Holding the First Global Forum on Youth Policy in Baku is the acknowledgement of the international authority of Azerbaijan
Of course, there will be many more forums. But this event will go down in history as the first forum. We thank the organizers for selecting Azerbaijan as the host country. And we consider this as recognition of the efforts of our government in sport policy, youth policy, in the policy related to active development of our country.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Today, the youth policy is an important constituent of the Azerbaijan’s state policy. We can say without exaggeration that the Azerbaijani youth is distinguished by vigorous activity in all areas of social life and plays an important role in the implementation of political, economic, humanitarian and social events. As a result of the opportunities created for the youth’s activities in our state, this stratum of society has become an avant-garde force, and our youth take confident steps for the future of our country.
In October 28 – 30, Azerbaijan hosted the grand event associated with the youth. Organization of the first Global Forum in our country has proved once again that the the youth policy implemented by the government for already several years is bearing fruit and receiving a decent apprisal. The Azerbaijani President‘s order on the events related to the conduction of the First Global Forum on Youth Policy in Baku and the preparatory works resulting from this instruction showed that Azerbaijan takes care of young people at the official level and a priority is placed on the youth-related issues. In addition, the participation and speech of President Ilham Aliyev at the Ist Global Youth Forum reaffirms the attention paid to the mentioned area at the level of the first person of the country. At the opening, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi, the Head of the Socio-Political Affairs Department at the Azerbaijani President`s Administration Ali Hasanov, Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov, the UN Assistant Secretary General Magdy Martinez-Soliman, the UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka, the Council of Europe's Director General of Democracy Snežana Marković, the Global Youth Ambassador Bashar Hobbi and representative of youth movements Grete Rios, as well as other well-known experts in their speeches told about the global importance of the event and the future benefits. The speakers noted that youth policy is one of the leading aspects of state policy in a number of countries. Youth programs are adopted in Azerbaijan, and by the President Ilham Aliyev's order the priority is given to the development of human capital in the country.
Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov noted that as a country with 50 percent of population being youth, Azerbaijan supports the global youth policies. He said that the majority of the Azerbaijan’s population are young people, and conditions are created to develop their leadership skills. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his video address to the Forum participants expressed gratitude to the Azerbaijani government for hosting the First Global Forum on Youth Policy: "Holding this Forum on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the World Programme acting in the interests of young people is of particular importance. This is a very important issue. Young people are future leaders and special attention should be paid to their development. The United Nations is ready to work with you,"- the Secretary General said.
Foreign experts said that they applied to governments that had not yet done so to formulate and adopt integrated national youth policies. They need to be visible in the national budgets and in the UN budgets as well. Magdy Martinez-Soliman told about the situation in Azerbaijan in this field. He said: "Azerbaijan actively joins the youth policy programs. This nation has seen a drastic reduction in its levels of poverty and new investment in social services, job opportunities have been opened. It is the result of the country's policy. Azerbaijan directs revenue received from natural resources to the development of human capital."
More than 700 delegates from over 80 countries took part in the global forum. The aim of the forum held on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's initiative is determination of the new directions of youth policy and the works to be done in 2015, exchange of experiences on youth policy with different countries and discussion of important issues in this area.
Talking about the Azerbaijan state youth policy, it is necessary to particularly highlight the "Azerbaijani youth in 2005-2009" and the "Azerbaijani youth in 2011-2015" State Programs signed by President Ilham Aliyev in 2005 and 2011, respectively. These programs are multi-stage strategies directly targeted to the development of the youth sector. The past few years have shown to what extent the Azerbaijani youth need these programs. At the forum, the President of Azerbaijan in his speech touched upon this issue. He said that one of the most important priorities for Azerbaijan is education: "We are proud that literacy is ensured to almost 100 percent in Azerbaijan. There is a solid legislation base related to youth policy."
The head of state reminded that "There is a law on youth policy in Azerbaijan, and two State Programs on Azerbaijani youth have been adopted and successfully implemented. Relatively recently we created a Youth Foundation. And the funds channeled from the state budget to that Foundation help young people to present themselves to the society. They work on different projects related to culture, education, social activity, political reforms."
The head of state said that in a close interaction with international educational centers we can achieve even more in this field, and noted that for many years the Azerbaijani government has been funding educational programs for our young generation in the leading universities of the world. This year close to 40 million euros has been spent to train our young people abroad: " We also want to have wider international communication between our universities and the leading universities of the world. And we see the benefits of this policy because today the young generation of Azerbaijan is actively participating in the creation of new, modern independent country."
Then, President Ilham Aliyev in his speech touched upon the issues of defense of the country. He noted: "With respect to the issues related to security, we rely mainly on the young generation. It is our young Azerbaijanis who are protecting our borders, who at this moment stand in trenches face-to-face to Armenian aggressors to protect their motherland. Most of our victims during the Armenian aggression were representatives of the young generation ... All the countries of the world respect territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. But from a practical point of view it has not yet led to the resolution of the conflict. The resolution of the conflict must be based on the decisions and resolutions of international organizations, particularly the UN Security Council resolutions because the UN Security Council resolutions must be implemented. We see that in some cases they are implemented within days. But in our case, they still remain on paper for more than 20 years."
President Ilham Aliyev said that “we must be stronger, we must be more efficient, we must work harder to have resolution of the conflict based on international law norms and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I`m sure that the day will come and we will return to our native lands – Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories. We have strong support of the international community not only with respect to this issue, but in general.”
Referring to all the political and economic successes in his wide and containing speech, the head of state emphasized that there is a share of young people in these achievements: "I think the forum will be important not only from the point of view of discussions. You will also have an opportunity to know more about Azerbaijan and know better our country. I hope you will have these days in your memories. Azerbaijan is a young, independent, dynamic, modern country, which clearly identified its priorities and targets. With such a great potential as Azerbaijani youth, which is the driving force for our success, we will achieve even more in the future."
Thus, the implementation of government programs related to youth is an important contribution in terms of education of our young people on the principles of statehood, in the spirit of patriotism and azerbaijanism, increasing their sense of touch with the national and moral values, preparation of qualified specialists.
Both the local and the international community could see the essence of the Azerbaijan state youth policy once again on the example of Baku Forum. To effectively implement knowledge and skills of our youth, their natural potential, to create conditions ensuring them to take a worthy place in the society, the priorities identified by the government and the events to be held are discussed, systematized and take more pragmatic form in such forums.