Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of new military camp of Defense Ministry's military unit

23 january 2017, 11:15

Dear servicemen!

First of all, I want to congratulate you on the opening of the newly built military camp. This camp covers an area of 42 hectares and meets the highest standards. When reviewing the camp, I was convinced that all the conditions are available for serving the duty and residing here. The latest standards are available and service conditions are at a high level. I think this is a model military camp on a global scale.

The construction of this camp is further evidence that great attention is being paid to army building in Azerbaijan. Over the past few years, more than 20 military camps have been built and refurbished in our country. Today, it is safe to say that the vast majority of our military camps are at this level. I do hope that there will be no military infrastructure left in disrepair in the next year or two.

The process of army building in Azerbaijan is a state policy. We are also addressing domestic problems of our servicemen. As you know, the servicemen with a perfect track record of 20 years are provided with free apartments by the state. This process is already widespread. All necessary measures are being taken for people to do their duty. In short, both the conditions of service and the domestic life of our military personnel are always in the spotlight.

Our army is among the strongest armies. The material and technical infrastructure of our army has developed a lot in recent years. The Azerbaijani army today is at a high level in terms of logistics and equipment and is capable of completing any task. In recent years, we have acquired the most sophisticated equipment, weaponry and ammunition in many countries, and today these reinforce our military capacity. The dozens of combat aircraft, more than 100 military and transport helicopters, and various state-of-the-art antiaircraft systems delivered from several countries enhance our defensive power. The most modern tanks, armored vehicles and artillery units we have acquired in various countries have great destructive power and are capable of hitting any enemy target with a high precision. We have acquired the most advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and other intelligence and military equipment. This process is still under way.

I want to note once again that army building is being addressed in a comprehensive manner. We have significantly improved service and household conditions of our servicemen. The provision of military equipment and the overall combat capability of our army have also increased. There is great elation in our army and the sense of patriotism is at a high level. The combat readiness of our army today receives high praise from the world community as well. Different analyses are conducted, military specialists are expressing their opinions. We know that. The whole world also knows that the Azerbaijani army is one of the strongest armies in the full sense of the word – both in terms of combat capability and in terms of military-technical equipment.

We have achieved all this ourselves, at our own expense, at the expense of a strong economy. We could not have done all this work without a strong economy. The military camp created here today shows the strength of our army and our country. The world is still struggling with a financial and economic crisis. Despite this, we are allocating and will continue to allocate major funds for this purpose. This is provided by a strong economy. The work ongoing in the economy and the reforms are strengthening our army and the state. Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries living at its own expense. We do not depend on anyone and do not need anyone’s financial assistance. We live at our own expense, and we live better with each passing year.

Several years ago, the plight of our military units was completely different. I issued a special instruction to analyze the situation, report to me and take further action. I remember being shown photos of military units located in different regions a few years ago. Of course, the picture was very poor. There were dilapidated buildings, barracks were in disrepair and food supply of our army was at an extremely low level. So I immediately issued an order and fundamental changes followed. Today, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense is doing all of this work at a high level. So the Azerbaijani army is among model armies both in terms of supply and in terms of service today.

As for the combat capability of our army, we have always known that systematic work was carried out in this direction. Discipline, fighting capacity and training – all of this work manifested itself at the right time. Having thwarted an Armenian armed provocation in April last year, the Azerbaijani army dealt crushing blows to the enemy. Parts of Fuzuli, Jabrayil and Agdara Districts were liberated from occupiers. The Azerbaijani flag now flies on these territories. Thousands of hectares of land have been freed from occupation. Today, the Azerbaijani army exercises control over tens of thousands of hectares of land. Cleaning work is currently under way on these lands and IDPs will return to these territories in the near future.

The April battles are a major military victory for us. For many years, Armenia had been creating myths about its army and spring tales about its alleged invincibility. The April fighting showed whose army is actually invincible. Although Armenia is reluctant to acknowledge its own bitter defeat, it has to do so. It was after the April fighting that many high-ranking military officers headed by the Minister of Defense of Armenia were sacked from their posts. This was the result of the April fighting. Our soldiers and officers showed heroism. We did have martyrs. May Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs in peace! But we defended our lands and freed our territories from occupation. The April battles should be included in military books. The Azerbaijani army displayed military professionalism and heroism.

All of these successes are underpinned by a sound policy. Azerbaijan is consistently carrying out the process of army building. The level of provision, equipment, acquisition of modern hardware, enhanced combat capability, as well as our military successes, are complemented by political achievements. The international community today knows us as a very reliable partner. The number of our friends in the world is gradually growing. The world community is becoming more complete information about our fair cause.

It is no secret today that our cause is fair and that we are fighting for our own land. Nagorno-Karabakh is native Azerbaijani land. The Azerbaijani people have lived and worked in Nagorno-Karabakh for centuries. The historical and religious monuments located there reflect our ancient culture. Not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also the territory of the present-day Armenia is historically Azerbaijani land. If we look at the statistics, we can see that in the early 20th century the Azerbaijanis accounted for 70 per cent of the population of the city of Erivan. Many place names in the present-day Armenia are of Azerbaijani origin. Erivan, Zangezur and Goycha are our historical lands. The Armenian state was built on our lands, and, unfortunately, with our own support. When the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was established in 1918, one of its first decisions was the decision to transfer Erivan to Armenia. So this is history, recent history. It once again proves that the Azerbaijani people lived in these areas for centuries and should live there.

As for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, historians and those dealing with this issue are also well aware of this. The Azerbaijani people, of course, also know it perfectly well that large numbers of Armenians were resettled to Nagorno-Karabakh from Iran and Eastern Anatolia in the 1920s. This was done with the intention of changing the ethnic and religious composition of this given territory, which was why the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was established on the territory of Azerbaijan in the 1920s. So this is history. History and justice are on our side. Let me reiterate that this is our fair cause. It is our land to which we must return.

With regard to international law, it also supports our position. Many authoritative international organizations have adopted decisions and resolutions relating to the conflict. In particular, the UN Security Council, the world’s top body, has adopted four resolutions which openly state that Armenian occupying forces should unconditionally withdraw from the occupied lands. If someone has forgotten about that, we can recall. This is the essence of these resolutions. However, Armenia ignores that and no pressure is being put on the aggressor country. Along with the UN Security Council, similar resolutions and decisions have been adopted by other international organizations – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OSCE, the European Parliament, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. They also remain on paper. This is unfair. It means a flagrant violation of international law. And yet no pressure is being put on the aggressor. It is a policy of double standards. Unfortunately, our country has for many years faced double standards. In some places, UN Security Council resolutions are executed in one day, but when it comes to us, these resolutions remain on paper for more than 20 years and those who adopted them remain indifferent. Therefore, Azerbaijan should multiply and increase its power.

We have enhanced and will continue to enhance our military capacity. Political moves will be taken so that the international community expresses its position on this issue more broadly. We will enhance our economic power and, despite all the crises, our army will be provided with everything necessary. Military expenses are top of our budget spending. We also have other needs. There are social issues, infrastructure projects and other important matters. They are also being addressed. But army construction is in first place. First of all, we must provide for our military needs. Of course, the stronger we are, the closer the resolution of the conflict.

The solution to the conflict is quite simple. First of all, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. We will never allow a second fictitious Armenian state to be created in Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh will never be granted independence. If anyone expects that, it is vain. It will not happen! Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani land. This is how it is perceived in history and the whole world. When Azerbaijan gained its independence and became a member of the UN as a state, Nagorno-Karabakh was treated as an indivisible part of Azerbaijan. So this is the solution of this problem. As stated in the resolutions of the UN Security Council, occupying forces must unconditionally withdraw from our occupied lands. The citizens of Azerbaijan, the internally displaced persons must return to their native places.

As for the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, it is possible only within a single Azerbaijani state. This is the settlement of the conflict, and the sooner the Armenian leadership realizes that, the better for it. The restoration of territorial integrity and an end to occupation are the key factors for the conflict settlement. I would like to reiterate that in order to achieve these goals, we have to become even stronger. We are creating a strong state of Azerbaijan, and it is viewed with great approval in the world. We are building a free future for ourselves. We have built an independent life. We have been an independent state for 25 years. I want to repeat that we have achieved all this without any help from outside, without any patronage, as is the case with certain countries. We must say frankly that Armenia exists on the world map as an independent state simply formally. Armenia is a dependent country. It can’t decide its future itself. Such is the result of their aggressive policy. The only way out of this situation is to restore relations with neighbors. And this requires an end to occupation.

We will become an even more powerful state in the future. Our economic potential and military power are growing. Our population is increasing. The population of Azerbaijan is approaching 10 million, and there is no doubt that we will restore our territorial integrity. This is due to many factors, the first of which is a strong Azerbaijani army. This is our main goal.

The opening of this military camp today shows once again that Azerbaijan is on the right track. Even in 2016, the most difficult year for the economy, we maintained a successful development dynamics and invested heavily. In recent years, we have built more than 20 military camps. But the construction of military camps is also planned elsewhere, in various regions.

I want to congratulate all our military personnel on this wonderful event again and wish our army continued success. Thank you.