I extend my sincere and heartfelt congratulation to all of you on the 29th anniversary of the grand holiday in the modern history of our country, i.e., the State Independence Day of the Republic of Tajikistan, and wish every resident of our state prosperity, happy life, success, and further achievements.
Our people gained state independence and began to build their own national state 29 years ago. The beginning of independence and the first steps towards building an independent Tajik state fell on a very difficult period in the history of our people. Through the fault of the traitors and enemies of the Tajik nation and their foreign patrons, our newly independent Tajikistan received an acutely sensitive blow as a result of the imposed civil war. At the time, when we did not even have the symbols of our independent state, and our people were making its first steps towards independence and freedom, traitors to the Motherland - those who sold their honor and conscience, dragged Tajikistan into a whirlpool of political confrontation and armed clashes.
Enemies and traitors to the Tajik nation and state intended to use weapons, intimidation and brutal murders to impose a strange culture and worldview on our people and create an Islamic state in Tajikistan. As a result, lawlessness and chaos reigned in the country, government authorities were paralyzed, more than 1 million of our compatriots became forced refugees, and in a short time tens of thousands of our innocent citizens, including women, children and the elderly, died.
As a result of the war, tens of thousands of children became orphans, mothers and women became widows, and many were left homeless. The most terrible consequence of the imposed war was that the threat of the disappearance of the young Tajik state from the political map of the world and the disintegration of the Tajik nation became a bitter reality.
In these extremely difficult and truly life-changing circumstances, prudent citizens and healthy forces of society united for the sake of saving the state and the nation, mobilized all their efforts to free the people from the whirlpool of fratricidal imposed war.
The historical 16th session of the Supreme Council, held in November 1992 in the ancient city of Khujand, made it possible to take the first steps towards this desire, and most importantly, towards the path to ending the bloodshed. Having built on the will of our people and with confidence in the bright future of our country, we mobilized all our forces and capacities to address very difficult issues faced by the state and society, and defended the independence and territorial integrity of the state.
In that extremely difficult period, we restored the pillars and foundations of our young state - law enforcement agencies and other paralyzed public authorities, directed their activities to protect the interests of the people and serve the independent state. Thus, in order to protect the security of the state and society, we created the National Army and other competent bodies, including law enforcement and executive authorities, adopted and established the symbols of our independent state, including the State Flag and the State Emblem, adopted the National Anthem and the Constitution as a guiding star of the people's happiness.
Along with this, we have defined the return of more than 1 million forced refugees to their homeland and creating the necessary living conditions for them as one of the most important tasks of the leadership of the state and the Government of the country, and in a relatively short historic period we have accomplished this difficult task. Thus, during those years, reliance on the will and efforts of our patriotic people enabled us to eliminate the consequences of civil confrontation and save the young Tajik state from disappearance, the Tajik nation from disintegration and disunity.
Thanks to the establishment of peace and tranquility, political stability and strengthening national unity, we carried out constitutional reform, regulated the activities of all branches of government and created a bicameral parliament as a new phenomenon in the political and legal environment in Tajikistan. In this process, we ensured the transition to a market economy, introduced various forms of ownership, national currency, improved the public administration system, restructured the economic system based on the efficient use of resources, production capabilities and services, improved the financial and banking system, gave impetus to the development of entrepreneurship, improved investment climate and created conditions for the development of social spheres.
The Government actions made it possible to ensure the growth of the national economy annually during 1997-2020 and increase the real growth of the gross domestic product by 5 times. During the period of independence of our country, we created and reconstructed more than 1600 industrial enterprises, more than 2000 megawatts of new energy capacities, 2200 kilometers of international highways and built and commissioned 220 km of railways.
Thanks to the creative efforts of the Government and the people of the country, two units of the Roghun hydropower station were put into operation, which is by right is a milestone facility of the century, the guarantee of a bright future for Tajikistan. This facility has generated more than 1.6 billion kw/h of electricity to present. Commissioning of new capacities enabled us to remove the electricity rationing in winter period.
During this period, the number of students in secondary educational institutions increased from 1,325 million in 1991 to 2.34million, and to cover them with education, we completed the construction and reconstruction of 3,030 secondary educational institutions and additional educational buildings with 651 000 seats.
Also, the number of higher professional educational institutions increased from 13 to 41, and the number of students from 69,300 in 1991 to 227,000. In the field of healthcare and social protection of the population, 1258 new institutions were built and put into operation during the period of State independence, and their total number increased from 2862 institutions in 1991 to 4369 institutions in 2020.
During the period of our country’s independence, the monetary income of the population increased 125 times, the poverty rate in the country decreased from 83% in 1999 to 26.3%, and the average life expectancy increased from 70 years in 1991 to 75 years. Compared to 1991, maternal and infant mortality decreased by 3.1 and 3.5 times respectively.
From the very beginning of independence, we began to form the foundations of the country's foreign policy and thanks to the adoption of effective measures, we have strengthened the status and position of Tajikistan in the international arena and have been continuing to do so. Today, the world community recognizes Tajikistan as a lead state in solving urgent global issues, pursuing a balanced and consistent foreign policy based on an "open door". So far, three global water initiatives put forward by Tajikistan have been supported and implemented internationally. Currently, the fourth initiative of our country on the International Decade for Action "Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028", adopted by the United Nations, is under implementation at the national, regional and international levels. I would like to emphasize that we have done all these efforts for the sake of improving the living standards of the glorious Tajik people and raising the status and role of Tajikistan among the countries of the world.
This high sense of responsibility before the history of the Tajik nation, and the present and future destiny of the people of Tajikistan encourages each of us to make every possible effort to defend the independence and freedom of our state - the most sacred and greatest property and blessing of our life, to be vigilant, not to be taken by surprise, to work selflessly and fulfill our duty as dedicated sons and daughters of our beloved Motherland. Along with this, we are obliged to familiarize adolescents and young people - the generation, in whose hands is the future of the country and the people with the history of the nation with its ups and downs and the difficult experience in building a national state, and nourish them with a high national feeling, a sense of love for the Motherland and loyalty to the state.
Another lesson of the period of independence is that all the aspirations and dreams of every member of society, the creative plans and programs of the Government will be implemented only if we become the real masters of our free and independent Motherland, a strong and developed state, and, of course, if we strengthen peace and tranquility, political stability and national unity. Therefore, every enlightened citizen of the country must deeply realize how important independence and freedom, the nation state, peace and tranquility, political stability and national unity are, and make his/her patriotic contribution to the strengthening and development of the system of democratic, law-based and secular statehood adopted at the wish and will of the people of Tajikistan.
These days, our people endowed with a sense of national pride and patriotism literally turned the whole country into an arena for creative development projects, and selfless and fruitful efforts to decently celebrate our great national holiday - the 30th anniversary of State independence. Taking this opportunity, I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all the inhabitants of Tajikistan, both adults and youngsters, for their united effort for a prosperous future of our Motherland and the glory of our nation.
At the same time, I would like to reiterate an issue important for all residents of our country. Despite the great work carried out to date, there are still many issues in the life of our people to be resolved. We, the entire society of the country, must work together and with a sense of high patriotism and make efforts to ensure a decent life for every family in our beloved Tajikistan. We must strive to prevent threats to the modern world, especially the spread of infectious diseases and their undesirable consequences on the health of the population and the national economy, as well as to protect food security and achieve the strategic goals of the state.
Taking this situation into account, I would like to recall once again that we must treat with great responsibility and paramount importance the preparation of socio-economic spheres for the upcoming autumn-winter period, procurement of consumer goods, especially food, savings and thrift, including saving electricity, while complying with the rules of personal and public hygiene, sanitary and surveillance requirements. Given the global economic crisis, which is also affecting Tajikistan, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we must refrain from holding any event and celebration.
Along with this, we must strengthen and expand development activities to decently celebrate our great national holiday - the 30th anniversary of the State independence, address existing issues and eliminate shortcomings in our life, further improve our Motherland and strive to make sure our beloved Tajikistan keeps pace with developed world community. With these good wishes and intentions, I sincerely congratulate once again the glorious and endowed with a sense of national pride the people of the country and our foreign compatriots on the great national holiday - Independence Day. I wish every family, every household and every inhabitant of our Motherland peace and tranquility, prosperous life, happiness and new achievements.
Happy holiday of freedom and independence, dear compatriots!