Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening ceremony of military unit in Kalbajar district
- We are celebrating the Armed Forces Day in Kalbadjar, in the liberated Kalbadjar today. At the same time, a military base of the newly-formed commando forces is opening in Kalbadjar today.
Six months ago, on 24 December, the first commando military base was commissioned in the liberated Hadrut. Today we are opening another one of the newly-established commando forces in Kalbadjar. This shows that the process of army building after the Second Karabakh War is in full swing and the commando forces, along with all other armed forces, have all the capabilities to fulfill the tasks facing the country and protect our territorial integrity and our borders.
We can be proud of our Armed Forces today. We are celebrating Army Day today as a victorious nation, as a victorious country. During the years of occupation, I always said in numerous meetings with the military - in military units, trenches, the Lalatapa peak and military parades – that we would one day return to our native lands. I have always said that if Armenia did not leave our lands of its own free will, we would resolve the Karabakh issue by military means. And this is precisely what happened. The victorious Azerbaijani Army has fulfilled its historic mission with dignity.
We showed the greatness of our people in the Patriotic War, our invincible spirit and our firm resolve. We showed that the Azerbaijani people never intended to come to terms with the occupation. We wanted this issue to be resolved peacefully, which was our negotiations’ goal for many years. We did not want bloodshed. We hoped the international community would impose sanctions on Armenia and force the occupier out of our lands. Unfortunately, we did not see that, and the people of Azerbaijan mobilized all their forces and fulfilled the historically glorious mission.
We will forever live as a victorious nation and as a victorious state. But to achieve this glorious victory, we had to work day and night and gather strength. Because the power factor is at the forefront in the present-day world. The norms and principles of international law do not work. International organizations continue to operate only formally. Justice was on our side, international law was on our side, and our lands were under occupation. But no one told the occupier, “Get out of Azerbaijan!” Therefore, we had to gather the strength to fulfill this task, and we did exactly that. We gathered political strength and increased our power in the international arena. We proved to the whole world that Karabakh is Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani people would never put up with this occupation. We gathered economic power and gained economic independence. If we had not had economic independence and not had these opportunities, how could we wage war? Therefore, economic independence and rapid development brought us closer to victory.
We attached great importance to patriotism. Many measures have been taken to educate the younger generation in the spirit of patriotism, and we have achieved this. Today, the youth of Azerbaijan are patriotic and attached to their Motherland, and the Patriotic War showed this to the whole world. The main factor that led us to the Victory was the national spirit, dignity, and love of the Motherland. This was done by representatives of the younger generation, the young people who grew up in the years of independence. They did so by sacrificing their lives and facing death. The memory of our dear martyrs will always live in our hearts. Therefore, patriotism, discipline, economic power, political standing and, of course, the supply of our Armed Forces with modern weapons – a combination of all these factors preconditioned the outcome of the second Karabakh war. In a matter of 44 days, we drove the enemy out of our lands, brought it to its knees, forced it to wave the white flag and leave Kalbadjar of its own accord. Kalbadjar was liberated without a single shot being fired. We would have liberated Kalbadjar anyway because the back of the Armenian army had already been broken, but there would have been many losses. In the 44 days of the war, we brought the Armenian army to a situation where they had no other option.
Our glorious war is now in the military textbooks of universities in different countries, and many military experts note this. It was possible to liberate the territory with a challenging natural terrain, the impregnable fortress of Shusha, in a matter of 44 days only due to the spirit and strength of Azerbaijani soldiers. We have shown the world that we are a great nation morally and physically in terms of professionalism, combat capability and love of the Motherland. We are living as a victorious nation today. Azerbaijanis all over the world live as representatives of a victorious nation. We have fulfilled our historic mission before our ancestors’ spirits and future generations. This historic victory will forever remain in our history. We will always be proud of this historic victory.
The Armenian army was almost destroyed in 44 days. Panic and hysteria were rampant in the Armenian army. According to them, there were 10,000 deserters in the Armenian army. Meanwhile, not a single person in the Azerbaijani Army escaped from the battlefield. This is the spirit of the Azerbaijani people, their devotion to the Motherland. After liberating Shusha, the crown jewel of Karabakh and impregnable fortress, we raised the Azerbaijani flag in Shusha. Armenia was forced to sign an act of capitulation and had to withdraw from the then-occupied territories.
We are now stationed all along the border. Military bases have been established on all our borders. In the year and a half since the end of the war, we have worked day and night to strengthen our army, equip it with more modern weapons, secure favorable positions along the border and settle down there, and we have achieved that. Six months ago, the first commando military base was opened in Hadrut. The second one is opening in Kalbadjar today. The opening of additional commando military bases is on the agenda, as thousands of Azerbaijanis will serve in these armed forces. This will increase our strength.
The Azerbaijani Army is even stronger now, both in terms of supplies and combat capability after the war. Therefore, we will continue taking serious steps to develop our Army. New contracts have been signed for the purchase of the most modern weaponry. These contracts are already being implemented, and new weapons and the most modern equipment are being imported into Azerbaijan. Our positions on the border with Armenia will be further strengthened. If Armenia still clings to its old tactics in the process of demarcation and tries to prolong it, it will regret it. We are closely watching the actions of revanchist forces in Armenia. Let them know that too. My words are written at the top of that mountain: “The Iron Fist is in place; let no one forget about that.”
Our defeat of Armenia in the war should be a lesson for them. They believed that their army was invincible and spread various rumors about it. We have shown that they cannot stand up to the Azerbaijani Army. They stated that Azerbaijan could never take its lands by force because the fortifications they had built, the 30 years of engineering work, and the geography of this region were very favorable for them. We have blown this myth to smithereens and showed that no one could stand in front of us where there is a strong will, a unity of the people and the government, and patriotism of the military. If revanchist forces emerge in Armenia again, they should know what awaits them.
We do not want a war, and we never did. But we want our interests to be secured. We want the realities of war to be accepted by all. I can say that the world's leading powers have already accepted the post-war realities and are building their activities based on these realities. Armenia must also accept this reality. Only a year and a half have passed since the war. Let them not forget this war – neither themselves nor their next generations. Let them know that Azerbaijan is a strong state. Azerbaijan has a strong army. Azerbaijani soldiers and officers are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect our state, as they sacrificed their lives in the second Karabakh war.
Work on army building is going according to plan. Many military bases are being established in Kalbadjar district, Lachin district and other liberated territories, and good service conditions. All conditions are provided for our servicemen to serve better, considering the conditions of service.
Today, we are all proud to be celebrating Army Day in Kalbadjar. Kalbadjar was occupied in April 1993. The treacherous PFPA-Musavat duo, which was in power then, failed to defend Kalbadjar and was even ready to sacrifice it. Before that, Lachin and Shusha were occupied, and the occupation of Kalbadjar was on Armenian plans. The PFPA-Musavat government was engaged in looting and robbery and neglected the army or army procurement. They failed the people in this region and were indifferent to them, and Kalbadjar was occupied. Thus, Armenia achieved its centuries-old dream of having a connection with Karabakh – then called “Nagorno-Karabakh” – between this region and Armenia. The mountains of Kalbadjar and Lachin prevented this connection.
The loss of Kalbadjar was a great tragedy from a strategic point of view. At the same time, many people living here were killed by Armenians, while many of those who could get out of here froze in the Murov Mountains and lost their lives. Anyone coming here must cross Mount Murov and see how difficult the road is; it is always foggy. I passed through there this morning – it was rainy and foggy. People had to walk barefoot in that snowy and frosty weather in early April. They were tortured and ambushed as they moved. The contemptible enemy killed the civilian population. War criminals Sargsyan and Kocharyan did this: they came to Khankendi during the second Karabakh war as if in an attempt to put up resistance. They ran away like rabbits, like deserters. Therefore, the loss of Kalbadjar had a negative impact on the subsequent course of the war.
We have liberated Kalbadjar without a single shot being fired, returned to our homeland, and construction work is underway in Kalbadjar now. I have come to Kalbadjar for the second time, and there are many events today. Kalbadjar's infrastructure, electricity supply, water supply, and construction of houses are already starting. Of course, we first had to build military roads, and we did that. The opening of this military base today shows again that we will achieve what we want – the restoration of Karabakh and East Zangazur. This process has already begun. First, our military must always be strong in this region – in Karabakh and East Zangazur. Therefore, today's ceremony has a special meaning, a symbolic meaning.
Today we are celebrating Army Day in Kalbadjar, which we lost in April 1993. I must also say that during the occupation, different options were discussed – the mediators offered us different options. In all these options, the issue of returning Kalbadjar to Azerbaijan was on the agenda as a separate topic. I have always said that we should regain all our lands. We cannot be content with five districts. We must have Kalbadjar, Lachin, Shusha and other districts, this is our historical land, the land of our ancestors, and we have achieved this. Celebrating this military holiday in Kalbadjar gives us additional pleasure and fills our hearts with even more tremendous pride.
We have proved to the whole world that we are a great nation. Karabakh has always been the land of Azerbaijan – during the occupation, during the war, after the war and today. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
Servicemen: Karabakh is Azerbaijan!