Today we celebrate a great holiday, an unforgettable historic date – the twentieth anniversary of independence Mother Uzbekistan – across the entire nation, in every single town and kishlak.
Two decades ago, decisively rejecting the old, obsolete totalitarian Soviet system, we started a new stage of historical development - of building an open, democratic state with a socially oriented market economy, free and independent life that had been sought by our people for many centuries.
It gives me a great pleasure to cordially congratulate you, my dear - and in your person our entire nation - on the greatest, the dearest holiday for us all to express my deep respect and reverence.
Strings of years, entire epochs will pass, but for our nation that has survived much in its millennia-old history, the independence of Uzbekistan that has fundamentally changed our lives and consciousness forever, will remain in the country’s history as an event of enormous proportions in the fullest sense, and will never lose its genuine value and essence.
In the intervening period we have experienced and profoundly discovered the hard-faced truth in our own case that no nation, no country in the world were given easy way to achieve independence, the very possibility to breathe freely, to build their own destiny and future with own hands.
Indeed, today, years later, we all should recall once again how difficult it was to free ourselves from the shackles of a totalitarian regime, how the situation in the country in the last days of that regime’s existence, on the eve of independence, exacerbated, getting dangerous, more and more menacing.
The most devastating effect on the state of affairs was provided by the one-sided hypertrophy of raw material-oriented economy of the country, a complete and unconditional monopoly of cotton production that had a destructive impact on the economy, environment and gene pool of the population. To understand the gravity of the situation prevailing then, it suffices to imagine the people in distress, subjected to lawlessness, whose patience was on the verge of abyss, and the country about ready to explode, when there stood quite pressing issues of basic human needs, of maintaining a healthy atmosphere in society.
Today we have without any hesitation every reason to loudly declare that whatever troubled days we had to endure, no matter what difficulties and obstacles on the path to independence we had to overcome, no matter what threats to our country might sound, in moments of toughest tests we remained faithful to the idea of independence, put the interests of Uzbekistan above everything, have not turned off from the chosen path and I am sure, will never do.
From the earliest days of the new life we have been deeply aware of the truth that the attainment of genuine freedom and sovereignty is not merely gaining independence, but also its formation and consolidation from political and economic perspectives and gaining respect and a decent standing in the world.
I am convinced all of us are well aware of the ways to achieve such noble objectives, that is, turning into a modern developed democratic nation by using all our natural resources, our rich industrial and intellectual potential, the strength, intelligence and energy of our industrious people who had seen much in life, and at the same time relying on cooperation with the international community.
On the way to improve the quality of life of the people, the principal priority for us is to gradually accelerate the pace of democratic renewal, the liberalization and modernization of all spheres of life.
I think I speak for all present at this majestic square attending this ceremony, for our wider public, for all the people, if I say that this is the surest way that has fully justified itself for the twenty years of our country’s recent history, the path that has acquired an extensive acknowledgement around the globe as the “Uzbek model”.
Today, one can cite many examples of greatest of our accomplishments over the past period. Confirmation of the heights and outcomes we have achieved for the twenty years is that Uzbekistan’s economy has grown almost 3.4 times, the average salary has increased 14 times, while the population’s total income in real terms has multiplied roughly nine times.
Clear evidence of sustained and stable economic development of our country is the fact that Uzbekistan is one of the few countries in the world, the negative impact of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis notwithstanding, who have been able to maintain steady pace of development. In the last 5 years, GDP average growth makes 8.5 percent, and it is expected this year that the current level will be preserved.
However, over the years of independence, public expenditures on social sphere rose more than fivefold, while about 60 percent of the budget goes to health, education, municipal services, social security and other sectors every year. Not common in the world, these figures clearly show that our fundamental goal is the human life, welfare and protection of their interests.
Here is another notable fact: for twenty years, infant and maternal mortality in the country has declined by more than threefold, average life expectancy has increased by 7 years, among men, it reached 73, among women - 75 years, the country's population currently stands at 28.5 million people.
Every one of us can confidently and proudly answer the question of what lies at the heart of our achievements, of our so noble heights: that is, first is the invaluable gift of independence, self-sacrificing work of our people everyday, changing identity and mentality of our people, their faith in tomorrow, their noble dreams and aspirations.
Today, all our compatriots living on this fertile land and considering Uzbekistan as their common home, regardless of ethnic origins or professional activity, have the right, with their head held high, to proudly declare that the accomplishments made by our Motherland include their own laborious work and well-deserved contribution.
From this rostrum, let me also express my appreciation to all our foreign friends who have always treated us friendly, supported, provided assistance, all countries and peoples we have good cooperation with, pass on kind wishes of happiness and prosperity to them.
I take this opportunity to express my sincere, heartfelt welcome and express our profound respect and reverence to the foreign ambassadors and representatives of international organizations present on this beautiful square, and say to all our dear guests: our holiday today is and your holiday, too.
There is much talk about what new horizons and opportunities have been open to us thanks to the independence. Among our greatest achievements, which will be forever in the annals of our independent country, there is one whose value does not measure and can not be overestimated.
This is our harmoniously developed, physically and spiritually healthy generation of young people who master modern knowledge and professions, have independently thinking mind, becoming the decisive force in our lives and, crucially, able to take responsibility for the future of the country.
It is they who are gathered in this magnificent area filled with enthusiasm and energy of young boys and girls, and through them - all the youth of the country would like to say today:
Not everybody is happy to be born and live in a beautiful blessed by the Almighty and unique land, whose name is Uzbekistan. And my fondest wish is that this vital truth penetrated deeply into your hearts and souls. May love for the country, devotion to the native land always accompany you.
Our sacred duty and honor is to always remember and pay tribute to the dedication of our ancestors, our fathers and grandfathers who survived tough times, many difficulties and trials, sacrificed themselves for freedom of the Motherland, and who preserved it for today's generations.
I think that I speak your noble thoughts and aspirations, and when I say that the honorable duty of every one of us to be ready to devote ourselves entirely, and if necessary - to give our lives for the future prosperity of the land dear for us all, in the name of its well-being and a great future.
Dear friends, dear fellow countrymen!
I am sure you will also agree with me that the coincidence in time of our major holiday with the sacred Eid Ramadan we may perceive as another manifestation of benevolence and compassion of the Almighty to our people and our country.
I embrace you all sincerely, and congratulate you with all my heart once again on the holiday and wish you a sound health, happiness and best of luck, prosperity and welfare to your families.
Let our beautiful sacred Motherland be eternal!
May peace always reign in our country and the sky above it be clear!
May our Independence be perpetual!