The Republic of Azerbaijan marks the 30th anniversary of adoption of the Constitutional Act on the Restoration of the State Independence on Oct. 18, 2021. On this most auspicious occasion, the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan provided The Korea Post media with a special statement. Details follow:
October 18, 1991, it was thirty years ago when the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan adopted the Constitutional Act on Restoration of State Independence. Thus, Azerbaijan regained its independence for the second time in the 20th century.
On May 28, 1918, the First Democratic Republic in the Muslim East was established in Azerbaijan, and we are proud to have been the first in the Muslim World.
Regaining independence was yet another historical moment for the Azerbaijani people, which unfortunately caused thousands of lives. Massive withdrawal and killings of ethnic Azerbaijanis from their motherlands, namely from Zangazur and Goyche districts of the former Soviet Republic of Armenia at the end of the 1980s, and mass killings of civilians in on January 1990 by the Soviet army in the capital city of Baku were recorded as the tragic pages of the re-birth of the independence.
Following the declaration of restoration of independence in 1991, neighboring Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan caused ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis from East Zangezur and Karabakh regions. Armenian aggression was also followed by an economic crisis; the industry of Azerbaijan was practically paralyzed.
Azerbaijan was on the verge of losing its state independence in just two years again; history was about to be repeated. The independence Azerbaijan gained in 1918 was lost in 1920 – after two years.
Thanks to the great leader Heydar Aliyev who came to power at the request of the people, Azerbaijan managed to avoid the collapse of statehood and entered a period of development.
Under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan disarmed the illegal armed groups in the country, and significant steps were taken in building an army. As a result, the foundations of statehood were laid, and stability was ensured. In 1995, the Constitution of independent Azerbaijan was adopted.
Serious political reforms were conducted. The political reforms carried out under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev were designed for the development of democracy and the protection of human rights.
Yet, another most significant achievement of Heydar Aliyev was managing to overcome the international isolation. The international community barely knew Azerbaijan during that time. On the other hand, using the influence of the Armenian lobby, Armenia conducted a smear campaign against Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan was deprived of responding and communicating reality to the world community. Heydar Aliyev changed the dynamics mentioned above with his active diplomatic efforts to reach the international community and present the realities of Azerbaijan and the former Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. It was in those years that foreign policy priorities were outlined.
Azerbaijan embarked on economic reforms, established the market economy principle, and began to develop as a modern and secular state. In other words, the strategic steps regarding the future of our country were taken. Today, history shows that it was the only right way.
As mentioned above, at that time, Azerbaijan was faced with economic challenges; the industry had practically collapsed, thousands of percent measured inflation. Moreover, limited financial resources made it impossible to develop the economy; thus, attracting foreign direct investment was the only way to survive the economy.
Therefore, in 1994, on the initiative of Heydar Aliyev, the Contract of the Century was signed. It has been 27 years since then, but the Contract of the Century still plays a crucial role in developing and strengthening our country. For the first time in history, Azerbaijan opened the Caspian Sea to foreign investors. As a result, billions of dollars were invested in the oil and gas sector, which eventually led to the gradual development of the country. The agreement on the Shah Deniz gas field was signed in 1996. Today, Shah Deniz plays a special role in the energy security of Azerbaijan, the region, and Europe.
In 1993-2003, Azerbaijan experienced a period of development and stability. The year 2003 was of particular importance for our independent history in this context. It was in 2003 that the people of Azerbaijan made the decision as to which way to go.
The current realities of Azerbaijan are evidence that the people of Azerbaijan made the right choice again in 2003. Since 2003, under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has been experiencing a period of dynamic development and continuing the policy of Heydar Aliyev.
Since 2003, Azerbaijan has made great strides in all areas. In diplomacy, we have expanded our bilateral relations, and we have managed to be more visible in the international arena via our active participation in the multilateral formats.
In 2011, 20 years after restoring its independence, Azerbaijan was elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. It was an important milestone for Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan’s diplomacy because 155 countries voted for the candidacy of Azerbaijan in the circumstances of tough competition.
From 2003 to this day, we have been experiencing a period of unparalleled development in the economic sphere. Our economy has tripled, industrial production has increased threefold, and we have ended poverty. Poverty was at the level of nearly 50 percent and has now dropped to 4.9 percent. There is a serious campaign against unemployment. As a result, unemployment is at a very low level.
Regions of Azerbaijan have come to develop, cities have started thriving, and modern infrastructure projects have been implemented. We have turned from a country importing electricity and gas into their exporter. Great attention has been paid to social issues in Azerbaijan. Over the last 18 years, wages and pensions have increased several times. Social infrastructure projects are implemented.
We are moving towards technological development. Today, Azerbaijan is one of a handful of members of space-faring nations. Currently, we have three satellites.
Azerbaijan has become a very important country in addressing issues of regional cooperation. In recent years, the large-scale energy projects implemented on our initiative have become even more widespread. These are intercontinental energy projects. In particular, the Southern Gas Corridor should be noted. This corridor has been created based on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines commissioned in 2006 and 2007. Without these pipelines, the Southern Gas Corridor would not be built.
The Southern Gas Corridor, one of the most significant energy projects in the World, was successfully commissioned in 2020. We supply our ample gas resources through reliable routes to one of the world's most prominent and closest markets to us – the European market. As a result, our energy policy is receiving a high assessment in the world.
Azerbaijan is conducting drastic reforms of governance, and we are fighting negative factors. Institutional measures in this direction also bring remarkable results. “ASAN service” is a brand of Azerbaijan that offers fast, transparent, and comfortable state servant–population services, which became attractive for some countries.
Azerbaijan is known worldwide as a reliable partner because all projects with our participation are calculated for cooperation. We strongly believe that collaboration among countries can eliminate many challenges. Despite our advantages in energy production and transportations, we have never used it for any other goals. We preferred to cooperate with interested countries on the development of the energy sector for the mutual befits of our people.
All other regional initiatives, including those in the transport sector, are aimed at cooperation. Today we are playing an active part in the creation of East-West corridors. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was put into operation in 2017, linking Europe with Asia to provide Azerbaijan with even greater opportunities because this corridor brings us many economic benefits. The volume of cargo passing through this corridor constitutes tens of millions of tons. At the same time, we are an active part of the North-South corridor. We have taken the initiative again and offered a regional cooperation format, which has already been created. This enables us to carry additional tens of millions of tons of cargo. This is what we mean by reducing dependence on the oil factor and developing the non-oil sector.
In recent years, Azerbaijan has become a center of multiculturalism in the world. This is confirmed by the international events, humanitarian forums, forums for inter-civilizational and inter-cultural dialogue held in our country. We firmly believe that multiculturalism has no alternative for sustainable stability in the world, which promotes peaceful mutual coexistence regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, and culture. Therefore, we are handling these matters at the appropriate level not only in the country, but we also show the way to many countries.
In Azerbaijan, there is stability and enhancing dynamics of development. Representatives of all ethnicities and religions living in our country feel comfortable. All of them are Azerbaijan’s worthy citizens. We consider multiculturalism in Azerbaijan as a huge asset of the country.
Azerbaijan is pursuing a dignified and independent policy. Almost 20% of Azerbaijani territories have been under occupation for about 30 years. For many years, Azerbaijan has been delivering the truth about this issue at international events. A lot has been done, and our efforts have paid off. All leading international organizations recognized and supported the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Four resolutions of the UN Security Council, resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement, the European Parliament, and other organizations supported the just cause of Azerbaijan. Thus, a legal basis was created for resolving the conflict. At the same time, as a result of our focused efforts, the world community was fully informed about the conflict and the history of Karabakh. Armenia’s false propaganda was stopped, and the whole world saw that Karabakh is our ancient historical land. For centuries, the Azerbaijani people have lived and built-in these lands. At the same time, the whole world saw that Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan in terms of international law.
Azerbaijan has actively participated in the negotiation processes in past years, bearing the hope for peaceful and fair resolution of the conflict based on international norms and principles. However, Azerbaijan’s patience and dedication to the negotiation processes were not endless. We repeatedly told our international partners and warned an aggressor country that a war would be an alternative to diplomacy. But, unfortunately, our calls were neglected or accepted as diplomatic maneuvers. Moreover, observing the lack of international pressure toward its policy of aggression, Armenia demonstrated more provocative actions and statements that had made war inevitable in recent years, especially in the last two years.
On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijani villages and military positions came under artillery fire, causing casualties among civilians and service members, making the Azerbaijani army respond to those provocations militarily. As a result, the Commander-in-Chief of Azerbaijan ordered our army to end the longstanding occupation and liberate the occupied territories.
Azerbaijani soldiers and officers completed their glorious mission with great heroism and courage and liberated our native lands from occupiers. Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli districts, as well as Sugovushan settlement, Hadrut settlement, a part of Khojaly district, a part of Kalbajar district, the Murovdag range, the southern part of Lachin district, strategic heights were liberated from the enemy on the battlefield.
Our glorious war ended in Shusha. The liberation of Shusha on November 8 is our historic achievement. Shusha was our first occupied city, and it was the last to be liberated. Therefore, the liberation of Shusha is a historical event. Azerbaijan’s heroic army crossed mountains, valleys, forests, paths, crossed cliffs, climbing rocks to reach Shusha, and raised the Azerbaijani flag in Shusha.
On November 10, Armenia was forced to sign an act of capitulation. According to this act of surrender, Kalbajar, Lachin, and Aghdam districts were returned to Azerbaijan without a single shot being fired, and the Azerbaijani flag was raised there. This shows that Azerbaijan has won the war both on the battlefield and in the political arena.
This is a historic victory. The people of Azerbaijan have been waiting for this day for about 30 years. Finally, today, we are celebrating the restoration of the independence of Azerbaijan as a heroic nation.
The heroism of the Azerbaijani people should be highlighted. Defeated on the battlefield, the enemy committed war crimes against the civilian population and fired at our cities with ballistic missiles, phosphorus bombs, and cluster munitions. As a result of this cowardly shelling, about 100 civilians, including children and women, have been killed. In addition, more than 400 civilians have been injured, more than 5,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. However, Azerbaijani citizens did not take a single step back from their land.
They said that they would rather die than retreat, that they would go all the way to the end. During the war, there was not a single deserter in the Azerbaijani Army. Azerbaijani wounded soldiers and officers were asking doctors in military hospitals and clinics to heal them as soon as possible, that they must return to the battlefield and complete their mission. The people of Azerbaijan have shown their greatness, their high morale spirit. The very cause of this victory was the Azerbaijani people. We have fulfilled our historic mission by showing unity, resolve, determination, and national spirit.
A new era is beginning for us now – a period of creation. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan's territories were turned into ashes during 30 years of occupation; the enemy has destroyed all the occupied lands. Some pictures of the liberated cities remind us of the tragic scenes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear attacks. There are video footages and pictures on the internet that demonstrate the vandalism conducted in the formerly occupied territories of Azerbaijan. All buildings, all historical sites, mosques, graves, cemeteries have been destroyed. But we will restore them all and turn Karabakh and East Zangazur regions into one of the most attractive places to live and visit. Restoration work has already started, and in a short time, one international airport became operational and over 100 km long Victory Road that connects Fuzuli and Shusha cities was inaugurated.
Thirty years is not a relatively long history, but Azerbaijan has proved to the world that we are the nation dedicated ourselves to living independently and successfully. Despite the challenges and victims, we gained our independence at the beginning of the 20th century and regained it at the end of the same century. Therefore, we recognize the value of living in an independent and sovereign country and continue to follow this path.
Our independence is irreversible and eternal!