National Leader Heydar Aliyev’s strategic foresight was instrumental in steering Azerbaijan towards independence and shaping the country’s development trajectory.
The Year of Heydar Aliyev commemorates a leader who always protected the interests of the people of his country
Annually on 12 December, the people of Azerbaijan solemnly mark the anniversary of the esteemed leader Heydar Aliyev’s passing, and this year marks the 20th anniversary.
Aliyev, born on 10 May 1923, in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, profoundly shaped the country’s trajectory. His leadership, especially marked in the late 20th century, was crucial as Azerbaijan navigated significant geopolitical shifts following the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Regardless of the time and political situation, Aliyev was always protecting the interests of the people of Azerbaijan. For more than 10 years he was the leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, but even in the framework of those ideological barriers, he defended the interests of the Azerbaijani people.
Aliyev’s relentless pursuit of a strong, independent Azerbaijan, coupled with strategic foresight and dedication to national development, cements his status as a foundational figure in the country’s history.
The main political direction of the management philosophy of Aliyev was characterised by wide expansion of all forms and means of national self-expression of people, consolidation of the feeling of national pride and the realisation of a rapid development strategy, stimulating the elevation of national consciousness. The return of the historical memory of people created grounds to change the national statehood idea, remaining in its heart for many years, to a great moving force in future, to realise independent statehood ideas.
Regarded as the architect of Azerbaijan’s contemporary era, Aliyev’s stature transcends that of a mere historical figure. He is revered as an extraordinary leader and statesman, whose dedication and visionary approach guided the nation through challenging times, earning him legendary status in Azerbaijani history.
Under Heydar Aliyev’s guidance, Azerbaijan emerged as a strong, stable and reliable state, emerging from the 1990s crisis. His policies and foresight enabled Azerbaijan to establish itself as a key player in international relations. Aliyev’s ability to build equal relations and partnerships with global centres of power and dictate the world agenda was paramount to Azerbaijan’s success on the world stage.
During the post-Soviet period, Aliyev’s vision for Azerbaijan was instrumental in steering the country towards independence and stability. His comprehensive national development strategy focused on establishing independence, socio-political stability, economic growth, and integrating Azerbaijan into the global community. He also prioritised modernising the army, restoring territorial integrity and fostering national unity.
Aliyev’s concern for Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage and education was profound. He supported initiatives to preserve and promote Azerbaijani culture and history, ensuring that future generations would understand and value their national identity. This commitment extended to the enhancement of educational institutions and the promotion of Azerbaijan’s rich cultural legacy on the international stage. Understanding the importance of education for national progress, Aliyev increased accessibility to education and emphasised the importance of national ideology and independence in educational content.
Aliyev initiated significant economic reforms, leading to substantial economic growth and stabilisation. The GDP of Azerbaijan grew by 71%, and the country saw investments in both production and non-production areas, stabilising the economy and expanding trade with foreign countries. These steps were critical in establishing a new system of economic relations in Azerbaijan.
Using the stability created inside Azerbaijan and the growing interest and trust of the international world in our country, the first oil contract titled “The Contract of the Century” was signed in September of 1994. Its realisation is a bright reflection of the implementation of the oil strategy prepared by Aliyev that is the ground of the economic development concept of independent Azerbaijan. The main idea of his oil strategy was the more effective use of the rich natural resources of Azerbaijan for the prosperity of people. The first international oil contract reflecting the economic sovereignty of Azerbaijan laid the foundation for the dynamic development of the economy of the country, and its practical results are visible today. Participation of Azerbaijan in big international projects, restoration of the Great Silk Road, and passage of transport corridors from Azerbaijani territory is a result of the implementation of Aliyev’s oil strategy.
Aliyev, the author of the first Constitution of independent Azerbaijan, conducted constant policy in the direction of democratic and legal state-building, which created the basic ground for the affirmation of human rights and freedoms in the country. Attaching great importance to foreign policy issues by Aliyev, taking successful and brave steps on an international scale and using skillfully the most prestigious tribunes for national goals, was very important from the point of present and future of Azerbaijani statehood.
On 10 May 2004 the Heydar Aliyev Foundation was inaugurated. Under the leadership of the First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation strengthens the ideals of the national leader based on mercy, nobility, and high humanism in the public consciousness, confidently implementing many important projects for the future of our people; it has created a place of hope and refuge and proved its ability to fulfil the tasks set forth properly. Thanks to the unique services of the Foundation, the realities of Azerbaijan are broadcasted in the world today, and the political, social, and cultural picture of our country is promoted at a high level.
This year, declared the “Year of Heydar Aliyev” in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of our great leader of Azerbaijan, stands as a testament to his enduring impact on the country. Aliyev’s contributions to Azerbaijan’s development have laid the foundation for a prosperous, modern, and sovereign nation with a strong national identity and global recognition.
Today, President Ilham Aliyev successfully continues Heydar Aliyev’s political course. This continuity in leadership has ensured the successful implementation of Azerbaijan’s development strategy, including the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity and Heydar Aliyev’s main wish — the liberation of Karabakh from the Armenian occupation — has come true. Independent Azerbaijan, confidently walking on the path of development based on the ideas of Heydar Aliyev and the rich heritage of statehood, is achieving new strategic goals under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, and the next honourable and proud pages of national statehood history are being written.