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Heydar Aliyev's agrarian reforms are among strategic directions of socio economic development

Interview with  Chairman of State Land and Cartography Committee Qarib Mammadov

Q: As you know big part of Azerbaijan`s modern history is associated with national leader Heydar Aliyev. How would you assess the country`s achievements in socio-political, economic and cultural fields unde the national leader?

A: Heydar Aliyev played a crucial role in Azerbaijan`s modern independence history. The Heydar Aliyev era means a new era and a new history for Azerbaijan.

The people do not forget Heydar Aliyev because he is associated with all positive changed that have taken place in their lives. Middle and old generations well remember Heydar Aliyev`s tireless work to improve the quality of their lives in the 70s-80s of the last century.

Heydar Aliyev will forever live in minds because he was always bound together with his people, which were the source of power and inspiration for him.

The national leader of our people served interests of people, state, society and its members, worked for integrity of the people of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani land and state and did every job to improve and expand democracy and independence. We must admit that realization of ideas of the Azerbaijani state is linked to national leader Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev’s ingenious personality owns an exclusive place in the history ofAzerbaijani statehood.

Q: In the first years of independence national leader Heydar Aliyev initiated agrarian reforms.

A: One of important problems after Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Azerbaijan gained independence was implementation of new land policy and land reforms. Collapse of dependent economic system of Soviet Union drove Azerbaijan, like other republics, to grave economic crisis. The only right way to get the republic out of this crisis was forming the economy with new economic bases in short time, supplying population with agricultural products and food. To assure all this it needed to carry out land reforms. Like all other issues important to start the new life of independent Azerbaijan, implementation of land reforms also is linked to the name of great leader Heydar Aliyev.

In 1993-2003, under leadership of Heydar Aliyev agrarian reforms and land reforms were carried out in the Republic of Azerbaijan, development of agriculture, production of agricultural outputs intensified, First, material welfare of producers lifted, production conditions improved, wish of Azerbaijani ploughman to become a landowner come true, lands were freely given to villager and new land-ploughman relations promoted.

Unfortunately, in the first years of independence, i.e. till 1993 economy of the country was seriously damaged by frequent change of political power, incompetence of the power, anarchy and chaos. On the other hand, involvement of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the war by Armenia, arrival of refugees from occupied districts in other districts, spending fantastic moneys on military operations hardly damaged the economy that was on the edge of crisis.

These processes left the country in the mid 1993 face to face with civic war and collapse. Just in such a critic moment national leader Heydar Aliyev began fulfilling his historical mission – salvation of Azerbaijan.

After 1993 the people of Azerbaijan was saved of economic crisis, military-political confrontation, social decline, cultural depression and moral erosion.

The great leader initiated and led development of land reform programme after long discussions and legal base was created in base of this programme for implementing land reforms.

Q: How do you think what is the historical importance of Heydar Aliyev`s agrarian reforms?

A: Over 52 decrees, laws and other legal documents including Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan ‘On land reforms’ of July 16, 1996, Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan ‘On state land cadastre, land monitoring and structure’ of December 22, 1998, Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan ‘On land rent’ of March 12, 1999, Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan ‘On land market’ May 7, 1999, Land Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan approved by Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan of June 25, 1999 provided a well-grounded base to implement land reforms in republic. Land reforms started by great leader Heydar Aliyev in Shurut and Gal villages of Julfa district of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchyvan commenced to be applied all over the republic. Implementation of reforms was intensified after Decree 534 of January 10, 1997 of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan ‘On approval of some legal documents assuring implementation of agrarian reforms’.

First, just on his initiative lands were freely given to citizens in Azerbaijan, about 3,5 mln people became landowners and it created new strong class of proprietors, formed new land-ploughman relations, characterized fruitful use of land and care for land.

Second, most suitable lands were privatized. In other words, unlike other CIS countries, the citizen was given not unsuitable or less suitable land but most suitable and fruitful lands of former state and collective farms. Physical and legal persons of the Republic of Azerbaijan were given exclusive rights on land areas in their own property such purchase and sale, presenting, giving to lease or use, legacy, deposit. It proved unlike other former soviet republics in Azerbaijan land reforms were implemented not formally but fundamentally and in well grounded base.

Third, all citizens, irrespective of place of residence, were entitled to use and lease lands, also every citizen was entitled to partake in purchase and sale of land, signing contracts and agreements concerning land. In other words, except 3,5 mln people that became land owners, rest of population were not eliminated from land relations. Every citizen of Azerbaijan was entitled to directly partake in new land property relations.

Just at the initiative of national leader Heydar Aliyev physical and legal persons that were not citizens of Azerbaijan were not entitled to property of land, and it is of big economic and political importance. Just the agrarian policy based on the above given theses of social justice principle of Heydar Aliyev, the author of agrarian-economic policy of country, legalized with over 52 decrees and orders signed by him in 1993-2003 and implemented with correct execution mechanisms caused daily development of agrarian sector in Azerbaijan.

Due to perfect laws adopted, lands kept in public property and given to municipalities are used for welfare of people of Azerbaijan. Lands given to municipality property are used by population in way of purchase and sale, use, rent etc, lands in public property in way of rent and use. All laws provided legal base to development of agrarian sector and improved financial welfare of people.

Q: The national leader`s reforms are today being continued by President Ilham Aliyev.

A: Next phases of land reforms implemented as agrarian policy of Heydar Aliyev and continued at present by the President of the republic are dynamically deepening.

Decree of November 24, 2003 ‘On actions to accelerate socio-economic development in the Republic of Azerbaijan’ signed by President Ilham Aliyev who was elected head of state in 2003 presidential elections with majority vote inspired development of agrarian sector too, provided suitable circumstances to those working in this field.

 In first phase of land reforms, which is over, 2032 state and collective farms in the republic were annulled and their fruitful lands were given to population and it was formalized with legal document approving their right of property, State Acts and recognition of lands in kind. In this phase, land share was given to 869 268 of 873 618 families entitled to get land share, except occupied districts, and this makes 3 442 778 subjects. Land reform has 99,5% been implemented in the country. 3 forms of property have been formed on land as result of land reforms. 4 913 639 hectares or 56,9% of 8 641 506 hectares forming the united land fund of Azerbaijan are in public property, 2 032 744 hectares or 23,5% are in municipality property and 1 695 123 hectares or 19,6% in private property.

Evidently, the Republic of Azerbaijan is in the era of socio-economic, cultural-moral, political-ideological and scientific progress under leadership ofPresident Ilham Aliyev. Number of achievements is getting increased day by day.

On November 24, 2003 President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on additional measures for speeding up the country`s socio-economic development. A logical follow-up to this was the Head of State`s approving the State Program for socio-economic development of the regions for 2004-2008. This made a tremendous contribution to strengthening the regions` potential, including the improvement of infrastructure, construction of new enterprises and social facilities, and improvement of the population`s living standard.

Q: The government has placed an emphasis to creating large grain production areas. What is being done on this front?

A: We are carrying out necessary work to conduct researches in Sabirabad, Saatlı, Imisli, Beylaqan, Shaki, Jalilabad, Bilasuvar, Neftchala, Salyan, Hajıqabul, Kurdamir, Tovuz, Shamkir, Samukh, Aghstafa, Tartar, Yevlakh, Goranboy, Agjabədi and Zərdabregions so that to prepare maps and make up the list of land owners.

We are also continuing the work to define the borders of the lands designed for melioration and irrigation. We also completed research and mapping work on areas used for cultivation in 20 regions. We did this with the help of specialists if the Ministry of Agriculture, Melioration and Water Industry Company.

Q: What about delimitation and demarcation of the state borders?

A: We have already completed the demarcation of the state border between Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation which is 390 km in length. The process which started in 1996 ended in 2010. The demarcation culminated with the approval by the Presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation of the Borger Agreement in Baku.

Azerbaijan`s state border with Georgia is 480 km in length. The delimitation work started in 1996 and is still continuing, and we have completed demarcation of 288km of the state border with Georgia.

Q: What about the State Committee`s foreign relations?

A: Between 1999-2003 in partnership with the Japanese governmentwe developed 165 1:50000 scale digital maps of the Azerbaijan Republic.

We received a $2 million grant from Swiss SECO company to carry out “Improving land cadaster in Azerbaijan” project.

I should also note that Azerbaijan is a rapidly growing economy. Leading rating agencies such as Moody's, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poors have given high financial ratings to Azerbaijan while they have indicated even some developed countries as having lower financial ratings.

In its 2013 report, World Economic Forum placed Azerbaijan in 39th place for the economic competitiveness.

Gaining 61.3 points out of possible 100 in 2014 Index of Economic Freedom prepared jointly by US-based Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal, Azerbaijan ranks 81st out of 186 countries as one of the countries with economic freedom. Compared with the previous year, Azerbaijan progressed 6 places in the ranking improving its economic freedom index by 1.6 points. The reason behind this is reported to be improvements in financial management and property issues.

The reports emphasizes small amount of state debts of Azerbaijan and that there are very positive outcome in the field of public expenditures, taxes, business, labor, trade, investments and economic freedom.