On December 12 Azerbaijan commemorates 18th anniversary since demise of a national leader and former President of Azerbaijan Mr. Heydar Aliyev who is the founder of modern statehood in this country. Mr. Aliyev, who served as a leader of Soviet Azerbaijan and later promoted to top high-ranking positions of the whole Soviet Union, enormously contributed to development of his homeland throughout his entire career and played a crucial, savior role for Azerbaijan facing the threat of civil war, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and economic crisis after restoring its independence.
The early 1990s entered the history of Azerbaijan as a period of severe tragedies. At that time, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Azerbaijan was the only country among the 15 union republics with 20 percent of its territory occupied, more than 20,000 people killed, and about 1 million of Azerbaijanis who became refugees or internally displaced persons. Following the brutality of the Soviet regime, after the January 20 massacres by Soviet troops in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev refused to stay in Moscow and returned to his native Nakhichevan, where he began to lead the Supreme Assembly of this Autonomous republic of Azerbaijan. Upon his on November 17, 1990, current tricolor flag of Azerbaijan was hoisted only in Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of still Soviet Azerbaijan. This is the first and brightest step in the history of struggle for independence.
After winning the presidential elections in 1993 Mr. Aliyev reached a cease-fire and violent clashes stopped, managed internal instability and took efforts to provide for economic growth and development of international relations. The Azerbaijani leader laid the foundation for the country’s economic development by signing the “Agreement of the Century” with 11 companies from seven countries, which envisaged the operation of Azerbaijan’s largest oil field, the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) basin, and its export to world markets. Development of the country's oil & gas industry played an important role in current economic and political achievements of Azerbaijan. Currently, oil and gas resources of Azerbaijan are exported to world markets through several routes. These are the Baku-Novorossiysk, Baku-Supsa, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum and the most recent one - Southern Gas Corridor (TAP is a segment of it) pipelines. The Southern Gas Corridor strengthens the energy security of Europe by diversifying supply sources and routes. Besides being the biggest foreign direct investments in the country so far, TAP also placed Albania in European energy map. Further cooperation between Albania and Azerbaijan in the energy field with attraction of international actors seems to be promising. Other areas of interactions based of mutual interest are also underway.
During President Aliyev’s presidency, a constitution that reflects universal democratic values was adopted and he abolished the death penalty. Azerbaijan became a member to a number of new European and world international organizations and reinforced its position in the international arena by establishing good relations with regional countries, the US, and the European and Asian countries. Following the far-sighted policy of Heydar Aliyev miseries turned into opportunities, poverty into prosperity, unemployment into employment, and the last but not the least dependency into self-reliance in Azerbaijan.