Ilham Aliyev met with residents who moved to city of Fuzuli and members of general public of the district on “Fuzuli City Day”
17 October 2023, 10:58
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with residents who moved to the city of Fuzuli and members of the district's general public on "Fuzuli City Day."
The head of state addressed the event.
Remarks by President Ilham Aliyev
President Ilham Aliyev: Salam alaykum.
Residents: Welcome! We are happy to see you.
Sister of a martyr: Hello, welcome.
Male resident: Congratulations, Mr. President. May Allah bless you. Thank Allah, we are meeting in Fuzuli.
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course. Thank you.
Female resident: Thank you, we are glad to see you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Hello. You are also welcome.
Residents: We are grateful to you for everything. We are proud of you.
Male resident: Hello, Mr. President and you are welcome.
President Ilham Aliyev: What a beautiful day. You are saying "Welcome!" to me. During the occupation, I repeatedly said in meetings with natives of Fuzuli and former IDPs from other districts that the day would come when you would say "Welcome!" to me, and this day has come. Today is a holiday in Fuzuli, a city day, and at the same time, it is the third anniversary of the liberation of Fuzuli from occupation. I sincerely congratulate you on this occasion and wish you all robust health.
Residents: Thank you very much, Mr. President, thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev: I hope you live comfortably in Fuzuli, in your native land, live in prosperity and well-being.
I am glad that the young generation, the young people of Fuzuli, decided to come to their native land. It is a truly a remarkable development because children, teenagers, and the young generation have not seen these lands before. They kept these lands in their hearts only because of what you told them. It shows the greatness of our people. It shows that we are a people attached to our homeland.
During the occupation, some people, especially certain circles abroad, believed that the Azerbaijani people would forget their land over the years and that the young generation would be raised differently. Many assumptions were made about the globalizing world. However, those analysts and, at the same time, those at the political level could not understand one thing: how much love the Azerbaijani people have for their native land and how much we are attached to it.
I remember that in my numerous meetings with natives of Fuzuli and former IDPs from other districts, especially at the opening ceremonies of new settlements, I said - those were temporary places of residence for them. We were trying and would continue improving your standard of living and making your life easier to some extent, but that was a temporary place of residence. After the lands were freed, beautiful houses would be built, and better conditions created in Fuzuli, Aghdam, Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin, Kalbadjar, Jabrayil, and Shusha. The day has come; it is real now. It is a reality. The new appearance of Fuzuli pleases the eye.
Today, the ongoing projects implemented in Fuzuli and in all our other cities and villages establish new rules of urban planning on a global scale, and this is noted not only by me but also by many international experts. In particular, as you know, the National Urban Development Forum has been held in Azerbaijan twice – in Aghdam and Zangilan, and all our projects were presented there. International organizations highly appreciate them because the best living conditions have been created here – in terms of the interior of buildings, the interior design of apartments, the principle of floors, the distance between buildings – everything is followed. So, there is an entire infrastructure and conditions available for comfortable living. All our cities will be like Fuzuli because we are implementing the first urban development project in Fuzuli. The people of Lachin indeed returned to their homeland a little earlier than the people of Fuzuli. But because the Armenians had settled illegally in the city of Lachin, some of the buildings were left there, so we restored those houses and created the most beautiful conditions. Therefore, the previous urban planning landscape of Lachin is in place. Here, though, the city is being completely rebuilt.
In the example of Fuzuli, the whole world and even those who are reluctant to see it are seeing and must see what Armenian savagery is. For many years, when we tried to bring the facts of our Karabakh problem to the attention of the world community, some did not believe. Some did not want to believe. We didn't have much evidence. We knew everything was destroyed - razed to the ground, but we could not even imagine it was to this extent because the occupying state did not allow anyone to enter this region then. It was forbidden. Why? Because every person coming here would see what Armenian savagery is. Its manifestations are visible all over.
I have said this many times, and many people know it now. However, I want to repeat it – when Fuzuli was liberated, we could not find a single sound building to raise our Flag, except for a military unit. We raised our Flag on a pole in its courtyard, but our hearts ached when we came here for the first time, just like every Azerbaijani. We were utterly stunned and horrified. What is the source of such enmity? After all, what did we do to the Armenians?
We lived side by side with them. They ate our bread. Cities and villages were built for them; infrastructure was created at our expense. During the Soviet period, all this work was done at the expense of Azerbaijan. Conversely, oppressing our people, torturing them, carrying out ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijanis is what they did – apparently, there were black spots in their hearts. We unaware of that back then. We were somewhat naive. This is why we must never forget the occupation and suffering. The younger generation should also know this. Children going to this school today should also know this. They should know that our people have come out of difficult trials; they didn't bend or break down; they believed in themselves and their Army – believing that this day would come, that we would stand here and celebrate this holiday with you.
Fuzuli is being completely rebuilt now. While here yesterday, we laid the foundation stones of several essential facilities. The foundation stones of two villages, a kindergarten, a sports center, new residential quarters, and an office center were laid. So the number of people living here will naturally increase over time. I was informed yesterday that over 800 people have already been accommodated. About 2,000 people will live here by the end of the year.
At the end of the first stage of our Great Return Program, by late 2026, 22,000 people will live in the Fuzuli district, and 140,000 people will live in Karabakh and East Zangezur. In other words, this is the minimum. A more significant number of people will be resettled because, firstly, we have power and determination; the Great Return Program has been adopted and is being successfully implemented. It is being exceeded, and the main factor is that our former IDPs are looking forward to these days. For example, I asked the kids in Zangilan and Lachin during my conversations.
How does a child or teenager who was born and raised in Baku and is used to the atmosphere of a big city come and live in a city or village located some distance away? They sincerely said that this was a great happiness. That is the way they were raised, including by your generation. Because they have seen this at home and school, school and family are essential factors in our return here. We did not allow the youth to forget anything. We did not allow the Karabakh subject to be erased. Many countries and forces wanted to instill this in us, i.e., we must come to terms with the situation and start cooperating with Armenia. Many reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict. We have shown that there is and have shown it again recently. This topic is now closed! The subject of the Karabakh conflict is closed once and for all! The book of separatists is closed once and for all! That is great happiness.
Now, it remains for people to live here comfortably. We are attaching utmost importance to employment issues while implementing all these projects. Relevant state institutions are taking serious steps regarding this issue so that those living here have employment opportunities. The city has unique employment opportunities. Of course, people living in the villages now and in the future will engage in traditional occupations; the state will help them from its side – with equipment, livestock, and all the necessary means. A self-employment program will be implemented so that life can flourish here. I am sure that after a certain period, Karabakh will become a driving force in Azerbaijan's economy because the development of our economy here will significantly contribute to our overall development.
Today, while celebrating this holiday, we all once again express our deep respect for the memory of our dear martyrs. Two days ago, when I addressed the people from the central square of Khankendi, I said we were indebted to them for this day. And it is true. No matter how much power and weapons the state has and how carefully military operations are planned, it is the soldiers and officers who achieve Victory. They advance with their chests forward, face death, and ultimately raise the Flag. Their heroism must and will never be erased from our memory. Today, their souls are rejoicing because we are here, you are here, and no matter how bitter it is, there is a consolation for their families and loved ones. The fact is that they sacrificed their lives and won the historic Victory. We had about 15,000 martyrs in the First Karabakh War, but the lands were also lost. Of course, every life is irreplaceable. However, the operations of the Second Karabakh War were planned so that we could minimize our losses, and we achieved that.
I want to say again that we must always be in their eternal debt. The younger generation should continuously be educated in this spirit. Their heroism is unforgettable. Winning this historic Victory in such a difficult geographical terrain is truly unmatched. The enemy had taken all the heights. If you go in any direction from here, you will see that almost every hill had its outpost, battle station, several lines of defense, barbed wire and mines. It took our soldiers great courage to break through and advance under fire. It is something that perhaps never happened in the world's military history. If it did, let them tell us where. It didn't happen before; the people of Azerbaijan did that. While being under the occupation, we raised such a young generation that they were ready to die for the Motherland. And they were facing death every step of the way.
Dear sisters, brothers and friends, I congratulate you again. It is both a happy and sad day today. Of course, our little girl here, the tears will never stop. We must remember this, whether it is 10 or 20 years from now. We have all shed tears.
Congratulations, I wish you all robust health. Take good care of the children, raise them, and let them be patriotic, be loyal to the Motherland, and be like our heroes. Let them elevate our glory to the skies. Thank you.
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The head of state then had a conversation with the event participants and posed together for a group photo.
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Male resident: Thank you very much. Allah bless you, Mr. President.
Female resident: May Allah protect you, may Allah bless you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. We will go to all the villages. The foundation stones of five to six villages of Fuzuli district have already been laid.
Residents: Thank you very much.
Male resident: Mr. President, the most important thing is that you made us experience the joy of Khankendi, Khojaly, Khojavand, Aghdara.
President Ilham Aliyev: Indeed.
Resident: The most significant thing we are proud of is that our President is known worldwide; the world reckons with him and listens to him.
President Ilham Aliyev: The world is such that some are accepted, others…
Resident: Are not.
President Ilham Aliyev: But the main thing is that we do what we want because we are on the right path. We don't set our sights on other countries' land.
Female resident: The road ahead of us is to Zangezur now.
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course, we will return to Zangezur, but in a peaceful way. I said this, and some people tried to accuse me. I said that we would return there not in tanks, but in cars.
President Ilham Aliyev: How else can it be? It is a place we built for centuries. But today…
Male resident: May his soul rest in peace; the National Leader used to say, I am proud to be an Azerbaijani. Now, every Azerbaijani is proud that we are Azerbaijanis in the true sense of the word.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, indeed.
Resident: We are proud to have a President like you.
President Ilham Aliyev: The National Leader was absolutely right when he said that. However, as you know, it was the period of occupation at that time, and some believed that Azerbaijanis would come to terms with this occupation. Certain people were conducting ugly propaganda, especially in foreign circles, claiming that we had already forgotten it and come to terms with the situation. But he never came to terms with this situation, and the path he set for us, as they say, was the path of freedom and salvation. Therefore, after winning this historic Victory, the whole world saw how right he was in that difficult period.
Resident: He was farsighted, and he was right.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, he knew, as they say, what people were feeling. He knew the emotions in their hearts, and, of course, we are both happy and saddened that he and hundreds of thousands of people like him left this world without seeing this day.
Residents: Their souls are rejoicing.
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course, their souls are happy. I believe in this, and we must believe that the souls of hundreds of thousands of formerly displaced persons who have passed away and did not see this day, our martyrs, are rejoicing.
Resident: Dear Mr. President, we, the natives of Fuzuli, are very proud that the liberation of Karabakh began 30 years ago during the presidency of the National Leader, in 1994, with the Horadiz operation.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes.
Resident: We are immensely proud that the first step towards the Great Return was thanks to transforming the Horadiz settlement into a city and constructing prosperous settlements in Harami and Zobujug during your presidency.
President Ilham Aliyev: That is correct.
Resident: Two years ago, there was nothing here when we participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in Fuzuli. Indeed, everything in sight was in complete ruins. Thank you very much; it is becoming a prosperous city. We are proud. Not only Fuzuli but the entire Karabakh is a construction site. Roads are under construction everywhere, cities are built, foundation stones of villages are laid, and infrastructure projects are being implemented.
President Ilham Aliyev: Indeed.
Resident: Mr. President, in our fairy tales, Karabakh is called "Heavenly Karabakh." Thanks to you, it is transforming into a real paradise. May Allah bless you and your work. We wish you success in this great endeavor.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. All our cities are either under construction or preparing for construction now. I am sure that City Day will be celebrated in Jabrayil next year. It was not celebrated this year because people have yet to settle there. But by October of next year – because the first liberated city was Jabrayil, on October 4 – City Day will be celebrated there and everywhere else. The first residential quarter will probably be ready in Shusha in five to six months. The first group of former IDPs will return then. Aghdam also resembles a giant construction site. While visiting Zangilan, Gubadli and Kalbadjar recently, I was informed that former IDPs would be settled in the city by the end of next year. Eight cities, 92 villages and settlements have been included in the First Return Plan. Most of them will be completed by the end of 2026. So, after three years, at least 140,000 people will live in liberated lands – this is our estimate.
Resident: It is very impressive.
Female resident: Three years. The Armenians hadn't driven a single nail in over thirty years. They knew it was not theirs
.Resident: They were destroying.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, not only did they destroy these places, but nothing was done in the residential areas where they used to live. They remained the way during the Soviet era. I have seen everything many times. When you look at the plight of those villages, you ask yourself, well, they raised hundreds of millions of dollars each year and conducted TV marathons in Los Angeles and France, but what did they do with that money? They should be asked.
Resident: It is in Serjik Sargsyan's pocket. Robert Kocharyan spent it.
President Ilham Aliyev: Not a single stone was left standing there. People will probably see how destroyed it is, in terrible condition.
Female teacher: Mr. President, today, on October 17, on Fuzuli City Day, we, the natives of Fuzuli, are happy and proud. Today, the reconstruction of our Fuzuli, our beautiful Fuzuli, which was under occupation for 30 years and was subjected to Armenian vandalism, is underway and it is a happy moment for us. We are already residents of Fuzuli. We live here permanently, and we welcome you on behalf of the team of school No. 1 named after Mirzo Ulugbek.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
Female teacher: Today, I returned to Fuzuli. I left thirty years ago as a schoolgirl of 13-14 years of age but returned as a teacher. Therefore, we are grateful to you and the Azerbaijan Army led by our Commander-in-Chief. We bow our heads to the souls of our martyrs. It is at the cost of their blood – as you said absolutely correctly – at the cost of the bravery of our veterans that we are in our native lands today. Therefore, we once again wish you robust health and longevity. May Allah protect you and our Army!
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much.
Resident: Mr. President, you started your speech with a festive mood today because 2023 is a year of holidays in Azerbaijan. First is the declaration of the "Year of Heydar Aliyev." The events are held in all regions of our country studying Heydar Aliyev's legacy. Secondly, it is the reporting day of the 20-year policy you have conducted with the support of the people of Azerbaijan. Everything is evident from this report; everything is known. The culminating point of your policy is breaking the back of Armenian separatism. You have shown an "Iron Fist" to the Armenians worldwide - remember that your back will be broken again if you dare to do something to Azerbaijan. Colleagues have already said today that when we met with you here two years ago, when the foundation stone of the building was being laid, we thought to ourselves that a building would be built here in 10 years, perhaps. However, these buildings are here today. It is a matter of great pride for us. Reconstruction and construction work has already started in Fuzuli. We have been talking to each other for a long time, saying that this construction work is going at a cosmic speed. May Allah keep our people out of harm's way and grant you good health.
Resident: We are very closely united around you. We support your policies. On today's holiday in Fuzuli, "Fuzuli City Day," we congratulate you on behalf of the Fuzuli public and wish you success in your policy. May Allah bless you!
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. Today, the work underway in Fuzuli, other regions of Karabakh and the cities located in East Zangezur is genuinely large-scale. The source of this is Azerbaijan, i.e., we have not asked anyone for a single manat of help. We thank our Uzbek brothers, for building a beautiful school, and our Kazakh brothers for building the Creativity Center. Apart from that, not a single nail was given to us as a gift.
Over these years, we built the economy and amassed resources. Why? We knew that this day would come, that we would need those funds. And what were we spending them on - the Army. The first is the military expenditure, and the second is the expenditure on education. We always had these two main priorities in our budget. We must allocate funds for military expenses because the "Iron Fist" must always be in place. However, at the same time, much of the funds is channeled into the reconstruction of Karabakh.
That is why we do not depend on anyone and do not want anything from anyone. That is why some large countries are dissatisfied with us because they are used to others coming and bowing to them and asking for their permission.
Some said we should have asked them when conducting the counterterrorism operation. But who should we ask? What should we ask? Some claim now that we misled the international community. It is also odd that a group of countries considers itself an international community. After all, when we say international community, it refers to more than 200 countries, and 20-30 countries cannot be considered international community. They are so accustomed to this. They disregard anyone but themselves as the international community. And an accusation is thrown that we deceived the international community, we deceived them by conducting the counterterrorism operation. That is very harmful logic. We have rightfully restored sovereignty in our native land under all norms and principles, principles established at the international level. No one has the right to accuse us of anything now. There have been and will be attempts, as you are probably following the issue.
Resident: They are showing their true colors.
President Ilham Aliyev: Indeed. They are humiliating themselves. Therefore, we will continue advancing along the way. Let me repeat that we will rebuild all our native lands. As we look at those mountains from here, there is such a beautiful view. There are excellent opportunities for agriculture. By the end of the year, Kondalanchay reservoirs will be put into use. Two days ago, I was at the Sarsang reservoir. My father had it built at that time.
Residents: May Allah rest his soul in peace.
President Ilham Aliyev: May Allah have mercy on all the deceased. It was built to provide water to one hundred thousand hectares of land, six districts populated by Azerbaijanis. But what did the Armenians do? They cut off our water. They released it in winter to flood the area and cut it off in summer. See, these are true Armenian colors. Let those sitting next to them today see this. Let them see what they have done. We have now built one canal, and the second canal will be built as well, probably within a year and a half at the latest. We will provide water to 100,000 hectares of land. Now we have our water. Twenty-five percent of our water resources are generated in Karabakh and the Kalbadjar-Lachin zone. Now Kondalanchay has returned, Sarsang and Sugovushan have returned, Khachinchay has returned, the Hakari water, the Zabukhchay reservoir is being built, and it will be ready in a year.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, other irrigation-related projects are being implemented. The soil here is already fertile.
Resident: Very much so.
President Ilham Aliyev: It is fertile, especially the soil of Fuzuli. But after there is water, this place will turn into heaven. It will be a paradise.
Residents: Inshallah. May Allah bless you. We wish you a long life and good health.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
Resident: Mr. President, I raised three sons for the country. My eldest son, Nijat Zalov, was injured in the battles for the Fuzuli district. My younger son, Fagan Zalov, was wounded but fought for 44 days and heroically died in the battles for Khojavand hours before the end of the war.
President Ilham Aliyev: May Allah rest his soul in peace.
Resident: Mr. President, I express my deep gratitude to you for appreciating the bravery and heroism of my sons. Also, Mr. President, thank you very much for your attention and care for the families of the martyrs. I am grateful. Thank you, Mr. President.