by President H.E. Mr. Islam Karimov
at the Festive Ceremony Dedicated to the 23rd Anniversary
of Independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Assalamu alaykum, dear compatriots!
Today our nation is celebrating with great happiness and delight the truly greatest, the dearest and unforgettable date in the glorious history of our country – the 23rd anniversary of the Independence Day of our Homeland.
I am happy from the bottom of my heart to congratulate you, my dear compatriots, and in your person our entire nation on this sacred occasion, and express my deep respect and esteem to all of you.
Dear compatriots and dear friends!
As we celebrate the Independence Day of our Homeland, which was gained in the toughest and severe trials and struggle, it is natural that we unwillingly ponder over what we have lived through and what we have achieved during this historically short period of time that left a deep trace in our life, and literally ask ourselves: «Who were we yesterday and who have we become today?».
The independence and sovereignty as a great blessing stand as an utterly incomparable landmark date in the history of our Homeland. First of all, it has granted liberty and free life to our nation, allowed us to regain our human dignity, national consciousness, values and self-esteem, and returned to all of us the feeling of self-identity, the mother tongue, our sacred religion, customs and traditions.
For us the independence means that taking our destiny to our own hands we became able to manage the natural resources of our country, realize our enormous material and spiritual potential, and gain a commendable place in the international arena.
The people who lived during the old despotic regime know well: who did then know the beautiful land by the name of Uzbekistan and the great nation by the name of Uzbeks? Who did recognize us as an independent state?
Who did have any idea that our country is the land of enormous and rare wealth, the home to many saints and great scholars, scientists and thinkers? Who did know that we are the heirs to the unmatched heritage and the successors of outstanding people?
Could it be more despair, suffering and lawlessness in those times when our national self-esteem and dignity, our sacred religious values, customs and traditions were ignored, disregarded and mercilessly trampled down?
Wasn’t our Uzbekistan the most backward agrarian republic in the former Soviet Union that was turned into the land which had to only supply raw materials and had a lop-sided economy where the cotton monopoly took a catastrophic scale?
Can we forget the times when to feed our people we used to bring the necessary food commodities from abroad begging someone out there?
Is it possible to forget that in the last days of reign of the old regime we had the flour reserves sufficient only for seven-ten days and stood on the brink of famine?
However, no matter what injustice and tyranny was exerted on us by the despotic regime, our people never lost their identity, fidelity and belief, faith and religion. And no matter what severe and tough trials and hardships we had to live through, we continued keeping our dignity high. And no one must ever forget about that.
Today as we celebrate the 23rd anniversary of our independence and assess the work we have carried out in building a democratic state and civil society and joining the ranks of the developed countries of the world, I deem it my duty to definitely say the following: any person living in our country both young and old, irrespective of his nationality, language and religion, keeping his head high, has a right to say that there is also his worthy contribution to the world-famous work to make our Homeland – Uzbekistan prosperous.
Indeed, we are profoundly proud that all our achievements in building the national statehood, the large-scale progressive reforms that resulted in stable growth rates of our economy, growth of living standards of our population and continuous improvement of the look of our country, are worthily recognized in the international arena and raise our authority and respect towards us.
In the years of independent development our national economy grew about 5 times or per capita - 3,7 times, and the income per capita, which serves as a confirmation of growth of living standards of our population, grew 8,7 times. These indices prove that during a short period of time Uzbekistan – once a republic unable to sustain itself – has turned into a modern state with rapid growth rates.
Despite the ongoing global financial and economic crisis, during the last 10 years the annual growth rate of Uzbekistan’s economy has exceeded 8 percent and such a stable progress can now be observed just in few countries.
More than 180 billion dollars (including over 60 billion dollars of foreign investments) have been channeled to our economy to develop our country with such high growth rates, modernize it and implement the large-scale reforms. Certainly, there are many examples which show that thanks to these investments we were able to radically change the structure of our economy, establish the modern enterprises with cutting-edge technologies, manufacture the commodities competitive in the world market, and raise Uzbekistan’s potential to a new level.
During these years alone the number of our country’s population grew 10 million 300 thousand, and today it makes up 31 million. This factor raises Uzbekistan’s human potential and creates a firm foundation to secure the new level of development and new objectives.
We were not in rush in transiting from the obsolete system to a new one, in building a solid foundation for this purpose. We followed a wise truth which goes: «Do not destroy the old house until you build a new one». We have chosen a gradual and evolutionary path to move towards our goals and objectives phase to phase and step by step. We found it right for us and put this principle to big tests.
As years are passing by, the life itself has proved that the course of deeply and thoroughly thought-out democratic reforms to achieve our great goals, and which is recognized by the international community as an «Uzbek model», was truly right. The experts and relevant international institutions, which did not then join us in supporting this truth, are now becoming convinced of it.
Speaking of this, it will not be a mistake to say that in securing the new stages and horizons in development of our country the biggest fine criteria, above all, is the atmosphere of stability and cooperation, mutual respect, kindness and courtesy prevailing in our country, as well as the ever growing worldview, consciousness and mindset, legal and political awareness and activeness of our compatriots.
Our activity to enhance the spirituality of our people is yielding their results. Availing myself of this opportunity, I want to definitely say: I believe that our most important achievement is that we are not inferior to anyone in terms of accomplishments in this sphere, and we have outrun many powerful states in this respect.
It should be mentioned that we have timely attached an important priority to upbringing a healthy and harmoniously developed young generation able to master modern knowledge and professions, take on a responsibility for our future, our dear children with independent thinking and worldview who will continue our endeavors. We have raised this issue to a national level and the life itself has proved that it was the most right, far-sighted and time-honored historical step.
Let us assume, if 17 years ago we didn’t launched the programs which have completely transformed the sphere of education and elevated it to a new modern stage, could we today meet the critical and complex requirements of the rapidly changing time of globalization, the challenges of the Internet age which is yet deeper penetrating our lives? Could we ensure the progress and future of our country, and put forward a great goal of building a state with great future?
My dear and beloved children!
From the bottom of my heart I would like to share my idea with you – the representatives of our young generation who have gathered today in this sublime square, my children – the entire youth of Uzbekistan: each time I meet you and see you in the full bloom of youth, your sparkling eyes and witness your achievements, like many of us, I feel as if I also get my own wings.
Wherever and in whichever sphere you are – whether it is education or reaching the peaks of science, mastering the modern professions or developing the business sphere, celebrating the glory of Uzbekistan at international sport arenas and revealing yourselves to the world, you are surely making all of us happy.
It will be the very truth to say that the striking evidence of the aforementioned is the results of participation of our 28 young sportsmen at the Second Summer Youth Olympic Games held in the city of Nanjing of the People’s Republic of China, where they have won 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze, and in total, 10 medals. And this was a great contribution of Uzbekistan’s youth to the 23rd anniversary of our Independence.
My dear children, do not ever forget that I consider your accomplishments and victories as our people’s victories, and I will spare no effort and strength to make your today and future even brighter.
It is natural that growing extremism and terrorism, confrontation, bloodshed, threats and challenges in various areas and regions of the world, in the near and far neighborhood, and in general, continuous escalation of situation raises alarm and concern in all of us.
Unfortunately, such bloody clashes, conflicts and contradictions are on the rise instead of being tackled and reduced.
In such an extremely turbulent and dangerous condition the most important issue is not to overlook the newly emerging standoffs and rising conflicts no matter in what part of the world occur, so that to keep the situation under constant control of the world community to prevent them from escalating into a large-scale war.
The position of Uzbekistan is as follows: such situations, grave confrontations and clashes must be resolved only by political and peaceful means in compliance with the basic principles and international norms set by the Charter of the United Nations, by observing the principles of inviolability of state sovereignty and borders, prevention of violence and use of force.
Such an extremely tense situation requires from all of us to be alert, vigil and shrewd.
The time itself requires that our priority must envisage finding a common language with our near and far neighbors, enhancing cooperation on the basis of common objectives that unite us and establishing the mutually beneficial relations.
Availing myself of this opportunity, it gives me a profound pleasure to express my high respect and esteem to our dear guests, ambassadors of foreign countries and representatives of international organizations who have joined us in this great and dearest holiday.
On behalf of our nation I sincerely thank you for your continuous support and practical assistance rendered to Uzbekistan, and wish a sound health to all of you and prosperity to your countries.
Distinguished compatriots, my dears!
In this luminous evening, embracing all of you and congratulating on the Independence Day, I wish you peace and tranquility, happiness and joy, as well as abundance and plenty to your households and our country!
Let our Homeland be peaceful and our skies be always clear!
Let our Independence be eternal!