Ilham Aliyev was interviewed by Azerbaijan Television in city of Salyan

18 April 2023, 17:35
Ilham Aliyev was interviewed by Azerbaijan Television in city of Salyan

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been interviewed by Azerbaijan Television in the city of Salyan.

- It is nice to see you, Mr. President. First, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

Mr. President, you visit all the regions of Azerbaijan regularly, get acquainted with the work carried out and the ongoing development on the ground, and provide your recommendations and set out tasks. Today you visited Neftchala and Salyan districts. Please share your impressions about the trip.

- My impressions are very positive. As you said, I often visit the regions of Azerbaijan. As you may be aware, state programs on the socioeconomic development of the regions have been implemented in Azerbaijan since 2004. The fourth such program is currently underway. As a result of the implementation of these programs, large-scale construction work has been carried out in the regions. This work continues. My visits to the regions also exercise oversight, i.e., how the tasks I have set are being implemented. At the same time, further tasks and recommendations are provided so that all the goals we have declared – first of all, improvement of people's well-being and creation of infrastructure facilities, including social infrastructure – are implemented in the regions. In a nutshell, the overall development of Azerbaijan's regions has both a social nature and, at the same time, strengthens our country.

Today's trip is also a traditional one. I have visited Salyan and Neftchala districts several times, and the ceremonies I attended during this trip are an indicator of themselves. There is a beautiful “ASAN xidmet” center, which is the 25th center already. The “ASAN xidmet” system is already well-known worldwide as an Azerbaijani brand and is highly appreciated by the country's population. I must also note that the services provided in “ASAN xidmet” centers are welcomed by the citizens, and the approval rate of the service is 99.8 percent. I do not know of any other service that would be so popular with the population. At the same time, several countries are already implementing the “ASAN” model. We provide methodology support to these countries. Over the last few years, that is, over ten years, there have been 61 million applications. So, establishing this service created a revolution in the field of public services. It has been a turning point, and more than 300 services are now provided. In other words, “ASAN xidmet” is an example of our intellectual products. At the same time, we are already exporting intellectual products.

Other activities are also evidence of the great things being done. For example, the Olympic Sports Center, the children's hospital, the maternity hospital, the digital control center for electricity supply, other measures, and the steps related to creating jobs, including opening a large fishery in the Neftchala district. All this shows that our country is developing dynamically and that social policy is being successfully implemented. There are also infrastructure projects – today, I attended the opening of a new road. Our initiatives related to the real sector of the economy, including jobs, our initiatives related to industrialization, and our initiatives related to the production of export-oriented products – all these are being implemented and once again show the strength of our country. Again, today's visit has clarified some points. In other words, I am delighted with my trip today, with the trip’s results and what I have seen.

- Large-scale and rapid restoration and reconstruction work are underway in the liberated territories – Karabakh and East Zangezur. A period of great revival has already begun in those areas. What can you say about this work?

- This work is going according to plan. As you may know, the restoration of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur is our top priority, and most of my visits to the regions are to those particular areas. However, I regularly visit other parts of our country. The work done in Karabakh and East Zangezur shows that we, the owners of these territories, have returned to our ancestral lands. Over 30 years, Armenia devastated those lands, did not leave a single stone unturned, and engaged in looting, robbery and barbarism. We, the owners of these lands, have come to build and create. Therefore, as soon as the war ended, work was started immediately. Currently, former IDPs live in two settlements – in the villages of Aghali and Talish. We see the future face of Karabakh and East Zangezur as a whole in the example of these villages – prosperous cities and villages, infrastructure created based on smart management principles. So, all this is obvious. Again, these two projects show the people of Azerbaijan and the whole world what the future appearance of Karabakh and East Zangezur will be like.

Infrastructure projects are ongoing. Achievements of the first three months of the year have allowed us to add to the budget. The government has been instructed to conduct budget reconciliation and submit it to the Milli Majlis. First of all, the Tax Service collected 1.1 billion manats in excess of the forecast in the first three months of the year. This is also a result of transparency. It is a result of new management methods. The funds collected above the forecast exceed 400 million manats in the customs sector. Currently, the reforms ongoing in the field of customs and the process of eliminating the shortcomings from previous periods are going on successfully. In three months alone, 1.5 billion manats were collected over the forecast. Of course, we have completed only the first three months of the year, and this number will increase further before the end of the year. Therefore, budget reconciliation should be performed to accelerate the work and fulfill other tasks facing the country.

The additions to the budget will account for at least 3 billion manats, perhaps even more. Most of this amount will be used to reconstruct Karabakh and East Zangezur. Our military spending comes next because there is a great need for that. Everyone is observing the processes around the world. Threats are increasing in the world. Dangers are growing. We crushed the enemy and achieved a glorious Victory in the Second Karabakh War. However, revengeful forces are rising in Armenia again, so we must be ready for any situation and create an army that would be exemplary on a global scale and be one of the strongest armies. The Azerbaijani Army is already potent now. We showed our strength on the battlefield. On the battlefield, we showed the Azerbaijani people's strength, resolve and unconquerable spirit. At the same time, we showed the professionalism of our soldiers and our military potential.

In the two and a half years after the war, much attention has been paid to the issues of army building. I can confidently say that the Azerbaijani Army today is much stronger than the Azerbaijani Army that won the war in 2020. At the same time, we must be ready for any development at any given time. Therefore, all issues related to building the army and stepping up our defense potential are our top priorities, along with restoring Karabakh and East Zangazur. Therefore, we will channel most of the funds into these domains. Other essential expenses will also be provided. This shows again that when many countries worldwide are struggling with economic, political and military crises, Azerbaijan is increasing its state budget, which is already at a record level. After this increase, our budget expenses will set a new record, reaching at least 36 billion manats.

The public is regularly updated about the work progress in Karabakh and East Zangezur. All the activities related to the implementation of infrastructure projects, railways, highways, electricity supply, water supply, and land reclamation measures are going according to plan. Two airports are already in operation, and the third is under construction.

I said some time ago that we would return the former IDPs to Lachin by the end of this year. I can say with complete confidence today that we will achieve that in the summer months. So, we are doing this work ahead of schedule. Whereas we planned to build a little more than 400 houses in the city of Lachin at the first stage, according to the latest information, our latest plans, the number of private houses alone will be 570. At the same time, more than 140 apartments will also be ready. In other words, we will accommodate more than 700 families in the city of Lachin during this year’s summer months. At the same time, work is underway in the villages of Zabukh and Sus, where the illegal settlement policy was carried out. We will return the former IDPs to those villages by the end of the year.

In parallel, the first residential compound is being successfully built in Shusha. We will soon lay the foundation of the second sizeable residential compound, i.e., a project consisting of many houses. The construction of residential buildings in the cities of Aghdam, Fuzuli and Zangilan is going according to plan, and preparations are underway in the cities of Kalbadjar and Jabrayil. In parallel with this, schools, hospitals, social facilities, and mosques – more than ten mosques are being rebuilt or fundamentally renovated. More precisely, only two mosques are being renovated because all the remaining mosques were razed to the ground by the Armenians. So, our construction work is proceeding in this direction, and this shows again that all our plans and the goals we have declared are and will be materialized.

- Our next question is related to peace negotiations with Armenia. What stage are the negotiations at now?

- As you know, Azerbaijan’s negotiation initiatives are the key factor today. Because despite the occupation, Armenian savagery and barbarism, Azerbaijan proposed to sign a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Azerbaijan put forward the well-known five principles. These principles are the fundamental principles of the norms and principles of international law. From the beginning, we have declared that negotiations are possible and a peace treaty can be signed based on these principles – the sovereignty of countries, territorial integrity, inviolability of borders and other principles.

In the last two years, there have been various crisscrosses in the position of the Armenian side, i.e., there have been various changes in it. As a result, it seems to us that Armenia has generally agreed to our approach. Because there was no other option, this is why Armenia officially recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty at the Prague and Sochi meetings last October. In other words, they accepted that the issue of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia should be resolved based on the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991. What does that suggest? It suggests that the borders between union republics are considered state borders. So, by taking that official step, Armenia officially recognized Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan. Armenia, which used to say that “Karabakh is Armenia and full stop,” must now repeat our words that “Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark.” Because if they have said “A,” they should also say “B.” Having shown its readiness for a peace treaty based on the Alma-Ata Declaration, Armenia should now officially declare that Karabakh is Azerbaijan.

I believe that the progress on this issue is evidence of that because there is no other option. We have repeatedly stated that we will not discuss our internal affairs with any country. Karabakh is our internal matter. Armenians living in Karabakh should either accept Azerbaijani citizenship or find another place to live. There is complete freedom, and all democratic fundamentals are on the table. This issue should be resolved based on human rights. Today, our actions show that our intention is to sign a peace agreement soon and end this conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

I should also note that in the two and a half years since the Second Karabakh War, Armenia, its patrons, and, at the same time, the countries and forces that support it have clearly witnessed our resolve, determination and strength. I want to wait to list anything. Many important events have taken place over these two and a half years, both in the direction of the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border and, at the same time, in the region under the control of Russia's temporarily deployed peacekeeping forces. We have repeatedly shown that we own these lands and will not allow anyone to call the shots on our territory.

The separatists should also understand that they have two options: either they will live under the Azerbaijani flag, or they will leave. We have chased Serzhik Sargsyan, Robert Kocharian and Seyran Ohanyan, the leading figures of the separatists, out of Karabakh like dogs and brought them to their knees. They came to Karabakh during the Second Karabakh War, supposedly to fight against us, and all three ran away from our lands like rabbits. None can poke their nose into Khankendi or any other place now.

The separatists, who are currently inventing some fictitious titles for themselves – one calls himself a president, another calls himself a minister, third one calls himself a speaker of some parliament – this group of clowns must finally understand that they cannot test our patience. We have tried to explain to them many times in different ways that they will either follow our word or be ejected from there and leave the Armenians there, who have become their hostages and captives, in peace. I am sure most of the Armenian population currently living in Karabakh is ready to accept Azerbaijani citizenship. Simply put, these leeches, these predatory animals, won’t let them do that. They won't let these people live comfortably, having kept them as hostages for 30 years. Therefore, my position is this. Let everyone hear it – the Armenian leaders and the forces behind them today. No one can influence our will. We have proven it – both during and after the war. If necessary, we will prove it again in any form.

- A few days ago, an incident again exposed Armenia’s essence. The National Flag of Azerbaijan was set on fire at the European Weightlifting Championship in Armenia. What is your take on that?

- This is yet another dirty act by the Armenian government. I see it that way. It was no coincidence; it was not an act by some individual. It was yet another dirty action by the Armenian government. There are many reasons to believe this. First, the human-like creature who committed that incident was in contact with high-level officials of the ruling circles of Armenia. Secondly, no punishment was given to this creature. On the contrary, they have made him a hero in Armenia. They allegedly detained him and released him a few minutes later. They set up a spectacle there, they welcomed him with applause, and this person faced no punishment or even a fine. So, what does this mean?

Such a disgraceful event takes place before the eyes of the political leadership of Armenia, and there is no reaction to it. The Armenian government, the state of Armenia, is the mastermind behind this obnoxious show. But they should not forget where the flag of Azerbaijan flies today. The Azerbaijani flag flies in Karabakh today. The Azerbaijani flag flies in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli, Kalbadjar, Lachin, Shusha, Hadrut, Talish, Sugovushan, and hundreds of villages. Today, the Azerbaijani flag flies in the Zangezur mountains. Let them not forget that. Can they come close to those flags? Can that human-like creature and his likes approach those flags? They are afraid even to look at those flags from afar. By burning our flag, they only showed their ugly colors to the world. I repeat that behind this is the Armenian state, the Armenian government, the anti-Azerbaijani campaign conducted in Armenia for many years, and the Azerbaijanphobia pursued in Armenia for decades. This is not an ordinary event.

This incident cannot shake us, and it cannot impact our determination. But they should think carefully. One day they may wake up to see the Azerbaijan Flag above their heads.

- Mr. President, one more question related to this topic. In that championship in Irevan, female athletes from Türkiye won gold and silver medals and dedicated them to Azerbaijan. You and Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva congratulated them. We would like to know your thoughts about this.

- Mehriban Aliyeva and I congratulated our dear girls, Cansu and Gamze. First, they achieved this great victory in Armenia – the enemy state, the state that is the archenemy of both Azerbaijan and Türkiye and had the Turkish flag raised there. The Armenians burned our flag, but the Turkish flag flew there. They played the National Anthem of Türkiye. The National Anthem of Türkiye must have deafened all the enemies sitting in the hall. They dedicated this victory to Azerbaijan and the people of Azerbaijan. What a wonderful gesture! This is why they won the love of the entire Azerbaijani people. I want to congratulate them again. Today, when I attended the opening of the Neftchala Olympic Center, I instructed the Minister of Youth and Sports to invite these girls to Azerbaijan on my behalf and let them be our guests. This once again shows our unity. The Turkish-Azerbaijani unity and brotherhood are unshakable. We are one, and in the congratulatory letter to them, we also wrote that where there is a Turkish flag, we are there too, and the whole of Armenia saw it. Some scoundrel burns our flag, but the next day the glorious flag of the brotherly state of Türkiye is raised over the heads of those enemies, and they are forced to stand and listen to the National Anthem of Türkiye.

I want to congratulate our beautiful girls once again. We are proud of them. I think this event will go down in history, not only in the history of sports but also in the history of world politics as a whole, in the history of the Turkic world. Every son and daughter of the Turkic world should be like Cansu and Gamze. This is what I want.

- Thank you very much. Many thanks again for your time.

- Goodbye.