Azeri Leader Sums Up Key Achievements Of Government Over 16 Years
In a speech to sum up the implementation of the state program of the socio-economic development of the regions, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has lauded his governments 16-year political, economic achievements, designed to steer the young nation with 10bn population to peace and prosperity in a turbulent region amid 20-per-cent occupation of the territories by aggressor Armenia in early independence years.
President Ilham Aliyev told a conference dedicated to the results of the first year of the implementation of the “State program of socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023”.
Focusing the government’s economic indications, Ilham Aliyev quoted figures to show the pace of the development. “Since 2003 up to now, the Azerbaijani economy has grown as a whole 3.4 times. This is a record high in the world. All statistics can be studied, I do not believe that there should be similar growth rates. Over the 16 years, industrial production has grown 2.7 times, agriculture - 2 times, foreign trade - 6.4 times, exports - 7.6 times, including non-oil exports - 5.2 times. Our foreign exchange reserves have grown 27 times. In 2003, foreign exchange reserves amounted to 1.8bn dollars, last year - 51bn, and now it has reached 52bn dollars. That is, this in itself is a high indicator. Poverty declined from about 50 to 4.8 percent. This indicates that oil revenues were distributed reasonably and fairly. Using these revenues, we solved a significant part of the basic infrastructure problems of our country, while simultaneously improving the well-being of citizens,” the president told the forum.
The president highlighted efforts to improve the living standards of the population and how the government has been dealing with acute problems, that is, accommodating nearly 1m IDP and socially-vulnerable groups.
Over the past 16 years, the average wage has grown 11 times, and the average pension - 8 times, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons, 6,700 martyrs' families received houses and apartments. That is, these large social programs require a lot of money. Imagine built houses, apartments for 300,000 people. Over the years, we have built a city equal to Sumgait or Ganca, the president underscored, adding that “both political will, a well-thought-out policy, and opportunities” were the driving force behind these projects.
The energy security has always been the focus of the Aliyev government and the recent increase in capacity enhances both the country’s energy independence and enables to export extra amounts. The president noted that over these years, 33 power plants with a generating capacity of 3,000 megawatts have been built.
“If these stations were not built, today half of our country would plunge into darkness, we would continue to import electricity, spending a lot of money on it. However, having built these stations, having received 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity, we are exporting electricity today. In 2019, Azerbaijan received about 60-65m dollars from export,” the president added.
The scale of the gasification is also expanding and has already reached the highest possible level and statistics lay bare the state of the realities.
In 2003, the level of gasification in Azerbaijan was 51 percent, the president opined, saying that there was no gas at all in the regions. Currently, this figure has reached 96 percent. There is not a single district where there is no gas. There is no district where gasification is below 70 percent. In districts it is 100, 95 percent, Aliyev added.
The president noted that two large reservoirs – Taxtakorpu and Samkircay – have been built, without which the capit would have been hardly be provided with water in the driest season of 2019.
“If they were not there, today there would have been a shortage of water in the districts there. If the Taxtakorpu reservoir had not been built, it would hardly have been possible to provide the city of Baku with water last year, because such a drought as last year may have never happened before. By ensuring the supply of water collected to Ceyranbatan in Taxtakorpu specifically, we have achieved uninterrupted water supply to Baku.
Nobody in Baku even felt that there was such a severe drought. We all do this so that people live better. Every major project has a well-thought-out policy. To improve water supply in villages over the years, more than 1,500 artesian wells have been drilled, and this process continues. Modular-type water treatment plants have been built in hundreds of villages. Therefore, infrastructure projects occupied a special place in the implementation of our program. By implementing these projects in parallel with social initiatives, we have achieved today's realities,” Ilham Aliyev said.
According to him, over the years Azerbaijan has become a space state. “We have three satellites, 16 years ago, we probably couldn’t even dream about it. And today it is a reality. We have not only three satellites, in two years’ Baku will host a leading world event - the International Congress of Astronautics. Almost 50 years later, because for the first time the only congress in the Soviet Union was held in Baku in 1973. After 49 years, this event will again be held in Baku, but already in Baku, which is the capital of an independent Azerbaijan state,” the president said.
In the transport sector, the president also emphasized his government’s accomplishment. Seven airports have been built, six of them are international. In the Davos report, Azerbaijan ranks 11th in terms of air services. Heydar Aliyev International Airport is already known as a five-star. There are about 10 such airports in the world. One of them is Heydar Aliyev Airport, president added.
The head of state noted that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was built. “This is our historic victory. Not only because Armenia has remained in an eternal impasse. Although this is important. But because today this road brings a lot of income and at the same time, expands international cooperation. Currently, goods from points that were not provided for at the beginning of its construction are being transported along this road.
That is, the road has become a very important infrastructure project for international cooperation, and Azerbaijan is a leading country here. We played a special role in creating East-West and North-South transport corridors. We are a country involved in both projects. The Alat international sea port is the largest in the Caspian. A shipbuilding plant can produce tankers, cargo and any other vessels for us. Today, our money remains in Azerbaijan and does not go abroad. Currently, we ourselves produce tankers, cargo ships. I noted only the main points of the work done over 16 years,” the president said.
Ilham Aliyev stressed that in the energy sector, in the oil and gas industry, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was commissioned in 2006, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline in 2007. “If they were not built, then who would invest in the oil industry of Azerbaijan, moreover, in oil produced at sea? No one. Investments would be nil. What would we do? Would buy oil abroad. We built these pipelines in a difficult geopolitical environment, with a minimum of risks. Then the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was built. Because if those pipelines had not been laid, that corridor had not been opened, there would never have been a railway corridor. And we would not have money for the construction of this road, the president said.
We could not have provided Georgia with a loan of about $800m. Following this is the Southern Gas Corridor. This is also one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe worth about $40bn. It connects several countries, this is a gigantic project with a length of 3,500 km, consisting of four segments, the president added.
“Political skills, diplomatic steps, our economic power, relations with international banks, and fruitful cooperation with countries along this path played a role here. How many difficulties were in the implementation of this project. In order to talk about this, you need to conduct a separate event. But we brought it to the end. And the initiator is Azerbaijan. For several years, the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor has traditionally been held in Azerbaijan. The next meeting of the Council will be held at the end of this month,” Ilham Aliyev said.
According to him, everyone agrees that we are Azerbaijan, and we have done that, the leading force, initiator, organizer of these projects, the country that has taken on all the main financial burden.
“Each of these projects has historical significance. All these projects, the work done in general, are a great merit to the Azerbaijani people. As I said at the beginning of the speech, it is our policy and the steps taken that determine successful development, stability, and form a positive mood in society. We did everything we promised. There is not a single unfulfilled promise. No one can find anything like it. In 2003 and the following years, I did everything I promised. Therefore, people have great confidence in both our words and our deeds. I have always said that our words must be confirmed by deeds, and today it is. Of course, talking about all the work done over the past 16 years is impossible, and not necessary. I believe that I have brought to you and the Azerbaijani public the main points. And now let's move on to discussions,” the president told the forum.