25 years has passed since the restoration of independence by the Republic of Azerbaijan on 18 October 1991 as the successor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Adoption by the Republic of Azerbaijan of the state flag, anthem and coat of arms of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which was the first democratic republic in the Muslim Orient, as well as the celebration of 28th of May as a national holiday is a manifestation of deep respect and reverence towards the Declaration of Independence of 1918 and all the achievements of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in strengthening of the statehood.
Striving for independence for many centuries, the people of Azerbaijan conserved and cherished the assets, which define the very existence of any nation – language, ethnic and moral values and culture, albeit being part of various empires and bigger states throughout its history, while also making priceless contribution to the world culture. The restoration of the independence helped the Azerbaijani nation to become an international entity and to build a democratic and secular state based on rule of law.
The Azerbaijani people can be proud of all numerous achievements in various areas made through the process of realization of noble goals, expectations and aspirations. Thanks to successful domestic and foreign policies the statehood strengthened, economy developed, culture enriched. Independent Republic of Azerbaijan is a source of pride and inspiration of all Azerbaijanis living in and beyond Azerbaijan.
In 1991 since the very first steps on the path of independence Azerbaijan faced with serious political, economic and social crisis paired with military aggression and ethnic cleansing by Armenia, which resulted in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Only thanks to national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev’s rise to power in 1993 and his subtle policy, Azerbaijan evaded the risk of division, separation and civil war. Restoration of political stability, cessation of military action and signature of “The Contract of the Century” served as a basis of largescale reforms in all domains.
1995 Constitution of Azerbaijan played an important role in establishment of all bodies and institutions of a modern state, defined the division of powers, and enriched the parliamentary traditions. Amendments made to the Constitution in referenda on 24 August 2002, 18 March 2009, and 26 September 2016 contributed to the improvement of state government system.
A number of political parties, civil society institutions, media outlets functioning in Azerbaijan, as well as ensuring of human rights and freedoms, establishment of independent judiciary and election systems are the principal manifestation of democratic environment existing in Azerbaijan in the years of independence. All these achievements are of utmost importance in strengthening of Azerbaijan’s independence on one hand, and in helping to achieve the UN sustainable development goals on the other.
A number of important projects have been carried out with a view of modernization of economy, realization of agrarian reforms, development of entrepreneurship, improvement of the banking sector, trade liberalization and social protection of the population. Azerbaijan successfully passed through the transition period and built an economy with a strong infrastructure and further potential for development.
It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan achieved the current level of economic development highly valued by the leading international institutions in the period of protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is still to be solved. The main priority of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy is a peaceful settlement of this conflict in accordance with the norms and principles of international law. In spite of numerous documents and resolutions adopted by various international organizations, Armenia’s nonconstructive stance impedes the peace process.
Principles and norms applied in the military building in Azerbaijan strengthened its defence potential and its relations with friendly and partner countries. Development of the defence industry of Azerbaijan contributed to the improvement of the logistical support of its Armed Forces and strengthened its combat capabilities. Today the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan are considered to be among the strongest in the region.
Independent Azerbaijan made enormous achievements in the field of energy. Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline as well as other major strategic projects help Azerbaijan to export its energy resources to the world market and thus, play an important role in ensuring Europe’s energy security. Development of oil and non-oil sector in Azerbaijan contributed to the increase in the GDP, emergence of a strong middle class and group of entrepreneurs. Introduction of industrial zones across the country, increasing of industrial potential of Baku and other cities as well as establishment of technology parks and agroparks gave impetus to the development of cities and provinces. Food security of Azerbaijan was guaranteed, huge investments were made to the development of agriculture and infrastructure, significant measure were taken with a view of increasing the export potential of food and non-food products.
Since stepping over to the post-oil period, Azerbaijan has started substantial reforms in all areas of economy. The motorways are reconstructed, railways are modernised, North-South and East-West international transport corridors are being established. Along with the capital city, international airports were open in the provinces and a modern sea trade port was built. Industrial facilities, that were built using contemporary technologies, will further support the development of metallurgy, machinery engineering, production of construction materials etc.
No effort were spared for the development of human resources in accordance with the strategy of transforming the oil revenues to human capital. Necessary measures were taken to improve the education system, thousands of Azerbaijani youth were sent abroad to study in leading universities of the world in the framework of the relevant State Programme, new universities were open, private education was introduced. The Azerbaijani culture is represented through major events both within and beyond the country. New schools, medical facilities, museums, Olympic sport centres, culture facilities and recreation centres serve the purpose of improving the social life. The services provide by “ASAN service” network, targeted social aid, providing social housing for low-income families and other initiatives of this kind is the indication of a social-based state policy.
The modernisation of infrastructure in the cities and rural areas is well underway. Today Baku can proudly be considered to be among the most beautiful cities in the world, where the harmonious development of historical and contemporary architecture is well observed. New infrastructure and hotels as well as large-scale reconstruction across the country contributes to the development of tourism.
Carefully and successfully pursued youth and gender policy enables the youth and the women to get more and more involved in the country’s political, economic, social and cultural life. Significant achievements of Azerbaijan in the field of sport is a result of the state care of the healthy life of youth. The medal count by Azerbaijani athletes in various international competitions and tournaments, including world championships and Olympic games, as well as the successful organisation of the First European Games in Baku are historical records which will remain for good.
Azerbaijan stands firm within the international community of states. Numerous international events, summits, forums, exhibitions, competitions etc. hosted by Azerbaijan testify to the huge confidence to her by international community.
The Azerbaijani people is deservedly proud of its history and independence, which they are determined to keep and further strengthen.