President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has addressed the nation.
Address of President Ilham Aliyev to the nation
- Dear fellow countrymen. Kalbajar district has been liberated from occupation today. I heartily congratulate all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.
Dear people of Kalbajar, congratulations! Your native district has been liberated from occupation. The people of Azerbaijan have been looking forward to this day for years. Kalbajar district was occupied on 2 April 1993. Innocent people were savagely expelled from their ancestral lands. The historical sites and nature of Kalbajar have been severely damaged.
The occupation of Kalbajar district was a great tragedy. The occupation of each district was a great tragedy. After the occupation of Shusha and Lachin districts in May 1992, the occupation of Kalbajar also created a geographical link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Everyone knows that the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region did not have a border with the Republic of Armenia. Armenia was separated from Nagorno-Karabakh by Lachin district and the Lachin corridor. The occupation of Lachin, Shusha and then Kalbajar districts created a geographical connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh over a large area, and this was the enemy's goal. After the occupation of Kalbajar, it is possible to say that communication was established between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in many ways. First of all, weapons, equipment and manpower were sent there from Armenia. At the same time, it provided great advantages for Armenia's subsequent policy of aggression.
The occupation of Kalbajar district is the direct responsibility of the then ruling Popular Front of Azerbaijan. In general, the main culprit in the occupation of our lands is the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. Because if they had not come to power illegally in 1992, if they had not staged a coup, perhaps our lands would not have been occupied. Of course, it is very difficult to go back in history and say what could and could not have happened. But in any case, they have played a direct role in the occupation of our lands, and they bear this responsibility. Because in the spring of 1992, the struggle for power reached its peak. There were internal conflicts in Azerbaijan, chaos, crisis, a political crisis, and the struggle for power led to very serious consequences. Armenia continued to take advantage of this to occupy our lands. After the occupation of Shusha and Lachin, the situation reached a critical level. Taking advantage of this, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan came to power as a result of a coup. But what happened after that? After that, they focused all their efforts on strengthening the weakened government, organizing persecutions in our country, applying censorship and taking other anti-democratic steps. Our lands were under occupation, our civilian population was expelled from their ancestral lands, but the Popular Front of Azerbaijan and its leadership had only one goal – to fill their pockets, appoint their relatives and prolong the life of their government. The occupation of Kalbajar was the result of these ugly steps. It could not have been otherwise. The younger generation may not remember this, but they should know who was leading Azerbaijan at that time, people of what knowledge and what skills were leading Azerbaijan. Those people had no experience. Those people – the people who were represented in the government at the time, the people who held high positions – had never led a single department, not a single small enterprise. How could they run the country, especially in a crisis? But their yearning for power, their greed, their appetite and avarice led to this situation in Azerbaijan. Look who governed Azerbaijan at the time?! The speaker of parliament was a junior researcher, in fact, a failed researcher. The secretary of state was a careerist from the Komsomol who had betrayed his leader at a later stage, set his eyes for his post, rejoiced in his death more than anyone else, and lived his entire life under the control of foreign circles. What kind of management would you expect from them? What kind of patriotism would you expect from them? What professionalism would you expect? The minister of foreign affairs was a random person who couldn’t speak any foreign language, a physics teacher, someone who had no idea at all what foreign relations are, what international norms and principles are. He simply walked around like a tourist and said what he wanted to say. The minister of defense was a math teacher. Can a math teacher be a defense minister? It was this math teacher who handed Shusha over to the enemy. He said that if Shusha was lost, he would shoot himself in the head. It is still hanging around here and there. We have returned Shusha, we did! You sold it, traitors. The minister of internal affairs – there were widespread robberies, journalists were getting arrested, beaten up and thrown into the trunks of cars during live broadcasts. Such were the leaders of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. The prime minister was a junior researcher on scientific communism. Look at these contrasts. The man responsible for advancing the country's economy on the principles of a market economy was a junior researcher on scientific communism. What kind of governance, what kind of reforms, what kind of defense could you expect? Our grief and tragedy is that random people came to power, usurped power and took our country into the abyss.
If Heydar Aliyev had not come to power at the request of the people in 1993, Azerbaijan would not only have lost the remaining lands, but would have also lost its statehood in general. They started a civil war to maintain their weakened government. They took our own soldiers prisoner. They bombed Ganja. Let no-one forget that! Those unaware should know this, the younger generation should know who caused us this trouble. Who is to blame for this tragedy? Who is to blame for the plight of a million people? The government of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan at that time. In fact, if we were to draw comparisons now, their collective image is like that of Pashinyan – incompetent, not knowledgeable, weak-willed, cowardly, deserter, inexperienced in management, influenced by foreign circles, ruled by them and destroying their own country. Look, they are all like Pashinyan. Those who do not know them should look at Pashinyan if they want to get an idea about them. Let them look at his steps and see the image of the then Popular Front of Azerbaijan and the country's leadership.
Kalbajar is our ancient land. It is the land of ancient Azerbaijan. Kalbajar is one of our largest districts in terms of territory. The historical sites of Kalbajar are our great asset. Both mosques and churches are our historical treasures. The people of Azerbaijan know this well, and the whole world should know that churches in Kalbajar belong to the ancient state of Caucasian Albania. There are many historical documents confirming this. This is no secret. Armenian “historians” and fraudsters have simply Armenianized ancient Albanian churches, added their own inscriptions on them and appropriated these churches. Suffice it to look at history and anyone can see that in the 1830s, Tsarist Russia abolished the Albanian Church, gave all the property of the Albanian Church to the Armenian Gregorian Church, and Armenian priests and their patrons began to appropriate these churches. Their main task was to erase the history of Caucasian Albania. But we did not allow that to happen. Azerbaijan has a broad scientific base on this issue. There are research works available. These works are and should be shared not only with the scientific community, but also with the world community as a whole. Caucasian Albania was a great state. Gabala was its capital. Historical sites and churches belonging to Caucasian Albania are our historical and cultural heritage. We are protecting these churches. I have visited these churches many times – in the city of Shaki, in Gabala district, the Udi church. As you know, during the war, on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the repairs of the ancient Udi Caucasian Albanian Church in Nij settlement was completed and this church was opened. We are protecting these churches as our cultural heritage. Therefore, no-one should be worried. These churches will continue to be protected by the state. Azerbaijan's policy on multiculturalism and inter-religious relations is praised by the whole world and world leaders. Let certain Western circles who want to express their concern look at our destroyed mosques, the Aghdam, Shusha, Zangilan, Jabrayil, Fuzuli and other mosques. These mosques have either been destroyed or desecrated – pigs were kept in them. Why isn’t this causing concern? Why has no-one raised this issue for 30 years except for us? I have repeatedly raised this issue from international forums and in contacts with my foreign colleagues. Why wasn’t anyone worried about that? Why didn't anyone want to send an international delegation on this issue? The Azerbaijani people want answers to these questions. We know the answer. Therefore, I want to say again that those who want to interfere in our work or to accuse us of something should first of all look in the mirror.
Kalbajar district has fascinating nature and diverse cultural heritage. Several of our large rivers originate in Kalbajar district. The largest of them is the Tartar River, which is 200 kilometers long. There are also the Bazarchay and Khachinchay. Their length is about 200 kilometers. These rivers feed a large area. But the hated enemy deprived us of these opportunities because the Tartar River flows into the Sarsang water reservoir built on the initiative of great leader Heydar Aliyev in the 1970s. The Sarsang water reservoir was built to provide irrigation to 6-7 districts of the Aran zone of Karabakh at the time. At that time, after the construction of the Sarsang water reservoir, 100,000 hectares of land that had never been irrigated started receiving water. Aghdam, Goranboy, Yevlakh, Barda, Tartar and other districts were irrigated from there. The hated enemy cut off water supply. It cut off water supply in the summer and released it in the winter, thus flooding the lands. There was also environmental terror against us. Armenia is a terrorist state, and there are many signs of this terror. There are signs of the destruction of our historical sites, the genocide against our civilian population, deforestation, changing the course of our rivers and other signs. The water of the Tartar River, which originated from Kalbajar, was first collected in the Sarsang water reservoir and then in the Sugovushan water reservoir, thus serving the interests of the occupier, whereas we did not get water at all. After we took over the Sugovushan settlement, water supply was resumed and is now expected to provide water to 100,000 hectares.
There are large forest areas in Kalbajar district. There are 24,000 hectares of forest in Kalbajar district. This is our great asset. The hated enemy cut down, looted and sold these trees. Look at the ugly things they have been doing in recent days, burning forests to create an environmental catastrophe. These thieves cut down forests and take them to Armenia for sale. They burn down houses they did not build. They entered the houses of the people of Kalbajar, broke into them and lived there. They burn down schools and kill pets they can't take with them. See who we were facing, what savages we were facing! I repeat, and I will say this every time that our victory is not only a victory over the Armenian state. We have also destroyed Armenian fascism.
We will restore Kalbajar, let no-one have any doubts about that, and life will return there. Agriculture will develop in Kalbajar, especially livestock breeding. We have large pastures there. Kalbajar has ample natural resources. The enemy has brutally exploited these resources. In Soviet times, Istisu water, which was popular throughout the Soviet Union, was produced in Kalbajar. Istisu is under our control again now. It used to be a big resort. The hated enemy has destroyed everything. There are images of that and everyone can see them. We will restore all of that, we will rebuild Kalbajar, the villages, the city of Kalbajar. I have ordered to prepare a master plan for the reconstruction of the city – not only in the city of Kalbajar but also in all other cities, and life will return there.
In Kalbajar, the hated enemy committed another crime and conducted illegal settlement. People from Armenia and foreign countries have settled there illegally. This is a war crime, a war crime under the Geneva Convention. We will hold the enemy accountable. They will answer for all the war crimes, for all this destruction. When I was in Aghdam, I could not find a single safe building. The same applies to Fuzuli and Jabrayil. They have destroyed everything, as if a savage tribe had passed through.
But, for our part, will build and create. We will revive these cities and districts. We have major plans on the restoration of these lands. These plans are already being implemented, infrastructure projects are being implemented. The construction of a new road to Shusha has already begun. In Soviet times, there was one road Shusha – from Aghdam to Khankandi and from there to Shusha. We are now building a new road from Fuzuli district. This road will pass through a part of Khojavand district. I have ordered to do this as soon as possible. However, this is a huge task, there was no road there before and a new road is being built through forests. There are ravines, hills and the terrain is very difficult. But we will do it. We will restore the railways. In particular, preliminary instructions have already been given in connection with the restoration of the railway to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Tangible steps have already been taken to restore the Barda-Aghdam railway. This road is a must for the restoration of Aghdam district and for the comfort of the people who will live there in the future. So all this work will be carried out in a planned manner and the people of Azerbaijan will be regularly updated about the work to be done. We must do all the work in a planned manner. I want to say again: first of all, all the damage will be calculated with the participation of international experts. Then lawsuits will be filed. Then comes the reconstruction of our cities and villages on the basis of master plans. The necessary measures related to agriculture, other infrastructure projects, water and electricity will be taken. Then come roads. When we drove the enemy out of Shusha, it destroyed the water line feeding the city. There is no water in Shusha now. This is what the enemy is like.
When our soldiers saw that the Armenian population of one village of Aghdam district could not leave on time, they created conditions for them to leave. No-one insulted them. But the hated enemy is burning our forests, burning our houses, destroying water lines. Do they think that this will stop us? We have drawn water lines everywhere – to remote mountains, to mountain villages. We will restore them all, all of them. Relevant instructions have already been given, and I am confident that we will do it in time.
The enemy gave Kalbajar another ugly name. They had made maps of the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”. Where are those maps? They all gone. Those maps are just a piece of paper. The whole territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, Shusha, as well as seven surrounding districts, were included in the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”. These maps were published, included in textbooks and displayed at exhibitions. They presented these maps as “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”. What is left of those maps now? Nothing! Azerbaijan has taken the necessary steps to restore its territorial integrity.
I want to return to the period of negotiations. At that time, I was repeatedly told that the conflict should be resolved only peacefully. I can say that all international organizations, the leaders of all superpowers I was in contact with have repeatedly said that there is no military solution to the conflict. These statements are also available in the media. What was I saying? I said there was one! I said that if necessary, we would liberate our lands by military means. I said that war is never ruled out. During the talks, it was repeatedly proposed at various stages that the Azerbaijani side renounce the path of war. I never agreed to that. Then they started accusing me, saying that Ilham Aliyev wanted to start a war. I said that I wanted to resolve the issue peacefully, but I want to resolve it. What did Armenia want? To maintain the status quo and make it eternal. They believed that if they had achieved this in 26-27 years, then they would continue to do so. They believed that their patrons would always defend them, stand behind them and fight for them. They generally think that the whole world owes them something. They want to rule their country with this harmful and sick mentality that someone must come and help them. What are you capable of doing? If you always cling to someone's skirt and hope for some privileges, then what are you capable of doing? This mentality has led their society in the wrong direction. Today, they are dissatisfied with everyone. Even today, people are making claims about why no-one is defending us. Who should anyone protect you? You are an independent country – if it is possible to say so at all – so live as an independent country. This is first. Second, you have invaded someone else's land. You have left a million people homeless. You have destroyed all buildings, houses and cities. You have acted like a savage. Justice is not on your side, international law is not on your side, historical truth is not on your side. But they thought that they would keep these lands under occupation forever. They believed that time would pass and generations would change, the Azerbaijani people would forget this and come to terms with this situation. They were wrong. We never intended to put up with this situation. As President, I have been doing my best over the years to ensure that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is always on the agenda, it is always at the center of the agenda. Let the feelings of patriotism, national pride and solidarity rise to a higher level within the country. And this issue should always be on the agenda at the international level. Let everyone know what the truth is, let everyone know who is the aggressor and who is the victim, and we have achieved this. Everyone in the world knows that now. If we pay attention to the foreign media during the Patriotic War, we will see that, of course, biased, Islamophobic, anti-Azerbaijani, pro-Armenian articles and reports prevail. However, at the same time, unlike earlier times, many objective and truthful reports and articles were published. I can say that we have won the information war. We have won the war on the battlefield, we have won the war in the information space, we have won the war in the political arena. The results of the war were as I was saying. From the first days, I said that this issue must be resolved through military and political means. I said that we can stop the military solution at any time and we are ready to do that. But on one condition – Pashinyan must personally say when he will leave our lands. He must make a commitment and provide a timetable. It must be stated when they will leave our lands. As soon as that happens, I will stop the offensive operation. He has already been punished. At that time, when he put forward seven conditions to us, I said: I have only one condition. I throw your seven conditions in the trash: get out of our land. Go out on your own. If he had listened to me, he would not have fallen into this disgraceful situation. The results of the war just as I said. We liberated Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Murovdag, Sugovushan, Hadrut, most of Khojavand district and Shusha by military means. We broke the enemy's back on the battlefield. One day after the liberation of Shusha, when we liberated more than 70 villages, the enemy knelt down and signed an act of capitulation. I still do not know where he signed it. They are hiding it. They will probably tell us one day. Pashinyan, where did you sign this act of capitulation? He was forced to accept our conditions.
The war showed again who is who. Armenia is a defeated country. Azerbaijan is a victorious country. Kalbajar is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!