A grand military parade on the occasion of the 20th independence anniversary of Azerbaijan and the 93rd anniversary of the Armed Forces has been held in Azadlig Square of Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev attended the military parade.
Also attending the military parade were state and government officials, First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP Mehriban Aliyeva, other MPs, ambassadors, heads of religious communities, representatives of international organizations, war veterans and public figures of the capital.
The military parade was attended by 6,000 troops representing all branches of the Armed Forces, military units and formations, military schools, as well as other statutory armed groups, about 400 pieces of military equipment and weapons systems, including up to 50 units of modernized military combat vehicles, about 60 units of weapons produced and upgraded in Azerbaijan, helicopter gunships, planes, ships and boats.
The military parade dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the restoration of state independence of Azerbaijan, as a triumph of faithfulness and deference to the ideas of nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev, was a demonstration of strength and power of the national armed forces.
The history of the Day of the Armed Forces is also associated with the name of the nationwide leader. Following a 22 May 1998 Decree signed by great leader Heydar Aliyev, 26 June, the Armed Forces Day, has been celebrated as a national holiday in Azerbaijan for 13 years.
On 26 June 1918, by a decision of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, a first regular military unit, the Separate Corps, was established in the country. The decree signed by nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev was a step of tremendous importance towards restoring the historical truth and the tradition of continuity in the construction of the national army. After the return of great leader Heydar Aliyev to power on persistent demands of the people, it was as a result of the reforms carried out under his leadership that a regular army subordinated to a single unified command emerged over a short period of time.
On 1 November 1993, the Defence Council was established in Azerbaijan, while on 2 November President Heydar Aliyev made a televised address to the nation over renewed attacks and aggression of the Armenian armed forces against the Republic of Azerbaijan. That message marked a new stage in the development of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces – the Heydar Aliyev stage.
Nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev, the architect and begetter of the modern independent state of Azerbaijan, is also the founder of a strong national army. President of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev has said in a speech that the creation of a modern and well-organized army was one of the biggest historical merits of Heydar Aliyev to the Azerbaijani people. Today, Azerbaijan has a strong army capable of resolving any problem.
This is true. Today, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces are a highly disciplined structure equipped with modern hardware and permanently ready to defend the country. The process of army construction has successfully continued under the leadership of the President of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev. The resolutions the President of Azerbaijan signed on 25 June on awarding servicemen and raising the monthly salaries of military personnel and civilian employees of the Ministry of Defense have encouraged the armed forces personnel towards greater determination, perseverance and vigilance in protecting the homeland.
Those gathered in the square saluted the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev with a prolonged applause.
Defense Minister Col-Gen Safar Abiyev reported to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev saluted the soldiers.
The separate model orchestra of the Ministry of Defense performed the national anthem of Azerbaijan.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev delivered a speech.
Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the grand military parade in Baku on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of the Armed Forces
- Dear soldiers, officers and generals!
Dear servicemen, dear friends!
I would like to sincerely congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on the Day of the Armed Forces, and wish the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan further success!
Today’s military parade marks the 20th anniversary of our independence. In the 20 years Azerbaijan has covered a long and glorious road as an independent state. For 20 years our country has been rapidly developing, and we currently have very strong positions in the region. Our country has reached major successes in all directions – in the economic sphere and in the solution of social issues. Among these successes, the process of army building went well.
Today Azerbaijan has a regular army. I often visit military units and examine the situation on the spot. I can say with full responsibility that the Azerbaijani army is at a very high level today. The professionalism and combat worthiness of our army are growing, there is high morale in the Armed Forces. All this is very gratifying. The army building process in Azerbaijan will continue progressing in the future too. Our army has the capacity to meet the objectives facing the country. We in Azerbaijan have resolved major issues in the area of improving the material and technical base of the army.
Issues of social protection of the servicemen are being resolved. As for social issues, the Azerbaijani government always keeps them in focus, resolves social and domestic problems of servicemen and raises their salaries. Following the resolution I signed yesterday, the official salaries of servicemen and civilian employees of the Defense Ministry have been raised by 25 and 10 per cent respectively.
Most of those serving in our army are young. I am very pleased that our youth is being raised in the national spirit, in the spirit of patriotism. Young people are our future. In the future they will run the country. I am very glad that the young people serving in the army are attached to the Motherland.
During the war and the ceasefire, we suffered losses, we had war-victims. We are paying tribute to all our war-victims, those who were killed for the native land. May they rest in peace. Their blood will be avenged, it will not go to waste. War-victims don’t die, their memory always lives on in our hearts!
A lot has been done to improve the material and technical base of our army. A small fraction of our military potential will be demonstrated in the parade today. We are buying modern arms, ammunition, military hardware, and this process will be continued. In recent years our military potential has significantly increased. We are buying modern combat aircraft, helicopter gunships, troop-carrying helicopters. Artillery installations, armored vehicles, communication facilities, unmanned aircraft are being purchased, the military power of our army is growing.
At the same time, military production through the Ministry of Defense Industry established in Azerbaijan six years ago is successfully underway. We have made great strides in this area too.
Azerbaijani army is provided, among others, with the products manufactured in the country. Various types of arms, ammunition, military hardware are manufactured in Azerbaijan, and these achievements will be demonstrated in today’s parade. Cartridges, weapons, shells, pistols, submachine guns, machine guns, mortars, sniper rifles, armored vehicles, unmanned aircraft – all this is produced in Azerbaijan. The military hardware produced in Azerbaijan is at a high level. Azerbaijani military hardware demonstrated in foreign exhibitions receives good feedback internationally too.
In other words, the Azerbaijani government is doing everything necessary to strengthen the military capacity, the potential of our army. Our military expenditure is growing from year to year. Whereas in 2003 our military budget was $160 million, in 2010 it reached $2,150 billion and this year a further $3,300 billion. The task I set a few years ago – to raise Azerbaijan’s military expenditure to the level of Armenia’s total expenditure – has already been met. Today, the money Azerbaijan is spending on the military exceeds the entire budget of Armenia by 50 per cent. We live in a time of war. The war is not over yet, only its first stage is, and a country at war should first of all focus on building the army. Today, military spending ranks first in the state budget of Azerbaijan, and this will be the case until our land is freed from occupation. Of course, if a peace treaty is signed, after an end is put to the occupation, such expenses may not be required. But at the same time, under any circumstances, our army must always demonstrate combat readiness. We will use all available opportunities to strengthen and modernize the material and technical base of the army.
We are aspiring to resolve the most painful issue for our country – the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani lands have been under occupation for many long years. Azerbaijanis have been subjected to a policy of ethnic cleansing. More than one million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and IDPs in their native land. Twenty per cent of our lands is under occupation. Unfortunately, this injustice is still continuing although the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is recognized by the international community. The recent statements, decisions and resolutions adopted by influential international organizations further support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Despite this, the issue has not been resolved yet. Four resolutions of the most influential organization of the world, the UN Security Council, as well as similar decisions and resolutions of other international organizations, remain unfulfilled.
The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not and will never be a subject of negotiations. We strive to resolve the issue as soon as possible on the basis of international law and restore the internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. To do that, we will continue our diplomatic efforts. Our cause is just. We have not seized the land of any other state, we do not have claims on the lands of any other country even though the present Armenian state was founded on historically Azerbaijani lands.
Nagorno-Karabakh is native and historical Azerbaijani land. This has always been the case, and so is it today. It is simply occupied temporarily. However, this occupation cannot last long. I am absolutely convinced that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity will be restored anyway. To do this, we must become even stronger. Thanks to the reforms under way in all the spheres in Azerbaijan, to the country's development and its strengthening standing in the region, we will achieve our goals.
We have been an independent country for 20 years. Our destiny is in our own hands. The Azerbaijani people are masters of their fate. Over the 20 years the people of Azerbaijan have shown the world that we can live and develop as an independent state. For the pace of economic development Azerbaijan is a world leader. No other country in the world has done and achieved as much as Azerbaijan has in recent years. All these achievements are confirmed by statistics. Over the past seven years, our state budget has increased 16 times and is 10 times bigger than the state budget of Armenia. Our military spending has increased 20 times, poverty has dropped five times, about a million new jobs have been created. Azerbaijan has set up major industrial enterprises. As a result of the successful economic reforms, the process of economic diversification is successfully ongoing, and a sustainable economy is emerging in Azerbaijan.
We have come a long way in addressing social issues. We have great opportunities and the will to address social security issues. The salaries, pensions and welfare payments being raised every year, the social infrastructure, the construction of over 2,000 schools, hundreds of health facilities, dozens of Olympic centers – all these are current realities of Azerbaijan.
Over the course of 20 years our country has come a long way. The well-being of the population has improved, the country's economy developed and our international standing strengthened. Today Azerbaijan is recognized by the international community as an equal and reliable partner. In many cases, our position is playing a crucial role in regional issues. Our initiatives are crucial in economic and infrastructure projects. At the same time, our influence on the continent in the broad sense is expanding. We are pursuing a policy of good will. We want to have good relations with our neighbors and have succeeded in that.
We are building relations with all the countries on the basis of mutual interest and respect, and we have made great strides in this. Azerbaijan is building relations with all the countries and institutions on the basis of mutual respect, and these relations are strengthening by the day.
The development of our country over 20 years manifests itself in every field, in every direction. Today our capital, the ancient city of Baku, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Our districts are reviving and developing. There is construction, creative work and landscaping everywhere, there is high morale in society. Our society is confident of the present and future of our country. Not only Azerbaijan, but also the countries cooperating with us believe in a bright future for Azerbaijan. We have the economic power. This is a reality. The economic power allows us to remain independent in any issue.
In 20 years Azerbaijan has become a truly independent state. We are pursuing an independent policy. This policy is based on the will of the Azerbaijani people. Citizens of Azerbaijan are at the center, at the heart of this policy. We must make sure that the positive trends observed in all spheres of life in the country are increased in the future. There is a lot to do in the years ahead.
The successes achieved over 20 years, our prudent policies and the already strong foundation are allowing us the opportunity to live as a strong and independent state for decades and centuries, to improve the welfare of the Azerbaijani people and further strengthen the country's standing in the world. I am sure that this will be the case, that we will achieve all the goals we have set ourselves. In any case, the experience of 20 years indicates that we have always achieved what we wanted, and we will continue to do so in the future.
It is a major holiday today. Azerbaijan is celebrating the Army Day. I want to reiterate that this military parade marks the 20th anniversary of our independence. A strong state must have a strong army. Azerbaijan is a strong state and Azerbaijan has a strong army! Long live the Azerbaijani Army! Long live Azerbaijan!
The speech by the head of state was listened to with great attention and received with applause.
Then the marching of the Armed Forces personnel and military hardware began.
First, the State Flag of Azerbaijan was brought into the square.
The tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, revived after many years thanks to great leader Heydar Aliyev, is now in safe hands. It causes great pride that Azerbaijan has the highest flag in the world today. The establishment, on the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev, of the State Flag Square in the capital and the State Flag Day epitomizes the inviolability and eternity of Azerbaijan’s independence. The economic power, the strong army, the ever growing international authority of our country and the resolve of the people do not leave any doubt whatsoever that the magnificent Azerbaijani flag will soon be hoisted on our occupied lands.
After the state flag was brought into the square, marching in front of the podium were cadets of the Azerbaijan Military Lyceum named after Jamshid Nakhchivanski, which was founded by nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev 40 years ago and holds a special place in military history of Azerbaijan, a company of officers representing Ground Forces, Air and Naval Forces, cadets of the Azerbaijan top-level military school named after Heydar Aliyev and the top-level naval and air force academies.
Parading in front of the podium next were fearless and brave sons of our native Azerbaijan – peacekeepers of the Armed Forces who are actively involved in the protection of international security, units of the Special State Security Service, the National Guard, the Ministry of National Security, Civil Defense Troops of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, rapid reaction forces of the Border Troops under the State Border Service, the Special Forces of the Interior Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Marines of the Armed Forces and Special Forces of the Ministry of Defence.
Azerbaijani soldiers and officers are noted for an inexhaustible sense of patriotism and high combat readiness. It is no coincidence that among the valiant sons confidently marching in front of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief in Azadlig Square there were many fighters who have been decorated with orders and medals by various resolutions of the Azerbaijani President.
Peacekeepers of the national Armed Forces, who have carried out peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world and repeatedly demonstrated our people’s commitment to universal human values and high combat readiness of Azerbaijani soldiers, have received NATO awards. Our peacekeepers are still serving their duty far from home with dignity.
The valiant sons of the country who paraded in front of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief in Azadlig Square explicitly demonstrated the development achieved in the area of army building in Azerbaijan over a short period of time. As repeatedly stressed by President Ilham Aliyev, the national army has thousands, tens of thousands of heroes like Mubariz Ibrahimov and Farid Ahmadov. They are waiting for the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and are always ready to liberate their homeland. The Azerbaijani army is the strongest, professional and most powerful army in the South Caucasus.
Then the passage of military hardware began. First, entering Azadlig Square were high-speed and maneuverable motorcycles on which machine guns manufactured in Azerbaijan are mounted. They were followed by the Tutek missile systems, special armored vehicles Egreb with anti-tank missile systems Girgi mounted on them, armored vehicles SOFA of the Interior Troops and Cobra of the State Border Service, Land Rover and Mercedes vehicles of special forces units, Cardom mortars of the Interior Troops.
The demonstration of unmanned flying vehicles Garangush and Shahin produced in Azerbaijan aroused a great interest among those attending the military parade. These machines are the most modern and efficient hardware used in tactical reconnaissance in the enemy rear. The machines enable reconnaissance of important facilities on large areas.
Parading in the Square one after another were towed artillery systems of different caliber, automatic mortars, antitank guns, howitzers, trailers and armored systems. The Dolu-1 system capable of shooting rockets to a distance of 20.4 km, Leysan to a distance of 45 km, Shimshek to a distance of 150 km and Gasirga to a distance of 70 and 90 km can deal precise blows to targets.
Then air defense systems appeared in the Square. As a result of modernization carried out, the maximum shooting range of the Kaman anti-aircraft missile complex was brought up to 35 km. The target hit potential of the Galkhan anti-aircraft missile complex, designed to destroy high-speed aircraft and cruise missiles flying at high altitudes, has been raised to 255 and 40 km on horizontal and vertical planes respectively. The Favorite anti-aircraft missile system can fire on six different targets flying at a speed of 2,800 meters per second at a time, and destroy targets at an altitude of 27,000 meters. As a result of modernization in our country, the stand-alone anti-aircraft missile system ARI-IT can hit targets at a distance of 12 km and at an altitude of 7 km.
Parading in front of the tribune were armored vehicles produced in Azerbaijan, Matador and Marauder, which have aroused a great deal of interest in international exhibitions. These highly maneuverable machines are resistant to antitank mines and are fitted with modern large-caliber weaponry.
Also parading in front of the tribune were various self-propelled artillery installations, infantry fighting vehicles and upgraded T-72 tanks. Self-propelled Nargiz cannons using special ammunition are capable of striking strategic military sites at a distance of 47.5 km. As a result of modernization carried out in Azerbaijan, T-72 tanks Aslan have been brought into line with modern requirements, upgraded and their fire control and fighting systems fully computerized.
The establishment of the Ministry of Defense Industry has been instrumental in strengthening the defense potential of the country. Having established a competitive defense industry over in a short period of time, Azerbaijan is already embarking on production at the level of NATO standards and is successfully represented in international defense industry exhibitions. The hardware demonstrated in the military parade has been manufactured on the basis of latest scientific and technological achievements and makes it possible to fulfill any military task.
A military raid comprising 28 Navy ships, motor-boats and boats of the Ministry of Defence, four border patrol vessels of the State Border Service, two fire fighting and three rescue vessels of the Ministry of Emergency Situations were lined up in the bay right next to Azadlig Square where the parade was conducted.
As is the case with other branches of the army, the Navy has emerged and evolved into a modern and regular force thanks to a far-sighted policy of nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev. The Azerbaijani Navy has been tasked with protecting the interests of our state in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. Our military fleet has also emerged and meets modern standards. Professional personnel have been trained. The Navy is capable of carrying out any combat mission at a high level.
The subsequent flights of warplanes and helicopter gunships of the Azerbaijani Air Force over Azadlig Square further bolstered the spirit of the parade. A total of 22 warplanes, eight trainer planes and 35 helicopter gunships took part in the parade.
The demonstration flights of the Air Force were opened by Mi-8 helicopter, which carried the Azerbaijan state flag above the Square. It was followed by a group of Mi-17-1V and Mi-8 helicopters. The courage and professionalism of Azerbaijani Falcons further multiplied the sense of pride among those present at the ceremony.
By skillfully operating helicopters Mi-8, Mi-17-1V, Mi-24, Mi-171, Mi-172 and KA-32, fighter-bomber MiG-29, attack plane Su-25, trainer aircraft L-39, our Falcons proved their professionalism and combat readiness again.
A quartet of Su-25 planes skillfully operated by Azerbaijani Falcons drew three colors of the Azerbaijan state flag in the sky.
Such a symbolic completion of the military parade dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence and the 93rd anniversary of the Armed Forces multiplied our hopes that the sacred flag of Azerbaijan will soon be hoisted on the lands liberated from occupation. It demonstrated again the determination and resolve of the Azerbaijani people on this path.