President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Turkish A Haber TV channel
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been interviewed by Turkish A Haber TV channel.
- Greetings to all from A Haber. The eyes of the whole world are focused on the Karabakh region these days. Karabakh, which has been under Armenian occupation for 30 years, is experiencing a great tragedy, because despite the humanitarian ceasefire, Armenians continue to fire at civilians and the Azerbaijani army. Naturally, the Azerbaijani army does not leave these attacks unanswered and dealing heavy blows to the Armenian army.
What is the latest situation in the region and what can be expected? We will learn the opinion of the President of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief Mr. Ilham Aliyev.
Mr. President, we express our deep gratitude to you, in particular, on behalf of A Haber. Thank you very much for receiving us.
- Thank you.
- Mr. President, of course, we will start our conversation with the situation in the region. Yesterday Armenia fired on civilians yet again. In Tartar, a cemetery was fired on and three of our Azerbaijani brothers became martyrs. What is your assessment of this attack?
- This is yet another manifestation of Armenian fascism. Usually, whenever they are defeated on the battlefield, they fire on civilians. We saw this during the first Karabakh war. It was our loathsome neighbors who committed the Khojaly genocide.
This time, seeing their helplessness in front of the Azerbaijani army on the battlefield and their inability to resist us in the occupied lands, they started targeting civilians again. Our citizens died as a result of this dastardly attack, both in Ganja and at the cemetery in Tartar yesterday... This is a place where people go for funerals, it is considered sacred to any person. But apparently there is nothing “sacred” for our loathsome neighbors. This is a crime against humanity, which once again demonstrates the predatory nature of Armenia. It also shows that such dastardly attacks cannot force us to deviate from our path, they cannot break the will of the Azerbaijani people. We will continue to restore our territorial integrity.
- Of course, Azerbaijan acts very carefully and accurately in the issue of civilians. Until today, not a single civilian has been hurt among the Armenians. However, up to now 46 of our Azerbaijani brothers have become martyrs. Why does the West remain tight-lipped over these massacres?
- Unfortunately, civilian casualties are continuing, there are already 47. A total of 222 civilians have been injured, about 2,000 houses have been either completely destroyed or seriously damaged. I have already said that we will avenge these people on the battlefield. We have never opened and are still not opening fire on civilians despite the fact that there have been attacks on Ganja and Tartar. Today, from 6 to 8 am – it is 9:10 now – more than 220 shells fell on Tartar, Aghdam, Goranboy and other districts. So these heinous attacks continue. Their main goal is to kill civilians, sow panic and fear among the population of Azerbaijan, stop us and achieve their dirty intentions. But they are seeing that this does not work out, and no matter how many shells fall, the citizens of Azerbaijan proudly live on their land and endure all these difficulties. They are united around one goal – to return Karabakh, to raise the flag of Azerbaijan in all the occupied lands and to restore our territorial integrity.
As for your second question why the West is silent, we saw this during the first Karabakh war too. Armenia unleashed aggression against us, occupied our lands, committed genocide against our people, but sanctions were applied against Azerbaijan. At that time, in 1992 and 1993, the Western media formed such a perception that Azerbaijan was an occupier and aggressor, while Armenia was a victim of aggression. We are seeing this even today on a smaller scale, because it is no longer possible to deny and hide the truth.
- Mr. President, at that time, in 1993, in particular, in November, a ceasefire was also announced. And it was also violated by Armenia, which massacred people. Today Armenia wants a ceasefire again. What is the purpose of the ceasefire – to stop the advance of the Azerbaijani army?
- You know, this is their tactic. Armenia requested a ceasefire. Convinced that they could no longer defend the occupied lands on the battlefield, to hold on to them, they requested a ceasefire. We also received such an appeal – you know that Russia has undertaken this mission – and said that a ceasefire could be declared for humanitarian purposes, for the exchange of bodies and prisoners. However, at the same time, the Moscow statement indicated that it was necessary to resume negotiations on the substance of the issue. In addition, the format of the negotiations should remain unchanged. But apparently they wanted to take advantage of the ceasefire. Less than a day later this dastardly attack on Ganja was carried out. After that, they began to strike at our other cities and, in fact, grossly violated the ceasefire. So this is their tactic. Obviously, they needed a ceasefire in order to gather strength, take mobilization measures and launch new attacks on us, because after this ceasefire, they tried to occupy the settlement of Hadrut again and attacked it three times. And they were defeated all three times. Their intention is to return the lands they lost that do not belong to them and to continue their aggressive policy.
- By the way, false propaganda is currently being conducted. They claim that Hadrut is still with them, they cannot accept it.
- Yes, they are still engaged in this false propaganda. The Azerbaijani flag has been flying in Hadrut for several days now. The vast majority of the hills adjacent to Hadrut are under our control. If Hadrut had not been taken, it would have been impossible to take the villages of Khojavand district. We moved there only from the Hadrut direction.
- Mr. President, since the announcement of the humanitarian ceasefire, transport planes have been constantly delivering missiles from Russia, in particular, to the Yerevan airport. This, in essence, is a crime. In particular, you talked about the closure of borders with Iranian President Rouhani and about the delivery of missiles with Russia. These weapons are provided free of charge. What would you like to say to Iran and Russia in this regard?
- We do not have any information about the shipment of weapons from Iran to Armenia. On the contrary, I can say that Iran and Georgia have closed their airspace and land roads for the transportation of weapons to Armenia. In this regard, we would like to reiterate our gratitude to the Governments of Iran and Georgia. According to our information, weapons are being smuggled across Georgian territory by commercial and cargo planes.
Armenia has recently purchased one plane. According to our information, it bought it for $30-40 million. It was purchased by wealthy Armenian businessmen living in Russia – Karapetyan, Abrahamyan and others. They are sending Armenians living in Russia to fight against us as mercenaries. At the same time, the purchase of this aircraft, Il-76, allowed Armenia the opportunity to smuggle weapons into its country. Every time you send military products, you need to declare them. Their statements indicate that this is a civilian cargo but the plane transported anti-tank weapons “Kornet” and “Konkurs”, air defense systems “Igla”. At the same time, according to the information we have, they are smuggling the missiles purchased in Russia. Therefore, we addressed the International Civil Aviation Organization and asked it to investigate this issue and stop it. This is considered an international crime. Smuggling weapons to Armenia is unacceptable.
Russian authorities have also told us that Russia does not send weapons to Armenia. Therefore, we think that Armenian businessmen living in Russia, wealthy people illegally acquire these weapons at some military factories and send them to Armenia. The investigation in this direction is ongoing.
- And now, Mr. President, let’s “go” to the frontline. Of course, the peoples of Azerbaijan and Turkey look forward to good news from the frontline. I want to show this on the map. Here we are talking about an area of 18,000 square kilometers. This territory has been under occupation for 30 years. How many thousand square kilometers of this territory have been liberated so far? At present, the Azerbaijani Army is advancing and delivering crushing blows. We are saying that the Armenian army has lost half of its strength to date. How much in terms of figures did the Armenian army lose? Can you provide any figures in this connection, Mr. President?
- It is not so difficult to calculate the area of the liberated lands even though the figure changes every day. I informed the Azerbaijani people about the liberation of six new villages yesterday. More villages were freed on the previous day. This process continues. We can say that we liberate new territories and new strategic heights every day. Therefore, these numbers are changing. But the information provided to date gives grounds to say which districts have been liberated.
This map, for example, doesn’t specify Hadrut. Hadrut is already with us. The vast majority of villages around Fuzuli are with us. Now we see Fuzuli in front of us. In addition, we have moved forward in the southern direction. In the north, we also have positions on Murovdag. We have Sugovushan. So we have made great strides in all areas, and this process continues. I believe and am sure that the Azerbaijani people are closely following this, especially the residents of the villages we are liberating from occupation. For them, these are historic days, of course.
- So how much in square kilometers on average?
- I would not want to say that because this is a figure that changes daily. Our goal is to fully restore our territorial integrity and hoist the Azerbaijani flag in all occupied lands.
- Can you name the losses of the Armenian side in figures?
- These numbers are also changing on a daily basis. More than 200 tanks have been destroyed and 33 tanks have been taken as booty. They are in good condition and they are with us. Thirty-five units of “OSA” air defense systems have been destroyed. In addition, two very modern “S-300” systems have been destroyed.
- They are very expensive.
- Yes, they are very expensive. Another very expensive air defense system, “TOR”, has also been destroyed. Approximately 170 trucks have been disabled or are in our possession. Also, 16 command centers have been destroyed. According to our calculations, during these days the Armenian army suffered damage worth almost $2 billion, and it keeps on growing. I appealed to the leadership of Armenia: observe the ceasefire, provide us with a timetable and leave our territories so that this war stops and you can keep the remaining weapons. Otherwise, if it goes on like this, we will destroy all their weapons.
- How many human losses does Armenia have, Mr. President?
- Their human losses – I mean the data published in the press – are over 600 people. But according to our data, their losses are several times greater.
- So Armenia is hiding its losses.
- Of course.
- But the situation at the front is different.
- If 200 tanks have been destroyed to date, then you can see what figure it comes to by counting their crew. In addition, count the losses on the battlefield, the personnel of the command centers and the crews of other installations. There is footage of the destruction of their equipment, so I would not like to give any specific figures. I am always in favor of providing exact figures, not unverified data. But their losses are surely above 600.
- Mr. President, can we talk about the destruction of about half of their weapons?
- We don't know how many weapons they have. But the question arises as to where they get the money for the weapons. Everyone knows the budget and foreign exchange reserves of Armenia. In just 17-18 days, their weapons worth $2 billion have been destroyed, and they have more. This is the statistics of weapons destroyed in the occupied territories alone. How many more weapons are there in Armenia? Notice how many weapons they have. Where did they buy it? Where did they get the money? Of course, they don't have so much money. So they were given it for free.
- Mr. President, 18 October is an important day – Independence Day of Azerbaijan. The people of Azerbaijan expect good news from you on this day, Inshallah. Will you announce any good news about Karabakh? Would you like to share it with our Turkish and Azerbaijani brothers on A Haber?
- You know, this is a truly historic day because Azerbaijan gained independence for the second time in the 20th century. The first years of independence were very difficult and tragic for us. We could have lost our independence – as we did in 1920 when independence lasted only two years and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic fell. This time, Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan and, at the same time, civil strife within the country led to a major crisis. Only after national leader Heydar Aliyev came to power in 1993 did the situation stabilize and Azerbaijan confidently embarked on the path of development.
Therefore, 18 October is a very significant date for us. But during this period, during these 17-18 days, I have never set the task for the army to take this location on this or that date. Because war has its own rules, its own laws. The key thing for us is to restore our territorial integrity. It doesn’t really matter when we share the good news – on the 17th, 18th or 19th. It is important that we do this, that we achieve this. At the same time, we can and we probably will provide information about the liberated villages today, but the most important thing is to occupy strategic heights. Because by taking these heights, we gain control over a wider territory, which creates conditions for a more successful counter-offensive operation by the Azerbaijani army in the future.
- The heart of Karabakh, the apple of its eye is Shusha. The Azerbaijani people are waiting for news about Shusha. Inshallah, are you heading for Shusha?
- We are headed for all the territories. Every inch of the occupied lands, every city is dear to us, it is native for us. For me, all villages and cities are equally valuable. But you know very well that Shusha occupies a special place in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people. This is our historic city, a hotbed of ancient culture. Shusha gave the Azerbaijani people many very talented and outstanding personalities. Of course, without Shusha our mission will be half done. Naturally, this issue has always been on the agenda in the course of discussions.
You know, there were many questions at the negotiating table in the previous period. Some suggestions were that Azerbaijan should get back five districts and be content with that, while the rest should stay with the Armenians. In other words, we were told that we want everything at once, but this can’t happen and that there must be a compromise and so on. But I never agreed to that. It would be completely wrong to get five districts and leave the rest for later, indefinitely. Therefore, at different stages, mediators and some international organizations wondered why Ilham Aliyev did not agree to this. We are telling him that five districts are being returned now, although Armenia, as it turns out now, did not want to return these five districts either. But there have been such proposals. However, my position has always been that without Shusha our mission would be half done. Therefore, of course, the liberation of Shusha occupies a special place among our goals. We must aspire to this. We must achieve this. When will that happen?
- Soon, Mr. President?
- The near future will show.
- Inshallah. Your late father probably bequeathed to you to liberate Karabakh. By the way, I would like to learn about his will. You are actually fulfilling it now. On behalf of the Turkish people, we congratulate you and the Azerbaijani people. What do you want to say about your father's will?
- You know, I have always tried to be true to my father's path. In 2003, when the Azerbaijani people trusted me for the first time, I said before the election that if you trusted me, I would remain committed to the political course of Heydar Aliyev and would follow his path in all spheres. I am glad to have kept my word. Today, the rapid and successful development of Azerbaijan, the great respect we enjoy in the international arena, the solution of social, economic and other problems within the country, the implementation of large projects are, of course, a continuation of Heydar Aliyev’s path.
The world is changing, of course. The balance of power in the world is changing. Today's world cannot be compared to what it was in 2003 but our strategic goals remain unchanged: to strengthen the independence, to remain committed to an independent policy, never to depend on anyone, not to bow our heads to anyone, to preserve and protect our dignity, and to restore our territorial integrity. This was my father's will in a nutshell.
Of course, the restoration of territorial integrity is our number one goal. In order to achieve this, we have made great effort – political, economic, diplomatic and military. Our army has actually been formed anew. The whole world can see the potential of our army today. According to the information provided to me, military specialists from some developed countries are already studying our experience. I am sure this experience will be reflected both in books and in research papers. Therefore, remaining committed to my father's path, we are fulfilling this honorable mission. Inshallah, we will complete it to the end.
- Azerbaijan has created a very strong army. There was not even an Air Force in the first Karabakh war but now there is a powerful air force, a strong army. Of course, TB2 strike drones have become a major force in the region. You purchased them from Turkey and are currently using them. How did the attack drones change the course of the war?
- They changed it a lot. You know, in 30 years Armenia built very powerful engineering fortifications along the entire contact line in the occupied territories, carried out major engineering and strengthening work. In some places, they have four lines of defense. Large trenches were dug and other engineering work was carried out. There are large concrete slabs, shelters and bunkers there. The terrain of the region is such that it a natural fortification is itself because this is a mountainous area, we are going from the bottom up. It is very difficult for any army. It is a very difficult and risky task. Therefore, the work we have carried out in this direction required great heroism, of course. Precise destruction of enemy equipment required unmanned aerial vehicles. We are very glad that the developed military-industrial complex of fraternal Turkey has begun the production of these excellent attack and conventional UAVs. Azerbaijan is the first foreign state to have acquired them from Turkey. As I have already said, Armenian military equipment worth $1 billion has been destroyed with the help of Turkish drones alone. Another billion worth of equipment has been destroyed by our other military facilities. So this has greatly changed the course of the war.
- You have also talked about tunnels in the region, about echeloned defense. In fact, we saw this during the operations in Syria. These are the methods used by PKK and PYD. The same methods have been used in this region for 30 years. From this point of view, does the opposing side receive any support from PKK and PYD?
- Maybe. Even before these clashes, we had information that PKK had set up a camp there because, as you know, Nagorno-Karabakh was an uncontrolled territory. There was no international control mechanism there. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of many international organizations. There is a control mechanism and monitoring, but this is a gray area, i.e. an uncontrolled territory. Therefore, smuggling and drug trafficking thrived there, exercises of illegal armed groups were held, and there were PKK camps. It is not ruled out that they have also played a role in the construction of these fortifications.
- How many RKK camps are there in the region?
- We cannot say this because they do not stand in one place, they are always on the move. But there were quite a few of them. In any case, we had this information even before the latest clashes. Today, there are suspicious persons among those who were killed on the Armenian side. There are people with Canadian and Lebanese passports. There are people who cannot be identified. But it is certain that they are not Armenian soldiers. In other words, they are mercenaries.
- Armenia is carrying out missile attacks from its territory. If it continues to attack from its territory, do you have the right to conduct operations on the territory of Armenia?
- No, we are not thinking about that. I have repeatedly said that we have no military targets on the territory of Armenia. We have no intentions of moving the military operation to the territory of Armenia. We do not set our sights on the lands of other countries. We simply carry out these operations within the borders of the country, within the framework of Azerbaijani lands recognized as such by international organizations and the world community. So far we have not crossed into to the territory of Armenia.
I must also say that an attack was launched on us on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in July. The armed forces of Armenia managed to penetrate into Tovuz district and some of its territories. We threw them out of there and were able to defend our lands. We threw them back. After that, we could have crossed the border. In other words, there were no serious obstacles in front of us. These battles already show that if we have managed to break through from here, it would have been much easier to do it there because there are no such fortifications there. But we didn’t do it because we thought it would be wrong. We defend ourselves on our lands and must expel the occupiers from our lands. But if they continue to use such dangerous weapons as “Tochka-U”, “Iskander”, “Scud” and others from the territory of Armenia, just as they struck at Ganja from the Vardenis region of Armenia, then this will become a legitimate military target for us. Everyone should know this.
- You are receiving messages of support from Turkey and Pakistan. In particular, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, “We are ready to provide any support.” In this context, will you ask Turkey and Pakistan for military support?
- No. We have no such thoughts. Turkey and Pakistan are the first countries to support us. After them, the number of such countries began to grow. Following this, Afghanistan expressed its open support. Support was also voiced by Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries. Fraternal Turkey provided the biggest support. From the very first hours, my brother, dear President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated very clearly and decisively that Azerbaijan is not alone and Turkey is next to us. This encouraged us even more. But there can be no question of military support. It is not necessary. The false information invented by the prime minister of Armenia is intended to mislead the international community, of course. For example, he said in an interview with Russian television yesterday that Turkey, Pakistan, soldiers from Syria and Lebanon were fighting on the side of Azerbaijan. All this is a lie. It is not too difficult to expose it.
On the first day of the clashes, they claimed that a Turkish F-16 plane had shot down an Armenian Su-25. We said – provide evidence. They could not. Then everyone was convinced that it was a lie. They are not talk about it any longer. Now they have invented a new lie that Pakistani and Turkish soldiers are fighting for us. Let them produce evidence. There is none. The Armenian side is primarily trying to diminish the strength of the Azerbaijani army, to suggest that Azerbaijan could not have done it alone. Secondly, another of his lies is that these clashes allegedly have already gone beyond the region and turned into a more global confrontation. This is also a lie. We receive only moral and political support from Turkey, Pakistan and other fraternal countries.
- Mr. President, who is worried about the friendship and close ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan?
- Those who don't like us, those who are not interested in the power of Turkey growing.
- This is well known. There are such circles in many countries. These are Islamophobic circles. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is growing in Europe today. The attitude towards refugees from poor countries is also obvious. Therefore, Islamophobic parties are now receiving parliamentary seats in several European states. Radical fascist parties are getting more votes. This is a very dangerous trend, first of all for Europe, because this is a tendency that paves the way for racism, discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia. At the same time, along with Islamophobic forces, there are circles concerned about Turkey's strength. Erdogan's Turkey is not the Turkey of 20 years ago. We and our brothers living in Turkey know this. Turkey enjoys great authority in the world today. No-one can dictate anything to Turkey or force it to do anything. Turkey defends its interests in the world, the interests of its allies, builds its security the way it wants and enjoys authority in the international arena. Not a single issue in the region can be resolved without the participation and consent of Turkey. Syria, Libya and the Mediterranean have demonstrated this. So these are the forces that are not interested in the power of Turkey growing and are worried about it. This is natural.
- Mr. President, you said that unity gives brings about strength. Why is it important for Turkey to be strong?
- It is important for the Turkic world because it is a great power that makes us stronger too. I have spoken about this many times – both in Turkey and in Azerbaijan. When my dear brother President was here, I said that the Turkish-Azerbaijani unity brings stability to the region. If these exact messages had not come from Turkey in the first hours of the clashes, then perhaps others would have intervened in these matters. Turkey's messages stopped everyone: Azerbaijan is not alone. Turkey will be next to Azerbaijan until the end. Of course, the Azerbaijani-Turkish unity has already turned into a very serious geopolitical factor, and this is a positive factor. Our unity is not aimed at the interests of any country. We simply defend our interests and going our own way. Let no-one interfere in our affairs and don’t poke their nose into our internal issues. This is what we want. Where did Turkey interfere before? Nowhere! Whose affairs did Azerbaijan interfere? No-one’s! We are simply saying: don't touch us, step aside. We will be friends and partners, we will cooperate, but let everyone go their own way. We want this and we have the right to do so.
- Is it possible to find a way out in the settlement of the Karabakh problem at the negotiating table without Turkey's participation?
- Turkey is already de facto at the negotiating table. I have already said that. This is a reality. Turkey is discussing this issue with countries located in another region today. You also know that a telephone conversation took place between the presidents of Russia and Turkey. There were negotiations between the ministers of foreign affairs and defense. At the same time, high-ranking officials of Turkey have been in contact with their colleagues from Iran and other countries. Therefore, Turkey is de facto here. When the Minsk Group was established in 1992 – Turkey is already a member of it – it did not become a co-chair for reasons I don’t know. In other words, we wanted Turkey to be a co-chair from the very beginning. But Turkey itself did not go for that at the time. If it had wanted to do that, I think it could have become a co-chair. This is why I am saying that there is a great difference between today's Turkey of Erdogan and the then Turkey. If it had been a co-chair, this issue would have been resolved long ago. Therefore, we are saying that this issue cannot be resolved without Turkey. I am not saying that the Minsk Group should be consigned to history. No, let them work too, even though they have not reached any result in 30 years. But to leave Turkey outside this process is both wrong and impossible.
- Mr. President, how would you assess the position of France, a co-chair of the Minsk Group?
- You know, I think the latest statements of France have been positive. At the same time, my last telephone conversation with the President of France was also very positive. Of course, France as a co-chair should be neutral. I have already said that. Any country can have special ties with another country. In other words, at the national level any country is free. No-one can object to that but co-chairmanship is a different mechanism. This imposes a great responsibility on co-chair countries. Therefore, within the framework of this mandate, they must be neutral. I think that the actions and approaches of France today are positive.
- Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made a statement saying that they could send military observers to the Karabakh region. Would you agree to this?
- You know, at the same time the office of the President of Russia stated that this was possible with the consent of both sides – Azerbaijan and Armenia. In other words, this is something that speaks for itself. First, both parties must agree to this. Secondly, the fundamental principles – and I have already expressed my position on this matter – do provide for the dispatch of peacekeeping forces to the region but only at the last stage. The lands must be freed from occupation, five districts must be returned to us, then two more, and then the Azerbaijani population must return to Nagorno-Karabakh and Shusha. After all this peacekeeping forces may come. Therefore, it is too early to talk about it today. Third, what countries will be represented in this peacekeeping force? This must also be agreed by both parties. During the negotiations, there were no discussions on this issue. I believe that the statement of the office of the President of Russia is fully justifiable. Both parties must agree to this. You must agree to this and provide a timetable. Today, when there are active clashes, it is a little too early to talk about it.
- Sure. There are ample minerals in Armenian-occupied Karabakh. We know that there are gold deposits in Kalbajar. These gold deposits are actually the main concern for Armenia.
- True but the most important thing is their eternal hatred of us. Armenia is pursuing a policy of fascism. They instill hatred for Turkey and Azerbaijan, describe Turks as enemies to his children. They poison the brains of their people. So this is what lies at the heart of Armenia's occupation policy. This is the main issue. In other regions too, there are fertile and excellent lands for both crop and livestock production. They are exploiting them. There are gold deposits in Kalbajar. They are illegally exploiting them. We have sent letters to all the companies that help them in this matter and invest there.
In my statements before the start of these clashes, I said that we are warning all these foreign companies for the last time – either cease your activities or we will sue you where we will have the final say. Because their activities are illegal. Armenia sells the gold mined there abroad and makes money. They transport the natural resources extracted there, the products of our land to Armenia. Therefore, there are many objectives here. The main thing is to preserve these lands forever under the yoke of Armenia. But they could not achieve this either.
- Mr. President, you said that Soros is Pashinyan's father.
- Yes, this is true.
- It turns out that Azerbaijan is also fighting with Soros in the region.
- With Soros too. In fact, as I said earlier, when I talk about Soros, I mean not only George Soros. This is a concept. This movement is destructive and predatory. This is a colonial movement. Look at the photo of Pashinyan with Soros. What a disgusting photo. It is on the internet. They stand there, their bodies pressed against each other. A shameful photo. They both laugh, both have a smile on their faces. This photo actually shows who Pashinyan is. Because Soros groups played a big role in organizing the coup in Armenia and Pashinyan always took an anti-Russian position. The name of his party in Armenian is “Elk”. When translated, it means “Exit”. Exit from where? From the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia and from the Eurasian Union. When he was a deputy, he always spoke out against Russia, took an anti-Russian position. Therefore, I am surprised when some political circles in Russia still take his side. After all, he made a revolution against pro-Russian forces, imprisoned pro-Russian presidents, as well as the chairman of the main opposition pro-Russian party. He did everything against Russia, started criminal cases against Russian company “Gazprom” and the railway company of this country. He arrested the chairman of the CSTO, a NATO-like organization, who was of Armenian origin. So this is a person who is ruled by Soros. Also, look at his team – they are all representatives of the Soros Foundation, Open Society Institute, Amnesty International. So Soros came to power in Armenia, but he suffered a fiasco.
- Mr. President, did you ask Turkey to station a military base in the country? In this regard, you made a statement in which you said that a Turkish military base could be located on the territory of Azerbaijan. Have you had any negotiations on this matter?
- No, no negotiations on this issue have been held. This has never have been discussed and such a question does not arise today either. Our cooperation with Turkey in the military sphere is getting stronger every day. I have already spoken about this, and I want to say again that 10 military exercises were held last year. Exercises involving air defense forces, special purpose troops and others. Therefore, cooperation in this area is at the highest level, and the deployment of a base in Azerbaijan has never been a subject of discussion.
- Mr. President, you said that Azerbaijan had changed the status quo at the frontline. What was the status quo and what will the new status quo be like for Azerbaijan?
- The status quo is gone. I have already spoken about this, and this is a reality. What was the status quo? It meant the preservation of lands under occupation. And this was despite the fact that 10 years ago the Minsk Group co-chairs made a very positive statement on this matter. It said that the status quo was unacceptable. But no tangible steps were taken afterwards. We have been waiting for a change in the status quo for 30 years to achieve this through negotiations. But that did not happen. Therefore, we destroyed it on the battlefield. It is gone. The city of Jabrayil is with us, most of the villages of Jabrayil district are with us. The vast majority of villages in Fuzuli district are also with us. Now we already see the city of Fuzuli. Hadrut is with us, Sugovushan is with us.
- Can you see the center of Fuzuli now?
- We can see it, of course.
- So can we hear good news from there in the near future, Inshallah?
- Inshallah. So what kind of status quo can we talk about. There is no status quo or a line of contact. We broke through it as well. So over these days we did what we could not do within the framework of the negotiations.
- Mr. President, I want to ask you one more question. The war is still going on. I would like to ask you about the events that saddened and delighted you the most. By the way, the symbolic photo is of 4-year-old Bakhtiyar from Ganja who is smiling despite the injury. This photo has become a symbol for the whole world. We have interviewed him. And you know what he said, this four-year-old child? He said, “Karabakh is ours, Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”
- Mr. President, what impressed you the most, saddened and made you happy?
- Our losses sadden me most of all. Both civilians and soldiers. Our young soldiers, having demonstrated selflessness and valor, become martyrs in the name of their native lands. This is a great tragedy – for our people, for their relatives, a great tragedy for their parents. Therefore, the death of every Azerbaijani – whether civilian or soldier, it does not matter – is the greatest suffering for me. They are all our compatriots, our sons, brothers.
And what pleases me most of all is the unbreakable will of the Azerbaijani people because people living under fire do not move. Armenia wants to turn Tartar into Stalingrad, into the second Aghdam, Fuzuli. Why are you shelling this civilian city? Take that funeral ceremony. More than 200 shells were dropped this morning in the course of two hours. Why? What is there in Tartar? People live there. So this is Armenian fascism. They also want to intimidate us. In addition, they think that we are living in the 1990s when they attacked us, our army could not resist them and our citizens left those regions, became refugees and internally displaced persons. They have these ideas. But they should know that the present-day Azerbaijan is not what it was before. Today's Azerbaijan is a strong state capable of defending itself. Our citizens live under shelling but do not leave these places. Their houses are on fire, all property is lost, but they say “Long live the Motherland!” This makes me happy the most. And also to see our flag on the lands liberated from occupation. This is what makes me happy.
- Mr. President, 83 million people in Turkey pray for Azerbaijan every day. Do you feel these prayers? What would you like to say in connection with this to the Turkish people? What message do you have?
- Of course, I do. These prayers and the prayers of the Azerbaijani people, our friends and brothers living in other countries are saving us because our cause is a cause of justice. We are fighting for our lands. Armenia’s war is a war of evil forces. We have always seen and felt Turkey's support. In recent years, the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan have tied our countries to each other with such strong ties that this unity and this brotherhood is unshakable. I receive many letters from Turkey these days. People write, “Mr. President, I am also ready to come, I am ready to help”. This is very touching and makes us happy. Our unity manifests itself once again during this difficult time. Therefore, I express my deep gratitude to all our Turkish brothers. We feel and see their support, it gives us additional strength and reinforces our determination. My dear brother, dear President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Azerbaijan is not alone, Turkey is next to Azerbaijan”. This, in fact, is the most beautiful expression, the best saying that reflects our unity.
- Mr. President, in conclusion I would like to ask how you would describe Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan is my brother. We have a very close relationship. Both as presidents and as two people. I have deep respect for him. He is a world leader. He has raised Turkey to high peaks. He has elevated Turkey. Thanks to him, the whole world knows Turkey as a worthy and proud state. Both some countries and, unfortunately, some political forces in Turkey itself are showing great injustice towards him. I cannot interfere in these matters, of course, but as a person, I cannot remain indifferent to this because he has done a lot for Turkey. There is no-one else in Turkey today who would love it so much, protect its interests, be ready to do anything for it. Everyone should know this. Everyone in Azerbaijan knows this. Many people in Turkey also know this but I want to tell those who don’t. Political strife takes place everywhere but there is also a national question. There should be no political struggle in the national question. In the face of danger, we must unite. Turkey is being attacked from all sides today. To endure this, to withstand these attacks takes tremendous courage. It requires great professionalism, knowledge and determination. This is the kind of person my brother is. I can say this absolutely sincerely because I know him well. I would like to wish him continued success. His words, his actions, his life are very important for the entire Turkic world, and we will continue to make great effort to unite and deepen cooperation of the Turkic world.
- And last question, Mr. President. You said about the need to be together with Turkey. In this context, have you received messages of support from the Turkish opposition?
- Yes. Such messages have arrived. You know, I am the kind of person who says everything as it is. There is no need for diplomacy in this matter. The main thing for me in Turkey is the attitude towards my brother. Someone who treats him well has a place in my heart. Those who treat him unfairly, oppose him, there is no place for them in my heart. Of course, I express my gratitude to everyone who wants to provide support. However, I believe – and everyone should know this – that if Erdogan wasn’t there today, Turkey could be faced with a big disaster. Let everyone know and understand this. I say this as an ordinary citizen of Azerbaijan. You can hear it today from 10 million citizens of Azerbaijan. The Turkish-Azerbaijani unity is strengthening. Therefore, people who ensure this unity should receive the necessary support everywhere, in national issues. As for questions between parties, this is a different matter. There is a national issue in which everyone should be a patriot.
- Mr. President, thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions.