Address of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
Dear fellow countrymen,
I sincerely congratulate you on the liberation of Aghdam district. I heartily congratulate all the people of Aghdam. Dear people of Aghdam, you are no longer IDPs. You will return to your ancestral land.
The liberation of Aghdam district is the result of a trilateral statement signed on 10 November. I have repeatedly said that the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is possible both politically and militarily. We have been trying to resolve this issue politically for many years. However, the whole world saw that this issue was not resolved due to the position of Armenia, and it was our legal right to resolve the issue by military means. This right is recognized by international norms and principles. This right is given to us by the UN Charter. Every country can defend itself, and we have defended ourselves.
The liberation of Aghdam district is a historic event. I can say that Aghdam is the largest of the occupied districts in terms of population. Before the occupation, 143,000 people lived in Aghdam district. At present, the population of Aghdam district is 204,000 people. 73 percent of the district was occupied, and in the remaining areas, the areas under our control, we have carried out major construction and landscaping work in recent years. We gave Guzanli village the status of a settlement and made Guzanli the center of Aghdam district. Social facilities, infrastructure and industrial enterprises have been established in Guzanli on my instruction. Jobs have been created for our people. Guzanli was supplied with natural gas, all other infrastructure projects were implemented there, a large Olympic Sports Center, a hospital, schools and a Mugham Center were built. I personally attended the opening of all these facilities. I must also say that 18 IDP camps have been built in the part of Aghdam district that was under our control on my instructions in recent years, and we have been able to accommodate 93,000 IDPs in Aghdam district. Due to the work done and major investments made, 45 percent of the population of Aghdam district lives in the territory of Aghdam district today.
A new era begins for Aghdam now. We have major plans. Everything in the occupied territories is destroyed. My visits to Fuzuli and Jabrayil were covered in the media, and everyone, the whole world could see what a savage enemy we are facing. There is not a single sound building left in Jabrayil or Fuzuli, only some military units and buildings belonging to the military units. All the remaining infrastructure, all buildings, houses, historical monuments, religious sites have been destroyed by the savage enemy.
I addressed the people of Azerbaijan from those ruins and said that we would restore these lands, these cities and these villages. The Armenians believed that the Azerbaijani people would never return to these lands after this 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 refugees lived with a desire to return to their native lands and build a new life for themselves with the support and assistance of the state.
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 will be involved, infrastructure projects will be implemented in a planned manner, office buildings, social facilities, roads and other necessary work will be carried out. The state will help citizens to return there. Therefore, the restoration of 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.
As a matter of fact, our restoration work has already begun. During my visit to Fuzuli, all relevant instructions were given on the construction of a new road from Fuzuli to Shusha, funds were allocated from the President’s contingency fund – initially 50 million manats. But these funds will not be sufficient. 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 to involve several companies so that we can build this road without wasting time and in a short 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, as well as the roads and communications connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and 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. In the same manner, we will take consistent steps to restore the city of Aghdam and all its infrastructure. The people of Aghdam and all the other districts liberated from occupation can rest assured that the Azerbaijani state will always stand by them.
The liberation of Aghdam was possible as a result of the glorious military victory. If Azerbaijan had not defeated Armenia on the battlefield, Armenia would not have left our lands of its own free will. There are many reasons for this. First of all, because of the fortifications they had built in those regions, in the occupied territories. A lot of money was invested there. Those fortifications were intended to prevent the Azerbaijani Army from passing through them. But they were wrong again. They could not calculate our strength correctly. They did not know what the Azerbaijani Army and Azerbaijani citizens were capable of doing. They did not know that it was our strength, equipment and morale that led us to that Victory. They did not know that the people of Azerbaijan have been living 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 goal of perpetuating this 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, in which the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh republic” covered not only the former Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region but also 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 the heritage of Azerbaijan is being erased in these lands, Azerbaijani monuments and historical sites are being Armenianized, Azerbaijani mosques are being destroyed, all our historical and cultural heritage is being erased, new maps are being drawn up. When maps of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh republic” are published in textbooks prepared for Armenian schools, all the lands occupied are attributed to this self-styled entity. Books and booklets 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 saying 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 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 stand in front of us. Those who call themselves an invincible army, a warlike people – what happened to your warlike army? Where is it? It has been crushed, we have crushed it, we have destroyed 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 killing a single person. 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 were martyred. They fought bravely in the Second Karabakh War, the Patriotic War, and there were martyrs. I would like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute of respect to all the martyrs who gave us this Victory. May God have mercy on them and grant patience to their relatives. Addressing the parents and relatives of our martyrs, I once again express my gratitude to them for raising such wonderful and brave children for our state and our people. I wish our wounded soldiers and officers a speedy recovery and return to normal life. May God send them healing. An action plan is being prepared for their rehabilitation and relevant instructions have been issued. They will always be in the spotlight.
Thus, the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is already in the past, as also acknowledged by international experts. Azerbaijan has achieved a brilliant victory on the battlefield and in the political arena. Measures will be taken to improve these lands. First of all, mine clearance work should be carried out. This is also a time-consuming issue. Because the hated enemy has mined large areas of land. After that, work on infrastructure projects should be undertaken. Instructions have already been issued to analyze the existing infrastructure. We now 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 saying this themselves, their officials are saying that there were more than 10,000 deserters. This shows again what army is invincible and what army is a heroic army. Their army, in fact, that gang of their could only fight against civilians. The Khojaly executioners and other killers who burned our villages, killed our people and civilians cannot be considered servicemen. Their army consists of thieves. So many bent Armenian generals have been arrested in the last two years! The generals who sell soldiers’ 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 sees that. So what name can one give to this country? Only one name – a 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 lead 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 disgrace them. Decisions and resolutions meeting our interests and based on international law were adopted. They were defeated on the battlefield and humiliated in front of the whole world. After that, they will have to live with this mark, with the mark of a “defeated country”. They lived 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 humiliated state, they are biting each other 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 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 this 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. European countries too. 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 themselves 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 mind. It is suicidal to make territorial claims against a large country like Turkey.
The territorial claims against Azerbaijan. They were able to 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, go and live in another country. They themselves are the cause of their own troubles. This blow we have dealt to them, these events that have befallen them will awaken them perhaps, so that they can live as a normal country, if they make the right choice and if they normalize relations with their neighbors.
Why am I talking about this? Because we live in this region and in 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 establishing 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 important 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 taking Shusha. We could have destroyed 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. I want to say again 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 says a word to them? No! They live normally 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 the people of Azerbaijan, 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, and this is one of the reasons for our success. We knew exactly and we know what is happening there now, where the head of their junta is hiding. He was probably aware too that we knew that. This is why he couldn’t take his nose out and sat in the bunker. We have objective information, we have sources, 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 come from? 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 offence 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. Ganja was hit by ballistic missiles. They hit Barda with cluster bombs, 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 shells fell on a small town. Isn’t this Armenian savagery? Isn’t it a repeat of the Khojaly genocide? See who we were faced with and who we defeated? I repeat: we have not only restored our territorial integrity, 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 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. Neither 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, if any provocation is committed against us, they will receive 10 times more and no-one can stop us.
The current geographical situation in the Karabakh region, of course, has greatly increased our capabilities. Just look at the map, let everyone see who has what opportunities. That is why I want to say it again. 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 blood of the Azerbaijani people. Let everyone know that! After that, of course, Azerbaijan’s opportunities in this region will expand, including the opportunities for influence. But our opportunities are 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 cooperation. We have not taken a single wrong step. For example, we have not taken a single step that could cause any problems for our neighbors. Therefore, our relations with neighboring countries are normal and good. I can actually say that they can serve as an example for many. What are Armenia’s relations with its neighbors like? There was this occupation with Azerbaijan, territorial claims against Turkey. Russia is dissatisfied, so to speak. 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. Because they did not want Armenia to kill Azerbaijanis. They are making 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 an interference of 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 shown our strength in the political sphere, and the trilateral statement fully meets our interests. This is why this statement was signed in front of the eyes of the whole world, by the President of Russia and myself. 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. This 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. This is what conditioned our victory. Our victory has already created big 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? Or the monitoring committee. Several rapporteurs for Azerbaijan have been appointed there. Armenia 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? In fact, 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 words, there will be none. They will cover it up, hush it up. The European Parliament has adopted more than 10 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 destroys 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 which regularly campaign against us, why are you silent, why don’t you speak up? When we were hit with a ballistic missile, you were silent, when we were hit with cluster munitions and phosphorus bombs, you remained tight-lipped. Great countries, countries that claim to European leaders, why are you silent? Tell me, answer me! But it turns out that anyone can come 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, while in Azerbaijan there is a unity of the people and the government. This is the difference. This is our strength. Our strength is in our unity. Strength and unity. The people of Azerbaijan probably remember me saying repeatedly 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 this can be seen in my speeches. Because I correctly analyze the international situation. I do not want to say that we should follow this path. No. Our path is the path of justice and international law. We have not done anything outside of international law. But I said that the factor of strength comes to the fore, and we must be ready for that. Preparations were going on for all these years, both in the economic sphere and in the field of international relations, first of all, in the field of army building. We gathered strength, hit at the right moment and caved the enemy’s head. We crushed it so hard that they will remember this forever. We left a mark on their head. The Azerbaijani people are a victorious people. The Azerbaijani Army is a victorious army. 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 the liberation of Aghdam with my people, to share this great news. I am sure that the days we are living through, these moments will remain in the memory of every Azerbaijani forever. We are writing history, new history. We are writing a new glorious 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.
Dear people, dear people of Aghdam, I would like to sincerely congratulate you once on this wonderful and historic occasion again. I wish you good health and happiness. Aghdam is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!