President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov delivered a greeting speech at the festive event in tribute to the twenty-third anniversary of our country’s independence. Following is the text of the address.
Today, with enormous inspiration and joy does our nation celebrate the truly greatest, dearest and cherished date in the glorious history of our country – the 23rd anniversary of the independence of our Motherland. I take a great pleasure in congratulating you, my dear ones, and the entire people of Uzbekistan in your person, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart on this marvelous holiday, and express my deep respect and reverence.
Today, celebrating the anniversary of independence of our native land, the independence that was attained by us amid extremely intricate circumstances, we inadvertently recall what grave tests we had to endure, and ask ourselves as to what we have achieved for such a span of time – a short period from historical perspective, – who we had been like and who we have become like.
Independence is a sacred good comparable with nothing, while its attainment is a great, vital event that brought freedom to our people, awakened our national self-consciousness, honor and pride, the sense of dignity, an event that returned our native language, our religion, values and traditions to us.
Independence for us is an opportunity to dispose freely of our fate, that of our country, its natural, economic and intellectual resources, mobilize its immense material and spiritual potential for the good of our people, and acquire a well-deserved place in the world community.
Who on earth knew, during the past totalitarian regime, that there is a beautiful country like Uzbekistan, such a nation as noble as the Uzbek people? Who recognized us as an independent state? Who knew that our land is a soil of remarkable, unique riches, a land of great scientists and intellectuals, that we are heir to a priceless heritage and outstanding individuals?
Those who lived in that period remember well that there was no greater disparagement and grievance when our national values, traditions and customs were scorned. They recall that back then, when a constituent part of the USSR, Uzbekistan used to be a backward agrarian republic with a one-sided, overblown raw-material economy with a monopoly of cotton production that had a destructive impact on it.
Can anyone forget that the food products necessary to meet the most basic, immediate needs of the population used to be imported by us at the expense of inconceivable efforts? Can anyone forget that in the last days of the old system the republic had the flour sufficient for just a week or two and that our people turned up on the edge of starvation?
Yet, notwithstanding all that depressing injustice and the overwhelming pressure of the former Center, our nation did not forgo its firm beliefs and life principles, forsake everything that is most sacred and dear to it. And however thorny tests it had to bear, our nation has always kept its honor and dignity. This should not be forgotten by anyone, anytime.
Today, as we mark the 23rd anniversary of our independence, as we evaluate the outcomes of the steadfast advancement along the path we chose with an aim to build a democratic state and civil society, to join the ranks of developed nations of the world, I deem it my duty to state decisively:
that every person living in our country, irrespective of age, ethnic group, language and religion, has a right to say with a high raised head that in the colossal endeavors we have all undertaken in the name of the prosperity and progress of our common Motherland, Uzbekistan, there is their own worthwhile contribution.
Indeed, the achievements we have made, including the establishment of a national statehood, sustainable economic growth rates as a result of wide-ranging and consistent reforms carried out, the elevation of living standards and quality of life of the population, the growing transformation in the appearance of our cities and villages, the mounting eminence of our country and the extensive acknowledgement of our accomplishments in the international arena, – stir up the sense of pride in every one of us.
During the independent development period, Uzbekistan’s economy has grown almost fivefold, while it increased 3.7 times per capita. The per capita incomes of our people – as an indication of the growth in standards and quality of life – have multiplied 8.7 times. All this is a compelling confirmation of the fact that for a brief period of time, our country has turned into a dynamically advancing modern nation from a backward land incapable of supporting itself.
Despite the ongoing global financial and economic crisis, the annual economic growth rate of Uzbekistan has amounted to more than 8 percent in the last 10 years, and it continues to progress steadily, a state of affairs observable currently in just a handful of countries around the world.
In excess of 180 billions of dollars of investments, including more than 60 billion dollars of foreign investments, have been drawn in order for our country to move forward with such remarkable rates, to promote modernization and renewal, wide-scale reforms in the economy.
To be sure, one can cite myriads of examples suggesting that these investments have allowed for the creation of extensive opportunities, primarily for cardinal structural transformation in the economy and for the construction of most cutting-edge and high-tech enterprises, for the production of goods competitive in the world market, and the qualitative growth in Uzbekistan’s capacities in general.
The population in these past years has grown by 10 million and 300 thousand people to its current 31 million, a fact which – adding to the human potential of Uzbekistan – shapes a potent foundation for making new achievements.
I would like to draw your attention to the reality that when shifting from the old system that had not justified itself to a new one, when building a robust foundation for that, we did not take hasty, ill-considered decisions, and articulately followed the principle that requires one not to destroy the old house unless you build a new one.
We defined an evolutionary path of development, a path we chose which caters most to our circumstances and goals, that suggests a step-by-step, consistent solution of issues set before us, and which facilitated a successful overcoming of great tests and trials inescapable amid a cardinal modernization of state and society.
Today, with the passage of time, the life itself has proved the correctness of the path of democratic reforms opted for by us for the achievement of projected goals – a way of profound and well-thought-out reforms acknowledged by the international community as the Uzbek model of development, while prominent international institutions, even those specialists and experts not very supportive of us, have been voicing their positive conviction in this.
It is noteworthy that the most critical factor rejoicing all of us and inspiring for new accomplishments and the further forward movement along the road of development and progress is, first and foremost, the peace and stability, interethnic and civic harmony reigning in the country, the environment of mutual respect and kindness, the changing mindset and world outlook of our compatriots, the growth in their legal and political culture and activity.
The efforts undertaken by us to uplift the spiritual-moral state in the society has been yielding its practical effects, and thus I can assert with confidence that we have made such achievements in this sphere that even the most advanced nations can envy. I deem it our most crucial accomplishment.
Expounding on this subject, it is essential to stress that we timely identified such priorities as the most critical, the nation-wide as nurturing our children – successors of the gracious deeds started by us – as an independently thinking, modern-minded, healthy and comprehensively advanced generation that commands rigid conviction and position, that which wields modern knowledge and professions, which is capable of assuming responsibility for the fate of their country and people. And that came to be the most adequate, visionary and historic decision that has justified itself to a full extent.
You can just picture out: had we 17 years ago failed to adopt programs that fundamentally transformed the sphere of education and upbringing, programs which elevated it to a qualitatively new, modern level, would we be able to address today the pressing and urgent challenges and requirements of the times, of globalization, of the age of internet that has been penetrating our life with greater depth, to secure the development and progress of the country by setting a high goal before ourselves as the construction of a country with a great future?
My dear children!
Today, addressing you, the representatives of our young generation who have gathered at this magnificent square, and to the whole youth of Uzbekistan – my sons and daughters, I would like to say earnestly and from the bottom of my heart: every time I meet with you, see your eyes full of enthusiasm, look at you the confident and goal-minded, witness the triumphs achieved by you, I feel myself, as the majority of our compatriots do, inspired and winged.
It is delightful to know that you brilliantly display your power and energy, talent and abilities wherever you are and whichever sphere you are in – be it acquiring knowledge, promoting business, achieving victories in sports thanks to which the flag of our Motherland has been rising high at international competitions, in a word – the glorification of Uzbekistan and attainment of world acknowledgement.
Another confirmation of this has been the participation of our 28 young athletes in the Second Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, and their winning of 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals – 10 medals in total – which became a worthwhile gift from the youth of Uzbekistan to the 23rd anniversary of our country’s independence.
My dear children! Never forget that the accomplishments you have made, your triumphs, your happiness is the happiness of mine, the happiness of our entire people, and that I am ready to keep with doing my utmost to secure your happy future, to spare no effort so that you gain a well-deserved place in society.
The tension mounting currently across various regions of the world, in the near and far abroad, the intensifying manifestations of extremism and terrorism, bloodshed, challenges and threats to peace and stability – all this naturally stirs alarm and concern in every one of us.
To a great regret, such bloody clashes and confrontations have not been prevented and resolved peacefully, but on the contrary, they have been growing in intensity.
In the current extremely restless, alarming situation it is crucial – whatever region of the planet these kinds of conflicts take place – not to overlook the process of their origin, impede their escalation and development into a war. In a word, the situation should always be under a constant control of the world community.
Uzbekistan is firm in the position whereby the resolution of such tense collisions and clashes is possible only in the political realm and with peaceful means, and it is imperative to rigorously comply with major principles fixed in the United Nations Charter as well as the international norms envisaging the inadmissibility of breach of the sovereignty of nations, inviolability of their borders and exclusion of the application of force.
The time itself requires that under such intricate circumstances we all stay even more vigilant and attentive, that our priority tasks are the consolidation of interaction with countries in the near and far abroad, establishment of mutually advantageous relations, further enhancement of cooperation on the way to the ends that unite us.
I will take this opportunity to extend my sincerest respect and reverence to guests from abroad, ambassadors of foreign nations, representatives of international organizations who are present here at our festive occasion.
On behalf of our people I would like to express cordial gratitude for your constant benevolent attitude and the cooperation with Uzbekistan, and wish you all a sound health, peace and prosperity to countries you represent.
Esteemed compatriots, dear friends!
This resplendent evening, mentally hugging you all, I congratulate you again on the holiday of independence, and wish everybody peace, happiness and wellbeing, affluence and abundance to your homes, and to all our people.
May the sky over our Motherland be always clear!
May our independence be eternal!