AzerTag, Azerbaijan
Dec 31 2004

[January 01, 2005, 00:11:24]

Dear ladies and Gentlemen!

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to you on the New Year.

The year 2004 was extremely important one in the history of
Azerbaijan. In 2004, a new era in Azerbaijan's development began. It
was the year of difficult tests for all of us, for me, for the whole
people of Azerbaijan. We have lived out this year without out
national leader Heydar Aliyev. It was very important to continue all
the successes Azerbaijan has achieved over the past ten years.

I was trying to do my best for steady development of Azerbaijan and
ensuring of peace, stability and progress in the country.

2004 was a successful year for Azerbaijan in all spheres. Azerbaijan
has consolidated its international positions. Our country has
achieved great success with respect to both bilateral relations and
regional cooperation. Azerbaijan intensified its cooperation with
international organizations.

Progress has been achieved in the settlement of the hardest problem
of our country and the region - Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. The international community now applies more serious
approach to the issue. The OSCE Minsk Group has intensified its
activities. Other international organizations - the European Union,
the Council of Europe, the United Nations - frankly express today
their positions on the problem. It is no secret that 2004 marked the
turn in this process - the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is
already not a subject of negotiations.

I sated more than once that Azerbaijan would never compromise the
issue of territorial integrity; we will never discuss this issue. The
talks must be held on the base of the international law only. I am
very glad that the international organizations directly involved in
this problem as well as the international community already realize
this stance; this stance is worthy of more attention. I am sure we
will manage to solve the problem only on the base of the norms of the
international law.

At the same time, Azerbaijan has to strengthen its armed forces.

As you know while visiting regions this year, I also visited military
units to study the situation personally. I saw our army strengthening
day by day. We attach a paramount importance to this issue. The 2004
budged had envisaged the growth military expenditures, and in the
middle of the year, we introduced changes in the budget and did that.
The 2005 budget implies almost 30% increase, and we will do raise the
amount of funds for the army needs. Our army should be stronger and
capable to solve all the tasks set.

We want to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem peacefully, and adhere
to this policy. However, we will never put up with the loss of our
territories, and will liberate our native lands in any way. To reach
the goal, our army should be powerful. In order to have a powerful
army, Azerbaijan should develop its economy. It was not accidental
that so great attention was paid to economic development of the
country in 2004. The aim of the programs of socio-economic
development, regional development is to consolidate Azerbaijan,
increase its economic potential and therefore, increase its power.

I am very happy that the achievements are obvious in this sphere as

The volume of GDP growth made up almost 10%. Foreign investments in
the economy of Azerbaijan reached approximately $4 billion. Over 110
thousand new jobs were opened in the provinces. For the country with
8 million of population, it is the fact, which has no analogues in
the world. I am glad that the program of regional development
initiated by me brings fruits; we all can already see that we are
able to cope with any task set. The creation of 110 thousand jobs
means that 110 thousand people are employed, and bring wage to their
families. Simultaneously, our economic potential is being
strengthened. Important measures to open more jobs will be undertaken
next year as well, and I am sure we will fulfill our promises.

Social problems are also in the constant focus of our attention.
Salaries and wages, pensions and other social payments have been
increased more than once during this year. This work will be
continued. Much work has been done to increase the minimal wage.
Under executive order I have recently signed, the minimal wage will
be increased next year by 25 percent. This is a priority of our
political course.

I repeatedly stated that despite the Azerbaijan's economy is
developed on the base of the principles of market economy, we have to
pay constant attention to the social issues. Of course, solving the
social problems of refugees and IDPs is the most important task. We
have been working hard in this direction. New settlements are being
constructed for the refugees and internally displaced persons,
necessary funds have been allocated from the State Oil Fund for this
purpose, and we will continue this effort.

The Oil Fund plays a great role in the economy of Azerbaijan, for
strengthening of the country's economic potential and solving social
problems. This Fund was founded by national leader of our people
Heydar Aliyev, and now, the currency reserves of Azerbaijan make up
today $1 billion 80 million. A lot of social programs are funded by
the Oil Fund. Of course, if the oil strategy initiated by Heydar
Aliyev had not began, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline successfully
constructed and the 'Contract of the Century' successfully
implemented, it would be impossible to talk about economic progress

All this indicates once again that Azerbaijan is a thoroughly and
steadily developing country.

Completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline's construction in
2005, successful construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ersurum gas
pipeline will allow us to considerably increase economic potential of
Azerbaijan within the few next years. It will also allow us to solve
all our issues, social problems, realize infrastructure projects and
consolidate even more our Homeland.

Dear ladies and Gentlemen!

Dear friends!

Dear brothers and sisters!

The year 2004 was very important for me. This was the first year of
my presidency. I have been doing my best to serve worthily the
Azerbaijani people, my homeland to contribute to strengthening of our
country. It is up to you how much I have succeeded. Anyhow, I have
been and I will be striving for doing all possible for Azerbaijan to
become a powerful country, enhance its international prestige and for
its people to live better.

Today we also mark the Solidarity Day of the world Azerbaijanis. I
offer my congratulations to all of you on this occasion, as well. I
call on the Azerbaijanis around the world to unity and solidarity.

I once again wish you a Happy New Year, good health, welfare and
family happiness.