- Dear friends!
Dear ladies and gentlemen!
I sincerely congratulate all of you on the opening of the “Holcim-Azerbaijan” cement plant.
Three years ago we laid the foundation of this new cement plant. I am very pleased that three years on we are opening a beautiful and modern cement plant. I am confident that as a result of the operation of this plant the Azerbaijani economy, our industrial potential will further increase and strengthen.
The Garadagh Cement Plant was established in the 1950s. Of course, over time the technology became outdated and did not meet modern requirements even though Holcim, the world’s leading company in this industry, has been operating and investing in the plant for over ten years. Of course, it was very important to build a new plant. As a result of the talks between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Switzerland and the agreements reached, the decision was made to build a new plant. I remember those days very well. I remember that shortly after the decision was made, in 2009, the foundation of a new plant was laid. The plant meets modern standards. It incorporates the latest technology. It is very gratifying that the plant is completely safe from the environmental standpoint.
Great attention is paid to environmental issues in Azerbaijan, environmental measures are taken. Of course, we welcome the fact that this plant is environmentally safe.
At the same time, this plant is an example of the Swiss-Azerbaijani cooperation. The relations between the two countries are developing rapidly, reciprocal official visits and visits of delegations are carried out. We have excellent political and economic ties. The launch of the Holcim plant in Azerbaijan is evidence of mutual trust. Simultaneously, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, SOCAR, has invested heavily in the energy industry in Switzerland. Switzerland invests in Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector and Azerbaijan invests in the energy sector of Switzerland. This in itself is a great indicator. Our relations are multifaceted and are based on mutual interests. I am very glad that this plant will also strengthen the Swiss-Azerbaijani friendship.
Azerbaijan is paying great attention to the non-oil sector development. This is the main direction of our policy. In the first six months of this year Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy grew by more than 11 per cent. This is the logical result of our work. By using our energy resources effectively and investing in the non-oil sector, we are comprehensively developing our country.
The launch of the plant also serves the interests of bolstering local production. This issue is also in the spotlight. We want the main products consumed in Azerbaijan to be produced in our country. I am sure that the launch of the cement plant will enable us to provide ourselves with cement in just a few years. The annual consumption of cement in Azerbaijan is 3.3 million tons. The capacity of the “Holcim-Azerbaijan” plant is 1.7 million tons. But when you consider that a plant with a capacity of 300,000 tons was recently put into operation in Nakhchivan, another plant with a capacity of 1 million tons will be commissioned in Agstafa in the near future and yet another with a capacity of 2 million tons is under construction in the Garadagh district, cement production in Azerbaijan will exceed our needs in a few years. But our economy is growing fast. In the future, the domestic demand will certainly increase even more because there is extensive building and creative work in our country. In short, I do hope that as a result of the operation of this plant we will have the opportunities to export cement in the future.
The vast majority of the plant employees are citizens of Azerbaijan. This is also a positive fact. The plant provides employment to hundreds of people. I see young people here and am very glad about that. Young people should participate more actively in this work. You should take an active part in the modern production process. Azerbaijani youth should be even more active in all areas. The training of local personnel, local production, import-substituting production, attraction of foreign investment – we see all these important factors at this plant.
I also want to note that the foundation of the plant was laid in 2009, a year that went down in history as the worst year of the global economic recession. Despite the crisis and the fact that some banks found themselves in a difficult situation, “Holcim” decided in 2009 to invest in the Azerbaijani economy. This is an indication that the level of trust for the Azerbaijani economy, the investment environment in Azerbaijan are very high. We certainly appreciate that move.
I take this opportunity to express my special gratitude to the leaders of “Holcim”, in particular its former President Mr. Ackerman. We decided together with Mr. Ackerman to build this plant. Our decisions are implemented. Three years ago we laid the foundation of the plant and are now engaged in a beautiful ceremony.
In general, the investment environment in Azerbaijan is very positive. Over the last 17 years investment in excess of $120 billion was made in Azerbaijan, including $15 billion last year. Nearly $18 billion is expected this year. I am sure that the volume of investment will be on the rise in the coming years too, enabling us to implement all infrastructure projects in our country, upgrade the outdated systems and create a powerful industrial potential.
The location of the plant in the Garadagh district, of course, was made possible by natural causes, because there are many deposits of raw materials needed for production here. In Soviet times, this plant was built here. Of course, we have specific ideas regarding the future industrial development of the Garadagh district. I have repeatedly said that the Garadagh district should become one of Azerbaijan’s new industrial centers. The Garadagh district is developing. A powerful industrial potential is being established here. Issues of establishing and building tourist facilities here are also on the agenda.
In short, this opening ceremony is very gratifying. It also demonstrates that Azerbaijan is developing in the right direction. Foreign investors believe in us, we create excellent conditions for foreign investors. The relations between the government and large companies are also very positive. Foreign investors have helped us in building up local production. At the same time, the plant uses the latest, the most modern technology. Of course, Azerbaijan is addressing the issues of technological development and scientific progress even more fully.
Dear friends, today I want to reaffirm my gratitude to the leadership of “Holcim” – Mr. Ackerman and the new leaders of the company. I want to congratulate all of you on the opening of this plant. I take this opportunity to address our partners, foreign investors: Azerbaijan is a great place for foreign investment. Investment is protected here. We welcome this investment, we have created and will continue to create favorable conditions for foreign investors. I heartily congratulate you on this wonderful occasion again and wish you good health and continued success. Thank you.