Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the official military parade on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armed Forces26 june 2018, 09:51
Dear soldiers, officers and generals!
Ladies and gentlemen!
I sincerely congratulate you and all the Azerbaijani people on the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijani army. I wish all the personnel of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces continued success and further achievements.
Last month, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. One of the most important decisions made by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was the decision to establish the Azerbaijani army. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic did not last long. The republic fell two years later and Azerbaijan lost its state independence. This shows again that it is more difficult to maintain independence than to gain it.
The state independence of Azerbaijan was restored in 1991. But as you know, the first two years of independence were very difficult and tragic for our country. At the end of the 20th century, history seemed to be repeating itself. In 1991-1993, Azerbaijan was faced with a great disaster. The country was in an uncontrollable state. Our independence was formal and conditional in nature. Azerbaijan could not pursue an independent policy. The squabbles within the country, the infighting for power made the situation even more difficult. There was economic recession and crisis. The coup d'etat committed by the Popular Front and Musavat in 1992 further exacerbated the already difficult situation. The situation in Azerbaijan reached a critical point. Armenia took advantage of this by pursuing an occupation policy against our people, again our young state. As a result of this policy, a part of our lands was occupied. The first two years of our independence practically called the very existence of Azerbaijan as an independent country into question. Under such difficult circumstances, the Azerbaijani people showed their wisdom yet again by turning to great leader Heydar Aliyev and inviting him to take power. Only after that, after the great leader had assumed power did the situation stabilize and was Azerbaijan able to get out of this difficult situation.
There was no regular army in the early years of independence. Isolated armed groups could not protect the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Therefore, a special place among the many important decisions made by the great leader belongs to the decision to establish a regular army. The establishment of a regular army required the presence of economic opportunities. This was why very serious economic reforms were carried out in Azerbaijan in those years, the attraction of foreign investment was secured, and Azerbaijan managed to break through international isolation. The political and economic reforms carried out in the country stabilized the situation, and Azerbaijan has followed the path of development and progress ever since 1993. This policy continues today. The 1993-2003 period has gone down our history as one of stability and development.
Since 2003, work in all areas has been progressing at a fast pace, including the field of army building. Army building is the most important issue, the highest priority for us. And this is only natural because we are at war. The war is not over yet. Only its first stage is. Our main goal is to restore our territorial integrity.
As I have already mentioned, Armenia took advantage of the negative processes taking place in our country in the first years of independence, including the civil war launched by the Popular Front and Musavat, and seized our lands. Nagorno-Karabakh is native Azerbaijani land, it is historical Azerbaijani land. The Azerbaijani people have lived and worked on these lands for centuries. According to international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan. All international organizations recognize and support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. In recent years, the world's leading international organizations have adopted numerous resolutions and decisions related to the conflict. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions, which explicitly state that Armenian armed forces must immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the occupied lands. These resolutions are still in force and have not lost their power.
Our people have been subjected to a policy of ethnic cleansing. The Khojaly genocide has been committed. More than 600 innocent people, including children, women and the elderly, were killed by Armenian executioners. More than a thousand people have gone missing. To date, more than 10 countries of the world have officially recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide.
Azerbaijan will never put up with this occupation. Azerbaijan must and will restore its territorial integrity. To do that, we had to create a strong army. I can say with full confidence today that we have managed to achieve this goal. The Azerbaijani army is one of the strongest armies in the world today. Army building is our main task. The creation of a strong army requires a strong economy. We have worked very hard in this direction. Over the past 15 years, there has been no other country in the world that would develop economically as fast as Azerbaijan. Our economy has grown 3.2 times. Thanks to its economic potential, Azerbaijan feels very confident today. Azerbaijan holds the most advanced places in the rankings of all leading international organizations. In terms of its development, Azerbaijan is ranked third in the world among developing countries. We live at our own expense and do not receive help from anywhere. And this is not even necessary. We channel the money we earn with hard work into the solution of key tasks for the country. Army building is in the first place among them.
Since 2003, our military expenditure has increased 15 times. The conditions of military service are improving. Recent years have seen the opening of dozens of military camps. The conditions for military service are very good. Over the past few years, 80 per cent of our military units and military camps have been rebuilt or overhauled. In the next two to three years, all our military camps will be completely renovated. So this issue will also be resolved. Housing and domestic issues of our servicemen are also being addressed. According to a decision, the servicemen with a history of 20 years of flawless service in the army are provided with free apartments by the state. More than 20,000 civilians work in our military units today. This work was previously done by soldiers. We have freed them from all domestic work. At the same time, more than 20,000 jobs have been opened for civilians.
Our army is equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry and equipment. Also, the various military products manufactured in Azerbaijan strengthen the potential of our army. In recent years, more than 20 military plants have been established in Azerbaijan on our initiative. These plants manufacture military products of 1,200 denominations. At the same time, we have already started exporting military products. Azerbaijan also acquires the most advanced weaponry and machinery from many countries. A small part of this weaponry will be demonstrated in the parade today.
The most sophisticated hardware and weaponry have been acquired in recent years. This includes hundreds of armored vehicles, numerous patrol and warships, air defense systems, systems meeting the most modern standards, dozens of combat aircraft, more than a hundred combat, military and transport helicopters, the most modern reconnaissance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles, the most modern artillery installations, long-range missiles, volley fire rocket launchers, tactical missile systems. All this multiplies our military power. I can say that Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries of the world in terms of material and technical provision of the army.
We are doing all this for the Azerbaijani army to become even stronger and for our military potential to grow further. We are doing this because we see that international law does not work, and the developments unfolding in the world confirm that. If it did, Azerbaijani lands would have been freed from the invaders long ago. The decisions and resolutions adopted by international organizations are not being implemented, there is no mechanism for their execution. Force has become the main factor in various regions of the world. Therefore, our policy is certainly correct. We have been pursuing this policy for many years. We did not accumulate this military potential in one year. For several years, as a result of a consistent policy, including the fruitful relations with friendly countries, we have acquired the most modern weaponry in the world, and this process will be continued. Azerbaijan will continue to acquire the most advanced weaponry and equipment. To achieve this, we have established effective relations with friendly countries. We have major financial resources and a strong will.
The combat capability of our army is growing. While getting acquainted with the state of affairs in our military units, I have repeatedly said that the spirit of patriotism in Azerbaijan is very high. The fighting capacity of the Azerbaijani army is at the highest level, and this is confirmed by recent history. Two years ago, Armenia committed yet another military provocation against our people, fired on our positions and committed aggression against our civilian population. Both servicemen and civilians became martyrs. The Azerbaijani army did not leave the invader unpunished, gave it a fitting rebuff and put it back in its place by conducting a successful counter-offensive operation and freeing some of our lands from the invaders. A part of Agdara, Fizuli and Jabrayil districts was liberated from occupiers and an area of 2,000 hectares was cleared. As a result of the successful counter-offensive operation, the Azerbaijani army is now in control of thousands of hectares of land. It is now our soldiers who are in the trenches the Armenians have dug on our occupied lands. Our flag flies in Lalatapa. Our flag flies in the mountains of Agdara. We have regained strategic heights, which gives us a huge advantage. The April fights are a glorious victory for us. Azerbaijani soldiers, officers and generals – the Azerbaijani army in general – have demonstrated true heroism, professionalism and courage. It showed again that the Azerbaijani people will never come to terms with this occupation. It showed again that the fairy tales the Armenian side had been telling about its army are just a myth. We have completely dispelled this myth. In a matter of a few days, we broke through and destroyed the allegedly strong line of defense they had been creating for years. The April fights are a glorious page in our history.
On the eve of this holiday, last month, 11,000 hectares of Nakhchivani land seized by the Armenians in the early 1990s were released as a result of a successful operation conducted by the Nakhchivan Standalone Combined Arms Unit. Tremendous engineering and reconnaissance work was carried out. The Nakhchivan operation was carried out with great skill and professionalism. Azerbaijani servicemen demonstrated heroism and courage once again. We have captured strategic heights. We are currently in control of strategic communication routes. The Nakhchivan operation showed again that the Azerbaijani army is strong. It demonstrated again that we can fulfill and are fulfilling any task with great skill and professionalism. After that, the Azerbaijani army must be ready to restore our territorial integrity at any time. We want a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and the policy Azerbaijan is pursuing is vivid evidence of that. But I want to say again that we will never put up with this situation. We have created a very strong army. The enemy must know that it does not have a single military or strategic facility the Azerbaijani army could not destroy. All military facilities, all of the enemy’s strategically important sites can be destroyed by the Azerbaijani army. The weaponry to be demonstrated here today will show this to the Azerbaijani people, to the enemy and indeed to the whole world. Therefore, I believe that the speediest and fair solution of the issue through negotiations and restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan should be in the interests of the other side too.
Azerbaijan will continue to grow gradually stronger. We are on a path of development. All the roads ahead of us are open. The horizons are clear. Azerbaijan will continue to go along the path of development. Armenia cannot compete with us in any way. Historical justice and international law are on our side. We have economic power, military strength and a spirit of patriotism. The April victories, the Nakhchivan victories have further enhanced the patriotic spirit of our army and people, and convinced the Azerbaijani people that they can rest assured that the Azerbaijani army is capable and ready to fulfill any task.
Azerbaijani flags were hoisted on the lands liberated from the invaders in April 2016 and in the Nakhchivan operation of 2018. This is of great moral importance. These flags will be demonstrated in this parade in Azadlig Square today. These flags led our military forward. These flags were in battle. They fly on the Azerbaijani lands liberated from occupation and have been brought here specifically for today's parade. There will come a day when the Azerbaijani flag raised on the lands that still remain under occupation will be delivered to Azadlig Square and will be demonstrated in a military parade. We must bring that sacred day closer, and we are doing that.
Glory of the Azerbaijani army!
Long live Azerbaijan!