Speech by Ilham Aliyev
Dear President of the Republic of Turkey, my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan!
Ladies and gentleman!
First of all, may I request that a minute’s silence be observed in memory of our martyrs who died in the Patriotic War.
May God rest all our martyrs in peace!
It is a historic day today. The Victory Parade is being held at Azadlig Square today. I am very glad that the President of the Republic of Turkey, my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accepted my invitation to take part in this parade. At the same time, a large delegation from Turkey, Turkish soldiers and officers are present here. This once again demonstrates our unity, friendship and brotherhood.
From the first days of the Patriotic War, or rather from the first hours, we have felt the support of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has supported Azerbaijan’s just cause from the first hours. His open, unequivocal and harsh statements made the Azerbaijani people very happy. My brother said that Azerbaijan was right in this war! He said that Azerbaijan was not alone and Turkey was always with Azerbaijan. This is a manifestation of our unity and brotherhood. Turkey’s political and moral support for Azerbaijan makes every Azerbaijani citizen proud and happy, and today, when we participate in the Victory Parade together, we once again show our unity to our peoples and indeed to the whole world.
In forty-four days, Azerbaijan won a brilliant victory and defeated Armenia. Azerbaijan has ended the occupation. Every single day of these 44 days is our glorious history. The Azerbaijani Army advanced every day, liberated new cities, villages, settlements and heights every day. Azerbaijani soldiers and Azerbaijani officers were fighting for one goal – to put an end to this occupation, to this injustice, to celebrate a victory of historical justice, and we have succeeded.
Azerbaijani territories have been under occupation for about 30 years. In the early 1990s, Armenia’s policy of aggression against Azerbaijan led to the occupation of our lands. In fact, Armenia’s aggressive policy began in the late 1980s. At that time, 100,000 Azerbaijanis living in the present-day Republic of Armenia were expelled from their ancestral lands. Zangazur, Goycha and Iravan districts are our historical lands. Our people have lived in these lands for centuries, but the Armenian leadership expelled 100,000 Azerbaijanis from their native lands at the time. After that, the same situation was observed in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian side used force to commit a war crime against the civilian population of Azerbaijan, perpetrated the Khojaly genocide. Then, in May 1992, the occupation of Shusha and Lachin created a geographical link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The occupation of Kalbajar district in April 1993 aggravated the situation and, in fact, led to the continuation of the policy of subsequent occupation.
For many years, we have been delivering the truth about this issue at all international events. A lot has been done, and our efforts have paid off. Although we have regained our territorial integrity on the battlefield, I believe that our political and diplomatic efforts in recent years have borne fruit. All leading international organizations recognized and supported the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Four resolutions of the UN Security Council, resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement, the European Parliament and other organizations supported the just cause of Azerbaijan. Thus, a legal basis was created for resolving the conflict. At the same time, as a result of our focused efforts, the world community was fully informed about the conflict and the history of Karabakh. Armenia’s false propaganda was stopped and the whole world saw that Karabakh is our ancient historical land. For centuries, the Azerbaijani people have lived and built in these lands. At the same time, the whole world saw that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan in terms of international law.
We have been gaining strength over the years, strengthening our economy, working in the political arena, within international organizations and within the country, strengthening our army. As a result, Azerbaijan has undergone a successful development in recent years, and year after year, our superiority became more pronounced. Armenia could not compete with us. I have repeatedly said over the past 17 years that if Armenia does not withdraw its occupying forces from our lands of its own free will, we will resolve this issue by military means. When I was elected President in 2003, I swore on the Constitution and the Holy Quran that I would protect the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Today, I can say with great pride that Azerbaijan has achieved what it wanted and restored historical justice and international law.
We have been closely following the processes taking place in the world. We saw that international law, its norms and principles have been flagrantly violated in recent years. Some countries use force to achieve their goals, international law and UN Security Council resolutions remain on paper. Under such circumstances, a military solution to the conflict was inevitable. In addition, in recent years, especially in the last two years, Armenia’s provocative steps, statements and actions have made war inevitable. The very harmful and dangerous statements of the Armenian leadership almost put an end to the talks. By saying that “Karabakh is Armenia”, the Armenian leadership put an end to the talks. Settlement of Armenians from abroad in our historical lands is a war crime. It runs counter to international conventions. This, in fact, put an end to the talks, made the talks meaningless. We saw and felt this, and conveyed our message to the world community from international platforms. In September this year, three days before the war, I said at the UN General Assembly that Armenia was preparing for a new war and that Armenia must be stopped. And this is what happened. There were three military provocations against us this year. In July, a military provocation was committed on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, when Armenia wanted to occupy our lands. But they got a fitting rebuff and we pushed them back. In August, a sabotage group was sent to Azerbaijan, and that sabotage group was neutralized. Finally, on 27 September, our villages and military positions came under artillery fire, causing casualties among civilians and servicemen. We said enough is enough, this occupation must and will end. As Commander-in-Chief, I gave an order to our army to end the occupation and punish the occupier. Azerbaijan achieved what it wanted in 44 days and restored justice.
Every single day of these 44 days is our glorious history. Every day Azerbaijan was advancing. For these 44 days, there was not a single day on which we withdrew. We broke through the fortifications Armenia had built in almost 30 years. These fortifications were built in such a way as not to let Azerbaijan pass through, not to let our soldiers pass through them. At the same time, the geographical terrain of Nagorno-Karabakh was more favorable for the Armenian side. Azerbaijani soldiers and officers completed their glorious mission with great heroism and courage and liberated our native lands from occupiers. Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli districts, as well as Sugovushan settlement, Hadrut settlement, a part of Khojaly district, a part of Kalbajar district, the Murovdag range, the southern part of Lachin district, strategic heights were liberated from the enemy on the battlefield. The Azerbaijani flag was hoisted there. Our glorious war ended in Shusha. The liberation of Shusha on 8 November is our historic achievement. Shusha was our first occupied city and it was last to be liberated. After the liberation of Shusha, the enemy’s back was broken and it was forced to surrender. The liberation of Shusha is a historic event. Our army, our heroic sons crossed mountains, valleys, forests, paths, crossed steep cliffs, climbed rocks to reach Shusha, destroyed the enemy in a hand-to-hand fight and raised the Azerbaijani flag in Shusha. A day later, another 70 villages were liberated, and Armenia surrendered, raised a white flag, was brought to its knees, received its deserved punishment, and started asking for help. We have destroyed Armenia on the battlefield. We have shattered the myth the Armenians had created for years. They had created a myth by spreading false information about their army, claiming that the Armenian army is invincible. In a matter of 44 days, the Armenian army was destroyed, its military equipment was destroyed, its manpower was destroyed, and Azerbaijan showed its strength and power.
I said that we were gathering strength and we did. We have won this victory both due to professionalism and heroism, and due to the national spirit. We were right. Justice was on our side. When our soldiers and officers attacked, they were driven by the dream to liberate our native land from the occupiers. On 10 November, Armenia was forced to sign an act of capitulation. According to this act of capitulation, Kalbajar, Lachin and Aghdam districts were returned to Azerbaijan without a single shot being fired, and the Azerbaijani flag was raised there. This shows that we have won the war both on the battlefield and in the political arena. However, many, especially the mediators dealing with this issue, have repeatedly said that there is no military solution to the conflict. We have proved that there is a military solution to the conflict. Otherwise, the neither-war-nor-peace situation would have lasted for another 30 years. How much longer could we tolerate that? How much patience were we supposed to show? I have repeatedly said that the patience of the Azerbaijani people had run out, and if Armenia does not leave the occupied territories of its own free will, we will expel them from there. They must get out of our lands! I said this before and during the war, in my addresses to the nation and in my interviews with foreign media. I said that Armenia must get out of our lands of its own accord, withdraw from our lands. Otherwise, we will go to the end, and we did go to the end. This is why we won on the battlefield. After that, we won politically and forced the enemy to leave Kalbajar, Lachin and Aghdam districts, leave our lands.
This is a historic victory. The people of Azerbaijan have been waiting for this day for about 30 years, waiting for the order of the Commander-in-Chief for about 30 years. I have repeatedly said to the people of Azerbaijan that we must be stronger and we know what to do, when and how to do it. Life has shown that we took timely steps, mobilized all our resources, created an iron fist and crushed the enemy’s head. During the war, I said that our iron fist embodies both our unity and strength. This iron fist broke the enemy’s back and crushed the enemy’s head. We are celebrating this holiday as a heroic nation today. The victorious Azerbaijani Army has fulfilled its historic mission and defeated Armenia. The Armenian army is almost non-existent. It has been destroyed. After that, if Armenian fascism ever raises its head again, the result will be the same. Again, Azerbaijan’s iron fist will break their back.
A new era is beginning for us now – an era of creation. The hated enemy has destroyed all the occupied lands. This information is already available to everyone. There are videos. My visits to the liberated territories show this. All buildings, all historical sites, mosques, graves, cemeteries have been destroyed by the hated enemy. We will restore them all. Restoration work has already begun.
I want to highlight the heroism of the Azerbaijani people again. Defeated on the battlefield, the hated enemy committed war crimes against the civilian population and fired at our cities with ballistic missiles, phosphorus bombs and cluster munitions. As a result of this cowardly shelling, about 100 civilians, including children and women, have been killed. More than 400 civilians have been injured, more than 5,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. However, Azerbaijani citizens did not take a single step back from their land. They said that they would rather die than retreat, that they would go all the way to the end. During the war, there were more than 10,000 deserters in the Armenian army. There were not a single deserter in the Azerbaijani Army. Our wounded soldiers and officers were asking doctors in military hospitals and clinics to heal them as soon as possible, that they must return to the battlefield and complete their mission. The people of Azerbaijan have shown their greatness, their high moral spirit. The very cause of this victory is the Azerbaijani people. We have fulfilled our historic mission by showing unity, resolve, determination and national spirit.
From now on, Azerbaijan will only develop. Life will return to our liberated lands. I said that each of us must be active in this work. Together we will rebuild our cities and villages destroyed by the enemy. We have the resolve and the opportunities to do so.
There have been many parades at Azadlig Square, but this parade is of particular importance. This is the Victory Parade. This is a historic event. In one of the parades, I said that the flag raised in Lalatapa in 2016 would be brought to the parade. I said that the day would come when the Azerbaijani flag raised in the liberated lands would be brought to Azadlig Square, and this day has arrived. We, the people of Azerbaijan, are witnessing this historic day. From now on, we will only move forward.
I would like to end my speech with a well-known saying. Everyone knows that the Armenian leadership said a year ago that “Karabakh is Armenia and full stop”. I said, “Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark”. Today, the whole world sees that Karabakh is Azerbaijan! Karabakh is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan! Long live the Azerbaijani Army! Long live Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood! Long live Azerbaijani soldiers!