20th anniversary of our independence is marked with a number of important events. ASAIF’s forum held in France on 11-12 March can be included in the list. Azerbaijan’s human capital of over 250 young scholars, students, researchers, graduates, and specialists living in 25 different countries came together to discuss the future development of Azerbaijan, priorities and general activity issues. Forum’s name “Azerbaijan 20 – View 2020” clearly explains its purpose. Holding the event on the 20th anniversary of independence in the political capital of Europe can be seen as a message to the youths. We are strong and decisive enough to achieve our targets though our own resources. Bringing together the youths with intellectual potential and coordination of unorganized activities are within the interests of Azerbaijan. ASAIF Forums are favorable place to create such platforms. The established networks and the agreements reached here are capable of breathing new life into lobby activities.
Unfortunately, some youths studying abroad are left aside from all the processes as they were not publicly active in the country. I remember the words of one student studying in Holland in the end of ASAIF Forum “I got acquainted with other 3 students who study in the same country with me. It is very nice”. This is an indispensible opportunity for our students all over Europe to network, to exchange their experiences, and to reach initial agreements on future activities.
Participation of about 50 state officials and experts should be especially noted. The speeches of the state officials, conversations with them helped the youths to get an idea of main directions of this activity and objectively gauge the processes going on in the country and the region. The meeting of the students with our ambassadors in Western European countries was one of the important ones. The students put questions and received answers from the ambassadors, got familiarized with the activities of the embassies, and brought the positive and negatives points about embassies’ activities to the attention of the ambassadors. The youths also received a piece of advice on what to keep in the center of attention in their future activities. The speeches of the state officials strengthened the opinion that Azerbaijan pins high hopes on young generation and will spare no effort for bringing up well-versed healthy youths. I would like to mention the thoughts by chief of political analysis and information support department of Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Republic Elnur Aslanov: “You are stepping into new stage. You are new force strengthening the ideas of Azerbaijan, our national interests, and our statehood”.
There is no doubt Azerbaijan has defined correct development priorities. Everyone feels positive effects of this development and the country ranks high among world countries for its economic achievements and indicators (compared to 2009, 9.3% increase in GDP and 5% economic development). Channeling oil money to the development of other fields, especially human resources is of vital importance for our future. New education facilities and conducted major repairs, reforms in the education system, realization of state program on education abroad are all investments in human resources for the bright future of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s successes are not only used inside the country, but also used outside of the country. We feel proud when we see plaque on the entrance of famous Louvre museum of Paris and central cathedral of Strasburg expressing gratitude to Azerbaijan for its contribution to restoration of the museum. This is a sign of our respect for human values.
Far-reaching policy, good strategy, and strong political will are the basis for all these successes. Each Azerbaijani citizen should have his/her share and contribute to these successes. We should come together around a common ideology and show our unanimity and unity to the forces jealous of our development. Social justice, equal opportunities, favorable conditions for the people, and well-being in the country play a key role in strengthening this unity.
I mentioned above human resource development as a priority. Oil revenues of our country created favorable conditions to expand our achievements in many spheres. Now Azerbaijan is in a position to educate its citizens and youths at the best education institutions of the world. Currently, over 1000 youths study overseas through state program on education abroad. Though seems simple at first sight, it is huge responsibility for the students. First of all, they should study to become high quality professionals and to use the acquired knowledge both in country and overseas, they should also take active part in protecting Azerbaijan’s interests together with our compatriots living abroad and friends of Azerbaijan while studying overseas, should properly represent our country and so on. But unfortunately, it is not always possible to create the right conditions and despite all these positive processes and tendencies, some small groups fall under the influence of external forces and attempt to create confusion. External forces, as I mentioned above, are the circles which are concerned about Azerbaijan’s independent policy, its dynamic development, its rising economic and military power. The purpose of Azerbaijan’s speedy development is to ensure well-being of its citizens, to free its occupied lands, and to resolve Dagligh Garabagh conflict. It is clearly evident that those people are insistent on bringing up the issues that may harm our national unity at the order of their foreign patrons. We are used to see Azerbaijani youths as hard-working people attached to their values. Unfortunately, these small groups take primitive approach to the issues, despite speaking about the rule of law, they do not respect the law themselves, and do not differentiate concepts of freedom and anarchy. Participation of 200 Azerbaijani students studying abroad in a constructive exchange of opinions about the country’s future on one hand and purposeless and destructive approach displayed by the youths under the influence of foreign forces on the other hand create an undesired contrast.
Each citizen of a young country in a state of war should be ready to demonstrate unanimity when national interests require, this is especially true for the youths. The unanimity should not be seasonal and limited to funeral ceremonies or a certain date. We should always propagate and make Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani ideology known everywhere. We can resolve our problems only when we are strong. Unanimity and unity are a condition for being strong. ASAIF Strasburg Forum and other events of this kind bring the youths together and unite them in one single coordinated platform. I am confident that we will witness positive effects of these events in the not too distant future.