The National Hero Chingiz Mustafayev Foundation and ANS Group of Companies declared Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, MP, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva “The Person of 2015” for her exclusive role in high-level organization and holding of the first European Games, works she has done towards promoting Azerbaijan’s positive image throughout the world, her contribution to preserving the traditions of multiculturalism in the country, and consistent benevolent activity.
Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the ceremony:
Esteemed Guests, dear Friends.
First of all, I would like to welcome you to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. I am glad to see you and make your acquaintance. Welcome to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
I would like to thank the National Hero Chingiz Mustafayev Foundation and ANS Group of Companies for giving such high appreciation to my activity and declaring me “The Person of 2015”. I accept this award not only as a sign of my own achievements, but also of every person who has made contribution to the achievements you have listed, and of every member of our team, every employee of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has a number of nice traditions, and the most important one among them is, I think, the traditions of benevolence, and, relying on these traditions, I’m going to donate the money award given by you to the Rehabilitation Centre for Persons with Down Syndrome.
Thank you again for this nice video footage.
Among the memorable events, of course, the first European Games have their special place, and for our country this is already a history. This history has been written by the people of Azerbaijan. I am confident we all keep those moments in our hearts so far.
Such a world-importance event was held in our country, in Baku, thanks to the achievements we have reached step-by-step during the years of independence, formation of independent Azerbaijan and its strengthening as a state. When taking this decision, the European Olympic Committee was guided by a number of factors – the infrastructure existing in our country, the sports infrastructure, achievements reached by our sportsmen on the international arena, the great support provided by the state to the sports, and of course, general development in the country.
As the head of the Organizing Committee, I am very happy we managed to prepare and hold the Games in a very short timeframe allocated for the preparation – two and a half years only – on the highest level. First of all, we arranged a big, grandiose sports holiday for the people of Azerbaijan. At the same time, we managed to create an environment of friendship, solidarity and hospitality for over 6 thousand sportsmen coming from 50 countries of Europe. Those days, I am confident, are living in everybody’s heart. Having demonstrated the highest achievements, our sportsmen took the second place as a team total. Our anthem was performed, our flag raised repeatedly, and we showed to the whole world Azerbaijan’s unity, and the ability of Azerbaijan.
You have absolutely correctly mentioned that no pressure, no difficulty, no injustice that we had faced could break the good will and unity of the people of Azerbaijan, and I am confident this will always be so. For those unforgettable feelings we experienced those days, I want to express my deep thanks to the people of Azerbaijan. Of course, each member of the Organising Committee played a great role in high-level organization and holding of the Games. Such successful Games were possible thanks to a very strong, powerful, skilled, knowledgeable team with maximum cooperation.
I want to specially underscore the contribution made by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. You probably remember that we had held presentations of these Games in a number of capitals of the European countries. At these presentations, we talked not only about Azerbaijan’s achievements in the field of sports, but also its history, culture, its past and present. Our intention is to introduce Azerbaijan to the whole world not as a country with large energy resources, but also a country with rich history and culture. We took the advantage of these events to introduce our country to the world. In this, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has played a great role. We have led over 250 such events and days of Azerbaijani culture abroad, in different countries and cities of the world. In each such event we tried to convey the historical realities of Azerbaijan to the world society. I have repeatedly talked about the occupation of Daghlyg Garabagh, recognized by the world society as Azerbaijan’s integral part, and seven districts surrounding it – 20 percent of our country, over one million Azerbaijanis living the life of a refugee and IDP. Our cultural and historical heritage on the land being under occupation have been targeted by the enemy. As you well know, there are some 900 cultural, religious and historical monuments on these territories. Majority of them have been destroyed. Of course taking this opportunity, each time we raise this issue and talk about it. We try to draw the world society’s attention to the solution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Daghlyg Garabagh problem.
Today, you have talked about the Foundation’s activities. This year, the Foundation will mark the 12th anniversary of its activity. Our activity is, of course, multilateral – education, culture, helping the youth, protection of the environment etc. You know that a number of our projects have had great success and been already accomplished. For example, in 2005, the Foundation launched the project “New school to new Azerbaijan” and, in the framework of this project, 412 school were built in various regions and cities of Azerbaijan. Later, the State started to back this programme, joined it and over 3 thousand school in the country were repaired and reconstructed within 10 years. Last year we launched a new programme, and within the framework of this programme, 175 new kindergartens will be constructed in various cities and regions of our country. Construction of 129 of these kindergartens have already started and 41 commissioned into operation.
Supporting children homes and boarding schools – this programme is of special importance to us. In the first phase, we conducted monitoring at 34 children homes and boarding schools in our country, and we were shocked by what we encountered in this establishments. Children were living in unbearable conditions. As a result of implementing this programme, all these establishments have been basically repaired and provided with necessary equipment. We have consistently been keeping contact with children being educated at these establishments and take part in their destiny and lives. We try to arrange their holidays and leisure times. You know that close relationship has been built between us. Each employee of the Foundation can say and show you. I know how impatiently children wait for these meetings, either do we. We need such meetings as much as they do.
As I had mentioned before, in May this year, the Foundation will mark the 12th anniversary of its activity. The biggest achievement we have reached during these years was gaining the trust and respect of the people of Azerbaijan. You know that we receive thousands of letters. In these letters, people often write that the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is their last hope. We very well understand this responsibility, and on the first day of our activity, we declared that, along with large-scale projects of republican significance, we will also try to stay at the side of every person, citizen who appeal to us, listen to them and participate in solution of their problems within our capacity. We have worked following these principles. In my opinion, the respect we have gained is due to this factor. No letter sent to us remains unanswered, we try to listen to people and be at their sides.
During these years, over 50 thousand people have received medical treatment, with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, both in and outside of the country, and returned to normal life. Only last year, cardiac surgeries were conducted on 142 persons with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and majority of these people are underage children. We usually do not talk about this side of our activities, as helping people, especially those in such grave conditions, we consider as our civil duty. I think every human with capacity to help should support citizens that have found themselves in such difficult condition.
In the Foundation’s activities, Vahid muallim, you mentioned correctly, to introduce our country to the world as a place of multiculturalism and tolerance, especially in the contemporary world. We think that humanitarian cooperation and humanitarian projects are the best means in bringing humans and peoples closer, knowing and understanding each other better. Today, Azerbaijan is a multiconfessional and multinational country. We approach our history, culture and religion with great respect. At the same time, we approach cultural diversity very carefully and with great respect. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation participated, during these years, in restoration of over 50 historical, cultural and religious monuments. At the same time, we have participated in restoration of 40 cultural and religious monuments in various cities and countries of the world. Recently presentation of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs, one of the most valuable monuments of the Christian world took place at the Holy See. These catacombs have been restored with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Speaking at the meeting, Cardinal Ravasi repeatedly emphasized that they had repeatedly appealed to Christian countries to help them to restore these valuable monuments. Unfortunately, they received no response, and right after they talked for the first time with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, they signed an agreement. It took 3 years to accomplish this project. At that moment, I took great pride in Azerbaijan’s participation in the restoration of a monument, which has its special place in the Christian history and culture.
A few years before, an exhibition to introduce Azerbaijan’s history and culture, art and ancient carpet-making school had been arranged in one of the museums related to Vatican. It was for the first time in the Holy See’s history that an exhibition associated with a Muslim country was organized in a museum related to them. I think this was a nice example of building interreligious relations based on a completely sound ground, and we can be an example to the world in this respect. We will henceforth try to continue promoting, in every event we hold, this environment of multiculturalism and tolerance dominating in Azerbaijan to the world.
Dear friends, recent years of our independence, as in other spheres, in the field of journalism too, significant changes have occurred. Without free and professional press, it is impossible to build a democratic state. Freedom of speech and press, discussions on the most pressing issues, unbiased coverage of issues concerning the society – media’s role in this sphere is matchless. Every press organ must, first of all, be unbiased and disinterested, favour interests of the people and state over everything and propagate the principles of kindness and justice in the society.
ANS Channel has its own place in the Azerbaijani journalism. You are the first independent TV channel of the country. For more than twenty years, you have gained the Azerbaijani people’s trust, support and respect by your professionalism, principal position and national morale. We all remember the reporting made by ANS from the frontline at the most difficult moments of the war. These footages have become a historical chronicle of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Daghlyg Garabagh conflict. Video footages made by National Hero Chingiz Mustafayev with both high professionalism and courage has shown the true picture of the Khojaly tragedy to the whole world. You know that so far the Foundation has carried out a great deal of work in this field, and a campaign called “Justice for Khojaly” is being conducted. We use all this material and bring this tragedy to the attention of the world society. ANS Channel has provided the world society with detailed and correct information about the most painful moments of our country – Bloody January, Khojaly Tragedy, occupied territories of the country, and here your role is great.
Your activity is very highly appreciated. I would like to wish you successes in your future activities.