President Aliyev receives newly-elected Prosecutor General in videoconference [UPDATE]
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan Kamran Aliyev in a videoconference format.
President Ilham Aliyev said:
You are being appointed to the post of Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan today. I hope that you live up to this high confidence. You have been working in prosecution bodies for over 30 years. You started your career back in the Soviet times and in the last six years you held the position of Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I do hope that the experience you have accumulated will allow you to the opportunity to achieve good results in improving the work of prosecution authorities and deepening the reforms.
As is the case in all other areas, there is a need for even broader reforms in prosecution bodies. The results of reforms in all spheres of life in Azerbaijan are highly appreciated by our citizens today. Reforms mean renewal, a new approach and adaptation to modern conditions. Through reforms, we are strengthening our country and paving the way for its further sustainable development. Progress is impossible without reforms. Therefore, as in other areas, there is a great need for reforms in law-enforcement agencies. I do hope that the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan succeeds in carrying out these reforms.
Large-scale political reforms are underway today. I can say that in the years of independence, we have not observed reforms of such proportions and results before. It is possible to say that the political dialogue initiated by the government is taking place, and we are already seeing the first positive manifestations of this dialogue. It is possible to say that all of the key political forces of our country have joined the dialogue and expressed a positive attitude towards it. So I believe that important steps will be taken in the coming years to improve and modernize the political system, and to build political relations in Azerbaijan on a sound basis. I must note again that no-one should be prosecuted because of political views, political affiliation or political activity in Azerbaijan.
At the same time, the sustainable development of our country is impossible without economic reforms. A few years ago, I said that we needed to prepare for a post-oil era, and this period has essentially already begun. The crisis observed in the oil markets has had a very negative impact on the revenues of practically all countries rich in oil. Therefore, our main goal is to develop the non-oil sector, and the results achieved in this direction are based on reforms, are the outcome of reforms. It was thanks to transparency, accuracy and reforms that the volume of budget revenues exceeded the forecast by 1 billion manats last year. To a large extent, these funds have allowed us the opportunity to implement many social projects. The results of the first quarter of this year show that, despite the pandemic, there is economic growth. True, it is measured in very small numbers – 1.1 percent. However, as it turned out during a recent meeting with the leaders of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, many countries are registering an economic downturn. It is not ruled out in our country either because the pandemic has had a very large negative impact on the country's economy. In any case, the results of the first quarter show that the economy grew by 1.1 percent and the non-oil economy by more than 3 percent. The main reason for all this is the reforms that have been carried out. This enables us to carry out large-scale programs in the social sphere. Last year, the social status of 4.2 million people was improved, the minimum wages, minimum pensions and benefits were significantly increased. In the aftermath of the coronavirus infection this year, additional measures were taken in this direction. These steps have once again demonstrated that our policies are centered on citizens of Azerbaijan. This should always be regarded as the main goal, the main factor in all matters for prosecution authorities too.
Personnel reforms are underway, allowing us the opportunity to promote new professional, competent and modern people. Important posts have been entrusted to them and this, I think, is also the imperative of the time because there must be modern approaches in the political, economic spheres, on the international plane in the present-day world. Young professionals who have received high-quality education are represented in the Presidential Administration, parliament and other bodies, and this is our conscious choice. Of course, experienced personnel should share knowledge with the younger generation. Therefore, of course, the implementation of wider reforms in law-enforcement agencies is an essential condition. Here you have a major task, and I do hope that you will cope with it. First of all, the rule of law must be fully ensured, as it is the most important condition for building a fair society. Unfortunately, we have not fully achieved what we wanted yet, including the fact that some decisions made by law enforcement agencies run counter to law, violate social justice, cause fair discontent among people and eventually cause a great harm to our common cause. One of the reasons for this may be a lack of professionalism, but sometimes there are certain interests, a vested interest. All employees and heads of law enforcement agencies can hear me today. My words should serve as the main instruction for them so that reforms in the law enforcement system in Azerbaijan are deepened and the rule of law is ensured.
The focus should always be on the professionalism of personnel. You should address this issue seriously. It is necessary to take additional measures to improve the professionalism of our personnel today. New employees hired into prosecution authorities must be highly qualified. At the same time, along with this important factor, the principles of devotion to statehood should always prevail. After all, the successful existence and strengthening of our independent state today is primarily associated with the strengthening of our statehood. We must try to ensure that Azerbaijan continues to develop successfully, so that our independence always becomes stronger. Of course, personnel in any sphere should be attached to the state and nation, should be patriotic and state interests should be above everything else for them.
Another important task is the fight against corruption and bribery. I believe that prosecution bodies should work harder in this direction. Azerbaijan is waging a very serious fight against these negative phenomena. I have repeatedly spoken out on this issue. I have warned all government officials and even said that if a government official is unable or unwilling to make changes to his work, then he should leave civil service of his own accord.
Unfortunately, my words did not serve as a lesson for some and as a result, the State Security Service has carried out several operations and exposed bribe-takers – high-ranking officials who have already been prosecuted. Heads of the executive authority of Aghstafa, Bilasuvar, Yevlakh, Neftchala districts have been arrested. The public has been provided and will continue to be provided with detailed information on this issue.
Also recently, the chairman of the Binagadi settlement municipality was accused of selling a permit and detained red-handed. A representative of the head of the Ismayilli District Executive Authority for the city of Ismayilli was engaged in the appropriation of assistance, embezzling the assistance intended for the poor. An investigation is underway into the case of the arrested heads of the executive authority. But the video shown today indicates that bribery was the main principle for these people. In other words, all agencies had to bribe the heads and other representatives of the executive authority every month. Unfortunately, such negative facts exist in other districts as well. Information about this is available, so I want to say again that no-one will be able to avoid responsibility. No-one can be above law, and if someone thinks that their close ones, acquaintances, relatives and high-ranking friends will help him out, then they are mistaken. Everyone is equal before law. There must not be corruption and bribery in Azerbaijani society. In any case, we should try to narrow the scope for corruption and bribery by both administrative and institutional methods. At the same time, penalties are and will continue to be applied.
Therefore, it is necessary to broadly analyze the work in the four districts where the heads of executive authority have been arrested. I was informed yesterday that the arrested head of the Bilasuvar District Executive Authority took away land plots from several people. These people openly turned to me and immediate instructions were issued to study this issue. If this is confirmed, these lands must be returned to the people. Therefore, prosecution bodies should be active in these matters. During these difficult times, to steal products and appropriate the wages intended for workers is both a crime and a huge disgrace. We allocate these funds so that those who can’t find a job could be provided with work at least at the level of the minimum wage. These are community jobs. We provide work to these people. Whereas at the initial stage about 30,000 jobs were created, I have now instructed to bring their number to 90,000. At the initial stage, the distribution of these funds was carried out by the heads of executive authority. The lack of control and corruption existing in this area essentially deprived many people of the assistance provided by the state. This is dishonesty – there is no other word for that. We have already tightened control now. The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population was also instructed to tighten control over this issue. Despite this, the cards belonging to these poor people are still being found in the offices and pockets of the arrested heads and representatives of executive authority. Therefore, a very serious fight must be waged against these and other phenomena.
In connection with the pandemic, the Azerbaijani state has mobilized all its resources today. First of all, we are doing everything possible to protect our citizens, their life and health. The task force and all relevant bodies work day and night. Every day, our working day begins and ends with this issue. How many people have fallen ill, how many have recovered, how many are in hospitals, what their condition is, the situation of those in serious condition, what their chances of recovery are – we do this day and night. The state, public organizations, primarily the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, individual entrepreneurs, wealthy people are helping the poor on their own initiative. How can you describe the embezzlement of this assistance? They are even storing the products recently sent by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the homes of their relatives in order to sell them later. Are we supposed to turn a blind eye to this? Such people deserve the most severe punishment.
Many world leaders are saying now that the pandemic is a war. Yes, I agree with this thesis. If they act like that under the current circumstances, what will they do if there is an even more difficult situation? There is only one name for that – shamelessness and betrayal. Therefore, from now on, a more serious struggle should be waged against these elements.
We are fully paying the wages to 900,000 people working in the public sector. We are paying a significant part of the salary of 600,000 people working of the private sector, including micro-entrepreneurs working in the areas worst affected by the pandemic. We are paying benefits to 600,000 people belonging to low-income groups, including the unemployed and those employed unofficially. We want to help everyone. Everyone! This is the responsibility of the heads of executive authority, heads of other central and local executive bodies. When appointing each head of executive authority to this post, I first of all tell them: serve the people, be with them, work honestly, do not take bribes, do not trouble people, help them and, at the same time, help entrepreneurs, do not take away what belongs to them, do not demand a share for yourself. This is what I say to each of them. Our position on this issue is unambiguous. Irreconcilable fight will be waged against corruption and corrupt officials. I must also say that similar facts are observed not only in local executive bodies. There are such facts and signals also in central executive bodies, and these signals are being examined. I am told that in some central executive bodies, in some ministries – these signals are still being studied – people are asked for a bribe to be appointed to a post. This is a crime. Such steps undermine the foundations of our state. These are dirty actions. What will the person do after paying money for a post? He will try to recover this money, so to speak. Where will he get it? He will either plunder state property or extort money from people where possible.
We have seen this a number of time. In the districts I mentioned, in the fields of healthcare, education and culture, money is collected from citizens, parents and every school principal. The chief doctor of the central district hospital gives money to the executive authority and, in his turn, collects monthly bribes from all departments. All municipalities pay the executive authority on a monthly basis. We will wage a merciless struggle against such phenomena. Justice and the people are on our side. All this exposing footage have caused a legitimate feeling of disgust in every citizen of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the hundreds of thousands of letters I am receiving express great support for the steps we are taking. Therefore, prosecution authorities must be in the forefront in this matter and ensure the rule of law.
I do hope that your experience and professionalism will ensure the fulfillment of my instructions. Employees of prosecution authorities should continue to serve the motherland with dignity. All law-enforcement agencies should work so that people and the public are satisfied with their work, so that the interests of the state and the rule of law are ensured.
I am appointing you today and look forward to you justifying this high confidence.
Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev said:
- Thank you very much, dear Mr. President. First of all, let me express my deep gratitude to you for the high confidence placed in me, for honoring me with such an important public post and appointing me to this role.
Prosecution bodies are indeed a very important body in state building and public administration. The place and role of prosecution bodies in public administration was determined by great leader Heydar Aliyev, who noted that the prosecutor’s office is one of the main pillars of the state. It really is. Prosecution bodies have always been surrounded by the attention and care of great leader Heydar Aliyev. Under his leadership, the Prosecutor's Office of independent Azerbaijan has covered an important development path. It was by his order that we annually mark 1 October as the professional holiday of employees of the Prosecutor’s Office – the Prosecutor’s Office of independent Azerbaijan.
Dear Mr. President, ever since the Azerbaijani people elected you president in 2003, prosecution bodies have enjoyed constant attention and care. Today, there are many qualified professionals in the Prosecutor's Office. They are devoted to their homeland and state. This is the result of the important reforms carried out in prosecution bodies under your leadership.
It is highly important to implement the reforms carried out under your leadership in other areas in prosecution bodies as well. Last year, you signed a decree on judicial and legal reforms, and work in this direction is still underway. In this context, I believe that the implementation of reforms in the Prosecutor's Office as an integral part of the judicial system is of particular importance.
You are absolutely right to note that the reforms underway now, in the post-oil era, are primarily intended to improve the well-being of our population, the daily life of every citizen of Azerbaijan.
The scope of prosecution bodies is quite broad. One of the key activity directions of the prosecutor’s office is, of course, to wage a merciless fight against serious crimes, all internal and external threats posed to our state and statehood. In this area, prosecution bodies should, of course, work in direct and close contact with other state bodies – with the State Security Service, with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other relevant state bodies.
Dear Mr. President, you specifically noted the fight against corruption. After you were elected President of Azerbaijan, the fight against corruption became an essential part of your reforms and policies. It was at that time that the Republic of Azerbaijan joined all international initiatives in this field, all conventions of both the Council of Europe and the United Nations. Institutional measures have been taken in this direction and appropriate agencies have been set up. The Main Department for Combating Corruption was also established as a specialized criminal prosecution body for this area. I can say with full confidence that your personal participation in the opening of a new administrative building of the Anti-Corruption Department on the eve of the professional holiday of prosecution workers in 2013 contributed to special enthusiasm in prosecution bodies. Your speech in front of young prosecutors is still remembered by all employees of the Prosecutor’s Office. They always note this with a feeling of great joy and pride.
We need to continue reforms in prosecution bodies. Personnel reforms are indeed a very important issue, and we will continue our activities in this area. If the need arises, then, of course, the work of the Prosecutor's Office and its structural subdivisions will be analyzed. I believe that we should take progressive steps in this matter.
On your orders and instructions, prosecution bodies have always cooperated with international organizations. Regular contacts were maintained both with international organizations and with prosecution and anti-corruption bodies of other countries. Naturally, this work was carried out in accordance with your political will. During your speech in front of prosecutors, you noted that we should not be content with only studying the best practices, we must also apply them to our everyday activities.
Mr. President, in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, you said that this was a kind of war. Under your leadership and thanks to the daily attention and care of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, it is possible to say that in comparison with other advanced countries this problem is being left in the past for Azerbaijan. We hope that work in this direction will be continued in the same spirit.
Dear Mr. President, let me once again express my deep gratitude to you for honoring me with this very responsible public position. I want to assure you that prosecution bodies will continue to always serve the principles of Heydar Aliyev, the state, statehood and our people. Thank you again!
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, and I wish you success.
Kamran Aliyev: Thank you very much.
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