A phenomenon ahead of his time – thegenius of Heydar Aliyev

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Baku, 10 May 2019 –

Novruz Mammadov

Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Every nation has its own leader who played an exceptional role in its fate at most difficult and crucial stages of history and who formed that nation`s statehood traditions. A detailed analysis of such leaders` meaningful and rich life gives a clear picture of their nations` statehood traditions, history and development. For their moral principles, humane and national ideas, loyalty to national interests, these leaders are revered as icons by millions.

The place and role of every nation in history is conditioned by the extraordinary mission of a great personality who took responsibility under difficult political circumstances to play an indispensable role in its fate, and laid the foundations of firm statehood traditions with his progressive ideas, unique governance qualities, wisdom and vision. Sent by God, these chosen personalities establish the optimum state model and create political succession traditions based on their nation`s statehood ideology, political principles and national values. For Russians such a personality is Peter the First, for Americans it is George Washington, for Brits it is Winston Churchill, for French it is Charles de Gaulle, for Germans it is Otto von Bismarck, for Chinese it is Mao Zedong, for Turks it is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. And for Azerbaijanis it is Heydar Aliyev!

The political portrait of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, a great personality of the 20th century, reflects the Azerbaijani nation`s statehood ideology, unique school of governance, which withstood all hardships throughout history, modern socio-political development and philosophical thought. In fact, Heydar Aliyev`s personality mirrors the past and present of the state of Azerbaijan and the process of state building.

Comparison of historical realities is the most objective point of reference for assessing great personalities` activities. In this sense, under National Leader Azerbaijan is seen as a country, which always moves forward, which strives for economic, social, humanitarian and cultural progress, and which cherishes the human factor in all matters.

National Leader Heydar Aliyev`s wise and far-reaching policy transformed Azerbaijan into a reliable foreign policy partner and center of stability, which is committed to achieving economic and social excellence, and where "state-citizen'' unity was ensured.

A thorough analysis of the events that took place in the last century reveals that Azerbaijan`s road to independence was completed by the purposeful policy that National Leader Heydar Aliyev pursued starting from 1969 to his second tenure as head of state. And it is the National Leader`s commitment and tireless work to earn Azerbaijan great accomplishments that lies at the heart of the common feature of these two historical periods, which are quite different from the points of view of time and socio-economic formation. So the two completely different historical periods when National Leader Heydar Aliyev headed Azerbaijan can be regarded as two stages of one mission that complete each other.

I was greatly honored to work for many years under National Leader Heydar Aliyev, an unforgettable personality on the world political scene. In general, great personalities of the world are always at the top of the usual lifestyle of ordinary people. The National Leader guided the nation with his thinking and morality. Although his actions were simple, they carried deep meaning. The National Leader had great ideas. His steps, his policy, his diplomatic means confirmed his far-sightedness and strategic vision. World leaders recognize Heydar Aliyev as a statesman of global scale who was ahead of his time.

A solid foundation for future independence

Unique for its governance policy, the National Leader`s tenure as head of the Soviet Azerbaijan put the country on the path of rapid development and laid solid foundations for national independence. The ideas of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, who then initiated the ideology of the return to one`s roots and self-consciousness, and who was behind the most brilliant pages of the ideology of Azerbaijanism last century, completely modernized the country`s life.

Unique managerial and charismatic leadership qualities, deep patriotism of Heydar Aliyev, whose ideas and principles changed the course of history, played an indispensable role in promoting the revival of the national ideology starting from the 1970s. The most important feature of National Leader Heydar Aliyev`s governance was that Azerbaijan embarked on a new stage of development, experiencing a period of revival in a true sense of the word. Well aware that removing economic dependence is one of the crucial factors for political independence, the National Leader managed to achieve such great accomplishments as ensuring independence of the country`s production potential, strengthening industrial potential, laying the foundation for a new stage of development in education, creating the national human resources potential, including preparation of specialists in unique specialties.

At that time the national leader was working tirelessly to ensure that Azerbaijanis study at the leading higher education institutions of the USSR. He was persuading Moscow to increase the education quota for Azerbaijan, in most instances, successfully. The number of Azerbaijani students sent to study outside the republic rose from 60 in 1970 to 600 in 1975 and to up to 900 in 1978. The number of those sent to higher education institutions of the USSR was equal to the number of students admitted to Baku State University in a year.

Many years later, in 1997, at the meeting with Azerbaijanis who studied at different universities in the former Soviet Union, National Leader Heydar Aliyev remembered: "Azerbaijan`s future, independence was the very only thing that I had in my mind when I was personally and seriously dealing with the issue of specialist preparation and when I was sending you to study at higher education institutions outside our republic. I did believe that the time would come when Azerbaijan would need these specialists, the time would come when Azerbaijan would be independent and these specialists would ensure Azerbaijan`s independence.''

Thanks to Heydar Aliyev`s resoluteness, will and initiative, a number of former Soviet strategic enterprises were built in Azerbaijan those years, laying the economic foundations of the republic`s future independence. National Leader Heydar Aliyev took a resolute and principled stand on this issue, making persistent demands on the former Soviet leadership.

Having wisely taken into account the role of the oil industry in the economic development, National Leader Heydar Aliyev managed to ensure rapid development of the oil sector and complete modernization of the petrochemical industry in the republic in the 1970s. Those years marked the beginning of a brand new stage in the development of the oil industry in Azerbaijan, paving the way for this rich natural resource becoming a means to contribute to the republic`s well-being and prosperity. Heydar Aliyev`s "Plan of reconstruction of the oil refining industry in Azerbaijan'' allowed to build new enterprises and large complexes in Azerbaijan, introducing new work principles in the industry and identifying the roadmap of the future new oil strategy.

The author of national development model

Firmly committed to the ideology of Azerbaijanism, the National Leader – thanks to his wise policy, principled position and vision – realized the national statehood idea, built a modern Azerbaijani state and fulfilled the nation`s dreams of independence. Heydar Aliyev laid the political, ideological and economic foundations of the independent Azerbaijani statehood, made the nation`s dream of having an independent, powerful state come true. Heydar Aliyev is a great historic personality who achieved immortality and became a living legend.

Authored by Heydar Aliyev, the architect of the modern, independent Republic of Azerbaijan, the ideology of Azerbaijanism embraced all Azerbaijanis of the world to become their national point of reference. The historic far-sighted steps that the National Leader took starting from the 1970s such as the establishment of the present-day Jamshid Nakhchivanski Military Lyceum, which aimed to prepare highly-qualified national officers, and the enshrining of the Azerbaijani language as the state language in the Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR were unimaginable for most of his contemporaries and made an indispensable contribution to the upbringing of future Azerbaijani generations as true patriots.

Heydar Aliyev, who realized the necessity of returning to national and moral values and ensuring national revival, maintained a constant focus on the issue. For him, values were a crucial element of not only the national, but also the political existence – state building process. The National Leader`s attitude is undoubtedly a role model for each of us.

One of the main components of the genius of National Leader Heydar Aliyev was that his policy always targeted strategic goals and prioritized national interests. Built by Heydar Aliyev in the 1970-1980s, the economic potential ensured Azerbaijan`s independent existence in the wake of tumultuous global processes in the late 1990s when Azerbaijan achieved liberty.

As a unique personality given by the wise Azerbaijani nation to the world political scene in the 20th century, Heydar Aliyev achieved the status of a national leader and is today held in great respect as the founder of the national development model of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan. The National Leader put forward an optimum model of transition from a socio-economic formation dominated by the central planning and division principles to a free market economy.

Privatization of the public property in the interests of the nation contributed to the establishment of the principles of free market competition and special ownership, integration of the national economy into the world economic system, and brought about fundamental changes in people`s consciousness and lifestyle. Agrarian reforms carried out in the country aimed to ensure the interests of each citizen in the privatization process, improve the living standard and create an industry based on healthy competition.

Structural reforms conducted under the National Leader paved the way for the rapid development of all areas of the national economy, attraction of local and foreign investment, introduction of modern technologies and governance practices, establishment of enterprises manufacturing competitive products, modernization of infrastructure, creation of new jobs. The National Leader believed in the private sector`s role as a socio-economic guarantor at the qualitatively new stage of the national economy, and put tremendous efforts in building a strong entrepreneurial class and strengthening entrepreneurs` role in society.

Fundamental measures were taken to create a more favourable environment for promoting investments in the country, use effective methods stimulating domestic and foreign investment, channel fixed foreign capital into the non-oil sector and regional development, and foster business activity.

In general, the policy pursued in 1993-2003 demonstrates that National Leader Heydar Aliyev prioritized multifaceted economic reforms as a crucial element for establishing and strengthening independence, and the formation of a firm economic base for ensuring sustainable development. The National Leader`s tenure as head of Azerbaijan marked the implementation of fundamental reforms in the national economy, identification of main principles of transition to socially-oriented market economy, completion of the first stage of a difficult process of land reform and privatization, creation of a legal framework for the development of national entrepreneurship, and facilitation of the country`s integration into the global economic system.

Modernization and innovation in reforms

The National Leader demonstrated sheer determination to ensure Azerbaijan`s success and achievements. It was well evidenced by the fact that National leader Heydar Aliyev prepared his successor who would become an irreplaceable leader for the nation and who would maintain continuity of the country`s successes.

The National Leader`s ideas today live on and develop thanks to tireless work and dedication of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Both the domestic and foreign policy pursued by the head of state is definitely a follow-up to Heydar Aliyev`s course. And the core principles of this policy are the strengthening of the Azerbaijani state, preservation of its independence, development of the national economy and improvement of the well-being of the population.

The wise Azerbaijani nation, who restored and strengthened independent statehood in the late 20th century, tied their fate to the political leader that they had really trusted and relied on. President Ilham Aliyev`s motto when he assumed office was "Real politics is about doing real work''. Having remained committed to his promise given back in 2003, the head of state proved with his works that he is a worthy President for each Azerbaijani citizen.

Ilham Aliyev received great support from his people to win the presidential election on April 11, 2018, and again assumed a responsible mission of the Azerbaijani leader. By his activities Ilham Aliyev has always justified the faith that the people put in him, working tirelessly and resolutely to transform Azerbaijan into a more powerful state. Suffice it to say that the country has become more powerful, rich, and made great strides in all areas after the presidential election, with human factor lying at the heart of the country`s policy.

Having enriched National Leader Heydar Aliyev`s governance traditions in accordance with modern requirements, MrIlham Aliyev took a sensitive approach to his people`s problems and wishes, instructing all officials to do the same.

The head of state relies on people in his activities, and is greatly honored to serve the nation. "My work is to serve the nation. I`m and will continue doing it. I rely on my people in all matters. We could not have done all these works without support from the people,” said the head of state, who believes in the necessity of introducing innovations and civil values in governance, activity and thoughts.

The successful diplomacy pursued by the head of state in the past 15 years has ensured Azerbaijan`s regional leadership and global recognition. The inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline as a follow-up to the Contract of the Century, implementation of TAP, TANAP projects, launch of three satellites fostered Azerbaijan`s standing in the international relations system. President Ilham Aliyev`s diplomatic efforts ensured the successful implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project and expanded the country`s role as a transit and communications hub between the East and the West. On May 29, 2018, the Southern Gas Corridor was inaugurated, followed by the launch of its integral part TANAP pipeline on June 12. The implementation of these projects has considerably increased Azerbaijan`s geopolitical influence both in the region and Europe. The commissioning of the Alat-Astara-Iran highway in 2018 was another landmark event. In other words, Azerbaijan has redrawn Eurasia`s energy and transport maps.

Balance in the development of regions

The national leader was travelling across Azerbaijan during the Soviet era to see the republic`s development and people`s lifestyle. This helped him to closely familiarize himself with the people of Azerbaijan, their traditions and moral values to summarize them and lay the foundations of a national ideology. That was a far-reaching move aimed at ensuring independence of Azerbaijan and the development of its regions. Among the factors that lie at the heart of the success of President Ilham Aliyev`s economic policy are the balanced development of the central and rural regions, development of profitable production areas in all regions, effective use of local resources and modernization of infrastructure. This economic strategy facilitated the development of entrepreneurship and rational use of the labor force, natural and economic potential in regions.

The implementation of the state programs for the socio-economic development of regions since 2004 marked a brand new chapter in the economic development of regions, prevented migration of people from rural areas to cities, and gave impetus to the development of the non-oil sector, especially entrepreneurship.

A detailed analysis of the 2004-2018 state programs shows that regions` special weight in the country`s macroeconomic indicators increased considerably. Rapid development of entrepreneurship, reopening and expansion of the activities of local production and processing enterprises, reconstruction of economic and socio-cultural infrastructure facilities, reduction of poverty, creation of new jobs made an enormous contribution to the improvement of the living standard. Approved by the Presidential Order of January 29, 2019, ''The state program for the socio-economic development of regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan'' will open a new chapter in the development of regions.

The development and sustainability of Azerbaijan`s economy in the past 15 years is confirmed by official statistics. The country`s strategic exchange reserves grew 27 times to make 46.7 billion US dollars. From 2004-2018, the gross domestic product saw a 3.2-fold increase, while the non-oil sector grew 2.7 times. The state-funded expenditure in the state budget increased drastically, investment expenditures became instrumental in the state budget.

The implementation of the state programs led to investment of more than 50 billion manats in regions, ensuring balance of development. More than 50 percent of the total of 1.9 million jobs created in the past 15 years were opened in regions, which is indicative of the success of the regional policy of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr Ilham Aliyev.

Permanent priority – human factor

The meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the results of socio-economic development of the first quarter of 2019 and future tasks once again confirmed that Azerbaijan is on the right track of development.

Official figures voiced at the meeting emphasize the effectiveness of the reforms conducted under the leadership of the Azerbaijani President and their role in improving human capital. During these years the budget received more than 200 million mantas in customs and tax revenues, gross domestic product rose 3 percent, industrial output grew 4.4 percent, industrial production in the non-oil sector increased 15.6 percent. Other indicators of positive dynamics of the development of investment making include a 3.5-fold growth in agriculture, 5.5-fold rise in population incomes, reduction of the lower limit of inflation to 2.1 percent, and investment of 2.8 billion US dollars in the country`s economy.

Azerbaijan`s policy and efforts to develop entrepreneurship are recognized by leading international organizations. In the World Bank`s Doing Business report, the Republic of Azerbaijan jumped from 63rd place in 2016 to 25th in 2019. According to the Davos Economic Forum, Azerbaijan`s economy was ranked 35th in terms of competitiveness in 2018, outclassing CIS countries for the eighth consecutive year. In the Forum`s Inclusive Development Index 2018, Azerbaijan was ranked third among developing countries, and first among CIS countries. In the UN Development Programme Human Development Index, Azerbaijan moved from middle human development group to high human development group.

The socially-oriented policy pursued by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr Ilham Aliyev aims to remove social inequality, improve citizens` well-being, prevent social stratification, and ensure decent living standard for all members of society. The orders signed by the head of state in the past decade have been instrumental in improving social security and reducing poverty level.

These factors show that market economy principles are getting a strong base in society, and that liberalization of economy does not contradict the interests of citizens in need of social protection. On the contrary, the profits made are channeled into addressing social problems and improving citizens` living standard. The April 11, 2018, presidential election marked the beginning of a qualitatively new stage in the social reforms, and comprehensive measures have been taken since the start of this year to strengthen social protection of low-income families. All these are a clear evidence of Azerbaijan`s commitment to a ''social state'' concept.

In parallel with the successful economic policy, flexible and transparent customs and tax reforms that increased the country`s financial capabilities, the head of state ensured the implementation of a successful social reform package. At the same time it should be emphasized that as a manifestation of this process the introduction of mandatory medical insurance was ensured, and the system will be introduced starting from 2020. The establishment of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, adoption of employment strategy, expansion of the scope of targeted social assistance, introduction of self-employment programs as a crucial component of social reforms gave a strong impetus to modernization of the country.

Measures taken in the past few years included the payment of lump sums in the amount of 11,000 manats to each of the families of those who became martyrs while defending Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity, increase in minimum salaries, social allowances, pensions and student stipends, construction of homes for citizens seriously affected by the quake, reimbursement – under certain terms – of citizens` debts to banks caused by devaluation, and the payment of compensation to entrepreneurs affected by the fire. These and other socially-oriented steps are undoubtedly welcomed by citizens.

At the current stage of reforms, building a public administration model based on progressive criteria is quite important to Azerbaijan. Main goals of the human resources reforms conducted in the past few years have been the improvement of people`s wellbeing, formation of the sustainable development strategy less dependent on oil and modification of the public administration philosophy.

With citizens` benefit in mind, President Ilham Aliyev is taking decisions and conducting reforms aimed at improving public administration. The head of state`s Decree of January 14, 2019 ''On additional measures to improve public administration in the Republic of Azerbaijan'' is crucial to ensuring flexibility and effectiveness in public administration system.

The outcomes of the April 11, 2018 elections affirmed the Azerbaijani society`s commitment to the policy of Heydar Aliyev, who had overcome hardships through years to earn people`s confidence. Accepted as the leader by the absolute majority of society, President Ilham Aliyev is working tirelessly, resolutely and with enormous dedication to realize the strategic goals of transforming Azerbaijan into a modern and developed country. Azerbaijan will undoubtedly make greater strides in the years ahead.

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