Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the grand military parade in Baku on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of the Armed Forces

26 june 2011, 12:10

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!