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National leader Heydar Aliyev played exceptional role in our multi-century statehood history

Interview with  Minister of Communications and High Technologies, member of YAP Political Council Ali Abbasov

Q: May 10 marks the 92nd anniversary of national leader Heydar Aliyev. How do you assess the role of the national leader in the history of Azerbaijani statehood?

A: The life of Heydar Aliyev covers more than half of the Azerbaijan Republic's history. Heydar Aliyev is the founder of modern Azerbaijani state.

national leader Heydar Aliyev played an invaluable role in our centuries-long statehood history. His years in power saw the strengthening of national spirit and national statehood idea.

“Economic independence is the essence of a nation`s political independence,” national leader Heydar Aliyev said. He placed a particular importance on the country`s economic development during his both tenures as Azerbaijan`s leader.

Thanks to national leader Heydar Aliyev`s rational and pragmatic activity Azerbaijan achieved rapid economic development in a short period of time.

We can say with confidence that thanks to efforts of the national leader the years 1970-1980 marked radical socio-economic reforms in Azerbaijan, and the country, which was on the verge of collapse, overcame all difficulties.

You are absolutely right. National leader Heydar Aliyev`s returning to power at the request of the people in 1993 helped the country survive a collapse.

After restoration of independence in 1991, the Republic of Azerbaijan began to realize its sovereign rights in economic field and to implement independent policy. The main directions of this policy are organization of the economic system based on different types of property, transition to market economy and integration into the global economy.

National leader Heydar Aliyev's return to the government in 1993 by the will and request of the people laid the foundation for the dramatic changes in the political and economic life of Azerbaijan.

The discussions and talks on the oil contract were in fact resumed and at last following the hard process of negotiations the country agreed on such provisions of the contract that would fully correspond to the interests of Azerbaijan.

Q: Please highlight development of communications and information technologies in Azerbaijan…

A: Major development era of communication in Azerbaijan happened in the 70-80s. Special attention to this field by Heydar Aliyev who led the country those years is widely reflected in official documents of those years.

 Issue regarding the state of communication means in the republic and actions for future development was raised on June 24, 1970 in the office of Central Committee on the initiative and under leadership of Heydar Aliyev and historical decision was made. The decision considered state of phone communication unsatisfactory in Baku, Sumgayit, Ganja cities, noted in a number of district centers manual phone stations are in use, half of state farms and 25% of collective farms supplied with phone, set development and improvement of communication means as one of most important duties of Communications Ministry.

Due to national leader Heydar Aliye`vs tireless work the information and communication technologies sector grew dramatically in Azerbaijan. The national leader made a tremendous contribution to expanding the supply of schools, universities, academician and other institutions with computers, boosting human resources development, educating skilled specialists and scholars. Under the national leader`s instructions hundreds of Azerbaijani youngsters were sent to leading universities in Moscow and other cities of the Soviet Union. Necessary material and technical infrastructure was created at Baku State University, State Oil Academy, Azerbaijan Technical University, State Economic University, Sumgayit State University, Lankaran State University, Nakhchivan State University and other higher educational institutions.

Q: What was the role of the national strategy for development of ICT sector, which was approved by the national leader?

A: Development and growth in the modern age is directly associated with the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). At present, the level of application of ICT is among the main indicators of intellectual and scientific potential, transparency in the public administration, solution of social and economic problems.

Government of Azerbaijan pays special attention to the development of information technologies. Azerbaijan's National ICT Strategy (2003-2012), which was approved by national leader Heydar Aliyev, has promoted a widening use of ICT tools to raise efficiency and transparency in the public sector, and recognizes innovation as one of the underlying principles for ICT application. Azerbaijan is also well-known regionally and internationally for its promotion of information society as a national development priority. Concerted national efforts invested by the Government of Azerbaijan have enabled the country to become one of the best performers among the CIS countries (2012 Global Technology Report, World Economic Forum). The ICT sector grew twice in size on average span of every 3 years covering the period of 2004-2013. The Republic of Azerbaijan is a leader among CIS countries for the density of Internet users during the last three years.

It is imperative that Azerbaijan builds upon this momentum by making it more sustainable through development of a comprehensive ICT strategy, a broader access through country-wide ICT infrastructure, promotion of ICT integration in business, and greater use of ICTs for social and economic impact.

Q: How do international organizations assess the country`s accomplishments in ICT sector?

A: Leading international organizations highly praise what Azerbaijan has achieved in the field of information and communication technologies sector. Azerbaijan ranked 49th in the World Economic Forum`s Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014. As you know the country also launched its own satellite. The satellite plays a key role in connecting over 50 countries in Central Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. With substantial C-band capacity over the entire African Continent, Central Asia and Europe and significant Ku-band capacity over Europe and Central Asia, Azercosmos is set to play an important role in the development of satellite connectivity throughout the region.

Azerbaijan is attaching great importance to the introduction of high technologies and creation of a space industry. The declaration under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev of the sphere of information and communication technology as a priority in Azerbaijan and the announcement of 2013 as the Year of Information and Communication Technologies in the country are a clear demonstration of the attention being paid to the development of this sector at state level. In 2008, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree "On establishing a space industry in Azerbaijan and launching telecommunications satellites into orbit" and in 2009 approved the State Program on the establishment and development of the country's space industry, which is evidence of the great interest of the state in the development of this sphere. Following this, in 2010, the head of state signed a decree on the establishment of the “Azerkosmos” Open Joint-Stock Company, tasking this organization with producing and launching a telecommunications satellite into orbit and establishing a primary and backup ground control centers. In the first two years of its existence, the first satellite operator in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, “Azerkosmos”, has carried out work involving provision of broadcasting and telecommunications services and highly reliable communication platforms meeting the requirements of government and corporate clients. But most importantly, attention was focused on the development and launch into orbit of the first artificial satellite “Azerspace-1”.

Q: The President approved the national strategy for the development of information society in 2014-2020. What prospects does this strategy open?

A:  On April 2, 2014 President Ilham Aliyev signed an order to approve the “National Strategy for Information Society Development in Azerbaijan for 2014-2020s”. The expansion of opportunities for using ICT and communication services, the creation of a reliable security system aimed at developing information and communication technologies, the formation of national standards, as well as the launch of totally digital broadcasting across the country and the halting of analog broadcasting, and the total use of e-government services will be in the centre of attention as one of the main priorities in the formation of Azerbaijan as a modern state.