ISLAM KARIMOV CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF UZBEKISTAN ON INDEPENDENCE DAY
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I sincerely, with all my heart congratulate all of you, our entire people on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the state independence of Uzbekistan, which opened a new page in the long history of our country, freed it from the fetters of the totalitarian regime, has given us the opportunity to build a free and prosperous life.
As we know from the history, achieving independence is not an easy process. Our people, who deeply understand this truth, honor, and forever hold in their hearts the memory of ancestors who have shown dedication and courage, who have sacrificed their lives in the struggle for independence.
These days, remembering the period of transition from the failed old to the new system, we think back to those difficult days and tough trials that we had to go through.
At that time, the situation in the Republic had worsened and had become even more dangerous because of the defects of the obsolete system, especially in the field of life support – in order to feed our population, the supply of flour was only for seven to ten days, - the loosening of order and discipline, as a result of which various subversive and destructive forces began to raise their heads, and it is not hard to imagine that our country was actually at the edge of the abyss.
And even in this extremely difficult situation, we did not waver from our path – the path of independence. We were well aware that at that moment when it was most important, a crucial issue for us, to retreat in front of difficulties and obstacles – it would be tantamount to a betrayal of current and future generations.
At that time, our people had clearly shown their qualities as courage and perseverance, had not lost faith in the great future of Uzbekistan and, I am sure, will preserve it always.
Indeed, from the first days of independence, no matter how difficult and dangerous the situation was, despite the fact that we had to overcome various obstacles and barriers, acute problems at every step, we continued to consistently develop a well-reasoned strategy to meet the challenges of today and the future of our country.
On the way to achieving great goals – to build a free, democratic state, to move to a market economy, to develop civil society, to enter the number of developed countries – we did not take hasty decisions, did not allow reckless and thoughtless actions, studied the best international practices, but did not copy others. We, in pursuit of a meaningful idea "Reforms – not for reforms but for the people" have chosen the only right way for us, aimed at the long term, entirely consistent with the mentality of our people, the characteristics and conditions of the country, which received recognition in the international arena as the "Uzbek model" of development.
Indeed, the life itself today proves how correct was the path we have chosen, which is based on the five principles of the strategy, which was tested in practice and became a solid basis for the development of our country. First of all, it can be seen, for example, in such tasks as the preparation of new thinking, meeting modern requirements personnel, which has been determined as one of the most important and relevant tasks since the first days of independence
19 years ago, if we had not completely abandoned the old dogmas and stereotypes, had not adopted the National programme on personnel training and its logical continuation – the National program of development of school education, had not radically changed the education system, it is not hard to imagine where we would be now.
Today we have all grounds to say: thousands of our boys and girls – graduates of lyceums and colleges, higher education institutions, who have a modern looking at life, they are a reliable support for our future, they enter the arena as initiators and active participants of all ongoing reforms in the country.
In a short period, from a backward, not able to contain and defend itself Republic with exaggerated one-sided economy, with destructive influence of monopoly of cotton, a very low standard of living of the population, Uzbekistan today has grown to a dynamically and steadily developing powerful state, occupying a worthy place in the world community.
Over the years of independence Uzbekistan’s economy grew by almost 6 times, the share of industry has increased from 14 to 34 percent, despite the ongoing global financial and economic crisis, the growth rate of the gross domestic product of the country over the past 11 years – among the few countries in the world remain no lower than 8 percent. Calculations show that in the first half of 2016, and this year the growth rate will remain at the same level.
Most importantly, over the past period, the health of our people improved, maternal mortality has decreased by 3.2 times, child mortality by 3.4 times, the average life expectancy has increased from 66 to 73.5 years and for women 76 years, according to forecasts, the population of our country by the end of 2016 will exceed 32 million, with an increase during the years of independence on 12 million people. This vividly shows what a long way we have gone about, the steady improvement of the quality of life and well-being of our people.
All of this we were able to achieve primarily thanks to the heroic work of our multinational people, and today, Uzbekistan’s sustainable development is admired by the international community.
We are all aware that we achieved impressive results – it’s just part of the planned high accomplishments.
The current rapidly changing time, the still ongoing global economic crisis prevailing in global markets, uncertainty and instability, the increasing fierce competition, the decline of commodity prices – all these circumstances require from us today, primarily from management and officials to completely abandon old views and approaches, methods of work, to think anew, to raise the organization and management system to a modern level.
First of all, it is crucial for us to have such important tasks as the continuation of the reforms towards democratic renewal and modernization of the country, increase its competitiveness, the deepening of structural reforms in the economy and reduce the participation of the state. In addition, the focus of our attention needs to be given to the further expansion of the privileges and preferences in order to improve the efficiency of small business and private entrepreneurship, increasing the volumes of foreign investments, the introduction of modern high technologies.
The ongoing conflicts and bloodshed, dramatically increasing threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking in the near and far abroad, including around us, require from us constant vigilance and attention.
In this challenging environment, our duty and priority should be security, inviolability of borders of Uzbekistan, prevention of troubles and misfortunes to our doorstep, and preservation of the prevailing atmosphere of inter-ethnic and civil harmony, mutual respect, kindness and compassion as the apple of eye, the embodiment of the noble call "Our people need peace and tranquility".
I want to reiterate – the main directions of foreign policy pursued by Uzbekistan lie in the fact that we are supporters of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and decisions on the contradictions and conflicts can be made only by peaceful political means.
We will not join any military-political blocs and alliances, not allow the deploy of foreign military bases in our territory, and we believe that such approach is the only correct for us.
In the years of independence we have always built our relationships with the countries of near and far abroad, primarily on the basis of mutual respect, recognition of the national interests of each other and will continue this policy, aimed at strengthening the friendship and cooperation with all states.
These days all of our people sincerely, warmly congratulates our sporting youth, who achieved a great victory at the last in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro XXXI Summer Olympics, who won 4 gold, 2 silver and 7 bronze medals. Today, we can rightly say with pride that courage and dedication, great skill, love of country, which showed our persistent and courageous athletes in sharp competition with well-known athletes from 206 countries in the world, became a real example for many thousands of our boys and girls.
I heartily express my sincere gratitude to our talented athletes, who raised high the flag of the Motherland, demonstrated to the world that the youth of Uzbekistan in no way inferior to anyone, their parents, coaches and mentors, all members of the national Olympic team.
Turning to you, our youth, my dear children, I want to say: always be purposeful, the future is yours!
I congratulate you and our entire nation on the Independence Day, I wish you all peace and prosperity, luck and happiness, prosperity to your homes.
May the Almighty always bless us in all good deeds and endeavors!
May our country be peaceful and calm!
May our independence last forever!
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan