National leader Heydar Aliyev is a historical figure who created the highest criterion for serving the state and people

Today, our people are solemnly celebrating the 100th anniversary of the world-class statesman, founder of the independent state of Azerbaijan, great leader Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev was imprinted in the memory of the Azerbaijani people as a wise leader, savior, author of gigantic achievements, a historical figure who created the highest criterion of loyalty and attachment to the Motherland with his life and work.

The announcement of 2023 as the “Year of Heydar Aliyev” by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, dated September 29, 2022, is a high assessment given by our state to the great leader, who has exceptional merits at key moments in our modern history, in a difficult period when the future fate of the Azerbaijani people was being decided. The meaningful life path he passed, invaluable services to the Motherland and the people turned Heydar Aliyev into a source of pride for Azerbaijanis who value their history, national values, statehood traditions. It can be said with confidence that his greatness was directly reflected in his invaluable deeds in the name of his people and state. Regardless of the position and conditions, the national leader took responsibility for the most difficult issues and sought to resolve them at a high level.

When Heydar Aliyev took over Azerbaijan in 1969, it was one of the less visible agrarian republics of the former Soviet Union. Despite all the hardships of that time, the gigantic potential, brought into action in a short time by the efforts of Heydar Aliyev, turned Azerbaijan into a developing authoritative republic on the scale of the union, which achieved socio-economic and cultural progress. During that period, on the initiative and under the leadership of the great leader, 69 percent of fixed assets in industry were renewed, more than 250 plants and factories were put into operation. If before 1969 735 large industrial facilities were built in Azerbaijan, then under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev their number reached 1048. Labor productivity in industrial production and agriculture doubled, incomes in the national economy exceeded the all-Union figure by 2 times.

The work done by Heydar Aliyev to develop the personnel potential of our country is truly amazing. It was as a result of the great leader's strenuous efforts that in 1971 a republican secondary specialized boarding school named after J. Nakhchivansky was established in Baku and the training of national military personnel began. About 17,000 young Azerbaijanis were provided with training in more than 170 prestigious higher educational institutions in over 50 cities of the USSR in 250 specialties, in which the greatest need was felt in the republic.

Under the conditions of the Soviet communist ideology in Azerbaijan during the leadership of Heydar Aliyev, along with the achievement of serious successes in the social, economic, scientific, cultural and other spheres, effective steps were taken to protect national cultural values, the gradual revival of national memory and the development of national self-consciousness. Referring to the activities of the great leader at that time, President Ilham Aliyev said: “Heydar Aliyev has always been a person who defends the interests of the Azerbaijani people. Regardless of the time, regardless of the political situation in the days of Soviet Azerbaijan, he led the republic for more than ten years, defended the interests of the Azerbaijani people, even within those ideological barriers. He tried to do everything so that we retained our identity. He took many steps in the 1970s and early 1980s. Now we see that those steps were aimed at the time when Azerbaijan would be independent.” Therefore, Heydar Aliyev paid special attention to the preservation of the national and cultural heritage of the Azerbaijani people, historical figures who played a big role in the formation of this heritage. Since the 1970s, on the initiative and with the participation of the great leader, the anniversaries of outstanding masters of the word, scientists and educators began to be solemnly celebrated, in 1973 at the level of UNESCO the 600th anniversary of Imadeddin Nasimi was held, in 1982 the remains of the great poet Hussein Javid, who became a victim of political repressions in the 1930s, were returned from Siberia to his homeland, Nakhchivan. The consolidation of the Azerbaijani language in the Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR in 1978 in the status of the state language is one of the greatest merits of the national leader to the people.

Thanks to his personal qualities and the great successes achieved by the republic in a short time, the great leader won glory on a Soviet scale, and in 1982 he was elected a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and appointed First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. Heydar Aliyev also paid special attention to Azerbaijan at that time, his instructions, the decisions he made became the next stage of his service to the Motherland.

There were difficult periods in the history of every nation, but not everyone was able to successfully overcome these trials. According to the general opinion of most researchers studying the role of personality in history, one of the decisive conditions in such cases is the presence of a leader who is able to correctly analyze and evaluate events and take the necessary steps, who can make decisions. They rightly point out that individual characteristics and acquired experience explain the character and behavior of the leader. This means that the attitude to any event changes in accordance with the character, personality of the individual and manifests itself in different content. The fact that Heydar Aliyev, on the morning of the bloody events of January 20, came to the representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow, resolutely and harshly condemned the massacre perpetrated by Soviet troops in Baku, was an expression of his great patriotism. It was this patriotism that brought him from Moscow to Baku, and from there to Nakhchivan, where he was born and raised.

It can be said without exaggeration that at the heart of each stage of the path traversed by Azerbaijan after the restoration of independence lies the strategy of national statehood developed by the national leader who returned to power in the early 1990s with a historical mission, which took into account both domestic political features and regularities of the international system.

Although from a political point of view, the acquisition of state independence is considered a turning point on the path of peoples to freedom, however, as the great leader repeatedly emphasized, “preserving and protecting real independence is much more difficult than gaining it.” The genius of Heydar Aliyev not only saved the Motherland from the threat of dismemberment. He fought in the name of a greater goal - for the real independence of Azerbaijan, mobilized all his knowledge, abilities and opportunities in order to make this independence eternal and irreversible.

Mistakes made in the first years of independence brought Azerbaijan face to face with serious threats and challenges in difficult historical and political conditions and an uncertain geopolitical situation, brought the country to the brink of the abyss. The military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, the incompetence of the central government, the strengthening of centrifugal tendencies under the influence of external factors, the gradual transformation of the internal armed confrontation into a civil war testified to the scale of the problems that the country faced. It is no coincidence that in 1992 consumer prices rose more than 10 times compared to 1991, and in 1993 - 12.3 times compared to 1992, the gross domestic product decreased by an average of 16.5 percent annually, monetary incomes of the population - by 3.3 times, wages decreased by 5.7 times. The interest rates of the Central Bank reached 250 percent, the national currency fell 9 times against the Russian ruble, and 245 times against the US dollar.

The failure and weakness of the forces that were in power at that time lay in the fact that they could not imagine the processes taking place either within the country, or in the region, or at the global level as a whole, the new world order and Azerbaijan's place in it. Instead of ensuring socio-political stability, steps were taken that escalated tensions within the country, the arbitrariness of incompetent personnel dealt a blow to the still unformed system of government and the functionality of state institutions, while the solution of military and security issues required a systematic approach, armed formations created in society atmosphere of terror, failed steps were taken to establish international relations without defining foreign policy priorities. Under such conditions, it was impossible even to talk about socio-economic and legal reforms. Time required the definition of short-term and long-term priorities of the state, the tasks facing it, the mobilization of all potential, material and moral resources of society for the implementation of these tasks.

At a time when a difficult situation reigned in the republic, the central government, instead of eliminating the problems that led the country to a catastrophe, tried to aggravate the situation in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which was under blockade and survived thanks to the efforts of Heydar Aliyev. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev clearly describes that period in an interview with Azerbaijani television as part of his trip to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic on May 10, 2021: “The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic lost contact with the main part of Azerbaijan, the Armenians blockaded Nakhchivan. Nakhchivan is surrounded on three sides by Armenia. In such a situation, preserving, protecting Nakhchivan and repulsing the enemy is one of the exceptional merits of the great leader. The PFA-Musavat tandem, which was in power at that time, mobilized every opportunity to remove Heydar Aliyev in Nakhchivan, appoint their puppets and, in fact, give the Armenians Nakhchivan as well. They were ready for this as well, if only to remove the Heydar Aliyev factor from Azerbaijani politics.”

However, the national leader did not allow either Armenia's plans to occupy the territories of the autonomous republic, or the insidious plans of the central government to come true. Along with protecting such a strategic geographical territory as Nakhchivan, ensuring the security of the population and solving its social problems, the great leader entered into a tense struggle for the independence of Azerbaijan as a whole. On November 17, 1990, at the 1st session of the Supreme Council of Nakhchivan of the 12th convocation, which began work under the chairmanship of Heydar Aliyev, the resolutions "On changing the name of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic", "On the Supreme body of state power of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic", "On the state symbols of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic”, the words “Soviet” and “Socialist” were excluded from the name of the Autonomous Republic, the tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was approved as the State Flag of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. A petition was raised before the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan to make a similar decision on a republican scale. This was another historical merit of the great leader to the Motherland.

Of course, in the intense discussions that took place at that time, representatives of the intelligentsia, prominent representatives of society, ordinary citizens did not ask questions about who would save the country from disaster. Because the unanimous opinion of our society was that only such a wise person as Heydar Aliyev, who has great political experience, can take on this mission and save Azerbaijan from a difficult situation, preserve our statehood.

Thanks to the wise policy, determination and invincible will of Heydar Aliyev, who returned to Baku on June 9, 1993 at the insistence of the people, Azerbaijan was able to overcome the threats in a short time, an end to the armed confrontation was put aside, attempts at a coup d'état were prevented, the foundations were created for the continuation of the political struggle in civilized and constitutional framework. Taking full responsibility, the great leader determined the short-term and long-term goals of the state, mobilized the necessary resources related to the transformation of society and public relations on new foundations, and formed the political and economic base for the consistent development of Azerbaijan. In 1995, a new Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan was adopted and the implementation of legal reforms began. The paralyzed state administration system was rebuilt, the criteria and requirements for the work of state structures were changed. The great leader declared: "The interests of the people and the nation must come before the interests of everyone." Having restored the ancient and rich traditions of statehood, Heydar Aliyev achieved consistent development on the solid foundations of our state, which has regained independence. Yes, our fate could have turned out quite differently, but the turning point of 1993 breathed new life into our national statehood, opened a bright page in the annals of the liberation of our people.

The disruption of mutual ties established between the republics during the Soviet period and the deepening recession within the country actually required a radical change in economic policy and the application of a new model of economic development. The model proposed by Heydar Aliyev was based on two important pillars: reforms aimed at creating new relations in the economic sphere, and a new oil strategy, which will form the basis of national development. In conditions when the old economic model was collapsing and the principles of “wild capitalism” were gaining wide scope, it was necessary to preserve the regulatory function of the state for the period of the transition economy. This determined the balanced development of the economy, which needed the guiding activity of the state, and ensured the direct participation of the state in improving the social welfare of citizens, and protected the national economy from the “destructive impact” of globalization at the initial stage. In a theoretical plane, the issue of state intervention in this process is still the subject of discussion, sometimes experience supports the arguments of one side or another. However, as the well-known economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, the "shortcomings of the market" show that models based on Adam Smith's classic idea of the "invisible hand" do not fully capture the complex features of reality and make the role of the state inevitable value in the dynamics of economic activity. The development model proposed and implemented in Azerbaijan during the period of transitional economy ensured the implementation of reforms without serious complications against the backdrop of the realities of "fierce competition" and "unfair struggle" of the international economic system, as well as the creation of the necessary basis for rapid development in the subsequent period.

Heydar Aliyev's development strategy was designed to improve the environment for the activities of economic entities, to provide the state with the necessary financial resources in the long term. In this sense, the "Contract of the Century", signed on September 20, 1994 with the world's leading oil companies, being an event of global significance, at the same time laid the foundation for the future development of Azerbaijan. Neither the uncertainty of the legal status of the Caspian Sea nor the conflicting interests of the regional geopolitical environment could change the will of the great leader. As a result of the joint development of the Azeri, Chirag and deepwater Guneshli fields in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, open to foreign investment, the laying of the foundation in 2002 of the main Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export oil pipeline, which many considered a pipe dream, our the country has become an important exporter of hydrocarbons and has become an energy corridor. The establishment in 1999 of the State Oil Fund for the effective management of funds received from oil and gas resources was an important decision that completed the overall picture of the national oil strategy and turned it into a pillar of socio-economic development.

As a result of the implementation of Heydar Aliyev's economic strategy in 1996-2002, the country's gross domestic product increased by 71 percent. In 2002, the volume of investments in fixed assets increased by 36.3 times compared to 1993. If in 1993 trade relations were established with 60 foreign countries, then in 2002 the geography of these relations expanded to 128 states. Or, if in 1996 there were 602 enterprises with foreign investments in the country, then in 2002 this figure increased by 3.5 times and reached 2104. In 2002, compared with 1993, revenues to the state budget from all sources increased by 85, 1 time. The great leader, constantly paying attention to the issue of improving the social welfare of the population, in 1993-2003 signed more than 60 documents aimed at ensuring social development and improving the welfare of the population. As a result, in 1995-2003, the average monthly amount of pensions and benefits increased 8 times, and the average monthly salary - more than 6 times.

The active foreign policy pursued by the national leader further strengthened the sovereignty and security of Azerbaijan, did not allow turning the country into an arena of confrontation between the great powers, on the contrary, contributed to the development of equal relations of cooperation with the countries of the region and the world based on mutual interests. Guided by the norms and principles of international law, Azerbaijan carried out purposeful work to expose from all international platforms the aggression and occupation policy of Armenia. At the OSCE Lisbon Summit held in 1996, thanks to the determination of Heydar Aliyev, the principles of the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict were consolidated, an important step was taken towards the protection of the fair position of Azerbaijan by the world community, and a fair legal basis for the peaceful settlement of the conflict was strengthened, supported by the states of the world and international organizations.

It should be noted that in the period after the Second World War, international law, having acquired a conceptual character, absorbed the norms and rules governing interstate relations. However, the selective approach to their application in specific cases, the dependence of decisions made on the will and interests of the great powers undermined the supremacy of international law, and the principle “who is strong is right” has again come into play in solving problematic issues. It is for this reason that the resolutions of the UN Security Council condemning the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and the occupation of sovereign Azerbaijani territories have never been implemented by this organization. The existing double standards, which have become a symbol of injustice in international relations, were caused by the loss of functionality and helplessness of the UN. In the current conditions, Heydar Aliyev, pursuing a consistent and purposeful policy at the diplomatic level, on the one hand, accelerated the integration of Azerbaijan into the international world, strengthened its external relations and consistently increased efforts for a fair resolution of the conflict, at the same time, using the opportunities that the economic revival, paid special attention to the construction of a regular army.

One of the greatest services of Heydar Aliyev to the Azerbaijani people and future generations is the formation of a national ideological concept. It should be noted that the idea of the unity of the Azerbaijani people, which has been subjected to aggression by various empires for more than 200 years, has seriously deformed, a kind of ideological vacuum has arisen in society. In the mid-1990s, when there were discussions about national identity, Heydar Aliyev put forward and promoted the idea of Azerbaijanism with great foresight. Heydar Aliyev said: “We will be able to preserve our independence only on the basis of national solidarity. Only on this basis can we ensure a happy future for Azerbaijan. It is on this basis that we will be able to withdraw Azerbaijan from the conditions of war. It is on this basis that we will be able to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.” These views of the great leader, which are of historical significance, consider the Azerbaijani people as an indivisible force, and our independent state as a single space for the Azerbaijanis of the world. The ideology of Azerbaijanism acting as a unifying factor determined the direction of scientific and public discussions, Heydar Aliyev's expression "I have always been proud and today I am proud that I am an Azerbaijani" turned Azerbaijani national identity into a source of pride.

According to historians, the time in which we live, in a certain sense, is a continuation of the previous period, between today and yesterday there is necessarily an inextricable link. In this context, political and ideological continuity is of great importance in terms of the formation, consolidation and progress of our national state at the present stage of development, covering the last thirty years of the history of the ancient Azerbaijani statehood. During these years, modern Azerbaijan, the foundation of which was farsightedly laid by the national leader Heydar Aliyev, then, under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, went a long way in a short time, thanks to his political will, skillful management and determination, rose to the top of his power.

The path of development that Azerbaijan has traveled over the past 20 years under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev has once again confirmed the fundamental essence of the scientifically based national development strategy, authored by national leader Heydar Aliyev. Already at the end of 2003, the goal was set to make Azerbaijan an economically strong state, take its rightful place in the world, solve social problems in the country and further improve the well-being of the population. State programs for the socio-economic development of the regions were consistently implemented, the non-oil sector of the economy developed, the industrial potential of the country was strengthened, certain branches of agriculture were revived, revolutionary decisions were made and implemented in the social sphere. As a result of the implementation of the strategic course, which is constantly being improved taking into account the realities of modernity, in 2009 Azerbaijan, having completed the transition period in the economy, managed to form a powerful economic potential. As a logical result of large-scale creative work in the country, the entire infrastructure was updated, the appearance of cities, villages and towns was modernized, great changes took place in all spheres of public life.

By implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project with its partners to transport gas produced from the Shah Deniz field to the international market, Azerbaijan changed the energy map of the world and became one of the main sources for ensuring Europe's energy security. An agreement was signed with BP, which went down in history as the "Contract of the New Century", and other measures were taken in the energy sector. All this provided our country with a huge influx of financial resources for many decades and allowed it to remain one of the main energy exporters in the world. Important steps were taken to realize the transport and communication potential of Azerbaijan, geographically located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, East and West, a modern transport infrastructure was created in our country. Taking an active part in the formation of the East-West and North-South transport corridors, Azerbaijan has made a significant contribution to the implementation of these projects.

Over the years, through active and purposeful diplomacy, Azerbaijan has strengthened bilateral and multilateral ties, found new partners, initiated new formats of interstate cooperation, headed the United Nations Security Council, the Non-Aligned Movement and other influential international organizations. The initiatives put forward by Azerbaijan, which has become a strong and influential country, recognized as a reliable partner, have found support all over the world. All this contributed to bringing Azerbaijani realities to the attention of the world community on a wider geography, to the complete exposure of Armenia's occupation policy towards Azerbaijan, and to the adoption of decisions by leading international organizations condemning this occupation.

The powerful economic potential of Azerbaijan created the conditions for building a modern army. The Azerbaijani army has taken a worthy place among the leading armies of the world. A defense industry has been formed in our country, our Armed Forces are equipped with the most modern weapons and ammunition.

The First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva and her head Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Increasing efficiency, transparency in the public administration system, solving the problems of our citizens, especially low-income strata and vulnerable groups of the population, ensuring the availability of quality education, medical services for every member of society, effective management during major international events are an important part of the multifaceted activities of respected Mehriban Aliyeva. Numerous projects implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation throughout the country provide powerful support to the study, restoration, preservation and popularization of our cultural heritage, solving social, environmental and other issues. The activities carried out by the Foundation in various countries not only contribute to the preservation of the universal cultural heritage, but also play an important role in the recognition of Azerbaijan in the world as a space for intercivilizational and intercultural dialogue.

The political course pursued by President Ilham Aliyev ensured the strengthening of the solidarity of our people, the unity of Azerbaijanis around the world in the name of achieving a common goal.

Thus, at the end of the second decade of the tenure of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan, having realized the potential created by economic and military power, transferring the successes of active diplomacy to the practical plane and taking advantage of the opportunities provided by international law, was able to restore historical justice. The exorbitant ambitions of Armenia, growing day by day, the unconstructive behavior of this country and the provocations it perpetrated over and over again facilitated the fulfillment of this historic task.

In response to the provocations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, using its right to self-defense, restored historical justice in the 44-day Patriotic War. Azerbaijan adequately conducted military operations within the framework of the requirements of international law and existing rules, gave a decisive rebuff on the battlefield to the enemy, who held at gunpoint the civilian population who used prohibited weapons. The signing of the act of surrender by Armenia on the terms of Azerbaijan put an end to our separation from our historical lands, part of our Motherland. The victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev fulfilled the behest of his father, liberated Shusha, making the biggest dream of the national leader and our people come true. President Ilham Aliyev noted: “Heydar Aliyev's biggest dream was to see Shusha free, and we made his dream come true. We are proud of it, we are happy about it. This is welcomed not only by the citizens of Azerbaijan, but by all Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijanis all over the world are proud of our victory. It was a triumph of justice, the restoration of historical justice, international law.”

This historic Victory is the logical result of the National Development Strategy bequeathed by Heydar Aliyev, political and ideological continuity. Thanks to the decisive, confident and thoughtful decisions of the national leader, the revived and strengthened modern Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev has become an important actor in the configuration of international relations, a driving force for stability and development in the region.

President Ilham Aliyev noted: “The great significance of the role of Heydar Aliyev in the history of Azerbaijan, perhaps, is now difficult to fully appreciate. Over time, after a complete analysis of the activities of Heydar Aliyev, we will see even more clearly the greatness of this personality, his merits in the fate of the Azerbaijani people.” The activities and political legacy of the national leader will be widely and in detail studied for a long time, his conceptual ideas, historical decisions will continue to serve as the basis for resolving issues related to the development of independent Azerbaijan. It can be said without exaggeration that the philosophy of life that formed the basis of the activity of the national leader, the great experience of statehood, the rich political heritage raised him to the status of a phenomenon of his time, made him an example, a true school for future generations. It is for this reason that our people cherish the memory of Heydar Aliyev, honor him with gratitude and celebrate his 100th anniversary as a real holiday. Heydar Aliyev will always live in the hearts of Azerbaijanis, his name will always be a symbol of national pride.

Samir Nuriev

Head of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

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