Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the meeting with representatives of the general public in Aghdam
03 december 2016, 14:40
We met in the same yard on 1 May. Houses were destroyed and the picture was quite deplorable at the time. Seven months on, we already see a new house. The Azerbaijani state has taken all the necessary measures in a short time. In Aghdam District alone we have rebuilt and refurbished more than 700 houses. Current repairs have been carried out.
When I was here on 1 May, I said that the citizens had nothing to worry about and that the Azerbaijani state would do everything necessary. And it so happened – all the houses and buildings that were in unusable condition have been restored in six to seven months. More than 700 have been renovated and rebuilt in Aghdam District and about 250 in Tartar District. This has been done in a matter of six to seven months. This first of all demonstrates the power of our country and shows what we are capable of. On the other hand, this is a result of our policy, a manifestation of that. Our policy is centered on the people of Azerbaijan. Our state always protects its citizens and tries to resolve their problems. The fact that such a large-scale piece of creative work has been completed in a few months demonstrates our policy.
We visited these places just a month after the April battles. The April battles are a great and historic victory for us. The Azerbaijani state, the Azerbaijani people and the Azerbaijani army demonstrated their strength once again – both our citizens and the military. Our servicemen showed heroism and courage on the battlefield, gave a fitting rebuff to the enemy and liberated part of our occupied territory. Our people stood in this place, outside the destroyed house, firmly and showed the unbending will of the Azerbaijani people to the enemy. They showed that the Azerbaijani people are not afraid of anything. The Azerbaijani people live and will continue to live in their homeland. No-one living in frontline areas has moved away from here. The Armenians fled from a part of our occupied lands, while we persevered because we are on our own lands. They understand that they are living on someone else’s land.
Azerbaijan must restore its territorial integrity. Our historical lands are not only the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Erivan, Geycha and Zangezur are our historical geography, our historical lands. Armenia once illegally built a state on these lands and now wants to build a second state there. The people of Azerbaijan will never allow this to happen, and the April fighting confirmed this once again. It has shown that we will never put up with this situation. We are a strong state and we have created a powerful army. Azerbaijan is a country enjoying great respect worldwide today, and the people of Azerbaijan are capable of protecting their land.
Therefore, I want to say this again: our victory in the April fighting is a heroic page for us – for our state, for our army as part of the state and for our citizens. We have this unity, and if our people had not shown such courage, this would have had a negative impact on our work, of course. Our people showed courage which gave our soldiers even more strength and confidence. And our servicemen knew that the people of Azerbaijan are behind them and they need to be protected.
The political leadership of Armenia has once again shown its ugly face. Just as they showed brutality and committed crimes against the civilian population at the beginning of the 1990s, this time the Armenia leadership cowardly fled the battlefield, admit defeat and ordered that crimes be committed against the civilian population. We have never conducted any operations against the civilian population. Our problem is the occupying forces. And when they saw that they can no longer confront us, they began to bomb our villages. They were hoping that our people would be scared and leave these regions. It did not work. The Azerbaijani people are heroic. You, the people living here, did not leave these places during the events of April. You are a source of pride for us. We are proud of you.
In the first Karabakh war, the people of Aghdam displayed great dedication and courage. Aghdam suffered the biggest number of martyrs. This time round, during the April events, you showed great heroism and courage again. All the people of Azerbaijan know this and are proud of you.
It is a historic day today, because this beautiful house has been constructed as the site of the destroyed one. Other houses have been built and renovated, which is of great symbolic significance. This is yet another victory for us. The Armenians who fled from the lands they occupied in Nagorno-Karabakh are not only unable to repair buildings. They do not even venture to return to these places. We have done all this work in a short time. Why? Because we are doing our best to improve the welfare of our people! The people of Azerbaijan should live even better. The government of Azerbaijan always stands by its people. In previous years, there were also natural disasters, earthquakes and floods. During those incidents, the Azerbaijani government allocated funds for the restoration and reconstruction of all the homes – thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of homes. This time, we have repaired and constructed more than 1,000 homes in Tartar and Aghdam districts alone.
The successful development of Aghdam District should become the goal of every citizen of Azerbaijan, because most of Aghdam District is under occupation. Landscaping work should be carried out on the areas under our control. In recent years, we have built 18 settlements for the displaced persons in Aghdam. For nearly 10 years, there is no such concept as a "camp for refugees and displaced persons" in Azerbaijan. Today, Aghdam is home to more than 90,000 people. This is very good and gratifying. The people resettled in other regions are coming back here. The necessary conditions are being created for them. I would like to see more natives of Aghdam return here. The state will support them.
Steps related to economic development, in particular those related to agriculture, have been taken here. Infrastructure projects are under way. A number of major rural road projects have already been implemented. At the next stage we will implement other projects. Gasification in Aghdam is at about 100 per cent. For this indicator, Aghdam District is probably at the forefront in the whole of the country. A special program was developed for Aghdam, and I am glad that it has been implemented.
Also on the agenda is the implementation of other infrastructure projects. At the next stage we will take steps associated with irrigation. We are taking specific steps to make new acreage available. As you know, the development of agriculture is one of our top priority issues now. Very serious steps have been taken in the fields of cotton, silk and grain growing. There are excellent results. In the coming years they will only improve, because cotton will be sown on an area of 3,000 hectares in Aghdam District next year. In an effort to develop sericulture, the government buys and gives people mulberry saplings. We will facilitate job creation and the establishment of new production sites. Agricultural equipment, fertilizer and fuel are provided. All necessary steps are being taken. For this development to go even faster, loans are issued to business people. We must not only provide for our own needs at the expense of domestic production, we also need to access foreign markets with great exports. We will achieve that.
Let me repeat that it is a remarkable and historic day today. This house is an example of a strengthening Azerbaijan and its persistent citizens. I would like to express my gratitude to you again for the fact that you demonstrated dedication to the people and state, and displayed heroism in those difficult days. Please rest assured that the development of Aghdam District is always in the spotlight. My greetings and congratulations to all of you again!