President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the session.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbangulu Berdimuhamedov welcomed Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and other heads of state.
The heads of state then posed together for photographs.
Opening the limited session of the Council of CIS Heads of State, President of Turkmenistan Gurbangulu Berdimuhamedov wished the session success.
Chairman of the Executive Committee and Executive Secretary of CIS Sergey Lebedev then highlighted the issues on the agenda.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed the session.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Thank you, dear Mr. President!
Dear Heads of State!
I want to thank President Berdimuhamedov for the warm welcome and hospitality.
We had a meeting yesterday, which once again confirmed the brotherly nature of relations between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. I also warmly recall my last year’s official visit to Turkmenistan, during which a very extensive exchange of views was held on pressing issues and a record number of documents were signed – namely 21 documents that filled our relations with new content. I would also like to note the personal role of the President of Turkmenistan in the development of the country, as well as the improvement of Ashgabat. I come here quite often and see dramatic changes, rapid development and modern infrastructure. Last time, I was familiarized with an Olympic township. All this pleases the eye and creates very good opportunities for your people to do sports and actively contribute to the development of the country. The large scale of construction is also quite astonishing. I am aware that the President personally monitors every project, this is why the city is blooming and there is a unique ensemble of urban development.
One of the issues on the agenda of today's summit is the appeal of the heads of state to the peoples of Commonwealth countries and the world community in connection with the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II. Both on the frontline of this most destructive and bloody war and in its rear, our peoples displayed true heroism and courage, which still serve as an example for future generations. Azerbaijan has made a worthy contribution to our common victory over fascism. More than 600,000 sons and daughters of Azerbaijan fought on the fronts of World War II and half of them lost their lives for our common victory. In recognition of the courage shown during the years of war, more than 130 representatives of Azerbaijan were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Over 170,000 of our soldiers and officers were awarded various orders and medals. Azerbaijan provided the whole country with fuel. Azerbaijan accounted for more than 70 percent of oil, 80 percent of gasoline and 90 percent of motor oils so necessary for the front. Without this, the Soviet army could not have defeated the enemy. There is famous military footage when Hitler is presented with a cake, and on this cake there is a depression filled with melted black chocolate and the names of the Caspian Sea and Baku written on it in German. Hitler is shown scooping chocolate with a spoon, pouring it over the cake and then placing a swastika-shaped piece of chocolate over Baku. This underlines Nazi plans to seize the oil fields of Azerbaijan, as well as their plans, as we all know, to seize the oil fields of the North Caucasus. And if the Nazis had managed to capture Baku, the Soviet army would have been left without the fuel so necessary for the victory, while the city of Baku would have been blown up because in the event of this emergency scenario the Soviet government had mined all the oil wells so that they did not go to the enemy. Therefore, there would have been probably hundreds of thousands of victims.
Representatives of Azerbaijani science have also made a significant contribution to our common victory. Thus, great Azerbaijani scientist Yusif Mammadaliyev invented the incendiary mixture which subsequently became known as the Molotov cocktail. Few people know this but it is true. Day and night, the factories of Baku produced the famous Katyusha and other weapons, which became a nightmare for the enemy. Azerbaijan sacredly honors the memory of those killed in the war and shows great concern for war veterans. In the years of the puppet, corrupt, anti-national and shameful regime of the Popular Front in 1992-1993, the date of 9 May ceased to be a holiday, and our war veterans were humiliated and insulted. One of the first decisions Heydar Aliyev made after taking up leadership in Azerbaijan was to declare 9 May Victory Day. This remarkable date has been a national holiday and a day off ever since.
We, the heads of state, have repeatedly opposed the glorification of the Nazis. Unfortunately, this is happening in the CIS, in particular in Armenia, where former authorities erected a monument to fascist executioner and traitor Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan, who served German fascists under the nickname of Garegin Nzhdeh, in the center of Yerevan. Many war veterans from CIS countries have repeatedly expressed vehement protest at this cynical step of the previous leadership of Armenia. In May 2019, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a report “On the situation with the glorification of Nazism, the spread of neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to the escalation of modern forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, which states that “the former ruling Republican party of Armenia took steps to perpetuate the memory of such an ambiguous nationalist politician as Garegin Nzhdeh, for whom there is information on his collaboration with the Third Reich.” This is the position of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The article headlined “The Activities of Military Counterintelligence in the Final Period of the War” in Volume 6, “Secret War, Intelligence and Counterintelligence during the Great Patriotic War”, of a 12-volume encyclopedia “The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945”, published by the main editorial board of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation chaired by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, says: “As part of an intelligence file for Obergrupp 114 Dromedar, counterintelligence agents have identified and arrested the former general of the Dashnak army and emigrant Ter-Harutyunyan, who served the Germans under the nickname of Nzhdeh. During the Great Patriotic War, he recruited more than 30 agents of Armenian nationality in Bulgaria, participated in their training and transfer to the rear of the Red Army for acts of sabotage. SMERSH detained 17 saboteurs and put the others on the wanted list. Nzhdeh also participated in the Holocaust of the Jewish population of Europe. In 1942, he organized the Armenian Legion who fought against the Soviet Union. In fact, Nzhdeh’s main slogan was "He who dies for Germany dies for Armenia". No comment! Nzhdeh was arrested and ended his days in a Vladimir prison. And a monument almost 6 meters high was erected to this traitor and executioner in the center of the Armenian capital in 2016. Unfortunately, the new government of Armenia did not dismantle this monument. I believe that there is no place for the glorification of fascism in the CIS.
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The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, made an unsuccessful attempt to answer the reasoned arguments made in the speech of the President of Azerbaijan. He said:
- It appears from the speech of Ilham Heydarovich that Hitler had only a secondary role in this war and Garegin Nzhdeh was the leader of the Nazi movement. The truth is that Garegin Nzhdeh fought against the Turkish occupation of Armenia, fought against the Armenian genocide which was organized by the Turks, and the reality is that Garegin Nzhdeh, in fact alongside very many Russian officers, led a very important section of the front during Armenian-Turkish war in 1918. I want to emphasize again that it is highly important that we know an objective assessment of history. It is said that Garegin Nzhdeh died in a Vladimir prison. Many Soviet leaders died in Vladimir prisons. Solzhenitsyn was in the Gulag. Do we consider all who were convicted during the period from 1937 to 1950 to be enemies of the people? If so, many prominent figures were convicted and ended their days in prison. But this does not mean that we should take this as a fact. I consider it inappropriate to use this format to distort history and introduce tensions to the atmosphere of this rather important meeting. I believe that the words of the President of Azerbaijan are disrespectful, first of all, to the Armenian people. I consider this also to be disrespectful to the heads of state and the peoples they represent here. Dear colleagues, I apologize for this tension, but you saw that I didn’t initiate it.
The speech by the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan was supposed to be followed by that of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. President Ilham Aliyev, asking permission from the President of Belarus, responded to the words made by Nikol Pashinyan with specific facts. President Ilham Aliyev said:
- I am compelled to make a comment because the Prime Minister of Armenia has talked about me, while I did not talk about the Prime Minister of Armenia and especially the Armenian people in my speech. I believe that the Armenian people, who, like the other peoples of the Soviet Union, have made a great contribution to our common victory, must first of all clear themselves of this stain that was applied to the country by its previous leadership. If the Prime Minister listened to me carefully, he probably got it too. I also think that it is completely unacceptable to compare the prisoners of the Gulag and other camps that were subjected to repression with Nazi accomplices and criminals. I backed up my speech with quotes for a reason: they can be found in libraries and on the Internet. A May 2019 quote from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a quote from a 12-volume edition by Russian Defense Minister Shoigu clearly state what kind of a figure he was. And also his own quote, disgusting as it may sound – I will repeat it again, “He who dies for Germany dies for Armenia”. This was said during the years of World War II. Therefore, I believe that, first of all, the new government, which introduces itself as democratically elected one, should get rid of this stain, of this shame, and dismantle this monument. As for the fact that I have shown disrespect for the heads of state, I think our meeting has probably never heard a more absurd thesis. Thank you!