Direct involvement in the development of modern and independent Azerbaijan, solution for social issues, adherence to the ideas of mercy and morality, a constant desire to extend a helping hand and to do good – all these form the backbone of the life philosophy of the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Unesco and Isesco Goodwill Ambassador, Mehriban Aliyeva. Working side by side with President Ilham Aliyev, his life companion and closest ally, Aliyeva is making a great contribution to the dynamic development of the country.
Aliyeva has successfully led the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for 16 years. The revival and expansion of the charity traditions of the Azerbaijani people became possible thanks to the personal example of the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
For 16 years, Aliyeva has honourably carried out the responsibilities of being a Unesco Goodwill Ambassador. Being a Goodwill Ambassador of Isesco at the same time, she has tirelessly involved herself in activities to inform the world about the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and its realities.
The Unesco World Heritage List includes Icheri Sheher with its Palace of Shirvanshah and Maiden Tower, the rock paintings of Gobustan, and the Palace of Shaki Khans along with the historical centre of Shaki. The Unesco Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage also includes the art of mugham and ashug – its musical masterpieces – the production and the art of performing on the stringed musical instrument kamancheh, the heritage of the Dada Gorgud epic, and the art of the Azerbaijani headscarf kalagayi.
In July 2019, the 43rd session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee was successfully held in Azerbaijan.
Aliyeva’s appointment as the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan on February 21, 2017 is regarded as the logical outcome of her substantive activities and organisational skills. Over the past years, she has fully justified the President’s and the people’s confidence in her with the work she has carried out in this senior and responsible position.
Aliyeva’s special focus has been on finding solutions for problems facing the vulnerable segments of the population, in particular the internally displaced people (IDP). She devoted the first meeting as First Vice-President to the relocation of refugees and IDP temporarily housed in hostels in Baku and Sumgayit. Immediately after the meeting, an action plan was prepared and tangible work began. In a short period of time, housing conditions of 300,000 refugees and IDP were improved. Last year, another 5,923 IDP families were moved to new apartments and a further 2,227 families of this category were housed in the first quarter of 2019.
On the instruction of Aliyeva, a group of soldiers and officers who got injured in the April battles were provided with high-tech prostheses.
Aliyeva’s initiatives such as new schools for a renewing Azerbaijan, support for education, building orphanages and boarding schools, and development of preschool institutions have played an important part in improving education. Within the framework of new schools for a renewing Azerbaijan programme, launched in 2005, up to 500 school buildings were constructed and renovated, providing education to more than 100,000 students. Up to 40 kindergartens have been overhauled as part of the building of orphanages and boarding schools.
With regard to public health, exceptional projects and charity programmes being implemented on Aliyeva’s initiative such as caring for diabetic children, those affected by thalassemia and renovation and construction of medical facilities have been met with great enthusiasm. Under these projects, a modern thalassemia centre, rehabilitation centre for people with Down syndrome and those with special needs, a surgery and organ transplantation centre at the Central Oil Workers’ Hospital, a children’s psycho-neurological centre and other healthcare facilities have been built or refurbished. It is noteworthy that this activity is not limited to Baku but spread across all the regions of Azerbaijan.
Aliyeva has been playing an important role in the fight against the pandemic of 2020, Covid-19. She personally oversaw the treatment of those infected with the virus. With the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Aliyeva, modular hospitals were built for patients with coronavirus and numerous medical supplies were delivered from foreign countries for treatment.
On Aliyeva’s initiative, consistent and focused work is under way to communicate the truth about the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the culture, history and traditions of statehood to the international community. Exhibitions, days of culture and other events are being organised in reputable international organisations and various countries around the world.
Events celebrating Azerbaijani culture have been held at the headquarters of the European Parliament, Athens, and Cannes. Other activities include the opening of the Centre of Azerbaijani Culture in Paris and the erection of monuments dedicated to outstanding Azerbaijani personalities in various cities across the world.
The international Eurovision song contest, the inaugural European Games, the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games and 37th FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship were successfully held in Azerbaijan in recent years. These events have revealed Aliyeva’s exceptional organisational skills.
The multifaceted charity activities of Aliyeva are highly appreciated both in Azerbaijan and internationally. The Heydar Aliyev Order, the highest award of the Azerbaijani state, the highest order of the European Olympic Committees, the Order of the Legion of Honor of France, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Italy, Grand Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, the Order of Friendship of Russia, Unesco Golden Mozart Medal are just a few of the awards and titles bestowed on the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan. However, Aliyeva believes that her biggest award is the love, faith and trust of the people.