Kalbajar district has been liberated from occupation today. I sincerely congratulate all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.
Dear people of Kalbajar, may you rejoice! 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 the Kalbajar district was a great tragedy. The occupation of each district was a great tragedy. After the fall of Shusha and Lachin district 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 the Lachin district and the Lachin corridor. The occupation of Lachin, Shusha and then Kalbajar districts established a geographical connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh over a large area, and that was the enemy's objective.
After the occupation of Kalbajar, a link 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 significant advantages for Armenia's subsequent policy of aggression.
Then ruling Popular Front of Azerbaijan was directly responsible for the occupation of the Kalbajar district. In general, the main culprit in the occupation of our lands was the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. 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 tough 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 our lands' occupation, and they bear that responsibility. In the spring of 1992, the power struggle reached its peak. There was infighting in Azerbaijan, chaos, crisis, a political crisis, and the power struggle entailed grave consequences. Armenia continued to take advantage of that to occupy our lands.
After the occupation of Shusha and Lachin, the situation reached a critical level. Taking advantage of that, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan came to power due to a coup. But what happened next? After that, they focused all their efforts on strengthening their grip on power, 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. However, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan and its leadership had only one goal – to fill their pockets, appoint their relatives, and prolong their government's life. The occupation of Kalbajar was the outcome of such sordid actions. It could not have been otherwise.
The younger generation may not remember this, but they should know who was leading Azerbaijan at the time. People of what knowledge and skills were at the helm. Those people had no experience. Those people who were then represented in the government, the people who held most senior 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 state secretary was a careerist from the Komsomol who had later betrayed his leader, set his eyes for his post, rejoiced in his death more than anyone else, and lived his entire life under foreign circles' oversight. 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 with no idea of foreign relations and international norms and principles. He traveled back and forth like a tourist and said what came to his mind.
The minister of defense was a math teacher. Can a math teacher be a defense minister? It was the very math teacher who surrendered Shusha to the enemy. He said that if they were to lose Shusha, he would put a bullet in his head. Yet, he is still hanging around here and there. We are the ones who have returned Shusha. We did! You sold it, traitors.
The minister of internal affairs – there were widespread robberies, journalists 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 based on a market economy was a junior researcher on scientific communism. What kind of governance, what kind of reforms, and what type of defense could you expect? Our tragedy was 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. If we were to draw comparisons now, their collective image is like that of Pashinyan – incompetent, ignorant, spineless, cowardly, deserter, inexperienced in management, influenced by foreign circles, ruled by them and destroying their own country. Look, they were all like Pashinyan. Those who do not know them should look at Pashinyan to get an idea about 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. Many historical documents confirm this. It is no secret. Armenian "historians" and impostors have simply Armenianized the ancient Albanian churches, added their own inscriptions, and appropriated them. Suffice it to look at history, and anyone can see that in the 1830s, Tsarist Russia abolished the Albanian Church, gave all its property to the Armenian Gregorian Church. Armenian priests and their patrons then began to appropriate these churches. Their main task was to purge Caucasian Albania's history. But we did not allow that to happen. Azerbaijan has an extensive scientific base on this issue. There are research works available. These works are and should be shared with the scientific community and the world community as a whole. Caucasian Albania was a great state, with its capital in Gabala. Historical sites and churches belonging to Caucasian Albania are our historical and cultural heritage. We are protecting those churches. I have visited them many times – in the city of Shaki, in Gabala district, the Udi Church.
As you know, during the war, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation initiated the restoration of the ancient Udi Caucasian Albanian Church in the village of Nij and that church was opened upon completion. 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. The whole world and world leaders praise Azerbaijan's policy on multiculturalism and inter-religious relations. 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 rostrums and in interactions 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 repeat it - those who wish to interfere in our work or accuse us of something should first look in the mirror.
Kalbajar district has a fascinating nature and diverse cultural heritage. Several of our large rivers originate in the Kalbajar district. The largest of them is the Tartar River, which is 200 kilometers long. There are also the Bazarchay and Khachinchay rivers. Their length is about 200 kilometers. These rivers feed a large area. But the loathed 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 Karabakh's Aran zone at the time. After constructing 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 despised enemy cut off the water supply. It cut off the 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 that 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 others. 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 occupier's interests. In contrast, we did not get water at all. After taking over the Sugovushan settlement, the water supply was resumed and is now expected to provide water to 100,000 hectares.
There are extensive forest areas in the Kalbajar district - 24,000 hectares of woods. That is our great asset. The hated enemy cut down, looted and sold those trees. Look at dreadful 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 invaded the homes of the people of Kalbajar, broke into them and lived there. They burn down schools and slaughter cattle they can't take with them. See whom we were facing, what savages? 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 savagely plundered those resources. In Soviet times, Istisu water, which was famous throughout the Soviet Union, was produced in Kalbajar. Istisu is under our control again now. It used to be a large resort. The despised enemy has destroyed everything. There are images of that, and everyone can see them. We will restore everything; we will rebuild Kalbajar, the villages, the city of Kalbajar. I have instructed to prepare a master plan for the reconstruction of the city – not only the city of Kalbajar but also all other cities. Life will return there.
In Kalbajar, the enemy perpetrated another crime and conducted illegal resettlement. People from Armenia and foreign countries have settled there illegally. It 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 goes for Fuzuli and Jabrayil. They have destroyed everything as if a savage tribe had passed through there.
Us, we build and create. We will revive those cities and districts. We have major plans for the restoration of these lands.
These plans are already being implemented. Infrastructure projects are underway. The construction of a new road to Shusha has already begun. In Soviet times, there was one road to Shusha –from Aghdam to Khankandi and onwards to Shusha. We are now building a new highway from Fuzuli district. This road will pass through a part of the 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 will run through forests.
There are ravines, hills and the terrain is challenging. We will restore the railways. In particular, preliminary instructions have already been given to restore 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 Aghdam district's restoration 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 receive regular updates. We must do everything in a planned way. I want to repeat: first of all, all the damage will be assessed with international experts' participation. Then lawsuits will be filed. Then reconstruction of our cities and villages, based on master plans, will follow. The necessary measures related to agriculture, other infrastructure projects, water and electricity will be taken, followed by roads. When we drove the enemy out of Shusha, it destroyed the water supply line feeding the city. There is no water in Shusha now. That is our enemy for you.
When our soldiers saw that the Armenian population of one of the villages in the Aghdam district could not leave on time, they created conditions for them to vacate. 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 built water supply 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 on time.
The enemy gave Kalbajar another ugly name. They had made maps of the "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic". Where are those maps? They are all gone. Those maps are just a piece of paper. The entire territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, Shusha, and seven surrounding districts were incorporated 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 time 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 great powers I was in contact with, have repeatedly said that there was no military solution to the conflict. These statements are also available in the media. What was I insisting on? I said there was one! I said that if necessary, we would liberate our lands by military means. I said that war could never be ruled out. During the talks, it was repeatedly proposed that the Azerbaijani side renounced 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? Maintain the status quo and perpetuate it. They believed that if they had managed that in 26-27 years, they would continue to do so. They thought that their patrons would always defend them, stand behind them and fight for them. Generally, they believe that the whole world owes them something. They want to run their country with this harmful and sick mentality that someone must help them. What are you capable of? If you always cling to someone and expect some privileges, then what are you good for? This mentality has led their society astray. Today, they are displeased with everyone. Even today, people are asking questions about why no one defends them. Why should anyone protect you? You are an independent country – supposedly – so live as an independent country. This is the 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, nor is international law. Historical truth is not on your side, either.
Yet, 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 that and come to terms with that situation. They were wrong. We never thought of putting up with this situation. As President, I have done my best over the years to ensure that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue remains on the agenda; it is always at the top of the list. Nurture the feelings of patriotism, national pride and solidarity, helping them 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-Azerbaijan, pro-Armenian articles and reports prevail. However, at the same time, unlike before, 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, and we have won the war in the political arena. The outcome of the war is just like I said. From the early days, I said that this issue must be resolved through military and political means. I said that we could stop the military action at any time. We were ready. But on one condition – Pashinyan must personally say when he will vacate our lands. He must commit and provide a timetable. It must be stated when they will vacate our lands. As soon as that happens, I will stop the counter-offensive operation. He has already been punished. 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 that miserable situation. The outcome of the war is what I said it would be. We liberated Jabrayili, 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 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 terms.
The war showed again, who is who. Armenia is a defeated country. Azerbaijan is a victorious country. Kalbajar is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!