An entire era, an important stage in the history of modern Azerbaijan, is associated with the name and activities of the Great Leader Heydar Aliyev. Today’s success stories of independent Azerbaijan are due to his far-sighted strategy and efforts.
The era of management in Soviet Azerbaijan
The successful leadership of Azerbaijan over a long period of time, as well as under various socio-political forms of government and in various ideological frameworks, aimed atcontinuous development of the republic, creates a concrete idea of the great role of Heydar Aliyev in the history of his country.
The first stage of leadership of Azerbaijan by Heydar Aliyev fell on the period of Soviet Azerbaijan, as one of the republics of the Soviet Union. On July 14, 1969, at the next plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, he was elected as a First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan and so became the leader of the republic.
Under the guidance ofAliyev the republic achieved the implementation of a number of important economic projects in Azerbaijan, the efficient use of oil and gas resources made an important contribution to the development of the country.
During the 13 years (1969-1982) of the leadership of Aliyev of the Azerbaijan SSR, hundreds of plants, factories, production sites were created on the territory of the republic, 213 large industrial enterprises were launched. Thanks to many important production areas, Azerbaijan took one of the leading places in the Soviet Union. 350 items of products manufactured in Azerbaijan were exported to 65 countries of the world. The volume of industrial output produced during this period was equal to the volume of production of the previous 50 years.
As a result of this activity, Azerbaijan became one of the leading republics of the USSR in terms of the level of development of the economy, science, art, health care and, in general, in terms of the well-being of the people. Among 15 former republics of the USSR, only Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine did not receive subsidies from the central union budget, but rather replenished it.
Kremlin period of activity
All the above-mentioned successes of Azerbaijan did not escape the attention of the Soviet leadership. As a result of these achievements, Heydar Aliyev was invited to Moscow in 1982. In 1982-1987, his political activity as First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was the period when he, being already in the leadership of the Soviet Union and controlling the strategic directions of the USSR, such as heavy industry, transport, construction, health care, education and youth work, continued to protect the interests of his native Azerbaijan and contributed to its further development. For example, during this period, on his initiative, new plants and factories were built in Baku, Ganja, Sumgayit, Mingachevir and other cities of Azerbaijan. The rapid construction of modern administrative, public and residential buildings, distinguished by their monumentality and national architectural features, was carried out.
Great mission – restoration of independence
Fate decreed in a way that Heydar Aliyev, who always wanted the independence of Azerbaijan, directed all his activities in this direction, paving the way for this aim, as a result of which Azerbaijan restored its independence in the early 90s of the last century. The civil conflict that arose in the country as a result of the incompetence of the government of the Popular Front-Musavat, which came to power in 1992, the extremely difficult socio-economic situation in the country, as well as the ongoing occupation of the lands of Azerbaijan by Armenia with the help of its patrons, put the country before another threat – loss of independence.
In those critical days, when the loss of independence was a real threat, the people placed their last hope on Heydar Aliyev and insisted on his return to the political leadership of Azerbaijan. On June 9, he arrived to Baku from Nakhchivan, on June 15 he was elected first a Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and a little later on October 3, 1993, as a President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Thanks to the wise and far-sighted policy of Heydar Aliyev, events in Azerbaijan took a positive course, the danger of the country’s collapse was eliminated, and attempts at coup d’état by illegal armed groups were suppressed.
An important historical event for Azerbaijan was the signing in May 1994 of the “Bishkek” Protocol, which provided for a ceasefire in Karabakh. This was of great political and economic importance for the country, and it is no coincidence that the decisions taken after the announced ceasefire became the key to the future development of Azerbaijan. 13 giant oil companies from 8 largest countries participated in the “Contract of the Century”, signed a few months after the ceasefire – September 20, 1994. The economic, political and international significance of the agreement was so great that it actually led to the fact that not only the socio-economic situation in Azerbaijan stabilized and territorial integrity was restored, but the country began to play an important role in ensuring energy security and developing the transport infrastructure of the region and beyond.
Establishment and promotion of foreign relations
Along with successful solution of social, economic and political challenges, Azerbaijan also embarked on the path of democratic state building and establishing and strengthening mutually beneficial relations with individual countries and international organizations in order to intensity the process of its integration to the world community. So, developmentof relations with states and international organizations that play a leading role in shaping world politics became of the main priorities of the country.
As for foreign economic policy, Heydar Aliyev,given the country’s location and resources, identified the reconstruction and modernization of energy, transport and communication lines and cooperation with foreign partners to that end as one of the major priority in economic development strategy. The idea behind was to convert Azerbaijan into energy and transport hub and by doing so to contribute to both local and regional social-economic development and cooperation.
At the time, Heydar Aliyev, taking into account the global processes taking place in the region and the world as a whole, attached particular importance tothe process of creating transport and communication corridors, such as East-West and North-South corridors.
Regional infrastructure projects are of great importance not only in terms of economic, but also political stability and security.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is one of the largest successes achieved in the field of transit corridors policy. In addition to serious regional significance, this project has become the most important transnational transport corridor connecting Asia and Europe in the 21st century. Today, in a period of difficulties in transit through Russia and Iran, the “Middle Corridor”, which connects East and West through Azerbaijan, is gaining new significance for the transit of goods from Asia to Europe.
Given the importance of creating several alternative corridors for the free export of its energy resources to the world market, Azerbaijan begins to work together with its partners in this direction and, despite all theobstacles, achieves its goals.
First, in January 1996, an intergovernmental agreement was signed between Russia and Azerbaijan on the transportation of Azerbaijani oil along the Baku-Novorossiysk route. On October 12, 1997, this route was launched. This pipeline, called the Northern Export Route, provides for the transport of oil from the Sangachal terminal along the coast of the Caspian Sea to the port of Novorossiysk in Russia. The second route through which Azerbaijani oil was transported was the Western Export Corridor – Baku-Supsa. This pipeline was put into operation on April 17, 1999.
The biggest success of Heydar Aliyev’s oil strategy was the implementation in November 1999 of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project, a new, alternative main export pipeline that would bring Azerbaijani energy resources to the world market. Thus, Azerbaijan managed to get out of dependence on a unipolar oil pipeline, having received the opportunity for alternative routes of energy transportation to the West.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline was commissioned in 2006 to transport Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz field to European markets through Turkey. Later Azerbaijani gas transported through this pipeline also began to flow to Greece as a result of the merger of the respective gas systems.
The project that changed the energy map of the region
The implementation of another major energy project, the Southern Gas Corridor, has changed the energy map of the entire region, connecting gas supplies from Azerbaijan with European markets for the first time. Azerbaijan is already exporting produced gas to neighboring countries, Greece, Bulgaria and Italy, and new interconnector pipelines are being built to expand the European gas export market. In 2013, the Shah Deniz consortium selected the TAP (Trans Adriatic Gas Pipeline) project connecting Turkey’s border with southern Italy to deliver Azerbaijani gas to the European market via the TANAP and TAP pipelines, and this pipeline was completed in 2020. These projects made it possible to implement the Southern Gas Corridor project, connecting the Shah Deniz field with southern Italy, through Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Albania.
It should be noted that in 2021, the export of natural gas from Azerbaijan to the EU market amounted to 8.2 billion cubic meters, while in 2022 this figure was 11.3 billion cubic meters. This year, its volume will be at least 11.6 billion cubic meters. The total volume of natural gas to be exported from Azerbaijan in 2023 will be approximately 24 billion cubic meters. For comparison, in 2021 this figure was 19 billion cubic meters. Until 2027, Azerbaijan plans to at least double the volume of gas supplies to European markets.
Continuation of political course
The people of Azerbaijan reaffirmed their faith in the ideas of Heydar Aliyev by supporting his political successor IlhamAliyev in the elections held on October 15, 2003.
President IlhamAliyev, starting his activity as head of state, stated that his main task from now on would be to continue the course of Heydar Aliyev. This course was continued in all areas of domestic and foreign policy. As a result of additional reforms, as well as numerous initiatives of a regional nature, Azerbaijan has become the leading country in the South Caucasus in many ways, which strives to ensure peace and cooperation in the region and beyond.
During his leadership Heydar Aliyev intensively negotiated in various formats in order to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in a peaceful way, through negotiations. At the same time, from the first days of his activities as a President of independent Azerbaijan, special attention was paid to strengthening the military potential of the country. After almost 30 years of ineffective peace negotiations and in response to Armenia’s new territorial claims in October 2020, already during the leadership of IlhamAliyev, Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity.
The state concept, the foundations of which were laid by the National Leader, became the factor that led Azerbaijan to the historical Victory. In other words, the restoration of the territorial integrity of our country is a natural result of a successful and consistent strategic course implemented over the years of independence.
Undoubtedly, it is important, a historical necessity, to turn the victory won in the military field into a strategic process, the process of developing peace and stability in the region. It should be especially noted that this victory is not only the liberation of our lands from occupation, the restoration of the territorial integrity and historical justice of Azerbaijan, but also the beginning of a new stage of national progress, new chances, new opportunities, new prospects.
One of the strategic tasks facing Azerbaijan is to carry out huge construction works in the territories liberated from occupation and to carry out the Great Return of internally displaced persons to their places of origin to ensure sustainable settlement of these lands. Important steps are being taken in this direction, modern technologies are being used in these areas, innovations are being applied, new infrastructure is being created, investments are being attracted within the framework of international cooperation.
Each visit of President IlhamAliyev to the territories liberated from occupation, his resolute position during meetings in the format of bilateral relations and international organizations show that the position of our country is unchanged, the country is moving step by step towards achieving all its strategic goals, demonstrates that it is able to achieve national goals on their own. IlhamAliyev, like his mentor Heydar Aliyev, continues purposeful and effective work in this direction for the sake of preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan under rather difficult geopolitical circumstances, strengthening the country’s role in the international context, as well as ensuring the country’s stable economic development and improving the well-being of its people.