Ilham Aliyev has addressed the nation
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has addressed the nation.
Address by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
My fellow countrymen,
I sincerely congratulate you on the liberation of the Aghdam district. I cordially congratulate all the people of Aghdam. Dear people of Aghdam, you are no longer displaced persons. You will return to your ancestral land.
The liberation of Aghdam is the outcome of a trilateral statement signed on 10 November. I have repeatedly said that the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement is possible through both political and military means. We have been trying to resolve that issue politically for many years. However, the whole world saw that this issue was not resolved due to Armenia"s position, and it was our legal right to resolve the issue by military means. International norms and principles recognize this right. This right is granted to us by the UN Charter. Every country can defend itself, and we have defended ourselves.
The liberation of the Aghdam district is a historic event. Aghdam is the largest of the occupied districts in terms of population. Before the occupation, 143,000 people lived in the Aghdam district. At present, the population of the Aghdam district is 204,000 people. Seventy-three percent of the district remained under occupation. In the remaining areas, the areas under our control, we have carried out major construction and development work in recent years. We gave Guzanli village the status of a settlement and made Guzanli the center of the Aghdam district. Social facilities, infrastructure and industrial enterprises have been established in Guzanli on my instruction. Jobs have been created for our people. Guzanli received natural gas. All other infrastructure projects were implemented there; we have built a large Olympic Sports Center, a hospital, schools and a Mugham Center. I personally attended the opening of all these facilities. I must also say that 18 IDP townships have been built in the part of Aghdam district under our control on my instructions in recent years. We have been able to accommodate 93,000 IDPs in the Aghdam district. Due to implemented work and significant investments made, 45 percent of the Aghdam district"s population lives in the territory of Aghdam today.
A new era begins for Aghdam now. We have major plans. Everything in the occupied territories is destroyed. Media covered my visits to Fuzuli and Jabrayil, and everyone, the whole world, could see what a savage enemy we were facing. There is no single sound building left in Jabrayil or Fuzuli, only some military bases and some adjacent premises. The savage enemy has destroyed all the remaining infrastructure, buildings, houses, historical monuments, and religious sites.
I addressed the Azerbaijani people from those ruins and said that we would restore those lands, those cities and villages. The Armenians believed that the Azerbaijani people would never return to those lands after such devastation. They were wrong. They do not know that native lands live and will live forever in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people, in the heart of all our people. All our displaced people lived with a desire to return to their native lands and build a new life for themselves with the state"s support and assistance.
We will also restore the city of Aghdam. Of course, we must do everything in a comprehensive manner. A master plan will be prepared, specialists brought in, and infrastructure projects implemented - all in a planned way. Construction of office buildings, social facilities, roads and other necessary work will be carried out. The government will help citizens to return there. Therefore, the restoration of the Aghdam district will have a special place in our future plans because it is a large district in terms of territory and, at the same time, as I said, it is the largest district in terms of population.
Our restoration work has already begun. During my visit to Fuzuli, I have given all relevant instructions on constructing a new road from Fuzuli to Shusha. Funds were allocated from the President"s Contingency Fund – initially 50 million manats. But these funds will be insufficient. Additional funds will be allocated next year. According to my instructions, the Ahmadbayli-Alkhanli-Fuzuli-Shusha road is divided into several parts. I have instructed bringing in several companies so that we can build this road without wasting time. The people of Azerbaijan know that the road to Shusha used to be the Aghdam-Khankandi road, but it is not possible to use this road yet. However, the trilateral statement signed on 10 November states that all communications will be opened, including the Aghdam-Khankandi-Shusha highway, which will be opened after some time. I believe that the opening of communications and the roads and communications connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the rest of Azerbaijan will also contribute to long-term peace in the region in the future.
These issues will be resolved in a planned manner. We started the first major project. Similarly, we will take consistent steps to restore the city of Aghdam and its entire infrastructure. The people of Aghdam and all the other districts liberated from occupation can rest assured that the Government of Azerbaijan will always stand by them.
Aghdam"s liberation was possible thanks to the glorious military Victory. If Azerbaijan had not defeated Armenia on the battlefield, Armenia would not have vacated our lands of its own free will. There are many reasons for that. Because of the fortifications, they had built in those regions, in the occupied territories. A lot of money was invested there. Those fortifications were constructed to prevent Azerbaijan"s Armed Forces from passing through. But they were wrong again. They have miscalculated our prowess. They did not know what Azerbaijan"s Armed Forces and Azerbaijani citizens were capable of. They did not realize that our strength, military hardware, and morale led us to that Victory. They did not know that the Azerbaijani people lived with the desire to return to their ancestral lands for all these years. All these and other factors paved the way for our Victory.
Therefore, by building these fortifications and taking other steps, they pursued the perpetuation of the occupation. Otherwise, they would not have changed the names of our historical cities and villages. Aghdam was given an ugly name. Fuzuli was given another ugly name. They drew up new maps. The so-called "nagorno-karabakh republic" covered the former Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region and all the occupied territories, and they presented this to the international community.
I have repeatedly told the mediators dealing with this issue to pay attention to that. You are talking about a peaceful solution to this issue, but we see the exact opposite. We see that Azerbaijan"s heritage is being erased across those lands, Azerbaijani monuments and historical sites are being Armenianized, Azerbaijani mosques are being destroyed. Our entire historical and cultural heritage is being purged, new maps being drawn. Maps of the so-called "nagorno-karabakh republic" are published in textbooks prepared for Armenian schools; all the lands occupied are attributed to that self-styled entity. Books and pamphlets published by Armenia in foreign languages cover all the occupied territories and the so-called entity. They do the same when illegally participating in international exhibitions. Okay, but what next? You are claiming that the issue will be resolved peacefully.
What happened to these maps now? These maps have gone to hell. These maps no longer exist. The occupiers vacating the Kalbajar district are destroying all houses, buildings, schools and showing their savagery yet again. All leading international media outlets have filmed this and spread these images around the world, embarrassing them. They are putting themselves to disgrace. They cowardly ran away from us. They could not withstand us. Those who claim to be an invincible army, a warrior people – what happened to your fighting army? Where is it? It has been crushed. We have overcome it. We have obliterated it. There is no Armenian army. We have destroyed it. Our Victory on the battlefield also preconditioned our political Victory. Aghdam district returns to us without firing a single shot or sacrificing a single martyr. This is our great political success. But this would not have been possible without the military Victory.
The people of Aghdam fought heroically in the First Karabakh War, and many became martyrs. They fought bravely in the Second Karabakh War - the Patriotic War, and there were martyrs as well. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the martyrs who gave us this Victory. May Allah have mercy on them and grant patience to their relatives. Addressing our martyrs" parents and relatives, I once again express my gratitude to them for raising such wonderful and brave children for our country and our people. I wish our wounded soldiers and officers a speedy recovery and return to everyday life. May Allah send them healing. An action plan is being drafted for their rehabilitation, and relevant instructions have been issued. They will always be our priority.
Thus, the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is already in the past and acknowledged by international experts. Azerbaijan has achieved a brilliant victory on the battlefield and in the political arena. Measures will be taken to develop these lands. First of all, demining should be carried out. That is also a time-consuming issue because the loathed enemy has planted mines across large areas. After that, work on infrastructure projects begins. Instructions have already been issued to analyze the existing infrastructure. We have satellite and other capabilities. When I visited Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts, I used a new road built in a short time. It is a temporary road, but it is usable. In other words, we will do all this work, and our Great Return Plan is being developed now.
As for the war, I must say again that Azerbaijani soldiers and officers showed true heroism. However, the number of deserters from the Armenian army exceeds 10,000 people. They are acknowledging it themselves; their officials are saying that there were more than 10,000 deserters. It shows again whose army is invincible and whose army is a heroic one. Their army, that gang of theirs, could only fight against civilians. The Khojaly executioners and other murderers, who burned our villages, killed our people and civilians cannot be considered servicemen. Their army is made of thieves. So many crooked Armenian generals have been arrested in the last two years! The generals who steal soldiers" canned stew are thieves. Their "heroes" are cowards, and their leaders are criminals. The Armenian leadership itself says that for 20 years, from 1998 to 2018, the country was governed by bandits, thieves, cowards and deserters. Who has led it for the last two and a half years?
The whole world can see that. So what would be the name of this country? It has one name only - Failed State. What is the cause of this failure? Occupation! I have said this many times. Everyone can look up my speeches and interviews. I said that this occupation would drive Armenia to the abyss. I said that we would never come to terms with this occupation and return our lands sooner or later. But Armenia will waste a historic opportunity. Armenia has not been able to become an independent country for nearly 30 years. It is not independent today either. Armenia is, in fact, a colony. Was this the dream of the Armenian people? Was this their expectation? Why couldn"t they become an independent country? Because of the occupation! What did they gain from the occupation? Nothing! They were disgraced in the political sphere, in all international organizations; we worked hard to humiliate them.
We secured decisions and resolutions meeting our interests that were based on international law. They were defeated on the battlefield and humiliated in front of the whole world. After that, they will have to live with this label, with the label - "defeated country". They used to live in Baku, Ganja, in all our cities and districts. Did they have any problems? No! They lost that. They had to leave here, having expelled our people and pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing. What did they gain? Nothing! And now, in this humiliating state, they are squabbling and destroying what little is left of their statehood. I told them to come to their senses and stop this occupation. As long as this occupation continues, Armenia will not be able to develop - politically dependent, militarily dependent and economically incomplete.
They have developed a very harmful ideological basis. Their ideology is based on lies, historical falsifications and the past. How can a country that cannot give up the falsified past move forward? Look at how many wars there have been in the world. Take the last 100 years, 200 years. So many people have died in these wars. But who has lived with such enmity, who has lived with hatred in their hearts for years? Who has raised their children in the spirit of hatred? This is their future, and this is their reality. The Soviet Union lost tens of millions of people during the war with Germany, but 10 or 20 years later, there was peace. The relations between Russia and Germany are now developing normally. The same goes for European countries. How many wars did France wage with Italy? How many wars did Germany and France wage? The people of what country, as they say, keep this hatred simmering in their hearts? This is what has brought Armenia to its current state. They are guilty of all their troubles.
On the other hand, how can a country that cannot establish normal relations with its neighbors develop? They are putting forward territorial claims against Turkey. They have no brain. It is suicidal to make territorial claims against a large country like Turkey.
The territorial claims against Azerbaijan. They could materialize these claims only for some time, occupied our lands and expelled the neighboring people from their homes. They thought they were right and created a false history. They now seek help from all other countries, as if the whole world owes them. You are an independent country. So live as an independent country. If you can"t live as an independent country, then become part of another country. Take that flag off the pole, fold it, put it in your pocket, and go on to live as part of another country. They are the cause of their own troubles. This blow we have dealt them, these events that have befallen them will awaken them perhaps so that they can live as a normal country, make the right choices, and normalize relations with their neighbors.
Why am I talking about this? We live in this region and this neighborhood, whether we like it or not. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I am interested in ending hostilities in our region, in the South Caucasus, and forging normal and businesslike relations. At least this is what we want. I said during the war, and I repeat: we have no problems with the Armenian people. We did not carry out ethnic cleansing of the Armenian people, as they did against us. We have not destroyed their historical monuments, we are protecting them, and as you know, we have taken essential steps in this regard.
We did not destroy their cities, although we could have done that. It wasn"t too difficult to destroy Khankandi after capturing Shusha. We could have destroyed it in a day. Did we do that? No! But what did they do to our cities? Therefore, we have no problems with the Armenian people. Again, I want to say that all peoples living in a single Azerbaijani state have equal rights, including the Armenian people. Thousands of Armenians live in Azerbaijan. Is there anyone in our country who minds that? No! They live as Azerbaijani citizens. I am sure that the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh today will one day realize that the only way for them is to live side-by-side with Azerbaijani people to live in the neighborhood and to give up all these ugly deeds.
As for yet another fabrication made by Armenia today, I want to clarify that as well. It is claimed that 90,000 Armenians fled Nagorno-Karabakh and became refugees. It is a lie. A maximum of 60,000-65,000 people lived in Nagorno-Karabakh and our occupied lands before the Second Karabakh War. Where did we learn that? We have operational information. We have many sources of information in that region, which is one reason for our success. We have known precisely, and we know now what is happening there, the location their junta head is hiding in. He was probably aware, too, that we knew of his whereabouts. That is why he couldn"t stick his nose out and has sat in the bunker. We have objective information, we have sources, and we have satellite images. Therefore, I say with full confidence that a maximum of 65,000 people lived in Nagorno-Karabakh, including the occupied territories. So where did 90,000 refugees number come from? That is another lie, another fraud. Now they will cling to others, asking and begging for help. "Help me" is the core principle of their ideology. What nation can develop with this ideology? Who has ever benefited from expecting and begging and then taking offense and putting forward demands?
We will expose these lies about the number of refugees, and even if there were refugees, it is not our fault. We did not fight against the civilian population. They are the ones who fought against our civilian population. We have 94 martyrs among civilians and more than 400 wounded civilians. More than 3,000 houses have been destroyed. Their losses among civilians are much lower. However, they targeted our civilians in cities and villages. Ballistic missiles hit Gandja. They struck Barda with cluster munitions, with phosphorus bombs. This is a war crime. The city of Tartar is almost destroyed. The largest number of shells fell on Tartar.
Every morning, I was told how many shells landed there. One day, two thousand artillery shells fell on a small town. Isn"t this Armenian savagery? Isn"t it a recurrence of the Khojaly genocide? See whom we faced and whom we defeated? I repeat: we have not only restored our territorial integrity, but we have also broken the back of Armenian fascism. We have saved the region from Armenian fascism; we have saved the world from Armenian fascism. It may attempt to resurrect, but we will not allow that to happen. Everyone should know that. We will take any steps necessary to defend ourselves. We will take any steps necessary to protect our citizens, and no-one can stop us. The whole world saw that in 44 days. No-one can stand in front of us or put forward conditions to us. In the early days of the war, representatives of the countries that wanted to impose conditions on us, to threaten us, to slander us, some Western countries – they received our harsh response. They saw that we were not a country that bows to others. Nor am I a leader who accepts everything, any word. I have responded to them with a vengeance and will continue to do so if necessary. Therefore, if Armenian fascism rises again and if any provocation is committed against us, they will see a 10-fold response and no-one would stop us.
The current geographical situation in the Karabakh region, of course, has dramatically increased our capabilities. Just look at the map. Let everyone see who has what capabilities. That is why I want to repeat it. There is an internal crisis in Armenia now. This is natural. Because a military defeat, such a shameful defeat can, of course, lead to turmoil in any country. Therefore, if sober-minded forces come to power in Armenia now, after the crisis, we are ready to establish normal relations with such sound forces. But we have nothing to do with the executioners, those who shed the Azerbaijani people"s blood.
Let everyone know that! After that, of course, Azerbaijan"s opportunities in this region will expand, including the capacity to influence. But our capacity is meant only for cooperation. All the work we have done in this region so far has given impetus to cooperation. All our projects – energy, transport and humanitarian projects – have deepened collaboration. We have not taken a single wrong step. For example, we have not taken a single action that could cause any problems for our neighbors. Therefore, our relations with neighboring countries are normal and acceptable. I can say that they can serve as an example for many. What are Armenia"s relations with its neighbors like? There was this occupation matter with Azerbaijan, territorial claims against Turkey, and dissatisfaction with Russia.
I know why they could not bring weapons through Iran - because Iran is our friendly and brotherly country and because it closed its airspace on our request. They did not want Armenia to kill Azerbaijanis. They make the same claims to Georgia now because Georgia also closed its airspace during the war and did not allow for the transportation of weapons by land. They also did not want the savage enemy to kill our civilians either. They claim that Russia did not help them. In his interview, the Russian President gave quite clear and accurate information and expressed his position. Azerbaijan was waging war on its territory recognized by international law. Therefore, there can be no talk of interference based on some allied relations. They criticize everyone. They are dissatisfied with everyone. How can one live with such a mindset?
From now on, we will move even faster along the path of development. We have achieved what we wanted on the battlefield. Our soldiers and officers showed their strength. We have demonstrated our power in the political sphere, and the trilateral statement fully meets our interests. That is why the President of Russia and myself signed that statement in front of the whole world. It is still impossible to say where the Armenian prime minister signed it. But that doesn"t matter much. It doesn"t matter if it happened in a warehouse, a locked-up room or a bunker in which he lives. His signature is there. It is, in fact, an act of capitulation. That is the Victory of Azerbaijan, the return of our lands and the raising of our flag. Fizuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, Hadrut, Sugovushan, Murov Mountain and Shusha were liberated from the occupiers on the battlefield, including several villages of Lachin district and a part of Kalbajar district. It is what preconditioned our Victory.
Our Victory has already created enormous problems in Armenia. But look at the reaction of international organizations. Is there a reaction? No! Every day an opposition leader gets arrested in Armenia in a completely unfounded manner. Has any Western country reacted to this? No! Did they condemn it? No! Leaders of major opposition parties have been arrested, but no-one speaks up. Where are you, the Council of Europe? Where is the Council of Europe, which despises Azerbaijan and tries to discredit us? Why are you, tight-lipped? Where is your Monitoring Committee? Several rapporteurs for Azerbaijan have been appointed there. It is Armenia that must be monitored. Why are you silent, the Council of Europe? Where are your leaders, where is your monitoring committee, where is the political committee? Don"t you see that there are repressions in Armenia? Can"t you see that the dictator is doing whatever he pleases? A defeated dictator, a humiliated dictator. So why don"t you speak up? Where is your democracy? Where are your human rights? Is there an answer? No! And there won"t be one. Even after my remarks, there will be none. They will cover it up, hush it up.
The European Parliament has adopted more than ten ugly and false resolutions against Azerbaijan. Why are you silent, the European Parliament? You consider yourself the center of democracy in the world. Speak up, make a statement, make a statement and condemn this. A dictator eliminates all the opposition right in front of everyone in the world. He kills a man. One of the persons who occupied the parliament has already been found dead. Why don"t you speak up? Why? Non-governmental organizations that regularly campaign against us, why are you silent? Why don"t you speak up? When we were hit with a ballistic missile, you were quiet. When we were hit with cluster munitions and phosphorus bombs, you remained tight-lipped. Large countries, countries that claim to be Europe"s leaders, why are you silent? Tell me, answer me! But it turns out that anyone can reprimand us and lecture us here. I am answering all of them, all of them, and with a vengeance.
Sitting in a bunker, the Armenian dictator has completely isolated himself and his nation from the world. In Azerbaijan, there is unity between the people and the government. This is the difference. This is our strength. Our strength is in our unity. Strength and unity define us. The Azerbaijani people probably remember me repeatedly saying in the last three to four years that the world is changing. Relations are changing; international law does not work; the factor of strength comes to the fore; the principle of "might is right" prevails. All of this is available in my speeches and statements because I have correctly analyzed the international situation. I do not want to say that we should follow this path. No. Our path is one of justice and international law. We have not done anything outside of international law. But I said that the strength factor comes to the fore, and we must be ready for that. All these years, preparations were underway, both in the economic sphere and in international relations, first of all, in the field of army building. We gathered strength, struck at the right moment and caved the enemy"s head. We crushed it so hard that they will remember this forever. We left that mark. Azerbaijani people are victorious people. Azerbaijan"s Armed Forces are victorious. We have won the war on the battlefield, we have won politically, and we have liberated our lands from occupiers.
Today, I am proud to share the news of Aghdam"s liberation with my people, to share this great news. I am sure that the days we live through these moments will remain in the memory of every Azerbaijani forever. We are writing history, new history. We are writing a glorious modern history of our people, our country. This is a history of Victory.
But most importantly, we must ensure the return of our citizens to the liberated lands. We must mobilize all our resources. We must mobilize all our financial resources to return our citizens to their native lands as soon as possible.
My dear people, dear Aghdam residents, I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful and historic occasion again sincerely. I wish you robust health and happiness. Aghdam is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!