MAN OF THE YEAR 2013 H.E. MR. ILHAM HEYDAR OGLU ALIYEV

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President of Azerbaijan

Zahid Malik

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 – On the firmament of Eurasia, a new bright star is born. He is Ilham Heydar Oglu Aliyev. Elected as President of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the third 5-year consecutive term on October 9, 2013 he has emerged as a role model, he is being hailed as “ Man of the Year 2013”.

I met H.E. Mr. Ilham Heydar Oglu Aliyev in his Presidential Office in Baku on April 6, 2005 and I was impressed in all respects. The President was grateful to Pakistan for her forthright and categorical support on Nagorno Karabakh and since then I have been keenly following the way H.E. Ilham Heydar Oglu Aliyev has taken Azerbaijan to an enviable position in all respects.

The distinction conferred on President Ilham Aliyev is well deserved. He has earned it on the strength of his solid contributionin turning Azerbaijan, marked in early nineties by collapsed economy, rampant unemployment and hyper inflation, into a leading nation in Trans-Caucasia. To be a citizen of a country whose President has been declared as Man of the Year 2013 is an honour for them and can be duly proud of.

Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has witnessed rapid development in all spheres of life, comparable with developed countries. Development of a democratic polity and socio-economic progress ensuring welfare of the people of Azerbaijan and pursuit of an enlightened balanced foreign policy promoting sustainable just peace and cooperation in the region and beyond, have been the hallmark of his rule. This achievement makes H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev as a role-model leader for the entire region.

The modern day Azerbaijan is relatively a young country. After getting liberated from the 70-year yoke of the Soviet rule in 1991 , the country under the charismatic seasoned leadership of late President Heydar Aliyev, father of the recipient of the honour, embarked upon rediscovering its democratic roots and traditions. The democratic process has been taken forward by President Ilham Aliyev with sincere commitment. His successive thrice election as the Country’s President with massive majority support bespeak of the popular support he enjoys. The fairness of elections has been attested by impartial observers from multiple prestigious international organizations including UN, OIC, OSCE, CIS and the Black Sea Cooperation Organization. No wonder rule of law and respect for human rights reign supreme in the country.

Ever since the signing of the “ Contract of Century” with Western oil companies for exploration of offshore reserves of the Caspian Sea in 1994, the country has not looked back. Azerbaijan has been ceaselessly on the rising curve of national renaissance, consolidating its state sovereignty.

During the Man of the Year 2013 rule, Azerbaijan’s oil production has tripled, earning the country US $ 78 billion and from a gas importing country, Azerbaijan has become the gas exporting one. This upsurge in hydrocarbon production has been accompanied by laying down of extensive transportation network system : Baku- Tbilisi- Ceyhan and Baku- Tbilisi-Erzurum oil pipelines with Trans Anatolian ( TANAP) and Trans Adriatic ( TAP) pipelines to come on line shortly. With the commissioning of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway link Azerbaijan will undoubtedly become a main transport hub, linking Central Asia via Azerbaijan to Europe. Fourteen newly constructed power stations all across Azerbaijan have not only ensured the country/s long termelectric energy security but made possible to export it to the neighbouring countries as well. It has also become a leading regional investor, financing multi-billion dollars projects in different countries.

In Azerbaijan’s foreign policy, its relations with Pakistan enjoy a special place. Building on the solid foundation of centuries old bonds of common faith and culture and shared history and heritage, their bilateral ties are marked by extreme cordiality and friendship, deep solidarity and mutual support. They have firmly stood by each other in their time of weal and woe. Pakistan has extended unqualified support to Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia on Nagorno Karabakh, while Azerbaijan has always lent strong endorsement to Pakistan’s principled stand on Kashmir.

The all round spectacular progress Azerbaijan has been witnessing owes as much to the talented hard working people of Azerbaijan as to the quality leadership provided by President Ilham Aliyev. Indeed he had been well groomed for this role. With impressive academic credentials of a Ph. D degree, and his active involvement in various development-oriented projects, equipped him to play a role in the service of his nation. After being twice elected to the Mili Maglis (Parliament) , he rose to become Chairman of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party and later the Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

President Ilham Aliyev is a man of many parts. Beyond politics, he takes keen interest in the development of sports and the Olympic movement. His efforts in this regard were recognized when he was awarded the highest Order of International Olympic Committee and “Grand Cordon” Order of Merit of International Military Sports Council.

Mild mannered and a good listener President Ilham Aliyev comes off as a caring family man. Verily he is a paragon of humility and decency. He is passionately working to serve the “land of Fire”-Azerbaijan-and its people and to promote peace, harmony and cooperation in the region and beyond. No wonder this outstanding leader has earned the distinction of “Man of the Year 2013”. We congratulate him and wish him and the people of Azerbaijan well beyond 2014