"A new era has begun" - Article by Umud Mirzayev

Analytics 17:40 28.02.2024

In an article featured in the latest issue of "Xalq" newspaper, Umud Mirzayev, president of the International Eurasia Press Fund, poet-publicist, and Honored Cultural Worker, delves into the significance of President Ilham Aliyev's recent re-election and the transformative period it heralds for Azerbaijan.

In his conceptual speech at the President's inauguration ceremony, Mirzayev highlights the beginning of a new era for Azerbaijan with the continuation of Ilham Aliyev's presidency. The article extensively covers the activities of the neutral observation mission of the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) in the extraordinary presidential elections held on February 7, 2024.

Ednews reprints the article "A new era has begun" by Umud Mirzayev:

The ultimate goal is a stronger Azerbaijan.

"We enter this era with open foreheads, white faces, and upright heads. There will be great achievements of this era, I do not doubt it."

Ilham ALIYEV, 
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

1. There is a very important document on my desk: the meaning expressed in it, under the influence of natural gravity, brings to mind the face of the historical days in which we live, or rather, our era, the facts, propositions and approaches expressed in it beat like the pulse of time...

This document is truly fateful, that is, it has the highest value, state, people, and nationwide relevance. Because there, the outlines of peace, stability, and construction, in a word, the highway of great development and progress, which we are sure from the beginning, that the historical path to be followed in the next seven years will be immortalized with important achievements, are presented. 

Of course, we are talking about the text of the speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who won the biggest political marathon of our country and was re-elected as the head of state, at the swearing-in ceremony held on February 14, 2024, a week after the extraordinary election. It is in this speech that a 30-year period of ups and downs, quite complex, and rich in achievements that played an important role in our social-political, socio-economic, cultural, and spiritual life, through which independent Azerbaijan has passed to the present day, is fully reviewed. Most importantly, the strategic, as well as these and other most important tasks and goals are expressed, and the new challenges of the time are expressed.

I fulfilled my observation mission in the 2024 snap presidential elections as the head of an organization with UN status, operating at the international level, without any political position. However, I am writing this article as an Azerbaijani, who has experienced this for 30 years and felt it at every moment of his life. 

You probably agree that, at least in the last three or four years, even in almost extreme socio-political conditions, Ilham Aliyev's speeches, prompted interviews given by the head of state to the international and local media without reference to any written text, appeals to the people are logical, sharp, the best examples of effective official speech are examples of practical oratory (and many of them were in the most widespread foreign languages ​​of the world, in the language of great politics, that is, in English and Russian, in addition to our native language. 

Historically, much has been said about the unity of "pen and sword", and "words and power". Probably, every Azerbaijani remembers, that in not-so-distant history, in addition to the successful front operations conducted under the leadership of the Commander-in-Chief, he created an unparalleled example of diplomatic experience in the information war as sharp as a sword. As I said, those historical speeches were very sharp and effective, because they were based on the truth, what was true. Every sentence had the power to mobilize. When Ilham Aliyev spoke, the spirit of the people was awakening. With his speeches, he inspired his people and each of us to be brave and not to be afraid of any external forces. The special value of those speeches was that they were based on justice and demanded the rights of the people! 

Due to its extraordinary importance, and at the same time taking into account the need to preserve the chronological sequence of the considerations I will share regarding the early election, Ilham Aliyev, who won a great victory in the political marathon, which is still under the influence of his rich impression, was fair, open, honest, and also with the support of our entire country and national enthusiasm. We will talk in detail about his truly brilliant speech at the swearing-in ceremony.

2. There is also a separate document on my desk related to the observation mission of the snap presidential election process by a world-renowned organization. In terms of the chronology of events, I intend to express a number of my considerations based on the report of the International Eurasia Press Fund on the observation activity in the early elections of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan held on February 7, 2024. 

It is clear from the given official information that more than 65 thousand observers were registered to monitor the snap election marathon (125 district election commissions, 6319 precinct election commissions), and more than 800 of them were international observers. The International Eurasia Press Fund, which joins 3 coalitions of NGOs with a team of 50 observers to conduct observation and monitoring, can be satisfied with its successful mission in the election process. We would like you to accept this feeling of our agreement as an expression of truth. Imagine, in the historical process, in which the participation of approximately 6.5 million voters is expected across the country, IEPF, with its headquarters in Baku, created regional headquarters in Tartar, Fuzuli, and Beylagan for objective and complete observation. Our team participated in the opening of 38 stations in 22 different districts, ten of our members conducted intensive observations in 19 stations of 7 districts in Khankandi, Shusha, Lachin, Khojaly, Aghdara, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan and Gubadli districts, and at the same time in Baku city. In general, the observer team of the foundation, which I am the head of, observed the snap presidential elections in 225 precincts, including 32 constituencies. 

On election day, I performed my observation mission in Khankandi, Shusha, Khojaly, Aghdam, Fuzuli, and Tartar regions. On this historic day, I had a chance to watch the election process in 8 polling stations in total. Unlike the previous elections, the most proud moment in this election was the activism of our people. As if, the people felt it their duty to be a part of this historical process. As if this was a historical mission and task. This approach was similar to the attention that Mr. President showed to the people and the concept of winning Azerbaijan that he gave them. Young and old generation, ladies and gentlemen, citizens with physical limitations, mothers of martyrs... Each of them could be seen in this election.

My purpose in showing the numbers and giving the statistics of our activity on February 7, 2024, is to note that the evaluation of the preparation for the election, the conduct of the election, and its results, as a member of the NGO section of the General Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC, and an independent organization - the International Eurasia Press Fund, is a fairly serious opinion. This opinion is based on the fact that an unprecedented election in the history of our native country, Azerbaijan, took place in the mentioned calendar, and our nation has transitioned to a new, more responsible socio-political, historical stage. 

By the way, as a citizen, I have participated in all the presidential elections since 1993, and I have not been left out of the important political process, which is of particular importance in the life of our people if we take into account the two elections that took place in the very beginning of the 1990s after Azerbaijan gained its independence. In 1993 and 1998, I unequivocally voted for national leader Heydar Aliyev, and in the following five presidential elections, Ilham Aliyev, was the most worthy candidate, and in fact, I voted for the past, present, and future of Azerbaijan. 

All the parameters of development and progress, starting from different sources, united at a single point in the person of a powerful political leader - Ilham Aliyev, and in general, caused a qualitative change in the country. This quality factor can be traced to all segments. Today, there is a political, economic, intellectual, and cultural platform typical of worthy states in Azerbaijan. An Azerbaijani person is not an individual from 30 years ago, he is a member of a civil society developed in all respects. In particular, a well-thought-out domestic economic policy is the basis for the improvement of people's well-being in the country. Azerbaijan is a country of social priority in the world, as well as in the Caucasus. You don't need to do extensive research to confirm this; it is enough to look at the current state of the material well-being of the population, the picture created by the social infrastructure projects implemented in Azerbaijan in almost every address of the country (newly built healthcare, educational, cultural institutions, agro-industrial parks, industrial complexes, road - let's remember the bridge junctions, the city of Baku, which has been renovated with speed and quality and has become a wonderful beauty, modernized army building, conducted with great competence ... etc.). 

Every success is based on correctly managed work, unity of work and action, decisive decisions and instructions of President Ilham Aliyev for more than 20 years, management skills, love for the Motherland, and along with all this, loyalty to the legacy of political management of the great leader Heydar Aliyev.

Experts, analysts, representatives of the mass media, and ordinary citizens who fundamentally differentiate this political campaign from the next polls, either before the early election, on the day of the election, or after the election, are not at all wrong. Everyone unequivocally states that one of the distinguishing features of the early presidential election on February 7, 2024, is that it covers all territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan - cities, towns, and villages without exception. Such an indicator is a national achievement. Until the Victory Day of the 44-day Patriotic War in September-November 2020, and the local anti-terrorist measures implemented in September 2023, who would have thought that Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur would be the last of the enemy who called me mine for 30 years until the last inch? until the thugs are cleaned, the heads of the armed forces of Armenia, extremist, and separatist elements will be crushed with an "iron fist". Citizens of Azerbaijan, refugees, and displaced brothers and sisters will return to their ancestral lands, which are rapidly being established and revived, and as citizens of a victorious country, they will come to the polling station and vote for the candidates they want. The author of such a triumphal platform and victory anthem was the people of Azerbaijan, our National Army, and the victorious Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev. People flocked to the polling stations, supporting his comprehensive and successful policy, as well as appreciating the fact of a proud victory as if fulfilling the duty of loyalty. It was at the end of the harmonious junction of the above-mentioned 3 factors (People, Army, Leader) that an unshakable foundation was laid for peace, order, fundamental construction, and settlement in the native land that was expected for decades in the liberated Karabakh.

For nearly 35 years, the IEPF, which has joined the presidential election process regarding the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Election Code, has been promoting the development of civil society in Azerbaijan, the protection of statehood and democratic values, the prevention of the cares and difficulties of displaced people, and the international recognition of the catastrophic reality and bitter truths that have existed in Karabakh for nearly 30 years. It is one of the organizations that is at the forefront of working for many important issues such as communicating to the public and the world media. Of course, we joined the nationally important process taking place in the life of our country with an active, clear, and unified program. In short, I can say that our team's analysis of the current political and social situation in advance, pre-election preparations, review of necessary information about presidential candidates, and campaigns, and summarization of local and international information allowed us to carry out our mission actively and constructively.

Every vote counted, whether it is a minority or a majority, should be treated with respect. A simple example; 2.17 percent of the votes given to Zahid Oruj and 2 percent to Fazil Gazanfaroglu mean the votes of thousands of voters after the winning candidate. In all cases, the absolute victory of Ilham Aliyev - the final figure of 92.8 percent is a celebration of justice, democracy, people's trust and trust in a worthy candidate, the tireless work and decisive steps of the person who has led the country for more than 20 years, the creator of the Azerbaijani reality, which is an example in the world. is the price given. In the organization's final report on the early presidential elections, we were pleased to note the unprecedented turnout. We have shown that the election process was conducted transparently and objectively, and full conditions were created for everyone to participate in the voting. No violations of the rules that could affect the results of the elections were detected in the election process. The activities of the Central Election Commission, election preparation, and organization were highly appreciated by our observers. 

3. On February 14, 2024, Ilham Aliyev, the re-elected president, delivered a comprehensive speech in the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which answered all the basic questions of interest to the society and reflected the conclusions and perspectives. As usual, the President's programmatic speech attracted the attention of both domestic and foreign audiences. Ilham Aliyev, who declared that he will use all his strength for the "comprehensive development of Azerbaijan and the protection of territorial integrity" in the new stage, said that all the promises he made in 2003 have been fulfilled, that the source of the achievements is the people of Azerbaijan, the trust shown by the people to their leader and their ability to unite around a single action. states: "We are a great nation, we decide our destiny."

Yes, it is precisely for this fundamental reason that at the end of the 44-day Patriotic War, which broke out on September 27, 2020, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was restored, as the head of state said, more than 300 cities and villages gained freedom. "However, there might not have been a war", "if Armenia and its patrons abroad had followed international law", and "if they had not ignored the four resolutions of the UN". However, Azerbaijan was committed to negotiations at all stages of conflict resolution. One of the main factors determining our victory is the combat readiness and heroic spirit of the Azerbaijan Army. For this reason, our army only went forward during all the operations of the war. According to the occupiers' admission, more than 12,000 soldiers deserted from the Armenian army during the 44-day war. However, not a single person from Azerbaijan left the battlefield and ran away.

President Ilham Aliyev once again reminds the unanimous opinion shared by all: "The main feature, characteristic, and importance of these presidential elections is that it was the first time in the period of independence that the elections were held in all territories of our country." 

Ilham Aliyev took part in the election in Khankandi. As he said, he could have voted anywhere in the country, but in all fairness, he chose here. By the way, fate brought me a chance to vote in Khankandi as a citizen. It is very difficult to put into words what I felt at that moment. For someone who spent more than half of his life longing for his homeland, these feelings were probably one of the most memorable moments of his life. I will bear the burden of this moment for many years as a representative of a generation that has seen suffering, lost those of its blood before its eyes, whose hearth has been extinguished. I tried to be a voice for the future of victorious Azerbaijan in Khankandi, yes, in our free Khankandi. Panahali Khan, the founder of the Karabakh Khanate, built this place in certain years of history. In the place where, from the 1980s until the anti-terror measures, Armenian bandits turned this place into a "devil's den". The dream of separating Karabakh from Azerbaijan was "launched" from there. 

The sentences that I will quote from the President's speech are met with loud applause by the participants of the ceremony, those two sentences are as follows: "The vote I cast there, the ballot I threw in that box was not just a ballot. This was the nail in the coffin of the Armenian separatists."

The President announces the beginning of a new era. He is sure that the new stage will have great achievements. The exact goal, the highest goal is a strong Azerbaijan. Because the world, where the scales of justice are bent, is reckoned with power from the beginning to the end. Even if it doesn't count, power is power, it doesn't lose weight. It is not a matter of showing muscle but of guaranteed protection of the halal and legal rights of the people, the nation, the state...

"That's why, one of the main tasks facing us in the coming years will be the strengthening of our army, our Armed Forces," the head of the state said. In all cases, the policy of the state of Azerbaijan will be based on international law. It is no coincidence that the largest expenses of our state budget are military expenses, besides, the reconstruction of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur is also a priority in terms of spending funds."

Ilham Aliyev, in a situation where we are very close to the Third World War, the creation of a powerful military-industrial complex, the reliable protection of our borders ("Our borders must be so tightly closed that not even a bird can cross") is the call of the hour, the demand of the modern era. "There are no risks inside the country, all possible potential risks are located and formed outside the borders of our country," the President declares. Only national unity, modern youth brought up under the influence of national values, solidarity, development of civil society, and our reliably protected borders can be the guarantor of new successes.

Today, Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur are a huge building site and revival. Unfortunately, many people have become victims of landmines and lost their lives or health. However, the territories are saved from the underground treachery of the hated enemy; About 120,000 hectares of land have been cleared. As long as the safety of the population is ensured and living conditions are created, the permanent return to the liberated homelands accelerates. So far, 5,400 former displaced persons have been sent to five settlements. By the end of the year, 20,000 people will be accommodated in 5 cities and 15 villages. In the first phase of the Great Return program - in 2026, the number of people returning to their ancestral homes will reach 140,000. At present, ointment is being applied to the wounds of the lands turned into ruins by Armenian vandals. There, the entire social infrastructure is fundamentally rebuilt: hospitals, schools, sports facilities, roads, and more than 130 tunnels and bridges are being built. The speech of President Ilham Aliyev, touched on important vital problems such as the comprehensive development of the economy, reducing poverty to a minimum, foreign economic and international relations, improving people's social well-being, creating jobs, increasing incomes, social protection of martyrs' families and war disabled people, and showing perspectives and solutions. the last sentences cannot be read without excitement: "Today we are in Agdam, Fuzuli, Lachin, Jabrayil, Zangilanda, Gubadli, Kalbajar, Shusha, Hadrut, Khojaly, Agdara, Askaran, Khankandi. This new era begins successfully. I am sure that it will continue successfully!"

With a sense of pride, I would like to note that the International Eurasia Press Fund, which I am the founder and head of, from the very first day of its establishment, has chosen to sympathize with Karabakh and its difficult fate as its highest mission and has taken confident steps on this path. We, as the main and sustainable NGO partner of the Mine Action Agency of The Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA), have cleared more than 12,500 hectares of land from mines and unexploded ordnances for the use of our people over the past 20 years. After the end of the 30-year occupation period, we conducted research in more than 220 villages of Karabakh. In total, we have succeeded in educating more than 250,000 of our compatriots in 10 regions on mine danger. Even today, we are mobilizing our opportunities and potential for the development of Karabakh, its prosperity, and its bright future. As a civil society organization that always believes in the return to these lands, we believe endlessly that we will take a path of progressive construction and restoration in the next period as well. Believing in this path, we gathered together with a divine power and did not stop.

4. A day equal to an age...

Valuable words have many meanings, interpreting them only figuratively is not a perfect approach. Ilham Aliyev, who has unequivocally successfully led Azerbaijan for more than 20 years, participated in the presidential elections for the fifth time and his brilliant victory gives an unlimited time scale and historical essence to a simple day of the calendar - February 7, 2024. Ilham Aliyev has been the organizer of all the achievements of the Azerbaijani people for 20 years. While sharing these thoughts with willing readers, I hear the words of our great leader Heydar Aliyev that have been confirmed over and over again over the years:

"He is a highly intelligent, practical, energetic, and enterprising personality. I assure you that Ilham Aliyev and the New Azerbaijan Party will continue to do a lot in the way of the development of the Azerbaijan state and the prosperity of our people, uniting the most worthy children of our people around them. I believe that with your help and support, Ilham Aliyev will be able to finish the fateful issues, plans, and works that I could not bring to an end. I believe in him as much as myself and have high hopes for his future..."

Today, each of us is a witness that the great confidence of our national leader has been confirmed word for word...

Development is the name of natural, economic, social, political, cultural, spiritual evolution, and qualitative change. No one can deny the stages of development of the Azerbaijani people in their historical path spanning hundreds of years. The point is that the conclusions reached by the joint authorship of the Azerbaijani people and Ilham Aliyev during twenty years are not enough to be considered indicators of development. Because he is the author of the modern Azerbaijani renaissance along with the rather spectacular national development. Such authorship may be possible under strict conditions. In my opinion, the first condition is that Ilham Aliyev, in the first days of his leadership, turned to the path of the great leader, to national loyalty, and such a choice provides the modern, national, and ideological foundations of Azerbaijan's comprehensive, global successes yesterday and today. Mr. Ilham Aliyev is a historical figure who restored the people's dignity, national self-esteem, and citizenship thinking in terms of the ideal protection of the power of the state. The proof is today's reality; Azerbaijan's state independence has been fully, irreversibly, and forever established. National economic development is an example at the international level. An army with the power to protect the territorial integrity and borders of the country has been created in Azerbaijan. Both the scale and quality of social infrastructure construction, as well as the speed of the works are amazing. During twenty years, the living conditions of the population have improved, people's safety and order have been ensured, and the legal state has been strengthened. 

Today, the country's international reputation is based on equal cooperation. Independent Azerbaijan does not depend on any state or force. The characteristic indicators that complete the image of Ilham Aliyev as a successful leader do not end with the listed ones, analysts, reviewers, experts, international political scientists, journalists, and ordinary people speak, talk, and write about them every day. The main issue is that the fruits of Ilham Aliyev's successful policy belong to the people of Azerbaijan!


The author, Umud MIRZAYEV is president of the International Eurasia Press Fund, poet-publicist, and a distinguished cultural figure.


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