Following the ceremony of signing documents, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan are making press statements.25 September 2023, 16:35
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev chaired a meeting in a video format on the results of 2020.
The head of state delivered opening remarks at the meeting.
Remarks by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- We will discuss the results of last year today and discuss the work to be done in 2021. The primary outcome of the previous year and not only the last year but the past 30 years has the liberation of our lands from occupation. Azerbaijan won its historic Victory in 44 days, liberated its lands, dealt crushing blows to the enemy, and defeated Armenia. As a result of this defeat, Armenia was forced to sign capitulation and surrender. We returned our three districts by political means without a single shot fired and losing any more martyrs. Thus, Armenia's 30-year policy of aggression has come to an end. We have resolved the issue by military means. However, international mediators, almost all leading international organizations, told us that there was no military solution to the conflict for many years. We said if that was the case, then the conflict should be resolved peacefully, and we were also in favor of that.
During the war, I repeatedly appealed to the people of Azerbaijan and gave interviews to foreign media, saying that the Armenian side should provide us with a timetable of when they would withdraw their armed forces from our lands we would stop. Otherwise, we will go to the end, as we did. Thus, our glorious Victory demonstrated our people's unwavering resolve and strong determination to the whole world. It demonstrated the strength of the Azerbaijani state and showed that our words and actions concur. I have repeatedly stated that if this issue were not settled peacefully, we would resolve it militarily, and that is precisely what happened – militarily. Afterward, political means ensued, and historical justice was restored.
Talking about our country's comprehensive development in recent years, I said that the independent Azerbaijani state experienced its most magnificent era because Azerbaijan had never been so strong in its entire history. Today, it has political strength, economic power, a unity of the people and the government, military prowess, and the positive role we play in the region. Capitalizing on this strength, we have fulfilled our primary objective with dignity. The Armenian army had been smashed to smithereens in 44 days. There is almost no Armenian army anymore. The post-war situation shows that the Armenian armed forces are destroyed today. Armenia has been defeated, and we have managed to achieve what we wanted in 44 days. We liberated Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli districts, Hadrut, the former Hadrut district, most of Khojavand district, Sugovushan settlement, the Murovdag range, and Shusha city by military means. In total, more than 300 settlements were liberated by military means. In the aftermath, Armenia virtually fell to its knees and was forced to sign an act of capitulation on November 10. Thus, Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar districts returned to us without a single shot fired and without a sole martyr.
This Victory will go down in history forever. This Victory proved to the whole world – I want to emphasize this again – that there is no inconsistency between our words and our actions. I said that a second Armenian state would never be created on Azerbaijan's historical lands. I said that Nagorno-Karabakh would never be granted independence. I said that the Azerbaijani people would never put up with this situation. I said that we would resolve this issue in any way, and we did despite all the pressure and threats, and regardless of the strong Armenian lobby presence in the world. Many leading countries of the world support Armenia and we clearly saw that during the war. Some countries could not conceal that. What did Armenia gain from this support? Nothing! In the face of our strength and resolve, this support was equal to zero. Everyone saw that no one and nothing could stop us. I said we would go to the end, and I kept my word. We stopped when Armenia acknowledged its humiliating defeat, fell to its knees, threw in the towel and surrendered.
I think this was a historic lesson for Armenia. They once again saw the greatness of the Azerbaijani people. However, they committed vandalism in all the occupied lands, destroyed and desecrated all our historical sites and mosques, and demolished all our residential buildings. There are no cities of Aghdam and Fuzuli, there are no villages, there are only a few buildings left in Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan, and that is where troops were stationed. The illegal settlement was extensive in Kalbajar and Lachin districts. However, when Armenia was allowed to vacate those districts, they devastated them and showed their savagery to the whole world yet again. Right before the eyes of the entire world, they set fire to houses, cut down trees and burned forests, committed acts of vandalism. The whole world could see what evil forces we were able to erase from the conflict map of the Caucasus. The world saw whom we were facing. This savagery and cruelty are perhaps unmatched in history. The occupying forces did not commit such atrocities even during World War II. They thought we would not return to these places, but we have, and we are as we speak. We will talk about the "Great Return" today.
We have restored historical justice. We have shown our strength to the whole world. We have shown that no one can confront our resolve. At the same time, we showed responsibility. We showed fairness. We did not cross into Armenia's territory even though dozens of civilians were killed in the wake of war crimes committed against us from Armenia's territory, as our cities were bombed. We did not cross into Armenia. We showed respect for international law. The despised enemy recognizes no moral boundaries. They have no moral values. And yet I said that we should not be likened to them; we are Azerbaijanis, we are a self-respecting people. We have defeated the enemy on the battlefield. We have taught the enemy a lesson on the battlefield, and they are still struggling to recover from it. The crisis that has engulfed Armenia today is the outcome of their policy of aggression. They should have vacated our lands peacefully. We gave them a chance. They should have left our lands of their own free will. However, we saw the exact opposite – illegal settlement, our cities being renamed, and Azerbaijan's historical, cultural and religious heritage being annihilated. Regrettably, some countries, some international organizations, and companies have helped them in that. Illegal business activity was carried out on our lands. We will address that today and relevant instructions have already been issued. Those companies will be prosecuted. Let them know this and expect that day. Members of different countries' parliaments used to go there, but let's see how they will go there now. A delegation went there from France, members of their Parliament. Unfortunately, the peacekeepers allowed them to pass through. However, we had told the peacekeeping forces that no foreign citizens could go to Nagorno-Karabakh without our permission. As a result, the French Ambassador was invited to our Foreign Ministry, and he was handed a note. We will not remain silent.
I have just been informed that the Armenian foreign minister has gone to Khankandi. What in the world are you doing there? Let them not forget the war. Let them remember that the Iron Fist is still here. These visits must stop. We warn them that if such provocative steps continue, Armenia will regret it even more. Efforts are now being taken to normalize relations. Russia has offered its mediation to the parties. A delegation of Russian government officials recently visited Armenia and Azerbaijan and mainly discussed these issues.
Therefore, if relations were to be normalized, then why make such provocative "visits"? What are they trying to show? Are they trying to irritate us again? They should not forget that such actions cost them dearly. Therefore, all visits must stop. No foreign national can enter that area without our permission. No international organization except for the Red Cross can go there. This is our territory. The whole world recognizes this territory as Azerbaijan's integral part. Armenian foreign minister, whom do you think you are to go there? I warn you. If anything similar happens, our retaliation will be severe. We first warned them through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further measures will be different. Their visits there must stop. Let them stay in their own country and thank God that they even have one. No-one should have any business in our territory.
Now to the peacekeeping forces; they have specific functions there. Those functions were designated on November 10. Although they are currently engaged in humanitarian work there, something not defined by the November 10 statement, we turn a blind eye to that, so to speak. Why? Because we understand that people live there, we realize that winter has come and the weather is cold. Work needs to be done there so that this winter does not create problems for the Armenians living there. That is why we have offered this opportunity. Most of the cargo goes there through Azerbaijan now. We gave them this opportunity. Cargo travels to Barda by rail and then taken to Nagorno-Karabakh by automobiles. Of course, we could have denied them this opportunity.
Armenia cut off our water for 30 years. It left hundreds of thousands of hectares of land without water even though both the Sarsang and the Sugovushan Reservoirs were built on the initiative of great leader Heydar Aliyev back then. Armenia cut off our water. But let me repeat that we must never sink to their level. The people living in Nagorno-Karabakh today are our citizens. As I have said, they will realize that they are better off under Azerbaijan's leadership. That is why we have created these opportunities for them. Otherwise, it is not easy to transport cargo there via the Lachin corridor. We have taken other steps to carry out humanitarian work there. Let me reiterate that although the document signed on November 10 does not stipulate this, we have created these opportunities. It shows our generosity. I believe that November 10 statement should be the basis for future activities. No other document has been signed apart from that statement.
Simultaneously, we have allowed Armenian citizens to use the roads passing through our territory and the liberated lands – the roads passing through Gubadli and Zangilan districts. They should appreciate that. It is our land. We understand that the route passes through there. In Soviet times, borders were not very relevant, and the Armenian population living there probably did not know that this is Azerbaijan's territory. Who could have told them that this is the territory of Azerbaijan? They always thought that this was Armenia. And now, when they realized that this is Azerbaijan's territory and that Azerbaijani border guards have arrived and been deployed there, they have experienced some stress, of course. But again, I ordered that no one should be hurt. Explain to them that this is our land and they should leave. We gave them time. The Armenian side asked us to give them time until January 2. And we did. We could have refused. I could have sent a military unit there and stand aside and watch what would happen to them. Did we do that? No! But they would have done that. When they occupied Kalbajar, they did not give us any time at all. Our citizens had to cross the Murov and Omar gorges barefooted. Many froze to death there. Did they give us time?
They committed acts of genocide against the civilian population, the Khojaly genocide and other war crimes. We have captured those who were engaged in sabotage activities in our liberated territories. We did not kill them. I ordered to take them as prisoners. The war is over, and there is no need to shed more blood. That again shows our humane side. These are forces found in our territory that refuse to leave. They have committed provocations against us, military provocations that led to the deaths of our military servicemen. We have shown humanism again. We have captured them, but they cannot be considered prisoners of war because the war is over. They are terrorists and saboteurs. They arrived in Khojavend district from Armenia, from its Shirak region after November 26. Let everyone know this. Why did they come? Who sent them? The war ended on October 10, and a statement was signed. Who is sending them there? If the Armenian leadership cannot control these illegal armed groups, it is their problem. Therefore, no one can accuse us in this situation.
I want to repeat that we have shown humanism in many cases, and the Armenian side must appreciate that. In return, the visit of the Armenian foreign minister to our lands is unacceptable. I have already said this, and I hope they will draw the right conclusions. If they don't, they will have significant problems and will regret it again.
So the war has ended. We have achieved what we wanted. An era of development begins now. We will talk about that today. But before we do that, I would like to mention other events that took place in 2020. Parliamentary elections were held in our country in February 2020. The parliamentary elections were another major step towards democracy. Parliament leaders were renewed, new people came to the leadership. For the first time, a representative of an opposition party was elected deputy speaker of the Parliament. In the meantime, the opposition members were, for the first time, elected chairmen and deputy chairmen of parliamentary committees. This is a manifestation of a new political culture. It is an essential step towards cooperation between all political forces. Of course, this is crucial for the democratic development of our country. We have a multi-party parliament, and this should be viewed as critical in strengthening our political system.
At the same time, the vast majority of parties last year embraced our initiative and joined the political dialogue. I can say that all political forces are currently involved in this dialogue. I cannot describe those not participating in the conversation as a political force because the group that refused to be a part of the dialogue is made of treacherous and perfidious elements. The political discourse began before the war and grew more active during the war. Throughout the war, except for one anti-national group – I mean the anti-national council – all political parties and unions unequivocally supported our cause. The anti-national council carried out its treacherous mission during the war, played into the enemy's hands, and launched a hideous campaign against our army. They made provocative statements and took steps to tarnish our military and belittle our Victory.
What else can one expect from them? The leaders of this anti-national's council once touted Pashinyan as a role model, saying -"Pashinyan is a democrat, Pashinyan is an innovator, Pashinyan is a clean man". Those are their words. Ask the Armenian people what they think about this innovative democrat now. One thing they have in common, of course, is that the loss of lands happened on their watch. The Popular Front of Azerbaijan and its remains, concentrated in the anti-national council today, actually deserted during the first Karabakh War. We have not forgotten this history. The younger generation should know this. As the war progressed, the President resigned and retreated to a village in the mountains. With ravaging war, people dying, lands being lost, the country's President, its commander-in-chief, flees to a mountain village in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. What is this if not desertion? Those leading this anti-national council, where were you during the war? They fled and went into hiding. They are hiding even now. One of them is sitting in America, lecturing us and playing into the enemy's hands. Clearly, what else can you expect from someone who has been in America for over a year now? Who finances him? Who gives him instructions? We know that. Who gives instructions to those here? Yes, the same circles. Pro-Armenian forces, those who undertook sordid deeds against us during the war, those who want to steal our Victory, those who endorse the Armenians are the supporters of the anti-national council. They are fugitives, traitors, and enemies. Our people must know that. The younger generation must know this.
In some cases, the younger generation lacks sufficient information about this shameful page of our history. It should be included in high school and university textbooks. This black page should be included in textbooks. The young generation must know those who sold Shusha, Lachin, Khojaly and Kalbajar, fled and allowed for the loss of our lands. To this day, the traitor who sold Shusha is hanging around idly. We must not forget this to prevent the recurrence of that! Such useless people should not come to power. They brought about trouble, brought about tragedy, caused the deaths of the innocent, and failed to protect our people. The Popular Front – Musavat government went into hiding, surrendered and put to shame. Thirty years on, it seems as though it was not them who sold those lands. It appears as though it was not them who escaped from the battlefield; it was not them who bombed Ganja during the first war. It was not them who took Azerbaijani soldiers, prisoner. They are the ones, and the Azerbaijani people must never forget that.
Therefore, there is a very serious and active political dialogue underway in our country except for these. I want to mention one more issue. I was informed a few months ago that some parties were not registered. Frankly speaking, this was something new to me. I was not aware of that. Nobody told me that there were such cases. Therefore, I immediately instructed that this issue be resolved. The political parties' registration is being handled now. I want to repeat that a new political climate had emerged in our country before the war, a positive environment because all of us, all patriotic forces, had one goal – to liberate our lands from occupation. We, the government of Azerbaijan, have achieved this. Today, we have the task of solidifying this Victory politically, preventing the rise of Armenian fascism, informing the international community about the past conflict and the current realities, including our destroyed territories. Some of our parties are members of international political party associations. This information must be disseminated within those organizations. In other words, this should be the primary direction of their future performance. Indeed, we want to positively impact the country's democratization process, strengthen the inter-party dialogue, address the shortcomings, and have a healthy and solid competition. We have stated our intention, and I am delighted that all political forces have embraced this initiative.
Human resources reforms continued last year. I have already mentioned the Parliament. The leadership of the Cabinet of Ministers has changed. The leadership of the Presidential Administration, ministries, and local executive authorities has changed. The public has also welcomed this development. We see a positive outcome of these new appointments.
The fight against corruption and bribery has become fiercer. I believe this is also associated with personnel reforms. Unfortunately, my instructions were not always followed in many cases in previous years. Unpleasant situations were covered up by bureaucracy, and in some cases, I was not given accurate information. Relevant agencies did not fight corruption and bribery seriously enough and sometimes turned a blind eye to such crimes. All this is true. Personnel reforms have already put an end to this. Today, no one can evade responsibility regardless of the public position held by the perpetrator. No one is above the law. There is no special status and no privileges for anyone. Everyone should know this. I think the events of 2020 demonstrated that everyone is already aware of that.
The coronavirus, of course, has put the whole world to a big test. I think that Azerbaijan is passing this test with dignity. The situation is under full control. Thanks to prompt action taken, new hospitals were built, and laboratories were acquired. We mobilized our doctors. The salaries of doctors looking after coronavirus patients have been increased; they receive three to five times more now. An extensive social package has been introduced. The social package worth several billion manats was released to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including those working informally and the unemployed. We are expecting the vaccine now. We hope that the vaccine will be delivered to Azerbaijan this month. All contracts have been signed, and it is beyond our control that the vaccine is arriving with a slight delay. After it comes, people will be vaccinated, and we will leave this disease behind.
Although 2020 was a challenging year for all countries economically, Azerbaijan came out of this situation with fewer losses than other countries. Our economy shrunk by just over 4 percent. I think this is a good indicator. At the same time, I must say that our non-oil industry has grown by more than 11 percent. Thanks to what? Indeed, due to diversification. Our policy of industrialization was carried out appropriately. Oil production in our country is declining naturally. In the meantime, we have also honored our commitments under the OPEC+ agreement. Oil prices have fallen. Were it not for the oil factor; our economy would probably have shrunk less. But the growth of the non-oil industry by more than 11 percent shows the development of the real economy, the non-oil economy.
Agriculture has grown by 2 percent and will continue to grow. I have instructed the government that autumn sowing be carried out across the liberated lands. We will speak of that. The average salaries and pensions have increased by around 13-14 percent. The State Oil Fund's resources have remained intact and increased. This may come as a surprise to many. Not much, but it has increased by about 0.5 percent. So we have been able to save our foreign exchange reserves. Although, we have spent billions on the fight against coronavirus, waged war, and paid other costs, benefits and social packages. Based on recent decisions, the allowance for martyrs' families increased from 300 to 500 manats. So all this is a substantial financial burden. But thanks to the overall stability of our state and the country's successful policy, we have achieved this.
On December 31, we received another excellent news at the end of the year: the Southern Gas Corridor became fully operational. Its last segment, TAP, has been commissioned. For the first time in history, Azerbaijan's gas made it to Europe. This is our historic achievement. After all, we initiated the Southern Gas Corridor project. We have also borne the main financial burden. This project, which links many countries, lays the foundation for a new cooperation format among the countries involved and other Eurasian countries in the future. Such cooperation format is already manifesting itself in the transportation sector, trade and other areas. We have redrawn Eurasia's energy map. We have built three interconnected gas pipelines of 3,500 kilometers in length. We have launched the Shah Deniz-2 project, and European consumers are already buying Azerbaijan's gas. It is a win-win. At the same time, successful work was done on other projects last year. I am confident that these projects' development will bring us additional dividends – both economic and political.
I do not want us to get ahead of ourselves, but we will witness new wonderful events in the energy field in the coming days. That will be announced in due course. The new project will significantly strengthen our potential.
In concluding my opening remarks, I want to touch upon the assessment of the work carried out in Azerbaijan by the international organizations. As people may remember, the World Bank's Doing Business report was inaccurate about several countries. A few months ago, the World Bank said that these countries' ratings would be revisited, including Azerbaijan, which was on the list. Thus, they reconsidered it, and our rating was increased, as the previous assessment was incorrect. I do not know why that happened, but that is another subject.
Nevertheless, according to the new ranking, Azerbaijan ranks 28th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Doing Business program. This is for those frowning upon our work, those who have no idea about the economy. The World Bank says this. The World Bank acknowledges the business climate, the investment climate, the reforms. Besides, Azerbaijan is among the top 10 most reformist countries. So the so-called economists, the fake economists "crowing" abroad and here, open your eyes, have a look, and shut your mouths. Some random people were trying to lecture us: "the economy is not run properly, this and that". Go and read, if you can read at all.
I would like to highlight some parameters of the Davos World Economic Forum report. Access to electricity – Azerbaijan ranks second in the world. With the government's commitment to change, i.e., Azerbaijan ranks fifth in the world for the reform ratio. Government's long-term strategy – Azerbaijan is in 10th place, government's political stability agenda – Azerbaijan ranks 11th in the world. As far as infrastructure projects are concerned, railway services' efficiency – Azerbaijan is in 11th place. The efficiency of airline services – we rank 12th. The quality of roads – we are in 24-27th places. This assessment covers 74 developing countries. Azerbaijan ranks third for the Inclusive Development Index. These are the reports by the World Bank, the world's leading and, I would say, the most influential international body, and the World Economic Forum, the world's number one forum.
Therefore, I want to repeat that we are on the right path. We have achieved this despite all the challenges, regardless of the occupation and presence of a million refugees. Now the lands have been liberated, and the "Great Return" must begin. Significant development processes must commence. Therefore, we must be more actively engaged and in a more focused manner, expand Azerbaijan's capabilities, and boost our country's development dynamics.
Now let us discuss the work ahead of us this year. First of all, I would like to hear from the Coronavirus Task Force. The Task Force was established on my instructions, operating for some time now. Many guidelines have been issued. I would request that the head of the Task Force provide some information. We are always in touch, but I would like our citizens to hear this as well. Please.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. With regard to more than 9,000 damaged houses – of course, the restoration of these houses should be one of our top priorities. Work has already begun. You have also mentioned that the restoration of lost property, allocations of funds to people – we have resolved all that. Of course, we are heavily involved in the construction and restoration of houses. We must resolve this matter as soon as possible. At the same time, funds have been allocated for the reconstruction of apartment buildings. Calculate that and, if we need additional funds, we should allocate as much as we need.
The fact that residential buildings in Gandja were destroyed by Armenian ballistic missiles and many people died in the aftermath once again showed Armenian savagery to the whole world. These houses must be rebuilt. But I think they should not be built in the same location. Their former places should be turned into memorial complexes. I think we should also start cleaning work there. Those places remained destroyed for a while so that foreign journalists and representatives of diplomatic missions could witness Armenian atrocities first hand. Almost all of the world's leading media outlets have aired those horrific images in their video reports. It is now necessary to clear the rubble of the destroyed apartment buildings in Gandja. Render assistance to local authorities and prepare projects. There should be memorial complexes in those places so that no one forgets our martyrs. We should perpetuate their memory.
Work has already begun on the liberated lands – in the sense that relevant instructions have been given. First of all, mine clearance work is underway. Preliminary contacts have already been made in connection with urban development.
Concerning mine clearance, we need to boost this area significantly. After all, according to the information I have, the body dealing with this issue does not have a public status. ANAMA does not have a government status. It is an ordinary agency. It has virtually no agency-specific powers in the public administration structure. It is a body that was once part of a commission. Therefore, I have already issued the order to reorganize this body in the coming days. It is also possible to consider merging it with the agency for the Rehabilitation of Territories. Because this body has no agency status either, the staffing figures should be reviewed. According to my information, about 500 people are working there. How many exactly?
Prime Minister Ali Asadov: Five hundred sixty people.
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course, we cannot achieve what we want with this composition. This new agency to be established must be equipped with the latest technology. Make sure you take this into account in the Public Investment Program not to waste any time on this issue. Some estimates are given now; statements are made. I think these statements are irrelevant. It is simply irresponsible to try to guess how many years it will take us to clear these lands of mines. No one can predict that. There can be no criteria because the despised enemy planted booby traps and mines everywhere and did not provide us with maps. Much as we demanded that there should be a map of those mined areas, they have not been given to us. Therefore, we need to prioritize our work, just as we have done. At the same time, I ordered the Ministry of Defense to establish at least two field engineering battalions at the initial stage. Yesterday, the Minister of Defense informed me that work in this area is underway.
Meanwhile, as you know, a large crew of 130 people has arrived from Turkey. They are training our sappers as instructors and, at the same time, do the mine clearance themselves. Two days ago, a group of sappers arrived from Russia, and they have already started this work. We express our deep gratitude to all foreign partners because mine clearance is key to the restoration of these places. There should be a single concept for the rehabilitation of all the territories and cities - a vision for each city. I will now give the floor to Samir Nuriyev. Preliminary contacts have already been established, and he will provide information about that. At the same time, there must be a unified approach to the rehabilitation of villages. The number of people living in some villages was very small before the occupation – about 20 people, 30 people, 50 people. Of course, we should first deal with the restoration of large settlements.
I think that relevant agencies, the government, and the Presidential Administration should determine villages' optimal composition. In other words, there must be a reference point for us. Of course, the existence of these historic settlements and land plots must be taken into account so that the people who will settle there can provide for their families by working there. They should no longer need state support. Land parcels should be allocated to them so that they could cultivate them and earn a good income. Given that no land reform has been carried out on these lands, we must, of course, work out new criteria for this reform. In the 1990s, land reform was incomplete, which subsequently led to some problems. Land plots are not properly registered. That is why we are now faced with this situation. The information received from the satellite does not match the information available on the ground. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture is currently working to solve this problem. On the liberated lands, of course, these mistakes should not be made. Therefore, we need to know precisely which lands will be transferred to the state land fund and which lands will be given to the forest fund. I must also say that most of our forests have been cut down. I have information about that. I will speak of that shortly. In general, the main activity areas in the liberated lands should be agriculture, agricultural processing, and tourism to preserve that region's natural features. Hard as the Armenians tried, they could not settle there because they lacked human resources. I have visited the liberated lands where the Armenians used to live. I was horrified to see their living conditions. There was a well-known village of Shurnukh where the Armenians lived. They have now been evicted from there. Yesterday, the head of the Border Service informed me that it was a terrible sight. It looks more like a kennel. I told them to make video footage of that. Journalists have now been sent there to record that and show their plight. They had neither material nor human resources. Besides, they never treated these lands as their own. Otherwise, Shusha, a city where they lived the most, would not be in such a deplorable state now. If they tried to falsify history and present Shusha to the whole world as an Armenian city, they should have at least brought it to decent condition. The leaders of that separatist entity built mansions for themselves. Armenian oligarchs built mansions for themselves. But there are no other modern structures there. They destroyed our historical and architectural sites. Therefore, the regulations on this and other matters, including urban planning, should be followed to determine the exact composition of cities to be restored. We have to set ourselves a goal – what we want a particular city to be like. Of course, things must go comprehensively. Mine clearance, urban planning, infrastructure projects and construction must meet the latest standards. Therefore, I would request that Samir Nuriyev provide information about the work done so far and future plans. Please.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Another critical issue to be resolved before the start of the restoration work is the damage assessment. The Ministry of Economy has followed up on my instructions and established contacts with international partners on this issue. Of course, we have to do all the initial work ourselves. Video and photo footage of all the cities and villages must be prepared, approved and recorded.
At the same time, all destroyed and now liberated lands must be surveyed by satellite. Every city and village should be documented and, if possible, certified using drones. We have to do it ourselves. When foreign experts and international companies arrive, these materials will be provided to them. Of course, they should be free to do all the research themselves. First of all, the destruction of historical sites should be reflected – the destruction of public buildings, government buildings, enterprises – all enterprises were state-owned at that time, the demolition of individual houses and apartment buildings. After all the paperwork has been prepared, the current value of these properties should be established in manat equivalent, i.e., in ruble equivalent and its current valuation. In other words, we have to do this work ourselves, making the job of foreign companies a little easier. Based on this, they will prepare their reports independently. We need that because to start a compensation lawsuit, we must have the opinion of well-known international companies.
When it comes to losses, we must also calculate lost income. In other words, what income could we get from these enterprises over 30 years? There were many enterprises, and these enterprises had great potential. They have been destroyed, and we have been deprived of the income we could have received. This must also be calculated. The damage to our environment must also be assessed. I will cite a few figures. On the destruction of forests - forests were not just destroyed. The trees in them were cut down and sold. The market price of those felled forests and trees must be calculated. They were sold and became an illicit source of income. At the same time, our lands have been exploited illegally. According to Armenian media, most of those lands were occupied by the leaders of the criminal regime. Former Armenian presidents Kocharyan and Sargsyan had large estates of land there. Illegal regime's leaders had large land parcels there. They profited every year because those lands are very fertile and prolific. The same goes for our pastures and meadows. The illegal exploitation of all this must be assessed, and we must turn it into the monetary equivalent.
Of course, the illegal exploitation of our natural resources is an undeniable fact. We have the names of companies. I must say that if the companies that illegally exploited our gold and other deposits do not pay compensation, this issue will go to court. If they do not deliver this compensation, all the cases will go to international courts, and they will be humiliated. After that, their business activities will practically come to a halt because there is no place in the modern world for companies and people who illegally exploit natural resources in another country and make a profit from that. Therefore, they must calculate the value of the gold and other natural resources they illegally exploited, calculate the damage they have caused, the income gained, and compensate us. In that case, we may choose not to pursue legal action.
By the way, one of the economic sectors in the liberated lands will be mining. We already have experience in this area, and we will continue operating in this sphere.
Therefore, the floor is given to the Minister of Economy. Please provide information on this and other issues.
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President Ilham Aliyev: We cannot start reconstruction work without making an assessment, as I said, without foreign partners and companies making an assessment. In other words, when I talk about reconstruction, I mean the restoration of houses and cities. The implementation of infrastructure projects has started, and some of them are already being implemented. But we can begin the restoration of homes, or rather, the construction of houses and cities in the place of the destroyed ones, only after an international assessment is made. Otherwise, the opponents may forward groundless claims and accuse us of falsifying some facts in court. Therefore, first of all, we must do all the paperwork ourselves, so that international companies can come and do their part. After that, we can start the process of rebuilding cities.
When cities are rebuilt, I think we should leave some places as they are now, so no one ever forgets that. When an urban development plan is developed, you should identify such locations and then report to me. For example, certain part of Aghdam, Fuzuli or another city will remain in a state of destruction as an open-air museum of Armenian occupation. I think that museums of occupation should be established in all liberated cities. Along with memorial complexes and monuments reflecting our Victory, museums of occupation must also be established. You should develop a concept of such museums. These museums should reflect the general picture of Armenia's policy of aggression. Moreover, each city and each district should have its presentation. Azerbaijani citizens never forget this, and foreign visitors must see what savages we fought against and what evil forces we saved our lands and the South Caucasus from.
Another issue is associated with water resources. I would like Shahin Mustafayev to provide information about that. As you know, a special commission was set up some time ago to use water resources more efficiently. The commission is working hard. Some shortcomings have already been identified, including illegal tie-ins, the lack of water records and even the lack of water records entering and leaving the Mingachevir reservoir, our largest reservoir. So there was such an unpleasant picture. Some of the shortcomings were quickly eliminated. At the same time, there were illegal tie-ins, perhaps hundreds of them. Therefore, some areas were given too much water, while others were not watered at all. Farmers and villagers rightly complained about the inadequate supply of water. Local administrative resources were used; local authorities provided water to farmers affiliated with them, whereas other farmers faced problems, especially given the drought we experienced last year and 2019. The drought may continue this year too. Of course, we have enormous water sources in our liberated lands, and the despised enemy deprived us of these sources. The source of the Tartar River, our largest river in these areas, is the Kalbajar district. But we were deprived of the waters of the Tartar River because the Sarsang and Sugovushan reservoirs were in the hands of the Armenians. They cut off the water, and we had to dig hundreds of artesian wells in these areas. This is also fraught with high financial costs – both on drilling and operation because energy is consumed. After we liberated the Sugovushan settlement, the water started flowing, but there is a problem with canals now because these canals remained unused for many years.
Our other rivers originate there and pass through that area: the Hakari, the Bazarchay, the Okhchuchay, the Khachinchay rivers. Many of them flow into the Araz River, and reservoirs' construction along the rivers should be considered. This item must be included in this year's Public Investment Program and the program for work on liberated lands. We need to start designing and building them. I want to say again that the lands there are already very fertile. Once the water begins to flow, productivity will increase, and we become mostly self-sufficient in terms of food. Shahin Mustafayev has the floor now. What has been done so far, and what are the plans in this regard?
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President Ilham Aliyev: Expenditure oversight must be tightened. In particular, there must be rigorous control over goods purchased through state agencies. In some cases, figures are inflated. In some cases, government agencies purchase a lot of unnecessary goods and materials for their convenience. There are such cases. They buy cars, equipment and furniture from abroad. This must end. We must put an end to all these unnecessary costs. Therefore, control over expenditures should be more robust. See if some additional control mechanism can perhaps be applied. Secondly, the price of oil envisaged in our budget is $40. It is a very conservative approach. But now the price of oil on the world market is more than $50. Of course, it is not easy to predict. However, given that the pandemic will end this year – vaccination campaigns are already underway in many countries – and economic activity and travel will increase, air transport and other sectors will open, there will be even greater demand for fuel. In other words, there is a high probability that the price of oil will not drop below $50. Given this, we may have a surplus, so you need to think already about where this surplus can be channeled. We may reduce transfers from the State Oil Fund. If the 2.2 billion manats allocated for the restoration of territories is not enough, then it is possible that these funds, i.e., if there is a surplus, can be spent on that. In any case, time will tell. Judging by the first-quarter results, we will see which way the world economy is heading and what processes are unfolding globally.
A lot was done in the social sphere last year. I have already mentioned this. If there are any additions now, the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population should mention that. At the same time, this year, we must provide more houses to the families of martyrs. In total, more than 9,000 martyr families have been provided with houses and apartments by the state. Last year, homes were planned for 1,500 martyrs' families. The Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population recently reported to me that these 1,500 families would be provided with housing by January 15. This program should be continued this year. Homes will be given to the relatives of our heroic servicemen killed in the Patriotic War. From now on, I must also say that homes for the IDPs will be built only on liberated lands. Some projects are underway, and some are nearing completion. Homes have been constructed in Fuzuli, Horadiz and other settlements, and these, of course, will be given to the IDPs. However, homes for the IDPs should no longer be built in Baku, Ganja, Sumgayit, Mingachevir and elsewhere. Homes for the IDPs, i.e., former IDPs, will be built only on liberated lands, and we will do this through a special program. I want everyone to know this. This is a very fair approach.
During a recent meeting, I was informed that 52 percent of former IDPs are settled in cities. The vast majority of these people were expelled from rural areas, but they were settled in cities for some reason. Of course, there must be a special program to return these people to rural areas. I recently instructed the Presidential Administration to conduct surveys among the IDPs and find out their intentions. Surveys should be performed both among the IDPs that have been provided with housing and those still living under challenging conditions in dormitories or kindergartens to know the real situation. We must not deceive ourselves and should understand the actual situation. I ask the IDPs to answer honestly when asked if they intend to go to their ancestral land or not. They should tell us so that we carry out our restoration work accordingly. I am sure that the vast majority of former IDPs will return to their native lands with great enthusiasm. The state will do its best to achieve this. At the same time, we must have official information. Therefore, I think that this survey will clarify many issues. You have to suggest the questions for the survey. Of course, family composition, place of work, whether they are pleased with the work, the financial status of those families, salaries, income, whether they have entrepreneurial activity, how many are unemployed in the family – all these questions should be asked. The key question is whether they want to return to their lands. This is natural. But I want to say that the houses for the IDPs will be given to martyrs' families. I have made this decision. I have already ordered that the apartments at the disposal of the State Committee for Refugees be transferred to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population. It is a fairly large program. Therefore, the martyrs' families that were in the line before the war should be placed in these houses. At the same time, relatives of our heroic soldiers killed in the Second Karabakh War should be provided with these homes. This is a fair decision. I think that the IDPs, I am sorry – former IDPs will understand this correctly. I have always said everything as it is. I know that they have been waiting for these houses for many years, but the lands have been liberated now. Therefore, it does not make sense to place former IDPs in Baku, Ganja and Sumgayit. It is an excellent decision to give the houses intended for them to the families of martyrs.
So please report on what is planned. In my opening remarks, I have already said that the allowance for martyr families has been increased from 300 to 500 manats. There are other increases. Please report on that and the work to be done.
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President Ilham Aliyev: In my opening remarks, I provided information on the felling of forests and said that the damage must be calculated. I want all the people of Azerbaijan to know that in 1988, the forest fund in the liberated areas was 228,000 hectares, and in 2020 it is only 174,000 hectares. So 54,000 hectares of forest resources have been destroyed, which is yet another crime by the Armenians. Therefore, this issue should be inspected very seriously. As I said, the damage must be calculated, and relevant agencies, first of all, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy, must develop a unique program to restore the forests destroyed by Armenians.
The liberated lands also contained state nature reserves and sanctuaries. I want to inform the people of Azerbaijan about this. The Garagol State Nature Reserve in Lachin district was established in 1987. It covered an area of 240 hectares. It has been completely destroyed, looted and all trees in it have been cut down. The Basitchay State Nature Reserve in the Zangilan district was established on the initiative of great leader Heydar Aliyev in 1974. It is a unique forest in Europe, and there were rare plane trees there. The reserve covered 107 hectares, but now there are only 42 hectares left. It is another manifestation of Armenian savagery, showing that they understood and knew that they were living in these lands temporarily. They destroyed our homes, our historical sites, our mosques, our forests. Only 42 hectares are left of the rare plane tree forest. A group must be sent there, conduct an inspection on the spot, and restore the reserve.
The Gubadli State Nature Reserve was established in 1969. Its area was 8,500 hectares in 1988, and now it covers 6,923 hectares. So 1,577 hectares have been destroyed and looted.
Heydar Aliyev established the Dashalti State Nature Reserve in 1981. In 1988, it had an area of 400 hectares; now, it is 350 hectares. Here, too, 50 hectares have been destroyed.
The Lachin State Nature Reserve was established in 1961. In 1988, it covered an area of 7,500 hectares. At present, 4,457 hectares remain, so the Armenians have destroyed 3,043 hectares.
The Arazboyu State Nature Reserve in Zangilan district was established in 1993 and covered 1,700 hectares. At present, only 135 hectares remain. So 1,565 hectares have been destroyed. This information was obtained by the "Azercosmos" using the "Azersky" satellite and submitted to me. Therefore, I repeat that special groups must be sent there, examine the situation on the ground, document it, calculate the damage, and register it as another act of environmental terror by Armenia.
There are vast arable areas in the liberated lands. I have told the Ministry of Agriculture and the Presidential Administration to carry out some autumn sowing last year and this year without wasting much time. For this to happen, though, we first had to clear those areas of mines, and some work has already been done. I want an update on this issue and, in general, on the work done last year and plans for this year, including in the liberated lands. We need to make most of the preparations before the spring season. Minister of Agriculture, please provide an update.
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President Ilham Aliyev: The development of agriculture in the liberated lands must be systematic, and the government, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy must identify priorities from the very beginning. First of all, what crops should be planted to ensure food security. The liberated lands have great potential in both crop and livestock production. There are vast pastures in Kalbajar and Lachin districts. During the Soviet era, grain and cotton growing, viticulture, tobacco and cocoon growing, horticulture and animal husbandry were widespread in the liberated lands. We must take into account that we now have new technologies. For example, last year, we achieved a record in cotton growing, especially if we consider that four to five years ago, when the state became seriously engaged with cotton production, the yield per hectare was about 14-15 centners. We gradually increased the yield to 33.5 centners. I can say that during the Soviet period, especially in the 1970s and early 1980s, when cotton growing was developing rapidly, more than 30 centners were harvested for two or three years. But this is not the limit. I looked at the list of districts engaged in cotton growing. Productivity is very low in several districts, and the sown areas are limited. So it would be best if you looked again. For instance, in Samukh, Jalilabad and some other districts, the sown areas are less than 1,000 hectares, so perhaps we should not try to develop cotton growing there because productivity is very low. We can use these lands for other agricultural purposes.
As for the liberated lands, we must do our work in a planned manner. Food security comes first. Second, we need to boost our export potential. We must diversify our export potential here because the recent ban on tomato exports to Russia was much unexpected for us, of course. I remember the Russian side appealing to us a few years ago – at that time, sanctions were imposed on Russia. They asked us to increase Azerbaijan's agricultural exports to Russia. It was after that that there was a very significant increase. If we compare tomatoes' export to Russia from four to five years ago and last year, we will see a huge difference. If not for that ban – although it has been partially lifted – our exports would have reached 200,000 tons last year. The government knows these figures well - they were much lower four to five years ago.
In other words, we need to review our agricultural exports. We must look for new markets to avoid such unpleasant situations and increase the range of farm products. We must enter new markets, provided that traditional markets remain. I think that agriculture can develop very seriously in the liberated lands, especially in horticulture. Fruits are accepted in any market. Given the climate of our traditional markets, of course, no other fruit can compete with ours.
As for vegetables, there are greenhouses now. However, we have a favorable climate here, and our vegetables are better and cheaper, of course. Simultaneously, local products can compete with our vegetables in traditional markets, but no one can compete with us in horticulture and fruit production.
Viticulture has excellent potential. In Soviet times, there were extensive vineyards. I was informed by "Azercosmos" that only 1,200 hectares of vineyards were illegally harvested. There are large grain fields. About 100,000 hectares or 90,000 hectares were intended for grain growing. This creates good opportunities for us. You also need to see if we need that much land for grain growing or use it for other purposes. I must also add that this is a significant loss for Armenia because there were about 200,000 hectares under grain in Armenia, i.e., together with liberated lands; about 100,000 in Armenia and about 90,000 in the occupied territories. They have now lost it. Of course, they will have big problems, and we will have a significant advantage. Therefore, you should take these factors into account. Of course, we must prepare recommendations and advice for those who will return to the liberated lands. Of course, subsidies will be integrated into the overall system. But as long as people have not returned there yet, the state is doing and should do this. We must also prepare for the autumn and spring planting seasons. We have ample opportunities to reap a bountiful harvest from the liberated lands this season.
The liberated lands also have enormous energy potential. From the beginning, I want to say that I would like to see the liberated areas as a green energy zone. There are ample opportunities for that. First, the hydropower plants due to be built at the Khudafarin and Giz Galasi hydro junctions have great energy potential. Once these stations start operating, our energy capacity will be more than 100 megawatts. At the same time, establishing hydropower plants in Kalbajar and Lachin districts is on the agenda. When the hated enemy left these lands, they destroyed all our hydroelectric power plants. Armenians have destroyed 13 hydropower plants. They burned houses, cut down forests, and destroyed hydroelectric power plants, acted like savages. But never mind, we will rebuild those stations. Therefore, funds should be allocated for this purpose in the program on the rehabilitation of territories. Specialists should examine the situation on the spot and make suggestions. Of course, when these stations will be launched, the sequence must also be determined because there is no population there yet. The commissioning of these stations must go in parallel with the people's return and the resumption of economic and industrial activity. But this work must be done now. All this region will serve as an example of a green energy zone for the whole world. We will show the world that we have not only restored these areas – I do not doubt that – but also turned them into the most beautiful places in the world. Simultaneously, state-of-the-art technologies should be applied, the most economically viable technologies, energy-saving technologies and green energy – water, wind, solar. There is great interest in renewable energy now, and the projects discussed last year are already being implemented. The construction of a 240-megawatt wind farm is underway. A foreign investor will build the plant with his own money. Another project is a 200-megawatt solar power plant. With this in mind, we must attract foreign investors to the liberated lands. There are many large transnational companies interested in investing in this area now. About ten companies are interested, and the primary focus for them should be liberated lands. We are strengthening our energy potential. The Gobu power plant with a capacity of more than 300 megawatts is under construction now. It will also enhance our energy potential. An energy system meeting most modern standards must be created in the liberated lands. The instruction has been issued, and two powerlines are already being laid to Shusha – one by "AzerEnergy" and the other by "AzerIshig". Of course, we must do it quickly because there are only generators in Shusha now. An interconnected energy system must be created across the liberated lands, i.e., a system integrated into our energy system. The Minister of Energy now has the floor. Please provide information both on the work done and plans for the future.
The head of state delivered closing remarks at the meeting.
Closing remarks by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- We have much to do in 2021, both traditional work, which is set out in the public investment program, and the work to be done in the liberated areas. This is what I would like to talk mostly about because our conventional infrastructure projects are almost completed. If we exclude the liberated lands, the level of gasification has reached 96 percent. There is no problem with electricity. I have just brought the Davos Forum report to the attention of the Azerbaijani people, and it says that we are in second place in that respect. Most of the roads have already been built, while the remaining projects are going according to plan. Railway and other infrastructure projects, including irrigation, are proceeding according to plan and are nearing completion. Therefore, our primary focus should be the liberated lands, and the implementation of initial infrastructure projects in this area has already begun. The first project is a highway project to Shusha because the traditional roads to Shusha are not quite convenient for us now. We use these roads accompanied by Russian peacekeeping forces – both the Lachin corridor and through the Girmizi Bazar area. In the future, of course, we will use these roads freely, including the Aghdam-Khankandi-Shusha road. The statement signed on November 10 states that all communications will be opened, so it will not be a problem to use these roads after some time. Today, it is necessary to build a new highway to Shusha, and we have already started doing that. It is a complicated project, the terrain is very challenging, especially now that the weather has set in. However, the Ahmadbayli-Alkhanli-Fuzuli-Shusha road is under construction, and I think it will be completed before the schedule.
Another important project has already been launched. It is the Toganali-Kalbajar road, which also passes through tricky terrain. The altitude is 3,500 meters in some places, so it is not easy to use this road in the winter. Therefore, the construction of the tunnels is planned. Relevant instructions have been issued, and this project is being implemented. At the same time, the order has been given to build a road from Horadiz to Zangilan, then to Gubadli and further to Lachin district. Preparations are underway. I must add that the route from Toganali to Kalbajar will be extended to the Lachin district. Thus, we will create the road and transport infrastructure on both sides – from the north and south to Lachin and Kalbajar districts.
Meanwhile, on my instructions, a site is being sought for the construction of a modern international airport in the Lachin or Kalbajar districts. The terrain is indeed challenging there, as almost the entire territory is mountainous. It is not easy to find the right place there, but research is underway now. I expect an update soon. Thus, a new international airport will be built in either Lachin or Kalbajar. There is little time left for the start of the construction of an international airport in Fuzuli. The order has been issued, and the construction will begin shortly. So the city of Fuzuli, there are no traces of a city there, will have an international airport this year. It is necessary for the development of the Karabakh region because all types of aircraft will be able to land both in Fuzuli and in the Kalbajar-Lachin zone. At the same time, foreigners interested in coming to Shusha will be able to land in Fuzuli and then drive to Shusha. In parallel with the airport's construction, preliminary research should be conducted on the organization of international flights from Fuzuli. An international airport must organize international flights. First of all, our airline AZAL should work hard on this issue to provide an air link to some of our neighboring countries immediately after the airport's opening.
The two international airports will help us restore the Karabakh region, transport cargo, and develop tourism. At the same time, it will be essential for people's comfort after they return there.
Plans related to electricity have been approved. As the minister has also just said, I want to say that both conventional and renewable energy will be widespread there, and the energy system will be fully integrated into our overall energy grid.
Instructions have been issued on railways, and preparations are underway. The construction of the Horadiz-Fuzuli and then the Fuzuli-Shusha railway is also on the agenda. A schedule should be approved. After people return to Shusha, of course, this road will be put into operation. But in any case, the design work is already underway, and funds must be allocated. A railway must be built to ensure easy access to Shusha. This project will be launched this year.
Simultaneously, the Horadiz-Aghband railway, a settlement in Zangilan district near the Armenian border, will be rebuilt because the hated enemy has destroyed this road and made it completely unusable. This road is of particular importance for the opening of the Nakhchivan corridor. At present, specific work is underway to open the Nakhchivan corridor. I do not want to anticipate the events, but this corridor's opening is stipulated in the statement signed on November 10. Therefore, it will open and usher new opportunities in the region. This road will be used by Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Iran. It is of special importance for future multilateral cooperation. We will begin the construction of the Horadiz-Aghband railway in our territory. At the same time, work will be done to restore and modernize the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic railway.
Given that the Armenian railways are owned by Russian railways, in this field, our counterpart is Russia, of course. The Armenian state has nothing to do with the Mehri railway project. We discuss this issue with Russia because "Russian Railways" are the owners of Armenia's railways. Preliminary discussions are positive - so far, so good. Upcoming developments will also be made public.
Irrigation must be accelerated to increase agricultural productivity on the liberated lands. We have already talked about that, so I do not want to repeat anything. The most modern irrigation systems must be arranged, especially since there are abundant water sources.
The power supply has already been talked about here, and all the instructions have been given. The Karabakh region will be an example for the world as a green energy zone.
Establishing borders requires urgent work. Our border with Armenia is hundreds of kilometers long. This border is already under our control. The entire border infrastructure must be organized there. Relevant instructions have been given to the State Border Service. Currently, the State Border Service is guarding the Zangilan-Gubadli border. Troops of the Ministry of Defense serve in the direction of Kalbajar-Lachin. We will return to that matter in the future. In any case, border protection is of particular importance because there are certain revengeful forces in Armenia, and we cannot ignore their statements. But everyone should know that if our border is trespassed, those responsible will be punished, and such provocations will cost such forces dearly.
At the same time, the Republic of Azerbaijan has completely restored its border with the Islamic Republic of Iran. A 132 kilometers long border has been reinstated. When I went to the Khudafarin bridge, I said that this border is the border of friendship. Indeed it is. But a border is a border, and the entire infrastructure must be created. Funds should be allocated for these issues as well.
All instructions on the application of urban planning rules have already been issued. We must continue to invite foreign representatives, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps and delegations visiting Azerbaijan to the liberated territories. For example, an ICESCO delegation is expected to visit Azerbaijan this month. It would be good if some delegation members went to the liberated territories, visited the mosques destroyed by the Armenians and the Armenian leadership, saw those mosques' remains, and informed Muslims of the world more about that. It is not only Muslims but the whole world must know of how the enemy destroyed our historical and religious sites.
Of course, the Karabakh region has excellent tourism potential. Therefore, tourist routes must be designed so that the tourism sector can develop without wasting any time after the return of life to this region. From now on, international tourism exhibitions – which will be restored after the pandemic – should show the Karabakh region's tourism potential, tourist routes and historical sites to showcase this region as a beautiful travel destination for the rest of the world. Given that the Karabakh region has a vibrant, charming, unique nature and historical sites, I am sure it will become one of Azerbaijan's popular travel destinations.
In short, we have great plans. The war ended only two months ago. Yet, notice how much work has already been done. Restoration work has already begun - testimony that our words and actions concur. We said that we would restore these lands soon after they are liberated from occupation. I recently said that we would create a paradise in the Karabakh region, and I keep my word. It is up to all of us to fulfill these words.
Therefore, 2021 should be very significant in this regard. In 2021, the people of Azerbaijan and the whole world will see that our intentions are implemented and our plans come true.
The year has begun, and I wish all of us the best of luck and good health and happiness to the people of Azerbaijan. I wish the former IDPs a speedy return to their native lands. In any case, the Azerbaijani state will do its best to bring that day closer. Unified Azerbaijan will continue to develop successfully and confidently. Thank you.
Following the ceremony of signing documents, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan are making press statements.25 September 2023, 16:35
Dear Mr. President,
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His Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
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