Today, the entire nation, all our people are celebrating, with incredible fervor, the 22nd anniversary of state independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which cardinally changed the meaning of our life, our consciousness and the way of thinking, an independence that our forefathers had strived for centuries.
I have a tremendous pleasure to congratulate you – respected compatriots, and the entire people of Uzbekistan in your person – sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, on this remarkable date, on the holiday truly greatest, truly dearest for every one of us.
We perceive of independence, its essence and significance primarily as a right. Achievement of independence is precisely an opportunity to fulfill our great and sacred obligation, that is, to command our destinies and the fate of our country on our own, along with its natural, economic and intellectual resources; to mobilize all this startling potential for the good of our people, by thoroughly understanding how great a history, culture and spirituality we have; and to revitalize our ages-old values and faith.
Independence means to be independent of anyone at any time, to secure sustainable growth rates of the economy, consistently boost the wellbeing of the population, and bolster the standing and prestige of our country at the international arena, taking into account our national interests and long-term objectives.
At the same time, independence means building a robust backbone for our future, fostering a mature and comprehensively advanced, independent-thinking, courageous new generation inferior to no one in any thing, a generation capable of continuing our great undertakings.
Today, on this marvelous day, we naturally evaluate the accomplishments we have made for the past twenty two years on our way toward the splendid goals we set – the wide-ranging efforts to build a democratic state and an economy on fundamentally new foundations, the growth in the level and quality of life, and the mounting transformation of our cities and villages, our entire nation, in appearance and in terms of comfort. Tell me, dear friends: would it have been possible to make so important, internationally acknowledged achievements without attaining independence?
The, not an, answer to this question is: No, absolutely no.
Independence and independence alone has served as a sturdy, the most potent foundation for us to reach these high accomplishments.
I believe in this respect it would be appropriate to ask ourselves as to whom we used to be yesterday and who we have become today.
Perhaps a lot of compatriots still remember that as recently as little more than two decades ago, Uzbekistan found itself in an abyss of extreme socio-economic misery; it was a backward region with a biased, raw-based economic development vector, with an absolute monopoly of cotton production. They recall how low the living conditions of the people were, and all this led our Republic to the verge of disaster.
For a historically brief span of time, our country, as the majority of international observers note, has turned from a land incapable of supporting itself, into a modern, independent and sovereign nation that advances with steady rates, a nation that relies on its own virtue and capacities, that is capable of defending its borders, its peaceful and harmonious life – and this inspires us with a sense of pride.
As an indication of considerable achievements and spectacular accomplishments we have made for the past years, I would like to cite just a few facts and figures that brilliantly reflect our nation’s current potential and development rates.
To date, Uzbekistan’s gross domestic product has grown 3.1 times if compared to figures of the year 2000, and in per capita calculus it has risen 2.6 times. The volume of exports has increased 4.4 times; the nominal wage has multiplied 22 times in comparable prices; the average retiree pension has grown 12.7 times; per capita real incomes have swelled 8.4 times, while the economic growth within the last six years has been exceeding 8 percent. We would barely be mistaken if we suggest that these kinds of indicators are rare today across the entire world.
Our achievements in the past period, including the fuel and energy as well as grain independence, the total self-sufficiency in essential consumer goods, and crucially, the public healthcare (notably, the 3.2 times reduction in maternal mortality and the 3.4 decrease in child mortality, the growth in life expectancy from 66 to 73.5 years) – all this is suggestive of an immense path of growth and development we have passed, of the rising living standards of our people.
Today, with the lapse of time, we come to be convinced time and again of the correctness of the well thought-out strategy of democratic reforms we opted for, acknowledged throughout the world as the Uzbek Model of development that completely meets the interests of our people.
When one speaks of the principal driving force behind our accomplishments, we can say with confidence that today, with our world outlook, consciousness, thinking, attitude to life, to work, to the world surrounding us, we completely differ from ourselves of yesterday, of the 1990s.
Today we are a people with free thought, with confidence in its virtue, with the persistently enhancing political, legal and cultural maturity, with a clear perception of its future, of the things and people it lives and labors for.
We set out a great goal to build a democratic state with a market economy and a civil society, to join the ranks of advanced nations of the planet. And no force can turn us away from this path.
In these turbulent and alarming times, when various regions of the globe, including those around us, experience mounting confrontation and armed conflicts, one cannot stay indifferent and unconcerned, and the current realities require that we be more vigilant and attentive, prepared to curb any attempts posing threat to our national security.
We consider our most critical priority to consolidate the truly invaluable wealth, namely, the reigning atmosphere of friendship, interethnic and civic harmony, kindness and compassion; to build up mutual-respectful cooperation with countries located both near and far away.
I would like, from this point of view, that the principle “We need peace and harmony” that has been deeply absorbed in the flesh and blood of our people become the most pressing task for every one of us.
Let me take this opportunity to express my sincerest and kindest wishes to the ambassadors of foreign nations and representatives of international organizations and all esteemed guests who are present at this occasion and share our joy.
At these unforgettable moments, I deem it my duty to express my deepest respect and bow before our hard-working and magnanimous nation who has seen much in its lifetime, who has become hardened amid tests, and who has today been writing down bright pages into its ages-old history, who displays genuine self-sacrifice to secure the prosperity of the current and future life of Uzbekistan.
Addressing our sons and daughters – my children, our hope and support – who have filled this magnificent square, I would like to say: On our way toward the gracious goal of building a country with a great future, I rely first and foremost on you – the brave and initiative-prone youth, a healthy and extensively advanced generation that aspires to conquer summits in science and knowledge, that which is capable of overcoming any obscurities, and that which has been turning into a decisive force in our country.
Anywhere I go, be it an official ceremony or a forum, when I meet you, the representatives of the younger generation, when I look into your eyes that shine with enthusiasm, when I look at you full of power and energy, my heart gets overfilled with a sense of infinite delight and pride. I earnestly love you all and I am prepared to devote my entire self for you, for your happiness and future.
May you always be in heights, my dear children!
Respected compatriots, dear friends!
This dazzling and blissful evening, by mentally embracing you all, I sincerely congratulate you time and again on the greatest holiday – the Independence Day of our native Uzbekistan!
I wish you a sound health, happiness and the best of luck, affluence and wellbeing to your families.
May the Almighty keep our people and our country from any misfortunes and nuisances!
May the sky above our Motherland always be clear!
May our independence be eternal!