019 is about to end. It has been a successful year for our country. All the goals we set ourselves at the beginning of the year have been successfully fulfilled and Azerbaijan has successfully developed.
In 2019, our country lived in a stable and peaceful environment. The processes going on around the world are obvious. Conflicts, wars, bloody clashes, public protests, police violence, human rights violations have become widespread in various parts of the world, in our region, in post-Soviet republics, in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In the meantime, Azerbaijan is a place of stability, a place of development. This is our great achievement. In 2019, the Azerbaijani people lived, built and created in the conditions of security.
Our international positions have strengthened further. During the year, more than 40 heads of state and government visited Azerbaijan. Our bilateral ties have significantly expanded. We successfully cooperate in a multilateral format, several prestigious international events have been held in our country. I should specifically mention the Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States. As a result of the summit, Azerbaijan assumed chairmanship in the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States. A meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit was held in Azerbaijan and by a unanimous decision of 120 countries, Azerbaijan will chair this large organization for three years. It is a sign of great confidence in us. This shows that the vast majority of the world community supports Azerbaijan and treats us with great respect.
This year, Baku hosted the Summit of World Religious Leaders, and religious leaders from 70 countries gave a very positive assessment to the processes taking place in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan asserted itself at the summit as a multicultural country committed to its traditions, national and religious values.
Our position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unchanged. Our position of principle is that this conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country. Nagorno-Karabakh is ancient Azerbaijani land, an integral part of Azerbaijan from an international legal perspective. All leading international organizations have made decisions and resolutions on the conflict and expressed their position. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions which explicitly state that the occupying forces must immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the occupied territories. The Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the OSCE, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and other organizations have adopted similar decisions and resolutions. The Partnership Priorities document signed between the EU and Azerbaijan expresses great support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of its borders. Thus, from the point of view of history and international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan.
Throughout the year, Armenia has been making very conflicting, contradictory and nonsensical statements in relation to the conflict. They said that the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh republic” is allegedly an independent state and Azerbaijan should hold negotiations with this “independent state”. This is a lie. Nagorno-Karabakh is not an independent state, no country has ever recognized this illegal entity, including Armenia itself, and during this year the negotiations were held between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Thus, their ludicrous thesis was smashed to smithereens. Then they said that Nagorno-Karabakh was allegedly Armenia and period. It is possible to make such populist statements, but it is impossible to stand behind them. This is also a lie. Nagorno-Karabakh is not Armenia and the whole world knows this. And I stated again that Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark!
I am convinced that our consistent and thought-out policy will lead to the resolution of the conflict. Our economic strength, our military strength, our political strength and our demographic growth – all these factors are strengthening our position. I am sure that the day will come when Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. To achieve this, we need to be even stronger, and great steps have been taken this year.
2019 will go down in history as a year of in-depth reforms. Political reforms, personnel reforms, structural reforms, economic, reforms in the political and social spheres have made us stronger. Our economy grew this year, the non-oil sector of the economy grew by more than 3 percent. Our foreign debt accounts for only 17 percent of the GDP. This is the ninth indicator in the world. In the following years, our foreign debt will decline further. Our foreign exchange reserves have grown by $4.5 billion this year, reaching a record high of $50 billion. Our currency reserves exceed our foreign debt more than five times. In other words, this shows the sustainability of the economic and financial opportunities of our country. Industrial production has increased, especially in the non-oil sector, by 14 percent. There is a 7 percent increase in agriculture. So the successful development of our country in all key areas is a reality.
We have become a donor country – according to a report of the International Development Association. We are now a lender, not a borrower. All this is a manifestation of a thought-out policy. All these successful accomplishments allow us the opportunity to allocate to the social sphere, and we did that. This year has been a memorable year from this perspective too. A broad and comprehensive social package was introduced, covering a total of 4,200,000 people. Some allowances have increased by 50 percent, some by 100 percent, that is more than doubled. The minimum wage has doubled and the minimum pension increased by 70 percent. We are in first place in the CIS for the purchasing power of the pension. Our social policy shows again, as I have repeatedly said, that our policies are centered on Azerbaijani citizens. I am confident that as we expand our economic opportunities in the coming years, even more attention will be paid to the social sphere.
In terms of transparency, this year has been a very successful year. Tax and customs authorities have added more than 1 billion manats to the treasury. Of course, this will enable us – I am sure that this trend will be observed next year too – to carry out even more extensive social and infrastructure projects.
Problems of the IDPs are being resolved. This year, new apartments and homes were built for more than 5,000 IDP families and about 800 martyr families. Thousands of homes have been built for the residents of Shamakhi, Ismayilli and Aghsu districts affected by the earthquake. The absolute majority of the consequences of this major earthquake were eliminated in just 10 months. This is also a unique issue because it demonstrates our intentions and strength. The Azerbaijani government and leadership demonstrated again that they are always with citizens.
This year, the TANAP project was commissioned. It is a historical project. TANAP has already reached the EU. We celebrated this historic event in November this year. TANAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor consists of four projects and three of them –Shah Deniz-2, the South Caucasus Pipeline and TANAP – have already become reality. The fourth project, TAP, is being successfully implemented and is more than 90 percent through. We are redrawing the energy and transport map of Europe and Eurasia. We initiated this project. We took on a major burden – both financial and technical – and are successfully implementing this enormous and important project together with our partners.
This year was a record year in terms of tourism. More than 3 million tourists visited Azerbaijan for the first time in history this year as a result of our policies, the development of our country, security and peace available here and the major events we have held in Azerbaijan.
Ten millionth citizen of Azerbaijan was born this year. This is also a historic event. In the years of independence, our population grew by more than 3 million. This increases our strength and responsibility because a growing population is a major advantage. At the same time, economic growth should always be ahead of the growing population. Growing population means that new schools, new kindergartens and new hospitals should be built, new jobs should be created. Thus, as the population of Azerbaijan grows, so does our strength. The beautiful girl Mehriban who was born this year made us all very happy. May God make her happy, may God make all our children happy, may God protect all our children!
It is also the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis today. I take this opportunity to convey my heartfelt greetings to all the Azerbaijanis in the world. They should know, and they do, that a strong Azerbaijani state is behind them.
Dear fellow compatriots, I sincerely congratulate you on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and wish you good health and happiness in the New Year.