Aliasgar Valiyev, Investigative journalist in Azerbaijan
The next presidential election in Azerbaijan will be held on April 11 this year. The candidates, who will participate in the election process in the conditions of democratic environment, high civic engagement, the great interest of the international and local communities, are already nominated. Before the election day experts and political scientists have already declared that President Ilham Aliyev is an undisputed leader, and the results of all sociological surveys confirm that the president will win a bright victory next time. For example, the high credibility of the President was reflected in the results of a survey conducted recently by the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program at the same time as the “ELS” Independent Research Center Public Union. So, about 80 percent of Azerbaijani citizens are optimistic about the country’s future, 91.4 percent support the policy of Ilham Aliyev. And what are the main factors that condition the victory of President Ilham Aliyev? Loyalty to basic principle Independent political course established by national leader Heydar Aliyev is being successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev. The years 1993-2003 when Heydar Aliyev ruled the independent Azerbaijan were years of the formation of the Azerbaijani statehood, the foundation of its future development, and the successful integration of our country into the international arena. This is the historic and unprecedented service of national leader Heydar Aliyev in front of the Azerbaijani people. His example of political leadership has become an example not only for the people of that period, but even for future generations. An Azerbaijani citizen is at focus of state policy. Over the past 14 years, the country’s economy stepped on the period of rapid and dynamic development as a result of President Ilham Aliyev‘s considered and far-sighted policy. When President Ilham Aliyev was elected for the first time, he promised to create 600,000 new jobs in the country. Then this figure seemed to some people as a dream. Over the years, imagines have become a reality. More than 1 million 800 thousand new jobs were created in Azerbaijan over the past 14 years. As a result of these and other steps, poverty dropped from 50 percent to 5 percent. The economy of fastest growing Azerbaijan in the world grew 3.4 times, industrial production – 2.7 times, agriculture – 1.5 times. $ 180 billion invested in the country’s economy. From the day President Ilham Aliyev came to power, an Azerbaijani citizen is at focus of his policy. Consecutive steps are being taken to improve the welfare of the population, to solve social problems, to provide people with modern health services. Over the past 14 years, thousands of schools have been built or rebuilt in the country, an educational infrastructure with extensive base was created, and more than four thousand schools have been provided with computer equipment. State programs on socio-economic development of the regions have eliminated the gap between urban and rural areas. Today, the regions of Azerbaijan are provided with all necessary infrastructures and don’t leg behind from the European cities and villages. Under the President’s instruction, Azerbaijan is gasified completely. Now gasification in the country is at 93 percent. Villages are provided with drinking water lines; new roads are being repaired or overhauled. The visits of the head of state to the regions, meetings with the public have become traditional. Ilham Aliyev personally participates in the opening of modern public and social facilities, production facilities built in the sites. Ilham Aliyev’s reforms have brought transparency to society’s life and eliminated bureaucratic obstacles. “Transparency is a matter that determines the future of each country. Because without transparency, we cannot make any reforms, and the country can develop neither economically or politically” said President Ilham Aliyev and took an innovative step in reforming the activities of state structures and improving transparency, eliminating bureaucratic barriers between citizens and state structures. He created the State Agency for Citizens Service and Social Innovations under the President.
Azerbaijan is known as a reliable partner
The international prestige of Azerbaijan is increasing day by day under leadership of Ilham Aliyev, who favored the balanced concept of foreign policy. The number of our country’s friends grows. Azerbaijan is recognized and accepted as a reliable partner in the world. One of the most important factors proving this is Azerbaijan’s election as a member of the UN Security Council. In addition, Azerbaijan plays an important role in ensuring Europe’s energy security: the implementation of the TANAP project, one of the largest energy projects in the world, has been launched between Azerbaijan and Turkey. Three years ago another great event took place, which was written with golden letters in Azerbaijan’s newest history and energy policy – the foundation of the “Southern Gas Corridor” of the XXI century global energy project was laid. This year “Contract of the Century” has been extended for another 50 years. At the initiative of Azerbaijan another global project – the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was put into operation. Now, this transport corridor that connects Asia and Europe, promises broad prospects for our country. At the same time, as a result of the offensive diplomacy determined by Ilham Aliyev, the Armenian offensive propaganda and the myth of the Armenian lobby were smashed. The focus of attention of international organizations was drawn on this problem, the essence of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, truths about Azerbaijan spread all over the world, and international public opinion changed in favor of Azerbaijan. The world community began to recognize and condemn the Khojaly genocide.
Principle position on territorial integrity
Army building for a country, which is in a state of war, with occupied territory, is one of the vital issues. Taking it into consideration, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev has consistently and decisively pursued the formation of a highly capable Army equipped with modern weapons from early years of his leadership. Today, one of the most powerful armies in the world is formed in Azerbaijan, and this army is able to liberate our occupied lands from the enemy. The Azerbaijani army demonstrated its power and combat capability in April 2016, both to the enemy and to the world. As a result of the counter-offensive operations carried out by our heroic army in response to the Armenian aggression in the April battles, as one of the victorious pages of the history of Azerbaijan, a part of the territory of Fuzuli, Jabrail and Agdere regions, in general more than 2,000 hectares of the area were liberated from occupation and the army took control of a large area. The most important outcome of these battles was the liberation of the Lalapepe Heights and thus the provision of security of Jojuq Marjanli village. Under the presidential decree, a new settlement was recently set up in Jojug Marjanli and 60 families moved there at the first stage. This event is regarded as the beginning of the “Great Return”.
The transformation of Azerbaijan into a sporting country
President Ilham Aliyev has turned Azerbaijan into a sporting country during the past period. To reach this goal, Olympic centers, modern sports infrastructure have been created throughout the country; attention and care for athletes have been increased. The results are obvious. The organization of the first European Games was assigned to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan hosted the 42nd World Chess Olympiad, European Volleyball Championship among females, and the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games. Azerbaijan has been in the spotlight of the world over one of the world’s most prestigious sports competitions, Formula One European Grand Prix, which has been held for two years. Azerbaijan has achieved great success at the Rio Summer Olympics. Our national team, which won 18 medals for the first time in history, ranked 14th in the world, the 7th among European countries, the 2nd among the CIS countries and the 1st among Muslim countries.
Thus, nationwide support for the policy pursued by President Ilham Aliyev predetermines the bright victory of the Head of State. The initiatives, programs initiated so far by President Ilham Aliyev and his decisions have reflected the wishes and aspirations of the people, and the great successes achieved at result of its implementation have increased the confidence of citizens to their leader. This confidence and support will be reflected in the nation’s support of the President of Azerbaijan in the upcoming period in order to speed up the progress of society in all areas, to form a qualitatively new model of development, and to raise Azerbaijan to the level of developed countries.