On June 26, President of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev met at the Gulustan Palace with a group of the leadership and personnel of the Azerbaijani army on the occasion of the Day of the Armed Forces, AzVision.az reports citing the Presidential press service.
The Victorious Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the event.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Dear servicemen,
I heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on the Day of the Armed Forces. At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to commemorate our heroic martyrs who died in the patriotic war with a minute of silence.
May Allah grant mercy to the souls of all our martyrs. Please be seated.
We avenged our martyrs on the battlefield. I have repeatedly said that the blood of our martyrs will not remain unavenged. And this is exactly what happened. The second Karabakh war resulted in a complete victory for Azerbaijan.
26 June is the Day of the Armed Forces. We celebrated this day every year. Various events have been held. Every year on 26 June, during meetings with our servicemen, I was saying that one day we would return to our homeland and restore our territorial integrity. I was saying that if this could not be achieved through negotiations, we would resolve the issue militarily. And this is exactly what happened. Negotiations that lasted for many years did not yield any results, and Azerbaijan secured its territorial integrity, historical justice and international law on the battlefield.
Celebrating this holiday every year, we promised ourselves that we would liberate our native lands from occupiers at any cost. Today, I can proudly say that we are celebrating the Day of the Armed Forces as a victorious army, as a victorious people. This is a historic achievement. There has never been such a brilliant victory in the centuries-old history of the Azerbaijani people. We have mobilized all our resources to deal crushing blows to the enemy, to defeat the enemy, and to restore historical justice and the territorial integrity of our country.
We were getting ready to bring this day closer. I have repeatedly said in my speeches that we should bring this day closer and closer every day. When we see that the norms and principles of international law are being flagrantly violated in the world, that the decisions and resolutions of leading international organizations are being ignored, that the occupying Armenian state is becoming more and more depraved and does not want to vacate our lands, of course, we had to prepare more seriously. These preparations had to be very careful. We approached these preparations within the framework of a single concept and defined it.
Of course, the first Karabakh war was a great tragedy for us. It was a national tragedy. At the same time, it led to a major humanitarian catastrophe. Because at that time Azerbaijan had a population of eight million people, and one million of them had to live as refugees and internally displaced persons. Our economy was almost in complete ruins, there was no industrial potential, and there was no talk of economic development. This great humanitarian catastrophe, of course, put our country on the brink of a precipice.
The people of Azerbaijan wisely turned to Heydar Aliyev in those difficult days and invited him to take up power. After he came to power, things in Azerbaijan began to go in a positive direction. In particular, great reforms were carried out in the field of army building. It was in those years that the construction of a disciplined army began.
I want to say again that our preparations had to be comprehensive. Because we first had to succeed at the international level, and we did that. In recent years, leading international organizations adopted decisions and resolutions in support of our position. I repeatedly expressed my views on this issue before the war and tried to convey to the people of Azerbaijan the idea that this was one of the key factors in resolving the conflict. Because we had to prove that international law was on our side. We had to prove that Nagorno-Karabakh had always been the land of Azerbaijan. Why did we have to prove it? Because Armenia, its benefactors abroad, the Armenian lobby presented a completely distorted picture of the situation. Unfortunately, pro-Armenian forces, Armenia's patrons abroad tried to turn this falsehood into a reality. Our opportunities were very limited. Therefore, the main task for us was to convey the truth to the world community at the international level and to encourage authoritative international organizations to make decisions. And this is what happened. Leading international organizations such as the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and even the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, which have always taken an unfair position in relation to us, had to adopt decisions and resolutions that reflect the truth and meet our interests. This was the international side of the issue.
At the same time, we had to strengthen our relations in a bilateral format. Notice how much the number of our friends has increased in recent years. Today, the number of countries interested in establishing closer ties with Azerbaijan is always on the increase, and the second Karabakh war has shown it again. Armenia was almost in complete isolation. I will put aside the speeches and statements of some pro-Armenian foreign circles for now, but as a result of our tireless work, the world as a whole had a concrete and true picture of this war. In addition, our bilateral relations with many countries based on equal rights and mutual interests increased our strength. Brotherly countries led by Turkey, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement and other countries supported us from the early hours of the war. This clearly shows how strong our international support is. Who supported Armenia? We know that perfectly well, and it would be inappropriate to name them in today's ceremony. But what did those statements change? Nothing! Because we acted on the basis of international law, justice and strength.
I have repeatedly said that the norms of international law do not work. I have repeatedly said that the great powers implement the decisions that meet their own interests and do not implement those that don’t. Otherwise, the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and demanding an immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from our lands would not have remained on paper for 30 years. We have seen that the norms of international law are almost designed for small, medium-sized and not very strong countries. Large countries may ignore them and there is no enforcement mechanism. Of course, the power factor came to the fore. A few years before the war, I made it clear in my speeches: we must gather strength and this issue will be resolved by force.
At the same time, we had to gather economic strength. I can say that this factor played the leading role in our preparations. We clearly understood that we could not achieve what we wanted without economic independence. We remember the early 1990s too well. We had no money, the treasury was empty, inflation was at the level of a thousand percent, there was mass unemployment and poverty, and we were economically dependent. Therefore, gaining economic independence was one of my main responsibilities as President, and we achieved it many years ago. We do not depend on anyone today. According to economic indicators, Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries in the world today. Suffice it to say that the external debt of developed countries today exceeds their gross domestic product. In Azerbaijan, however, foreign debt accounts for less than 20 percent of the GDP. In addition, our foreign exchange reserves exceed our foreign debt six times. Therefore, gaining economic independence required great political skill and foresight in a difficult geopolitical situation and in the absence of large financial resources. But we achieved it nonetheless. Azerbaijan has not been dependent on anyone for several years. On the contrary, Azerbaijan helps others itself. Azerbaijan is a donor country. We helped more than 30 countries during the pandemic, and these countries are our friends. They, in turn, support us.
I must also say that during the war, some member countries of the UN Security Council put forward certain initiatives against us in the UN Security Council, and those initiatives could have had very negative consequences for us. This was another manifestation of injustice against Azerbaijan. We were fighting on our own land and restoring our territorial integrity. Ours was the cause of justice. Nevertheless, pro-Armenian circles and countries tried to adopt a resolution against us that would not fully reflect the reality. Who defended us? The Non-Aligned Movement countries represented in the UN Security Council did! They defended us and we are grateful to them. As a result of their efforts, the anti-Azerbaijani statement was not adopted. How did we achieve this? Of course, at the expense of diplomacy, political relations and economic opportunities. We have helped so many countries in recent years and continue to do so. Of course, this will always be remembered by those countries. We witnessed this support just when we needed it, and it helped us. Therefore, along with preparations at the international level, there were also preparations in the economic sphere. Of course, there was wide ranging military preparation as well. The provision of our army with weapons – we achieved this – and the second Karabakh war showed our capabilities to the whole world. I am told that some leading Western media are suggesting today that even if we had faced the world's leading country in the war, they would not have had a chance against us. In other words, this shows that the Azerbaijani Army today is one of the strongest armies in the world. I have said this many times during meetings with servicemen and at other events. We have created such a strong army today that we can complete any task. Therefore, the provision of our army with modern equipment, regular trainings, the enhanced combat potential of our army, the creation of a military industry and the reduction of dependence on imports to a certain extent – all this was part of our focused policy.
Preparations were carried out in all other areas as well. Our technical capabilities have greatly increased, and we demonstrated this again in the second Karabakh war. We showed that any issue could be resolved. We mobilized the equipment available to us and are using these opportunities in the post-war period too.
We have now started large-scale construction work. Notice how much we have done in seven months that have passed since the war ended. If we did not have this level of preparation, we would not be able to do it. No matter how much money you have now today, if you don't have the technical capacity, if you don't have the human resources and if infrastructure projects are not implemented on time, you can't do even a hundredth part of all this. Unprecedented restoration work is currently under way. At the expense of what? Specifically at the expense of preparations. This is why we have created a strong state. I have said many times in recent years and life has confirmed my words – today's Azerbaijan is the most powerful Azerbaijan in our entire centuries-old history. Azerbaijan has never been as strong as it is today.
The primary factor in our preparations has been the unity of the people and the government, because our policy is supported by the people and there is great confidence in it. The war and its consequences have once again convinced the Azerbaijani people that we derive this confidence from the Azerbaijani people. Because we did what we said we would do. That is what we meant when we said that “we know what to do, when and how”.
We gave Armenia a chance, and our participation in the talks, as I have said before, was already the biggest concession on our part. There could be no concessions on the matter of territorial integrity, and this position is clear. I have repeatedly informed the people of Azerbaijan that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was not and never would be a subject of negotiations. Nagorno-Karabakh is the land of Azerbaijan, and we must fully restore our territorial integrity. This position was supported by the people. There could be no other option. Our participation in the talks gave Armenia a chance to resolve this issue without bloodshed. But Armenia must have interpreted it differently. It may have thought that we were hesitant. It may have thought that we would not restore our territorial integrity. It may have thought that we could come to terms with this situation. However, I have repeatedly said that we would never come to terms with this situation and that we would restore our territorial integrity at any cost.
I can say that the mediators were also fed up with Armenia’s hypocritical position in the process of negotiations. Because Armenia and its leadership were trying to deceive the international mediators as well. They were putting forward conditions that everyone knew from the very beginning that they were completely unacceptable. I said that we would never allow for the establishment of a second Armenian state on our historical lands. The first Armenian state was established on our historical lands. The whole world knows this now. Historians know this. I said that if someone wants to create a second state for the Armenians, they should create it in their own territory, not in the territory of Azerbaijan. This position was based on historical justice. We stated it and gave Armenia a chance. But they did not take this opportunity.
The fighting in April 2016 was a serious blow to them. True, they tried to claim afterwards that they had actually won the April battles. I asked a question at the time: we are sitting in the trenches they had dug, we have captured the heights they had held. How could they have won? That was just another lie. At the same time, after the April fighting, the Armenian defense minister was fired in a disgraceful manner. Many generals were fired. If they had won, why were these people dismissed? We restored the village of Jojug Marjanly, the first manifestation of the Great Return after the April fighting. When we were building and opening a mosque in the village of Jojuq Marjanly similar to the Shusha mosque, I said that there would come a time when we would restore this Govharagha mosque in Shusha.
The April fighting was not a lesson for Armenia. Two years later, as a result of the Nakhchivan operation, we took over a large area, demonstrating our strength and professionalism once again. That did not serve them as a lesson either. Finally, the second Karabakh war was a lesson that they will remember forever. The second Karabakh war is our glorious history. This history will live in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people forever. It was a celebration of justice. It was a celebration of pride, a celebration of national dignity, a celebration of the indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people. We mobilized all our resources, won this war and drove the enemy out of our lands. We put the enemy in such a disgraceful situation that they knelt before us, waved the white flag and were forced to sign an act of capitulation. However, during the war, I repeatedly said in my speeches and interviews that we were ready to stop. As President, I declared that the Armenian leader should personally provide us with a timetable of when Armenian military units would leave our lands, provide a date to us, and we will stop the war. However, the Armenian side lost this chance yet again. As a result of the war, the Armenian army was completely crushed. I voiced these figures before, so you know them very well. You have destroyed the Armenian army, there is no Armenian army any longer – 336 tanks were destroyed or taken as spoils of war. Eight S300 installations were destroyed, other anti-aircraft systems were destroyed, artillery pieces were destroyed. In other words, there is no Armenian army any longer. During the war – it is no longer a secret – the mediators sent a message to Armenia that it is necessary to stop and provide a timetable for the withdrawal. But they refused. After we had liberated Shusha from the occupiers, they were forced to sign an act of capitulation in the early hours of 10 November.
We showed strong resolve and courage. We demonstrated national spirit and achieved what we wanted. I want to say again that the second Karabakh war is forever inscribed in the history of Azerbaijan in golden letters as a glorious victory. From now on, Azerbaijan will live as a victorious state and Armenia as a defeated country.
I can say that the second Karabakh war was inevitable. Everyone knew that. The Azerbaijani public knew that, the international mediators knew that, and so did we. There were only hopes that the Armenian leadership would at least show the self-defense instinct and leave our lands of its own free will. If that had happened, there would have been no need for war. We did not want war. We do not want it today either. I think that various initiatives should be put forward in our region, in the South Caucasus to reduce the risk of war to zero. We are ready for that. We do not need war. We have achieved what we wanted, and a new era has already begun for us – an era of construction, an era of restoration of our lands.
But this should be a lesson for Armenia. Because they must finally understand that this hostility towards us cost them dearly. What did they achieve? Nothing! They have failed to build an independent state in 30 years. Armenia today cannot be considered an independent state. How can it be independent if it entirely depends on external circles. It is completely dependent on foreign military aid. It depends entirely on political orders from abroad. They had 30 years, why couldn't they build an independent country? Because of the occupation of our lands. This occupation has brought them to this plight. This hostility, the hatred of the Azerbaijani people brought them to this state, and justice triumphed. Sometimes we think in different situations that there is no justice. We wonder why there is no justice. One just has to be patient. One needs to wait for the right time and work every day towards one’s goal. Every day we brought this day closer. The Karabakh issue was the first, issue on my agenda every day as President. Every single day. Every day, I thought what else should be done to achieve this victory and to liberate our lands. We demonstrated it.
It is now up to Armenia. What will be its behavior and approach to regional issues? In any case, we were able to achieve what we wanted in the region without Armenia. We have built all communications, power lines, railways and transport projects with our other neighbors. If Armenia wants to join this process, it still needs to ask its neighbors.
They should know that we have not forgotten anything. We cannot forget that. We cannot forget our martyrs, we cannot forget the victims of Khojaly, we cannot forget our destroyed cities. How can we forget the destroyed graves and desecrated mosques? We must never forget that. The Azerbaijani people must always keep this in mind. The Armenian leadership, Armenian political, public and religious figures have built their ideology and policy on baseless claims. After the second Karabakh war, they have been directing this hostility against each other within the country. Look at the ugly processes going on in Armenia’s information space. They are insulting and threatening each other so badly. Why? Because over the centuries, they have raised the younger generation in a spirit of enmity. They sowed the seeds of enmity and hatred, and this led to their failure. Therefore, we will not forget anything.
We have already avenged the blood of the martyrs of the first and second Karabakh wars. We exacted our revenge on the battlefield. But at the same time, Armenia must understand that Azerbaijan will continue to grow, and this is beyond doubt. Our military strength will increase as well. After the war, relevant instructions were given, new contracts were signed and the process of purchasing new weapons, equipment and machinery based on modern technologies continues. The structural reforms of our Armed Forces have been approved. I can say that the number of our Armed Forces personnel will be increased. We will, of course, increase our military strength by properly analyzing the results and course of the second Karabakh war. Armenia, on the other hand, will not be able to restore not only its military power and its crushed army. If they do not renounce their hostile policies against us, they will have a very limited chance of restoring any economic activity. So we will continue to grow stronger.
There is only one way for Armenia to develop – to establish normal relations with its neighbors, give up their territorial claims and not to use the word Nagorno-Karabakh at all. Because there is no territorial unit called Nagorno-Karabakh, there is no concept of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I have said this many times and I want to say again that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved. Armenia must accept it and work with us to determine the borders. A working group on delimitation should be established. There must be preparations for a peace agreement. We are declaring that. We are the winning country. We have destroyed Armenia. You know very well what difficult conditions we were faced with. They built fortifications and six lines of defense in 30 years. The natural terrain of that region was very favorable for them. We have liberated these lands at the cost of the lives and heroism of our heroic sons. Our youth, soldiers and officers were putting their lives on the line. Everyone was saying that they would rather die than retreat. We have won the victory in such difficult conditions. Therefore, Armenia must fully understand that we can complete any military task and no-one can stop us. They should know that the iron fist is in place.
Dear servicemen, it is a great pleasure for me to meet with you on this wonderful holiday. We are celebrating the Day of the Armed Forces as a victorious Army, as a heroic people for the first time in many years. Long live the Azerbaijani Army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!