Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the military unit in Tartar district01 may 2016, 16:20
Army building is a priority of our policy. This is natural, because we live in a time of war. The war is not over yet. A ceasefire was established in 1994. Despite this, Armenia continuously violates it. When international pressure on them in connection with the conflict mounts, they violate the ceasefire even more often and resort to various armed provocations.
The international community is fully informed about the conflict. Over the years we have managed to prove to the world that we are the victim side. Armenia is the occupier state. It has committed genocide against the Azerbaijani people, occupied our lands and continues this occupation. The Minsk Group co-chairs dealing with the issue have repeatedly declared in recent times that the status quo is unacceptable and must be changed.
What does this mean? This means that the occupation must end. This is a signal aimed directly at Armenia. For this reason, and also when they see that Azerbaijan receives more support on a global scale, they occasionally resort to armed provocations to disrupt negotiations and continue their aggressive policy. We have seen this in the recent past. In particular, they attacked our positions in the summer of 2014. Our army gave them a fitting rebuff at the time. After some hopes had emerged in the talks in November of that year, have organized a large-scale military exercise in Agdam District which involved, according to their own data, 47,000 personnel. That was a purely provocative step. For several days the Azerbaijani side behaved very discreetly. But when two Armenian helicopter gunships attacked our positions, the Azerbaijani army destroyed one of them. Taking advantage of this, Armenia accused us and this caused stagnation in negotiations. Citing this as an excuse, they began to accuse Azerbaijan of allegedly violating the ceasefire. The goal was clear: to undermine negotiations and continue the aggressive policy.
Since the beginning of this year, there has been some progress in the negotiations. According to our information, the co-chair countries are putting serious pressure on Armenia. They do not say that openly though. They always try to maintain a balance. But the truth is that Armenia today is the side that hampers a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Seeing this, of course, they have decided to resort to yet another provocation. It happened in early April. They committed an armed provocation again and attacked our positions. The Azerbaijani army conducted a counteroffensive operation with great skill and professionalism, put the enemy in its place and further reinforced our positions on the contact line.
At the request of the Armenian side, we agreed to restore the ceasefire on 5 April. We do not want war. We want the issue to be resolved peacefully. But we want it to be resolved. To conduct negotiations simply for the sake of negotiations makes no sense whatsoever. Thus, on 5 April, agreement was reached on the restoration of the ceasefire. We have abided by it and still abide by it today. But, unfortunately, Armenia behaves insincerely again, and there hasn’t been a day since 5 April when Armenia did not violate the ceasefire. In the early days it tried to attack our positions and regain them. Seeing that it is impossible and that Azerbaijani soldiers and officers stand firmly on their native land, they resorted to armed provocations against the civilian population. Our villages were shelled. Civilians were killed and injured. More than 500 of our homes have been damagd, and more than 100 houses have been completely destroyed or burned. This is the ugly face of Armenian fascism. They took similar action during the first Karabakh war. The Khojaly genocide was committed against the Azerbaijani people. And today, when seeing that they can’t stop us on the field of combat, they fire on civilians.
The Azerbaijani state and the Azerbaijani army have never fought and are not fighting against the civilian population. We just skillfully destroy enemy positions during firing from their side. At the same time, the Azerbaijani army should defend, defends and will defend our citizens. The settlement of this conflict will also give Armenia the opportunity to build an independent state. I still hope that their aggressive policies will be brought to an end, because there is no other way. The people of Azerbaijan will never come to terms with this situation, and recent events have once again shown that. The armed provocation committed against us did not remain unanswered. Everybody knows that. The sooner the Armenian authorities understand that they can develop only in the conditions of peace with Azerbaijan, the sooner the conflict will end.
The conflict should be resolved on the basis of norms and principles of international law. All international organizations, the UN, the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement and other organizations, support the fair position of Azerbaijan. No international organization supports Armenia’s aggression. No country in the world has ever called the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan into question. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. The occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and other lands are our historical lands. The people of Azerbaijan should and will live on these lands.
Let me repeat: we will try to put Armenia on the right path through talks. We will strengthen the diplomatic, political and economic pressure, and strengthen our positions on the line of contact. If another Armenian armed provocation is committed against us, we will provide an adequate and strong response, and the result will be the same. The Azerbaijani army today is among the strongest armies in the world. The material and technical basis of our army has significantly strengthened and improved. We are acquiring the most modern weaponry and equipment. In terms of material and technical infrastructure, the Azerbaijani army is one of the strongest armies in the world today. Discipline in the army is at a high level. Combat capability is at the highest level. The April fighting showed that. The spirits are high. The moral and psychological state of our army, soldiers and officers is very positive. The feeling of patriotism is very high not only in the army but also in the whole of society. The whole society is united in the name of a common goal. For us, there is no issue more important than the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is the top issue. We must and we will resolve this issue.
I have always had great respect for those serving in the army. Everything necessary will be done for the construction of the army. And everything is being done already. The biggest expenditure is military spending. This has been the case for many years. Sometimes pro-Armenian politicians in various countries accuse me, asking why Azerbaijan’s military budget gradually increasing? Because we have been subjected to occupation! Without the occupation, then of course, there would be no need for this. But life has shown that we were right. If we did not have strong military capabilities, the situation on the contact line would be different today. The increasing combat capability, material and technical equipment, the acquisition of weaponry and equipment, the patriotic spirit, professionalism and skill of our troops, their bravery and heroism demonstrated in the April fighting are our greatest assets.
Today you serve here face to face with the enemy. You are defending our lands and our people. This is a great and honorable mission.
I cordially congratulate you for all these successes. I wish you continued success. Be always attached to the motherland, love it, protect our lands and citizens. Glory to the Azerbaijani Army!