Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
- I am appointing you Special Representative of the President in Shusha district. Great confidence is being placed in you. I am sure that you will realize this responsibility and try to meet the objectives set before you with your work. The institute of the President's Special Representative in the liberated territories was established on my initiative on 19 January. The first appointment is to Shusha district. And this is only natural. Shusha has a special place in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people. Shusha is the crown of Karabakh. Shusha is a unique city. The location, nature, air, climate, historical sites, religious sites, the architectural ensemble of Shusha are our national treasure. We must protect Shusha. We have returned to Shusha, and from now on the people of Azerbaijan will live in Shusha forever – just as Shusha has always been an Azerbaijani city, and despite Armenian attempts to falsify this, the whole world recognizes and accepts Shusha as an Azerbaijani city.
The occupation of Shusha was an immense tragedy. The occupation of every city, every village and district was a great tragedy, but the occupation of Shusha was perhaps the most painful loss for us. Not only because of the strategic location of Shusha, which allowed us control of the entire region – if the work had been done properly – it also gave us the opportunity to take all necessary measures to defend Shusha even with minimum resources. The loss of Shusha caused a great shock to our people, a moral shock, and we had lived without Shusha for 28 years. However, although the Armenians have destroyed Shusha, it did not bend, it did not lose its dignity even though it was in captivity, it was able to preserve the spirit of Azerbaijan despite attempts to Armenianize it. We have returned to Shusha, and when sharing this great news with the people of Azerbaijan on 8 November, I said, “Shusha, you are free!” We have returned to our history. Of course, we will restore Shusha, revive Shusha, and the process of revival has already begun.
Despite all the attempts of the Armenians, they failed to portray Shusha in the world as an Armenian city. Although they have been striving for this for 28 years, illegally invited many foreign visitors to Shusha, composed fables about Shusha and changed its name, no-one believed in that because every visitor to Shusha saw with his own eyes and understood that its architectural ensemble represents the Azerbaijani architectural school. Today they falsify ancient history, write fictitious books, hold symposia and various other events. But this is relatively recent history. The founder and creator of Shusha is one of our ancestors, Panahali Khan. It was thanks to his activities and efforts that the city of Shusha was founded. Prior to that, Panahali Khan had built the Bayat fortress, the Shahbulag fortress. It is no coincidence that this city was originally called Panahabad. He gave it his own name. After that, given the clean air of Shusha, transparent as glass, this city was called Shusha (glass).
How could they falsify history? It is known that before the occupation, Shusha was always inhabited by the Azerbaijanis. One might say that there was no Armenian population there. Even in the 1920s, when the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region was established on our land, the majority of the population of Shusha were Azerbaijanis, while at the time of occupation Azerbaijanis accounted for 98 percent of the population.
Shusha is our historical city, and we have returned to this city. If the Armenians considered this city their own, then why didn’t they create anything there in 28 years? Why couldn't they save the historical sites of Shusha? All springs have dried up. There was a spring in every neighborhood, but none of them has water now. Okay, if this is your city, then why did you drain the springs? All historical sites have been razed to the ground. If this is your city, why did you destroy the sites? If Armenia declared that it had liberated Shusha, then who did it liberate it from? From the civilian population? From Azerbaijanis? Okay, if you thought you had liberated it, then why did you destroy the buildings? If this is an Armenian city, then why did you raze it to the ground? Not only our mosques were destroyed there but also all the buildings. Only the “Khrushchev-era” apartment blocks built in Soviet times remained, grossly violating the architectural ensemble of Shusha, and this is where they lived. While in Shusha, I saw this destruction with my own eyes. It was as if a wild tribe swept through the city – the vandals brought Shusha to this state. And then they say that Shusha is an Armenian city. This is another Armenian lie, yet another falsification! Their entire history is built on falsification and mythology. Together with their patrons in various countries, they created fake history for themselves, and this falsification continues to this day. See what Armenian representatives and their patrons abroad have to say about the liberation of Shusha. They say that Shusha was allegedly handed over to us just like that, without a fight, that the Armenians left Shusha of their own free will. This is a blatant lie! The Shusha operation will forever remain in the souls of the Azerbaijani people. The bright memory of our brave sons who became martyrs in the battles for Shusha will always live in our hearts. During the liberation of Shusha, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers displayed heroism, professionalism, physical strength and high national spirit. From the direction of Dashalti and other directions, climbing the steep cliffs, destroying the invaders, they liberated Shusha, fought practically with their bare hands – bayonets, knives, light weapons against guns and tanks. During the Shusha operation, hundreds of invaders were killed. We know their number. No matter how hard the Armenian leadership tries to hide it from their own people, they will not succeed. It was the brave sons of Azerbaijan who destroyed hundreds of invaders defending Shusha. How can we ever say that Shusha was handed over to us? Secondly, can anyone present such a city to anyone? We liberated Shusha from the enemy, from enemy captivity at the cost of heroism, life and blood of our brave sons. From now on, Shusha will live forever, we will cherish and protect Shusha.
The loss of Shusha on 8 May 1992 was a great tragedy. The PPFA-Musavat tandem is responsible for that tragedy. Everyone should know this and no-one should ever forget about it. At that time, there was a struggle for power in Azerbaijan. The PFPA-Musavat tandem was striving for power, made this provocation to overthrow the then government and actually surrendered Shusha to the enemy. At that time, the minister of defense of Azerbaijan was an offshoot of the PFPA-Musavat tandem, one of their henchmen. He was the first to sell Shusha. And then he said that he was not to blame. How can that be possible, traitor? He said that if Shusha is surrendered, he will put a bullet in his forehead. He has yet to fire the bullet into his traitorous forehead. The PFPA-Musavat tandem succeeded in its dirty intentions. As a result of the occupation of Shusha and of Lachin district a few days later, the then government was removed and, as a result of a military coup, the PFPA-Musavat duo came to power. After that, they forgot about Shusha, actually gave it to the Armenians and then committed another act of betrayal – in April 1993, they surrendered Kalbajar to the enemy. They left innocent and unarmed people there alone, could not save and protect them. What did they do after that? They deserted and fled. The commander-in-chief was a deserter, the secretary of state was a deserter, the parliament speaker was a deserter, other deserters also fled and hid, one in Kalaki, another abroad. If the commander-in-chief flees during the war, then this is desertion, there is no other name for that. Everyone should know this and not forget.
I have said this before but I want to say again: our scientists and specialists should provide full information about the correspondence of our history to reality. We should not hide our history. We don't need fake history. How many times did we come across false history in Soviet times? Our heroes were presented as enemies, and the enemies of our people, bloodsuckers, as heroes. Twenty-six Baku commissars, this Armenian-Bolshevik bandit detachment, was presented as a group of heroes, whereas the patriots who fought with them were portrayed as enemies. We have seen this. Our generation knows what fake history is. Someone wants to create fake history again now. Once again, someone wants to wash away the guilt of certain deserters, traitors and cowards. We cannot allow this. Everyone should know who sold the lands and who freed them from the occupation.
Corresponding instructions have been issued in connection with the protection of Shusha. Azerbaijani servicemen are guarding Shusha, control and will continue to control the adjacent heights. A commandant's office has been set up in Shusha, and an institute of civil administration is being established now. I want to say again that great confidence has been placed in you, because Shusha occupies a special place in the history of Azerbaijan, and the restoration and revival of Shusha is our common cause. Of course, all the work should be carried out in a planned manner. It is necessary to preserve the historical appearance of Shusha, no buildings alien to Shusha should be allowed. I recently sent a large group of specialists to Shusha. You were also among them and familiarized yourself with the situation. This group stayed in Shusha for several days, inspected everything, analyzed and reported to me. The restoration of Shusha will be based on this.
At the same time, of course, we will broadly discuss the life of Shusha after the restoration. I have already declared this city the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. After the restoration, life in Shusha should liven up. After the return of the people, Shusha should have a very rich cultural life. Both domestic and numerous international events – festivals, competitions, tours – should be held there. In other words, Shusha will be worthy of the title of the cultural capital not only of Azerbaijan, but also, I am sure, of the region.
It is no coincidence that the heads of the two delegations I received recently spoke about special attention being paid to Shusha. During the meeting, the ICESCO secretary general noted that they would propose to declare Shusha the capital of Islamic culture. This step makes us very happy. I must also say that so far this honorary title has been awarded to two Azerbaijani cities – Baku and Nakhchivan. I remember that ICESCO makes such a decision several years in advance, and only a few years later the city is awarded this honorary title. There is a sequence. Therefore, the fact that such a statement was made in Baku causes special joy. At the same time, during a recent meeting with a delegation of the Turkic Council, the secretary general of the Turkic Council also put forward a proposal to elect Shusha as the cultural capital of the Turkic world. See what interest and what great love of our historic city we see in the Turkic and Muslim world as a whole. This is no coincidence. Therefore, of course, we will take steps related to the further life of Shusha. I have already said that two events should be held in Shusha this year. It is necessary to restore the Khari Bulbul festival and the days of Vagif poetry. The restoration of the Vagif mausoleum should start, and we should try to restore the mausoleum this year. Vagif poetry days will be held in front of the mausoleum.
Of course, the enemy has plundered, devastated and destroyed Shusha. My heart hurts when I see this bitter picture. But we are implementing all infrastructure projects and will soon restore Shusha. As you know, by my order, a road is being built to organize trips to Shusha. Fuzuli airport is under construction and should be commissioned by the end of this year. After that, international flights should be organized. Presentations and exhibitions related to Shusha should already be held in various countries. Develop this program jointly with the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Culture. It is necessary to hold presentations in various countries of the world related to the history of Shusha, the period of its occupation and today's restoration work. Both the Azerbaijani and international communities should be informed about the progress of the restoration work.
As far as the infrastructure projects are concerned, it is possible to say that Shusha is an absolutely backward city from the point of view of infrastructure. The enemy did not create anything there, did not construct a single building. They have built several villas for ourselves. One of the villas belongs to the leader of the junta, while another is said to belong to a wealthy and corrupt official represented in the Armenian leadership. For 28 years, the loathsome enemy did not build anything else there. The roads are in a terrible state, buildings are run down, there is straw, rubbish, dirty kiosks all over the place. They tore everything to shreds and only exploited the city. But then they say that Shusha is an Armenian city and tried to change its name. Therefore, the implementation of infrastructure projects is, of course, a priority issue. In parallel, urban planning work should be carried out correctly. Prior to this appointment, you worked in the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture. You have experience, and I am sure that you will lead this work.
A specific program is being developed to restore our historical and religious sites. Relevant instructions have been given. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation is actively involved in this work, and so are the Ministry of Culture and other relevant bodies. The housing stock has been inspected. Most of it is unusable. During the occupation, a maximum of 2,000-3,000 people lived in Shusha. The Armenians, no matter how hard they tried, could not populate Shusha. At the same time, by bringing Armenians there from abroad, they committed a war crime. All these actions were of a propaganda nature. Most of those who lived there were military personnel and their assistants. The inspection of the housing stock must be carried out in more detail – the first inspection has been carried out – of course, after that, restoration work will be carried out.
We must and we will transform Shusha into one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I gave this word and will keep it. I said before that we would never allow for the creation of a second Armenian state on Azerbaijani soil, and we did not. I said that the flag of Azerbaijan would fly in Shusha, and it does fly. I said that our victory would be incomplete without Shusha. At that time, during the war, I could not say more because it was necessary to keep the secrecy of the war. From the first days of the war, we knew what our goal was and successfully advanced towards Shusha. If specialists pay attention to the course of the war, they will see what our strategic goal was. Having overcome the fortifications Armenia had created, we entered our occupied lands from the south, liberated them and launched a counteroffensive in various directions. As a result, parts of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Hadrut, Khojavand districts, the Murovdag height, a part of Kalbajar district, the southern part of Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin districts and the city of Shusha were liberated. Our goal was the crown of Karabakh, Shusha, and on 8 November the flag of Azerbaijan was raised in Shusha. After that, the enemy fell to his knees, surrendered and threw in the towel. We returned the Kalbajar, Lachin and Aghdam districts without a single shot being fired. Shusha was our goal and Shusha became our victory. The day of the liberation of Shusha was declared the Victory Day.
This war once again demonstrated the unbending spirit of the Azerbaijani people and showed again that I did everything I said. It was no coincidence that I said that I knew what, how and when to do everything. I gave the Azerbaijani people a signal, albeit a small one, that everything would be fine. We will achieve what we want – everything in due time. During the war, I spoke about Shusha only once, and that was in an answer to a correspondent's question as to when Shusha would be taken. Of course, we could not talk about it. I said that our victory would be incomplete without Shusha, but I had no doubts that we would free our dear and native Shusha from Armenian occupation and raise the flag of Azerbaijan there. At that time, I said that the flag of Azerbaijan would be raised in Shusha. And today I say that all of us, all the people will revive Shusha!
I want to say again that you have a huge responsibility. I am sure that you will realize this responsibility and play an active role in the revival of Shusha. You probably also know and have no doubt that the restoration of Shusha will always be in my spotlight, and Shusha will restore its historical appearance in the near future. I wish you success.
Special Representative of the President in Shusha district Aydin Karimov said:
- Dear Mr. President, I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for the confidence placed in me. After the liberation of Shusha from the occupation as a result of the heroism of our victorious army under your leadership, in your historic speech, you proclaimed the slogan “Shusha, we will revive you!” Participation in creative work under this slogan is a great honor and, at the same time, a great responsibility for me. I want to assure you that I will do my best for the timely fulfillment of the tasks and your instructions on the systematic reconstruction of Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, the restoration of its rich historical and cultural heritage, and for the life of citizens in a comfortable and accessible modern city environment. Thank you again, Mr. President.