Inauguration ceremony of Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was held

On February 14, the swearing-in ceremony of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev was held at the Milli Majlis.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, state and government officials, and MPs.

The ceremony participants warmly welcomed President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

The inauguration of President Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev, who was elected as President of the Republic of Azerbaijan by a nationwide vote, was declared open.

Under the accompaniment of the ceremonial march, soldiers of the Armed Forces brought the National Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the standard (flag) of the President of Azerbaijan onto the stage.

Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan Farhad Abdullayev and judges of the Constitutional Court were invited to the stage.

Addressing the event, Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan Farhad Abdullayev said:

- Dear ladies and gentlemen!

As you know, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, with its decision dated February 13, 2024, confirmed the results of the Central Election Commission regarding the snap presidential election in the Republic of Azerbaijan, declaring Mr. Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Under the Article 103 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President-elect of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev is invited for swearing-in ceremony in the presence of the judges of the Constitutional Court.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev put his hand on the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and took the oath:

- I do swear to abide by the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan while executing the powers of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, protect state independence and territorial integrity, and serve the people with dignity.

The President then put his hand on the Holy Quran and swore:

- I put my hand on the Holy Quran and swear: I will remain loyal to and respect national and moral values and traditions that have been created by the people of Azerbaijan for centuries.

The national anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan was played.

President Ilham Aliyev dropped to one knee and kissed the National Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the swearing-in ceremony.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Azerbaijan for once again placing great confidence and supporting me in the presidential election. Let me assure my dear nation again that I will continue to spare no effort for the comprehensive development of Azerbaijan and the protection of our territorial integrity.

The people of Azerbaijan have been supporting me for more than 20 years. In 2003, when I was elected as President for the first time, I assured my dear people that I would try to meet all the goals ahead of us and live up to the high confidence of the people placed in me. These years have been a period full of successes and victories. There have been difficulties and problems, but the people of Azerbaijan united like a fist and successfully walked the path of development and progress in the face of all the difficulties and problems.

All the pledges I made back in 2003 have now been fulfilled. The source of all our achievements is the Azerbaijani people, their trust in me, and their ability to unite around a single goal. We have proved to the whole world that we are a great nation, that we are in charge of our own destiny, that we are capable of solving the problems facing the country ourselves without anyone's help, and we are solving them once and for all.

Among the promises I made, first of all, was certainly the restoration of the territorial integrity of our country. At that time and in the years that followed, including 2018, during a swearing-in ceremony, I said from this lectern that the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict should be resolved only within the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, that the people of Azerbaijan would never tolerate the creation of a second Armenian state on our territory and that we would liberate our native lands at any cost. Only two and a half years passed from that day, and the people of Azerbaijan united like a fist and liberated a large part of our lands as a result of the Patriotic War. More than 300 cities and villages were liberated, including the city of Shusha, our cultural capital, from the invaders. We restored historical justice by shedding blood and giving martyrs.

May Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs in peace. Thanks to the courage, sacrifice, and heroism of tens of thousands of Azerbaijani youngsters, we are now living and building a free Karabakh, we are building, creating, and restoring our cities and villages as a nation that has restored its territorial integrity and dignity.

The Second Karabakh War marks a significant chapter in our history. Nevertheless, it could have been prevented if Armenia, its leadership, and its supporting forces adhered to international law and implemented the four resolutions of the UN Security Council. If the world’s great powers had imposed sanctions on Armenia for its policy of aggression or at least condemned its policy of aggression, there would have been no need for war. The state of Azerbaijan showed restraint for many years. We also remained loyal to the negotiations although our hopes were dwindling over the years, the occupying state was getting even more impudent and thought that it could keep our lands under occupation forever.

Those who gave them this confidence bear and share the entire responsibility along with the Armenian leadership. I have repeatedly said at various events and in conversations with the Armenian leadership and leaders of major powers supporting it that Azerbaijan would never come to terms with this situation. I was saying that they should convince Armenia and take the necessary steps to end this occupation before it was too late.

Unfortunately, all my calls and all my warnings fell on deaf ears – as if they thought that the people of Azerbaijan would have to come to terms with this occupation. We showed on the battlefield what we are capable of. We completely crushed the Armenian army on the battlefield in a matter of 44 days. We brought it to a state that, according to their own admission, there were more than 12,000 deserters in the Armenian army. Not a single person from the Azerbaijani Army left the battlefield or ran away.

This once again shows the indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people. It shows again that a young generation has grown up and is ready to face death for the sake of the Motherland, our lands, and our national dignity. Our young people were prepared to die. We shattered the myth Armenia had tried to create all over the world for years and exposed the cowardly and capitulating nature of the Armenian army. Our courageous soldiers proved this by shedding blood, advancing, and crossing five to six lines of defense. The 44-day Patriotic War, I want to say this again, showed our unbending spirit, showed the resolve of the Azerbaijani people, showed the strength of the Azerbaijani state. The nation united like a fist, and all our historical and strategic goals were achieved in a matter of 44 days. During these 44 days, our Army did not take a single step back, we were only moving forward. The liberation of Shusha was a historic event that also ended the Second Karabakh War. After that, Armenia was forced to sign the act of capitulation, wave the white flag, and surrender. Thus, the Second Karabakh War ended.

In the post-war period, we have demonstrated our principled position on all issues. During the numerous meetings with those trying to act as international mediators and with the Armenian side, it was stated that all the obligations they had undertaken should be fulfilled. Everything is explicitly stated in the act of capitulation. It is true that some of the obligations were fulfilled, which was done under pressure and out of fear. Because the Second Karabakh War dealt such a crushing blow to the invaders that they could not recover from it for a long time. However, as time passed, we saw that renewed territorial claims were made against us and that they did not want to give up their ugly deeds. We rightly demanded that all conditions and obligations should be fulfilled. Armenia undertook these obligations itself. Among them, first of all, there were obligations on the removal of illegal armed groups from the territory of Azerbaijan and on the road connection between the main part of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. These obligations were not fulfilled in three years. Armenia seems to have forgotten the results of the Second Karabakh War. Perhaps someone was giving them advice not to fulfill these obligations.

For three years, we demonstrated patience, we did not intend to create new tensions, and the entire chronology of events during the period from the Second Karabakh War to the anti-terror operation once again shows that Azerbaijan's position is a fair one. Indeed, Armenia and the forces behind it do not want to see that, but everything is documented and it is impossible to conceal anything today. Over the course of three years, not only did Armenia fail to withdraw its armed forces from the Karabakh region, it sent additional weapons and mines. Mine terror against us continued and even grew further. It was as if Armenia was trying to deceive the whole world, including us, that the armed units of the Armenian army were not present in Karabakh and that they were some self-defense forces. Those who believed in such nonsensical theories bear the responsibility together with the leadership of Armenia.

Therefore, the anti-terror operation was inevitable. Contradictory points in Armenia's position have become commonplace. If Armenia does not make some contradictory statements for a week, we start wondering what is going on there. The state that officially recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and declared it in October 2022 on the one hand did not give up its territorial claims against us on the other. This was evident in their statements, as well as their laws, including their fundamental law, and also congratulatory letters sent by the Armenian leadership to the separatist forces. Those who do not want to see this, those who trying to stand behind Armenia today should know that they cannot conceal anything.

Our territorial integrity had to be fully restored, and we were consistently moving towards this goal after the Second Karabakh War. There is no need to repeat all the events, the people of Azerbaijan know and remember everything. All our steps had a logic behind them, each step was a logical continuation of the previous one whether it was related to the Lachin-Khankendi road or the anti-terrorist operation. I should also mention other steps, including the events that took place on the conditional border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which I think played a very important role in achieving today's reality. Perhaps some people could not fully understand this for objective reasons at the time, but today, looking back, everyone can see that not a single step of ours was situational, adventurous, or meaningless. In general, we never take meaningless steps, have not, and will not do that. Whatever steps we take today, these steps have a meaning to move towards the goal.

The anti-terror operation in September once again showed the strength of our Armed Forces. In a matter of just a few hours, the approximately 15,000-strong expeditionary corps of the Armenian army was completely paralyzed and was forced to sign the act of capitulation for the second time. With this, separatism in the territory of Azerbaijan was nipped in the bud. Azerbaijan fully restored both its territorial integrity and state sovereignty.

This is a historic event, and this historic event has a special place in our centuries-old history. The key distinctive feature and importance of this presidential election is that it was the first time in the period of independence that an election was held on the entire territory of our country. As you know, I cast my vote in Khankendi. I could vote anywhere in Azerbaijan, but I thought it would be more correct to vote in Khankendi. Bloody crimes against our people started in the late 1980s in Khankendi. It was in the building where I voted in Khankendi that the genocide against our people was planned and controlled from. It was in the square in front of the building where I voted that Armenian nationalists and then the state of Armenia made territorial claims against us. It was in that building that a special committee was placed in Soviet times to sever Karabakh from Azerbaijan. The primary goal of that committee was to sever Karabakh from Azerbaijan, and everyone knows that. That is why the devils that illegally occupied our historical place for 30 years, the place built by Panahali Khan, confirmed their downfall there – as they had to, of course. The vote I cast there, the ballot paper I dropped into that ballot box was not just a ballot paper. It was the final nail in the coffin of Armenian separatists.

A new era begins now. We are entering this period with a clear face and with our heads held high. There will be further achievements in this era, and I do not doubt that. Because the history of recent years shows that all the tasks, we set for ourselves are fulfilled. Of course, the whole of Azerbaijan is entering this era, and the people who have demonstrated unity, including great unity in this election, will achieve even greater success. I do not doubt that. The very positive atmosphere prevailing in Azerbaijani society makes us even stronger. A strong Azerbaijan has always been our goal. If we had not built a strong Azerbaijan, if we had depended on someone else, either politically or economically, we would never have been able to restore our territorial integrity. As part of the lengthy negotiations, some unfinished proposals were put forward to us many times. However, those proposals were unacceptable to us. I always said that the Azerbaijani flag would fly in every part of our territory.

I said at the opening of the Flag Square that our flag would fly in Shusha and Khankendi and that this was our policy. We mobilized all our resources and advanced towards that goal. We brought this holy day closer every day and every hour.

Of course, as we are entering a new era, we have great hopes. I am sure that all the people of Azerbaijan have great hopes. Of course, we should work hard and take steps to fulfill these hopes.

I believe that one of the primary goals for us in the coming years is to further strengthen our Army and the Armed Forces. After the Second Karabakh War, great steps were taken in this direction, and I have spoken about this issue on different occasions. I said that the Azerbaijani Army is stronger than in 2020 today, and the anti-terror operation, which lasted only a few hours, is a clear example of this.

Today, necessary steps are being taken for the future development of our Armed Forces. Necessary weapons and equipment are being purchased; new armed units are being set up. The number of Special Forces has been increased several times, and the number of soldiers in the new “Commando” units is in the thousands, and this process continues. We have created an Army that – these things will be continued – no one can pick on us and even think about that in the future. A fitting rebuff was immediately given to yet another provocation committed by Armenia the other day, and the enemy was punished. This was another signal to them and mainly to the forces that encouraged them, that sent us against us – no one can stand in our way. No matter how many patrons Armenia may have, no one can stop us. Our policy is based on international law. We have no claims to the territory of Armenia, but they must give up their claims. Blackmailing us with baseless claims will cost them dearly and everyone can see it. Thus, the process of building an army will be continued. Even today, the biggest expenses in our state budget are military expenses and, together with those expenses, the reconstruction of Karabakh and East Zangezur.

We are creating a very powerful military and industrial complex, the first phase of which has already been completed. The second stage will be even more extensive. This year alone, at least one billion manats will be invested by both private and public enterprises in this, and we will provide ourselves with an even larger amount of weapons and equipment, export a larger amount. I can say that we will largely get rid of foreign dependence in this area as well. Just as in the political and economic sphere, we have zero chance of being affected by foreign influence, because we are conducting an independent policy.

Everyone sees the developments unfolding in the world today. The world has actually come very close to the third world war. Some believe that the third world war has already started. There may be different assumptions about that. Of course, modern warfare is very different. It is not even possible to compare World War II with today's wars. Of course, many countries have started paying attention to the military field today. We have been doing this for more than 20 years, and the experience we have today, including our combat experience, is invaluable. Our Army has demonstrated its strength not in exercises, not in parades, but on the battlefield. Armenia and those supporting it militarily should understand that nothing can stop us. If territorial claims against us are not abandoned, if Armenia does not bring its legislation into order, of course, there will be no peace treaty. This once again suggests that building an army and strengthening the military potential is the primary objective. Today, I should also note that this has already become the main task for many countries. It can be clearly seen in their military doctrines, their budget expenditures, and other steps. Our advantage is that our Army demonstrated its strength on the battlefield, our Army has a very high morale, our professionalism is growing, and we defeated Armenia on the battlefield. Therefore, this factor will always be present.

At the same time, we must protect our borders more vigorously. I am setting this task as a priority. Important steps have been taken in this direction, especially if we take into account the fact that after the Second Karabakh War, we returned both to the Azerbaijan-Iran border, which was occupied at that time, and to the conditional border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Of course, the construction of border infrastructure is of particular importance, and here we are using and will continue to use the most modern approaches. Our border should be so reliably closed, so that not even a bird can fly through. Protecting our borders will also protect us from external risks. Because there are no risks inside the country. All potential risks are located and generated outside the borders of our country. It is considered an important task to take security measures in the future. As a result of security measures and the strengthening of our borders, we must protect ourselves from physical and also from ideological risks. Ideological risks know no bounds, especially in the current situation. Therefore, the main task is to educate the young generation in the spirit of patriotism and national traditions. We have to approach this issue very seriously, and I am setting this task as a priority. Educating the younger generation means securing our future.

Today, the people of Azerbaijan are as united as a fist. The nationwide cause that united us was the liberation of Karabakh. This issue has already been resolved and this unity should be permanent. National unity should be permanent because the importance of Azerbaijan is increasing, and the role it plays in the world is increasing. Of course, further ideological provocations against us are not ruled out. They are inevitable, and we see them almost daily. Casting a shadow on our work, discriminating against us, and creating an unfounded, false, and negative image of Azerbaijan – we see all this in our daily life, the people of Azerbaijan see it and are outraged by that.

We have to raise a young generation that will always be as faithful to national traditions and moral values as we are. Their minds should be pure. Let no one succeed in trying to poison their brains. Of course, family education comes first in this. Fortunately, the Azerbaijani family is healthy, a family resting on traditions and national values. Family education is the primary education for every young person and child. Second comes school education, and Azerbaijani schools have played a great role in educating such successful young people. The values instilled in children in school, the education and knowledge given to children about our independence, national dignity, the injustices committed against us over the centuries, not just in the last 30 years, the loss of lands at different times, and our heroic history are of tremendous importance. As for national and moral values as a whole, it forms the basis of our society. It is an unshakable asset, an unshakable value, and it is up to us to make it unshakable. Because if an outside force achieves its dirty intentions here, then we will have serious problems. Therefore, educating our youth in the national spirit, educating them based on traditional values, and completely erasing the so-called progressive and alien values from our society - this is the task before all of us, before every family, and before the state. Of course, state policy is being conducted and will continue to be conducted in this sphere. At the same time, as I said, the whole society should be united, and we are seeing this solidarity. The solidarity shown in this election strengthens our society like a rock and no outside force can carry out any insidious plans against us.

We will continue to take steps related to the creation of a civil society in Azerbaijan. The solidarity of the Azerbaijani people is one of our biggest achievements. The brilliant Victory in the Second Karabakh War once again shows that the people of Azerbaijan are a great nation. All ethnic groups and peoples living in Azerbaijan are united under the flag of Azerbaijan. In this Victory, in this historic Victory, every nation living in our country has made its own valuable contribution.

The ideology of Azerbaijanism and the principles of Azerbaijanism have long been established in Azerbaijan. One of the valuable legacies left to us by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev is the ideology of Azerbaijanism. We, as his followers, are invigorating these positive tendencies. All peoples living in Azerbaijan live like a single and friendly family. Those who want to undermine our unity, no matter how hard they try, have not succeeded and never will succeed. Because we are all rallied around a single cause. We have given martyrs and shed blood. We put our chests forward and went to fight against the Armenian invaders. This unity, this solidarity, and this glorious history of Victory unite all the peoples living in Azerbaijan even more closely, and this is being set as a priority for us. I can say that there have been historic achievements in this field, although there have been and will be quite a lot of attempts to undermine this unity, to shake us from within, and to come up with various provocations. Because the forces that don't like us, the anti-Azerbaijani forces that don't accept our power and can't digest our brilliant Victory over Armenia will try to capitalize on this factor. But, their efforts will be in vain. Our unity must serve as a barrier in front of these efforts, and it does. Necessary steps will be taken in this direction. Of course, society, government officials, and state institutions have a unified policy here, and this policy manifests itself in everyday life.

Another important task is the restoration of Karabakh and East Zangezur. I can say that every unbiased foreign visitor to the liberated lands is truly amazed by the work being done there. The pace of restoration work after such devastation is probably unprecedented in history. We should also take into account the fact that the contemptible enemy mined our territories and more than 300 people have already lost their lives or their health because of that. Unfortunately, we hear such horrific news every week. The demining process is underway and 120,000 hectares of land have already been cleared, but the mined area is much larger.

Despite all this, the process of returning the former IDPs to their ancestral lands is going on successfully. To date, approximately 5,400 IDPs have already been returned and settled in five settlements. IDPs will return to at least 20 settlements this year. We plan to settle 20,000 former IDPs in five cities and 15 villages by the end of the year. Master plans of more than a hundred cities and villages have been prepared and approved. Construction work has already started in many cities and villages. We will complete the first phase of the Great Return program by the end of 2026 when 140,000 displaced people will have returned to their ancestral lands. In parallel with this, the entire social infrastructure is being built, hospitals, schools, sports and infrastructure facilities, roads, and more than 130 tunnels and bridges – 40 tunnels and 90 bridges – are under construction. In other words, this goes to show the scale of the work. The entire electricity sector has been rebuilt, railways are being built, two international airports have been inaugurated, and the third one will be opened in Lachin. So extensive construction work will be carried out. Of course, new houses will be built for the displaced, residences complying with modern urban planning requirements will be constructed, and the historical appearance of our cities will be restored.

Of course, our economy must develop to achieve all this. The results of January of this year are quite encouraging. Gross domestic product has increased by 5 percent and in the non-oil sector by more than 12 percent. This is an encouraging indicator. It shows that we are steadily regaining our economic pace. For comparison, I can say that our gross domestic product in 2003 was 7 billion dollars, whereas according to the results of last year, this figure is 72 billion dollars. In other words, this is the main indicator of our economic development in 20 years. Our foreign exchange reserves in 2003 were 1.6 billion dollars, today they already constitute 69.5 billion dollars. Notice how much we have increased our foreign exchange reserves in these 20 years. This is one of the key factors of our economic and financial independence. As a result of the policy, our direct foreign debt has dropped to 6.4 billion dollars, which accounts for only 9 percent of our gross domestic product, even less than that. In developed countries, this number is at 100 percent, maybe at 140 percent, and we have it at less than 9 percent. So what does this mean? These are indicators of our sound financial system, which allows us the opportunity to conduct an independent policy. Today, Azerbaijan, which does not depend on anyone, is developing confidently and successfully and conducts its foreign policy accordingly.

The work done in the social sphere is also obvious. In 2003, our minimum wage was 9 manats – many probably don’t remember that. Now it is 345 manats. Of course, this is not enough, but the dynamics are there and will be continued. The minimum pension was 20 manats in 2003. Today it has reached 280 manats. The average pension is more than 500 manats. The average salary is 940 manats. Of course, I repeat that we can’t be complacent. But there are dynamics, there is development, and most importantly, there are great prospects. The reforms carried out in the economic sphere have already created a completely new investment environment in Azerbaijan. Whereas in previous years investment was mostly made in the oil and gas sector, today the investment in the non-oil sector is measured in billions of dollars. Agreements reached and contracts signed will manifest themselves in the next few years. Progress will be so big that everyone will see it.

We must, of course, continue our work on poverty and unemployment. Poverty is at the level of 5 percent in Azerbaijan. In 2003, it was about 50 percent. Efforts to address unemployment should be consistent to maintain it at a low level. Our population has grown by 3 million people in the years of independence, and unemployment is usually a serious problem in countries with growing populations, including ours. We need to create tens of thousands of jobs every year. Of course, domestic resources are not sufficient for this. Foreign investment is necessary, and economic reforms, including those on improving the business environment, competition, and antitrust measures, will improve this business environment. Of course, Karabakh and East Zangezur will be a new pillar of our economic development. In those regions, projects related to agriculture, renewable energy, and tourism will provide great support to the non-oil sector.

One of the important issues in the social sphere is the social protection of the families of martyrs and those disabled in the war. I can say that 14,800 houses or apartments were given by the state to people from this category. The process of providing homes to 100% of people in this category is advancing rapidly, including this year and the next.

Another important objective is technological development. Today, in the field of industrial development, in the military and industrial complex, and, in general, in the military field, technological development and superiority are of great importance. Everyone saw this during the Second Karabakh War and the anti-terrorist operation. Of course, the main factor behind our victory is the Azerbaijani soldier – a man, a soldier, an officer who destroys the enemy and raises the flag in liberated lands. However, technical means do not play a small role either. We came out of the Second Karabakh War with minimal losses due to technical means. Therefore, goals related to technological development have been defined and issued to all relevant institutions. This work, of course, requires mobilization. State policy alone is not sufficient here. Of course, we are buying new technologies, and we are providing great support for technological development, but one of the important issues here is personnel training. I can say that there has been a great development in this direction in the last year or two. The public may not be aware of that but no technological innovation can be achieved in the absence of personnel training. Several thousand young Azerbaijanis have undergone training and special programs of late. Technological development, digitization, cyber security, application of artificial intelligence – all these should become part of our daily lives. Government agencies, the private sector, and all other segments of society must be ready for this. Otherwise, we will lag behind others. We cannot be overtaken. We live in such a region and there are such forces united against us that they are looking for an opportunity to harm us. I said this during the Second Karabakh War and the anti-terror operation – we have moved rocks off the ground that were considered indestructible, so they will not forgive us. We should know this. If anyone thinks that they will let go, they are mistaken. We must be ready, we must mobilized and, of course, our society should live comfortably. I do not see any dangers or threats to Azerbaijan but I know why – because they know that our response will be merciless, it will be crushing and it will be given regardless of anything. Therefore, if we do not achieve technological development, if there are not just a few thousand but tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis in this business, we may be overtaken. Therefore, I think that all institutions and, at the same time, society should know and see this as a duty.

Another important goal is related to renewable energy. We are at the forefront here as well and work has already been started. According to our plans, about 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy, new energy types, should be created in Azerbaijan by the end of 2030 – mainly solar, wind, and hydropower plants. The figure I have cited is completely realistic, it will be based on the contracts already signed. Protocols of intent indicate a higher figure, approximately 10,000 megawatts. Thus, we will be able to export a large amount of our natural gas. It will be saved. Most of the electricity will be produced by renewable energy. We will also contribute to the climate change agenda, especially considering that this year Azerbaijan will host COP29 – the largest international conference in the world. Therefore, our goals regarding renewable energy are clear. I must also state that all these projects are being implemented and will be implemented by foreign investors. If it is possible to say so, we are now observing a process of competition among foreign investors. Because so many countries want to invest in this field in Azerbaijan, we don't have such opportunities as yet. However, the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank, has identified our wind potential at the level of 157,000 megawatts.

Work will be continued in the field of conventional fuel – oil and gas. Work is underway on stabilizing oil production; I think there will be results in the near future. We need sustainable oil production, and we have set this task before the investors. There have been certain points of concern and these issues are due to be addressed through business contacts.

Regarding natural gas. We are already exporting natural gas to eight countries. The demand is greater, first of all, of course, from the European Union. More and more people are asking us for help. These are the requests being made to us. And we, as a reliable partner, are always ready to help those in need. And we do provide this help, which is appreciated. It is not always appreciated, but we are satisfied with this situation in principle.

In the future, our export geography will increase in the direction of Europe, of course. Our new resource base was launched recently. After the Shah Deniz field, the first gas has been produced from the Absheron gas-condensate field, our second biggest field, and we will probably start the second stage of development of this field soon. Gas production from deep reservoirs of the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field is planned for next year. This will increase our resource base. In addition to that, there are proposals from many foreign investors to start production from Umid, Babek, Shafag, Asiman, and Garabagh oil and gas-condensate fields. In the past, forces that did not like us spread rumors that there was no oil in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has maintained oil production at a high level since 1997 and exports oil to many countries. They said there was no gas in Azerbaijan. Of course, this is also nonsense – the fields I have mentioned are clear evidence of that.

Of course, we will continue our work in the field of transport. Today, Azerbaijan is recognized as a global transport hub. We receive applications from the West, the East, the North, and the South. The entire transport infrastructure in the territory of Azerbaijan is in operable condition. Some railways simply need to be modernized, and we are doing that. It is probably impossible for the geopolitical situation in the world to change shortly. Under such circumstances, the need for our transport infrastructure will further increase.

Our advantage is that we have implemented all the necessary infrastructure projects in the Caspian Sea – the railway infrastructure, highways, seaport, and shipyard, which is working at full capacity today. When that plant was first put into operation, orders provided it with a full workload.

We have eight international airports and the ninth one is under construction in Lachin. So we are ready. Let those who are not ready do their work and implement the infrastructure projects that are lacking in their areas. Of course, based on international experience, we showcase our opportunities as a transit country. Of course, we will receive both economic and political dividends from that.

Azerbaijan is a landlocked country. However, for the reasons I mentioned, we have become one of the transportation hubs. Gradually, our role will increase, and the number of requests to us will also increase, just as they have been asking us “Give us gas, give us gas, we don't have enough gas”. The situation will be the same here.

We are not asking anyone for anything. I have been the president for more than 20 years and so far I have not asked anyone for anything, because there was no need for that. We are a fully self-sufficient country. We support cooperation in a bilateral format and our foreign policy is designed for this – equitable relations, respect for each other, good relations with each other, and, as they say, non-interference in each other's affairs. These are our principles. We have dictated these principles and succeeded in having them accepted.

A strong economy, a strong army, domestic stability, the unity between the people and the government are the key factors of our foreign policy. Because foreign policy, as everyone knows, is a continuation of domestic policy. Therefore, from now on, our foreign policy will continue to be clear and open. Today, the world community likes and supports our policy. If this were not the case, 155 countries would not have elected us as the UN Security Council member. If this were not the case, 120 countries would not have elected us to chair the Non-Aligned Movement. If this were not the case, the international community would not have decided to hold the COP29 Conference in Azerbaijan.

Sometimes we hear that some countries or a group of countries want to take over the functions of the international community and try to speak on behalf of it. When they have nothing to say, they say that the international community will not perceive this issue well. First, it is a matter of modesty. Any limited number of 20-30 countries cannot speak on behalf of the international community, not to mention one country. The international community is on our side, the international community supported us during the Second Karabakh War and the anti-terror operation. I think the international reputation of Azerbaijan is not a secret to anyone today.

We will take our steps regarding international organizations. First of all, we will continue our efforts within the framework of the Organization of Turkic States. This is a priority for us. I want to say it clearly. The current policy makes it clear to everyone. This is the main international organization for us because it is our family. We have no other family. Our family is the Turkic world.

If anyone thinks that we should look for a family elsewhere, I can say that we are not welcome anywhere and they are not even concealing this anymore. Whereas in previous years, especially during the occupation, they tried to lure us with certain promises to confuse us, i.e. pull wool over our eyes, now those masks have been dropped and there are dividing lines there. We did not draw those dividing lines; we are against any dividing lines. Even in the South Caucasus, where there are only three countries, we can clearly see these dividing lines today. Under such circumstances, should we bow to those who do not want to accept us somewhere? Absolutely not! Our family is the Turkic world. We feel perfectly fine there. We have brotherly relations with all countries that are members of the Organization of Turkic States, and our policy is to solidify the Organization of Turkic States. It is a vast geography, an extensive territory, a large military prowess, a substantial economy, natural resources, transportation routes, a young and growing population, and peoples from the same roots. Can there be a stronger union than this? Of course not! We must make a joint effort so that the Organization of Turkic States becomes an important actor and power center in the global arena. We can only achieve this together.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation always stood with Azerbaijan during and after the occupation, as well as during and after the Second Karabakh War and the anti-terror operation. Azerbaijan is a valuable member of this organization. The attitude towards the Islamic religion and all religions in Azerbaijan is highly appreciated by this organization. This organization unites all Muslim countries. Of course, acceptance and support of our initiatives in this organization have a special meaning.

The Non-Aligned Movement. Although we have already handed over the chairmanship, we are still presented in the troika. The Non-Aligned Movement entered a new level during our presidency, and we certainly cannot allow it to decline to whatever extent. I am sure it won't. On our part, we will do our best to strengthen the Non-Aligned Movement as an institution. If it is necessary to help solve the problems facing member countries, of course, we will do that.

In general, we should open up new horizons in the direction of foreign policy in this new era. Whereas in the previous period, the primary direction of our foreign policy was the solution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, today this issue is almost no longer on the agenda. This is why new directions of our foreign policy should prevail. We will be more active in solving problems of concern in the world, including climate change. Considering that we will be the host and chair of COP29, we must be at the forefront of the fight against Islamophobia in the world. We should be with the countries fighting against neo-colonialism. We are showing and will continue to show support in the fight for the complete eradication of neo-colonialism and the remnants of that ugly history from the face of the Earth. Those responsible for neocolonialism should also know that they have unleashed a cold war on us in vain. We will not lag behind. We have never been on the defensive. We will take adequate measures to the steps taken against us, and those who are preparing cunning plans against us, I am sure, will regret it.

Finally, Azerbaijan-Armenia relations. It is no coincidence I am raising this issue at the end of my speech. I think that the significance of this issue is overstated. And it is done deliberately. Armenia’s patrons always want to discuss this issue, to show their effort, to pull the blanket to their side, to be mediators. First, to be a mediator, you need to be at least superficially neutral. We know what there is in your heart. But at least on the surface you have to follow some diplomatic rules. We do not need a mediator in this matter. I have said this before and I want to repeat it again from this rostrum. We have resolved our problem. We have initiated the signing of a peace agreement with Armenia. Azerbaijan was the author of the five well-known principles. We also wrote the text of the peace agreement and sent it to the Armenian side. Now, if Armenia wants to comply with the norms of international law, this agreement will be signed. If it doesn't and if groundless claims continue to be made against us, this agreement will not be signed.

Yet, nothing will change for Azerbaijan. I have already said that we should be ready for the challenges ahead of us, for the sordid policies conducted against us. Therefore, I think that the process of normalization of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations should be dropped from the international agenda. Because apparently every other party wants to deal with this issue. Mind your own business! This is why I don't want to spend a lot of time on this topic because it's not worth it. We have resolved our problem. Today we are in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Lachin, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, Kalbadjar, Shusha, Hadrut, Khojaly, Aghdara, Asgaran, and Khankendi! This new era begins successfully. I am sure that it will also continue successfully. Good luck to all of us on this journey, may our path be clear!

The solemn swearing-in ceremony concluded.


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The solemn swearing-in ceremony concluded.

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