Address by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- My fellow compatriots!
The second Karabakh War has been ongoing for about a month. This war is a Patriotic War for our people. We are liberating our homeland from occupiers. During this time, Azerbaijan's victorious Army has liberated many settlements from the enemy. We are restoring historical justice on the battlefield because Nagorno-Karabakh is an ancient and historical land of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani people have lived and created on these lands for centuries. We know the history of Karabakh perfectly well. A great deal of work has been done in recent years to convey this history to the international community.
In general, the world did not have much of an idea about Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. Armenian lobby organizations operating in many countries created a distorted image in the world, in international public opinion, by circulating false information about the history of the region and the conflict's history. That is why sanctions were imposed on us even though our lands were occupied, and those sanctions are still in force. In the early stages of our independence, the US Congress imposed sanctions on Azerbaijan, claiming that Azerbaijan is engaged in aggression against Armenia, and these sanctions are still in force. Can you imagine that? At that time, Azerbaijani diplomacy could not counter Armenian lies with any arguments. As a result of consistent work in recent years, we have informed the world community about Karabakh's history, the history of the conflict, and all this work helps us today. The world already has a more objective view on this issue, a more objective outlook. It is thanks to our tireless efforts that we have been able to achieve this. I am absolutely right when I say that we are restoring historical justice. During the live debates at the Munich Security Conference, I proved to the whole world that this is our historical land. I provided information about the Kurakchay Peace Treaty signed at the beginning of the 19th century. There was no information about this treaty in the world at all. Unfortunately, there was no extensive information about the Kurakchay treaty in Azerbaijan, either. The Kurakchay Peace Treaty was signed between Ibrahimkhalil Khan of Karabakh and Shusha and a general of Tsarist Russia. That agreement is available online, and anyone can look it up. After my remarks, I am sure that a broad international audience keenly following the current situation on the battlefield will visit those websites and see that there was no mention of the Armenian people in that agreement. The Armenian people were not here at that time. The Armenian people were brought to our ancestral lands after the Kurakchay, Gulustan and Turkmenchay peace treaties. They were deliberately brought and resettled in Karabakh, one of the most fascinating corners of our country, and appropriate conditions were created for them. The objective of this was obvious – to change the religious composition in the new lands of the empire, to expel Muslims from their ancestral lands, drive them away and create a new reality. Unfortunately, they achieved that goal.
After that, the Armenian population was brought en masse from neighboring countries, settled in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in the Azerbaijanis' ancestral lands. Then they demonstrated their typical nature and gradually began to appropriate all our lands. After the Bolshevik revolution in the early 20th century, there was a grave danger that the Bolshevik government would hand over Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. The Caucasus Bureau has protocols dated July 1921. It is enough to view the Caucasus Bureau's protocols to see that there was such a threat. But I believe that due to the efforts of Nariman Narimanov and others who accurately acknowledged the reality, that endeavor had failed. The protocols of the Caucasus Bureau state that Nagorno-Karabakh should be kept as part of Azerbaijan. During all these years, fake Armenian scholars and benefactors patrons have been trying to prove that Stalin separated Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia and gave it to Azerbaijan. That is a lie! See the Caucasus Bureau protocol, which says that Nagorno-Karabakh should be kept as part of Azerbaijan! That once again confirms that this is our land.
Unfortunately, after that, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was established, and the region was given a special status. But I must also say that this was not a republic, but a province. There was a lower level of self-governance. Suffice it to look at the history to see that the Armenians living there had broad rights and opportunities.
In Soviet times, a few years before the conflict, separatist tendencies were overwhelming. However, there was no reason for that. Of the nine members of the bureau, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region's governing body, eight were Armenians, and one was Azerbaijani. He was the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Shusha district. So, the first secretary, the head of the government, and the chairman of the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh were Armenians. What else did they want? Azerbaijan invested so much in that region and built a railway in the 1970s, the Sarsang water reservoir, the Madagiz water reservoir – I have restored its name – the Sugovushan water reservoir was built. All these investments were made at the expense of the state budget of Azerbaijan. However, the Armenians were ungrateful, as they took advantage of the situation and anti-Azerbaijani leadership in Moscow, and separatist tendencies emerged in the region. What did they do before that?
The Armenians had been making preparations for that. Heydar Aliyev was the target of those preparations. They realized perfectly well that the presence of Heydar Aliyev, his significant influence in the Soviet leadership, ruined their plans. Unfortunately, national traitors from Armenia and other places, including Azerbaijan, were sending numerous anonymous letters to Moscow and carrying out a smear campaign to eliminate the Heydar Aliyev factor. Less than two weeks after Heydar Aliyev had resigned from all posts, Armenian separatists rose and demanded that Nagorno-Karabakh be separated from Azerbaijan and annexed to Armenia. That was when the misfortunes of our people began.
An illegal select committee was set up in Nagorno-Karabakh, and an ardent pro-Armenian person was appointed its head. That laid the groundwork for the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, the then leaders of Azerbaijan simply remained spectators as those perilous events unfolded. They could not raise their voice; they did not have the courage, just kept their head down and did what they were told to do from Moscow. At that time, the people leading Azerbaijan did not have an iota of Azerbaijani blood running in their veins. Although they were considered Azerbaijanis, they did not have a bit of national spirit and were cosmopolitan people. They could not even speak the Azerbaijani language properly. That is the history of Nagorno-Karabakh. After that, large-scale military operations were launched against Azerbaijan, and our lands were occupied.
The loss of Shusha and Lachin in May 1992 and the occupation of Kalbajar in April 1993 created a geographical link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. There was no such connection before. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region had no border with the Republic of Armenia.
Those tragic events somewhat created a new reality. After that, the issue was taken over by international mediators and the Minsk Group was established in 1992. The performance of the Minsk Group is evident. After some time, the Minsk Group's co-chairs concentrated almost all power in their hands and virtually monopolized the issue. The Minsk Group as a group was paralyzed, and the three co-chair countries began to deal with this issue. But was there any result? There was not! There was no result for us, but there was one for Armenia. Armenia wanted the negotiations to last forever, Armenia wanted to deceive us forever, this issue to remain in a frozen state, and our lands to remain under occupation forever. But what did the Minsk Group do? Was it able to put pressure on the occupier? No! Did it want to put pressure on it? No!
I have repeatedly raised the issue with them: if you want to see a resolution, impose sanctions on Armenia. All this is in your hands. You are permanent members of the UN Security Council and are in the position to resolve any issue. In particular, officials of these countries say that they agree on this issue. That is also an interesting issue. How is it possible that in all other matters – nuclear weapons, the situation in the Middle East, the situation in Asia, the situation in Europe – their interests diverge completely? On what other issues do their interests overlap? None! The Nagorno-Karabakh problem is the one. Why? Everyone understands that. Of course, the frozen state was in everyone's interests except ours – primarily, in Armenia's interests.
Armenia is conducting illegal settlement on these lands. Has anyone said a word? No! This crime, this international crime, runs counter to the Geneva Conventions. Does anyone ask them why they are conducting illegal settlement? And even demonstrate it. You transfer and resettle the Armenians from Arab countries in our cities, including Shusha. Nobody says a word. What does this mean? It means to go on, bring them here and resettle as many as you want, Armenianize these lands and erase Azerbaijan's cultural heritage. That was the message. Didn't these three countries have the opportunity to show the aggressor its place? They didn't want to. This reality suited them.
Therefore, there is no other assessment of the Minsk Group's performance. We were being pushed to accept this situation, as it were. We were being told that new realities had emerged and that we must reckon with them. We have created a new reality. Everyone has to reckon with the new reality now. But what do we see? Notice what is happening when we began to liberate our lands from the occupiers. Look at the intense pressure being put on Azerbaijan from all sides. They have started a commotion. What happened? For 28 years, this issue dragged on, and they pretended to be addressing it. They kept coming and going; there were endless meetings and negotiations here and there. We are fed up with these negotiations. How long can one negotiate with the enemy? Besides, the enemy becomes complacent, rampant and impudent, and they tell us, no, there is no military option, and the issue must be resolved only peacefully. Who says there isn't? Isn't this a military solution now? What are we doing? We are single-handedly implementing UN Security Council resolutions, although this is the UN Security Council's responsibility. We are doing this alone. We have created a new reality. Reckon with it! But what do we see?
There is a meeting here, a meeting there. What about the ceasefire? Who has violated the ceasefire? It means that all their activities are now aimed at saving Armenia, an aggressor that committed the Khojaly genocide, attacked Ganja with ballistic missiles from Armenia's territory. That is their activity.
As far as the ceasefire is concerned, the first time the ceasefire entered into force on 10 October. My position was that this should be humanitarian, and we agreed to this to exchange the bodies of the dead, hostages and prisoners. However, less than a day later, Armenia flagrantly and insidiously violated the ceasefire by bombing Ganja at night. Then, on 17 October, a new ceasefire was declared. And again, Armenia broke it two minutes later. This morning, at 8 o'clock, a new proposal came in. But when I inquired about at 9 a.m., Armenia violated the ceasefire a few minutes later by firing on Tartar district again.
However, I have instructed Azerbaijan's Armed Forces to show restraint for the time being and not succumb to provocations. My position is known to my people. This issue must be resolved either by the military or by peaceful means. I suggested: if you want a peaceful solution, well, we will stop. But we must be told immediately that Armenia is vacating our lands. A timetable should be provided – in how many days they would leave a particular district, after how many days they would leave the next one and when they would leave the rest of the districts. A timetable should be provided. Has Armenia provided this timetable? It has not. That means that the ceasefire continues, and the issue remains frozen again - this does not work for us. That is the first thing.
Secondly, we have accurate information that Armenia is already on its knees on the battlefield and simply wants to take advantage of the ceasefire to mobilize its resources again, intends to re-arm and pursue a new policy of aggression against us. There is such information and, unfortunately, over the past month, weapons, various types of weaponry have been supplied to Armenia in large quantities. We have all the lists. Some of them have been published in our media. There is a whole list of arrival times and aircraft types, where it arrived, what it delivered, how it was offloaded and where the cargo was sent? So, why are those interested in a ceasefire sending weapons to Armenia? After all, Armenia is already on its knees. We have already knocked them out that they can hardly recover. Armenia's prime minister, who danced in a drunken state on Jidirduzu and behaved like a great commander, now falls at everyone's feet, asking for help, begging for assistance, humiliating himself and his people.
Just don't give them weapons, and it will all be over. Don't give them weapons. Who gives anything to us? Nobody! Don't give them weapons. If you want this to end, don't give them weapons. He will surely come round in a couple of days.
On the one hand, there is talk of a ceasefire, but on the other, weapons are being sent to them. What is this? Are we supposed to be silent about this?
The people of Azerbaijan should know everything. For 17 years in my capacity as President, I have always told the truth to the Azerbaijani people. I regularly report to the people on all the matters. And I am doing that to this day. It may not be complete information because there are specific diplomatic rules. However, whatever can be said, I say it to the Azerbaijani people and the whole world. If you want to save Armenia, tell it to leave our lands, to get lost immediately! Let this clown, who danced in Shusha, on Jidirduzu, declare that he is vacating our lands in a drunken state. Calling world leaders five or six times a day will not solve the problem. Our position remains unchanged; we are defending the truth and justice.
I would like to touch upon another issue. The legal framework for the settlement of the conflict is quite broad. We have expanded this framework. Today, there are not only UN Security Council resolutions but also other documents. The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Parliament and other organizations. The document we have initialed with the European Union contains a special provision on the sovereignty of our country, the inviolability of our borders and territorial integrity. In other words, it is a legal framework that allows us the opportunity to teach the enemy a lesson on the battlefield, to drive them away, to remove them from our lands. But look at what is going on lately? The Minsk Group co-chair countries have convened a meeting of the UN Security Council. They have done it once before. Apparently, the document adopted there did not satisfy them. This time, a few days ago, we heard about the appearance of a new document. We immediately took action and prevented this document's adoption even though the three co-chair countries exerted tremendous pressure on other members of the UN Security Council.
What was the purpose of this? The goal is obvious – to overshadow the resolutions adopted in 1993 demanding the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from our lands, to leave them in the past to make sure they lose their relevance. That was the goal. How fair is this? We saw further attempts to provide support to the occupier. What is the result? It did not pass. How? The member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement stood up like real gentlemen and did not allow this to happen. They supported us – I say thank you to them. And this happened despite the fact that they came under pressure and may have even been threatened. But they stood up like gentlemen for us just as we stand up for them. It shows that nothing will work. My dear brother, the President of the Republic of Turkey, has repeatedly stated that the world is bigger than five countries. And he is absolutely right. This vote proved it. They joined their forces and put forward another document that meets Armenia's interests, but it did not go through.
Justice prevailed. No matter how hard they tried, justice prevailed. Justice and international law are on our side. Therefore, we will continue to go our own way. If they want a ceasefire, then let them tell the occupying state to go away, to leave our lands. Otherwise, we will go to the end, all the way. And we will continue to drive the enemy out, as we have been doing. They are already running away from us, and we will continue to chase them. Because we are right and we are strong.
As I have been saying for the past few years, the world is no longer the same. The power factor comes to the fore, and we did not do this. Take a look – do large countries reckon with international law today? No! Do they reckon with the UN Security Council? No! Everyone does what they want in their neighborhoods. One enters there, another one enters elsewhere, and the third one divides some territories. There is no semblance of international law. So why should we defend it? We are defending it and are not taking steps outside the law. We are not entering Armenia's territory; we are restoring the territories recognized by the international community. If the UN Security Council's permanent members, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, could not do this, then let them step aside and not interfere. Unlike Armenia, we do not ask anyone for help. Let them not interfere and test the patience of the Azerbaijani people. This war will end tomorrow, and we will achieve our goal. What will our relationship be like? Will the Azerbaijani people forget this injustice? They will not. Let them give this a thought. Today, Azerbaijan is not a country the interests of which can be ignored. No!
The day will arrive when they will come to us with requests and proposals, including those on cooperation. How will they look us in our eyes? They have mobilized all their forces against us today. I have been putting up with this for a month, a whole month. I was silent about it, but we are fed up. This is the first thing.
Second, the mediator must be neutral. If it is not impartial, then it should give up its candidacy. If a mediator is not neutral, then it cannot be a mediator. The mediating countries should now come up with new functions for themselves. What will they do? They can no longer talk about the liberation of five districts. Where are those five districts now? Four of them are already with us. This question is already in the past; it is over. We have taken them back ourselves – Fuzuli, Zangilan, Jabrayil, Gubadli. Most of these districts are with us. We also have a part of the former Hadrut and currently Khojavand district. So let them think.
We are not against negotiations. As a result of yesterday's talks in the United States, the decision was made to hold a meeting between Azerbaijan and Armenia's foreign ministers in Geneva in a few days. I don't mind that; let them meet. Over these 28 years, there have been so many useless meetings; another one will not make a difference. I do not mean to say that I regard this meeting as useless. No. We want it to make sense. And this should speed up the settlement of the conflict. Armenia's patrons, I appeal to you: if you're going to save this fake state, tell it to get out. One word of yours is enough for it to get out – just one word. If Armenia is not provided with financial, economic, military and political support, will it be able to stand on its feet? No! I will give the Azerbaijani people some information on their military hardware we have destroyed. Everyone can count this, go online, see the cost of this equipment and ask a question. Where does this impoverished country get all this? Where does this money come from in a country that is mired in problems? We have already destroyed so much of their military hardware, and they are still bringing more. Never mind, let them bring it. They know better.
This is our position at this stage, and we are ready to resolve this issue by military-political means. But it must be resolved. The ceasefire has been declared, all right, let there be a ceasefire. Armenia has already violated it; we are recording every violation, every single one. I have instructed to record every violation. This information is immediately sent to the OSCE representative and other countries interested in the ceasefire to see how many times the Armenians have violated it. We have all the data. A military-political solution should resolve the issue of restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
As for the future of the Armenians who have settled on our ancestral lands 200 years ago, I have said that they are our citizens too. They must also get rid of this junta. If they cannot save themselves, we will help them. Didn't the new government of Armenia represented by Pashinyan say that those who governed Armenia before him were criminals? I was saying exactly the same. What if those who governed the country before Pashinyan for 20 years were criminals? What is this country then? It is a criminal country. The two ex-presidents also headed the junta in Karabakh and then led Armenia. A criminal case has been opened against both. They are criminals who sucked the blood of the Armenians living in Karabakh. Where did they get so much property, wealth and fortune? Where? They got it by sucking the blood of the Armenian people. So I repeat: the people living in Nagorno-Karabakh are our citizens. The Azerbaijani people are tolerant. Those Armenians are not to blame. Whoever is to blame is being brought to account, and I said that the shedding of Azerbaijani people's blood would not go unpunished.
The criminals who committed the Khojaly genocide have already been eliminated in the battles that have lasted for a month. Justice has prevailed. Therefore, I want to reiterate my position. We will definitely return to these lands by military-political means. The military stage may end today. We will resolve the issue politically. Azerbaijanis will return to Shusha, Azerbaijanis will return to Khankandi. They will return to all other places where they used to live. Conditions will be created for the Armenian population. We must gradually learn to live together, both them and us. I see it this way, and my approach is based both on the norms of morality and the norms of international law. Armenia wants to drive us out of there, then to carry out ethnic cleansing, to Armenianize our sites, to settle Armenians from abroad. Pashinyan, you wanted to build a road to Jabrayil? Where is this road now? Did you want to build a parliament building in Shusha? So what happened? It all went to hell.
I want to state again that no force can make us deviate from our path. Successes on the battlefield have created a new reality at the negotiating table.
Now I want to share some information with my dear people. I am presenting a list of the enemy's equipment and military trophies we have destroyed and taken over since 27 September. So 252 tanks have been destroyed, 53 tanks seized as a trophy – in total, Armenia has lost 305 tanks. But they still have more. Look at how many tanks they had. Fifty infantry fighting vehicles destroyed, 29 seized as a trophy – a total of 79 units. Then, 251 cannons of various calibers have been destroyed, 24 seized as a trophy – 275 in total. Sixty-one mortars destroyed, 45 seized as a trophy – 106 in total. Fifty-three anti-tank weapons destroyed, 82 truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers destroyed. Two units of "Hurricane" multiple launch rocket systems have been destroyed. One unit of "TOS"-type multiple rocket launcher destroyed. 4 "TOR"-type anti-aircraft missile systems, about 40 units of "OSA"-type surface-to-air missile systems, four units of "KUB"-type surface-to-air missile systems, one unit of "KRUG"-type surface-to-air missile system and two units of "S-125"-type surface-to-air missile systems have been destroyed. Six "S-300"-type missile systems' launchers - one of the most expensive launchers, have been destroyed, plus one detection station and one locator. Their price is well known. Everyone can calculate this. We have eliminated two units of "Elbrus"-type tactical ballistic missile systems and 1 "Tochka-U"-type tactical-operational missile complex. Trucks – 231 trucks have been destroyed, including 20 with ammunition, 173 trucks have been seized as a trophy. In total, we have deprived the enemy of 404 trucks.
Now I will ask the question again. I will keep asking this question every time. I will keep asking it until there is an answer. Where does this money come from? Let the pro-Armenian observers, mediators, political scientists say where it comes from. We have the money, and everything is transparent. The people of Azerbaijan know how much money we have, the world knows, everyone knows. We are buying it with our own money. We don't depend on anyone. How did this bankrupt country buy this? Armenia's external debt is about $8 billion. Foreign exchange reserves amount to $1.5 billion. These are not even free funds. These are bank reserves. They cannot use them. If they use it, then their so-called currency will go down the drain. Who gave them so many weapons? Why doesn't anyone ask? During this month, I have been interviewed every day. They ask me what Turkish F-16s are doing in Azerbaijan. I am tired of answering. Open up satellite images. You have got satellites; can't you see what they are doing? Go and see what F-16s are doing. Are they in the air or on the ground? Everyone knows that they are on the ground. They arrived for exercises and stayed behind when the war broke out. Our Turkish brothers left them here to give us moral support. But if we are attacked from outside, they will see those F-16s. There are only five or six planes left at the airport, and they ask about it every time. I answer these questions.
But ask Armenia too; ask those who give them weapons. Ask these questions – why are you giving Armenia weapons? Have they been paid for? Do the citizens of the countries producing these weapons know how much of their goods were lost in a matter of one month? Do they know how much weaponry we have destroyed? No journalist asks me this question. Isn't this interesting? It is interesting. Never mind. We are already accustomed to the fact that for all these years, slander, lies and fabrications against Azerbaijan have shown no sign of abating. Both foreign media and the Azerbaijani people see that I respond to all these questions and answer them appropriately. And I do not stoop to their level. Never! I answer them correctly, and they are silenced. They cannot answer. I say – go look in the mirror. Did you come here to blame us? They don't ask questions, they act like a prosecutor, accuse us. Who are you to so? I respect journalists a lot. Therefore, they take advantage of that. I speak to them in a calm manner. But they should know that I can talk to them in any form. This is a reality. This reality is against us. But we have changed this reality. These new lists show again that we have changed this reality.
Now, it is with great satisfaction and pride that I will bring to the attention of my people the list the Azerbaijani people are looking forward to. So I am informing my dear people of the list of settlements liberated yesterday. The following villages have been liberated in Zangilan district: First Alibayli, Second Alibayli, Raband, Yenikand. Liberated villages of Jabrayil district: Govshudlu, Sofulu, Dagh Mashanli, Kurdlar, Hovuslu, Chalabilar. The settlements of Gubadli district liberated yesterday: Padar, Efendilar, Yusifbayli, Chaytumas, Khanlig, Sariyatag, Mollaburkhan and the city of Gubadli!
I already shared this good news with the Azerbaijani people yesterday. I want to convey this joyful news to the entire Azerbaijani people again. It is a great honor for me to bring joyful news to the residents of Zangilan, Jabrayil and Gubadli districts who lived in these villages. True, there is nothing left of those villages. But never mind, we will restore them. Both the Azerbaijani people and the state have enough strength to do that as long as our lands are free. If only our flag is raised in all the liberated lands. We are liberating these lands at the cost of the life and blood of our soldiers and officers. We have asserted ourselves both on the battlefield and the political field. We have asserted ourselves in the world. We have asserted the Azerbaijani people as proud people, as a brave people, as an unconquerable people. No pressure can affect us. No threat can turn us off our path because we are on a righteous path; we are united like a fist. This unity is eternal and will be everlasting!
My fellow compatriots, I promised you from the first days of the war that we would drive the enemy away from our lands, drive them out until the end. Karabakh is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!