Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of the Gobu Park-3 residential complex for IDPs
28 may 2020, 13:30
We are celebrating Republic Day today. I congratulate you and the entire Azerbaijani people on Republic Day. On this holiday, we are gathered for the opening of the Gobu-3 residential settlement for internally displaced persons. All the conditions are available here. I have reviewed the conditions – the work has been done at the highest level. “Gobu Park-3” is a third major residential compound built in this settlement. A total of 1,336 internally displaced families will be accommodated in this settlement. A school will be in operation – a wonderful school for 960 pupils, a large kindergarten has already been built and is ready for operation. In general, about 3,700 IDP families will be accommodated as part of three projects in Gobu settlement.
The Gobu-1 and Gobu-2 projects were commissioned in 2018 and 2019. I must note that the construction of these settlements was initiated by Mehriban Aliyeva – the foundation here was laid with her participation in 2017. There was a wasteland here at that time, there was nothing, and it is now possible to say that over the course of three years a beautiful city was consistently created here. These three settlements will be home to a total of about 20,000 people, and this once again shows that where there is a will, where there are right policies and where the most cherished dreams are realized, then any initiative, any great idea can be implemented. Thus, major infrastructure projects were implemented on an empty area. Communications and provision of all these buildings have been organized at the highest level – issues of water supply, gas supply, electricity supply, internal roads and transportation have been resolved. There is also a medical center, retail outlets, workplaces have also been created here – this has also been taken into account – people living here will be provided with jobs. In particular, a carpet workshop will be operating here for women, other small industrial enterprises are already ready to start operating. If we consider that the people living here have been in a difficult situation for many years – their previous place of residence has been shown in today's presentation – of course, this will give the families great joy.
What makes this settlement special is that all the work here has been done by the private sector. And this is very gratifying. I am glad that after the call I made a few years ago, the private sector has already joined these important social projects. At that time, I called on the private sector to join this work, and I am glad that my call did not go unanswered. All construction work, all investment was provided by the private sector. I want to specifically note the activities of Pasha Holding. This company is engaged in multifaceted activities. All social projects it has carried out at different times deserve approval. I must also say that it consistently carries out this work without advertising itself, without boasting, so to speak. Today, in the coronavirus conditions, Pasha Holding and other private companies are close to people in need. This major construction project once again demonstrates that the social responsibility of business is growing. I am glad that other private companies have joined this initiative as well. They have recently begun the construction of two buildings. I do hope that other companies will join this work, as there are many large companies and holdings in Azerbaijan. They earn money in Azerbaijan, they enjoy the stability in our country and provide business support. Of course, their social responsibility should also be at the right level. Therefore, the construction of these residential settlements is quite symbolic. First of all, the state demonstrates its determination. As you know, the solution of the problems of internally displaced persons is one of my top priorities as President. On the other hand, the private sector, already showing social responsibility, creates such excellent opportunities, given that more than 300,000 internally displaced persons are provided with apartments and individual houses in Azerbaijan today, and almost 20,000 of them are provided with housing as a result of the work done by one company.
The problems of the internally displaced persons are consistently addressed. As you know, back in 2003, in the run-up to the presidential election, this issue was an integral part of my program. I promised that within five years there would not be a single tent camp left in Azerbaijan, and we achieved this not only in five but in four years. It was a huge success because there were tent camps everywhere in our country, the IDPs lived in poor conditions. At the same time, they lived in wagons, underneath them and in tents for many years. I believe that the removal of tent camps is a great success for us. So far, more than 100 settlements have been built. In the past few years, the world has been gripped by an economic and financial recession. We have witnessed the fact that the oil price has plummeted several times over the past four to five years. Despite this, there are no delays in any of the projects related to internally displaced persons. No programs are to be reduced. Last year, a record number of apartment houses were built for internally displaced persons – about 5,000. This year, the goal has been set to provide houses and apartments to 7,000, perhaps even 8,000 IDP families. If we achieve this, then about 40,000 people in Baku, Sumgayit and other cities will be resettled to new homes this year. This work is carried out in a consistent manner. We will allocate funds for this purpose in the Investment Program for next year.
At the same time, the social security of internally displaced persons is improving. Last year, the amount of benefits paid to the IDPs was increased by 50 percent. Each internally displaced person has been provided with a monthly allowance by the state for many years. Of course, there are internally displaced persons in several countries of the world today, and the number of such countries is growing. Wars and clashes are becoming pervasive, new settlements for IDPs are appearing. However, I believe that the attention being paid to this sphere in Azerbaijan is exemplary. This has been repeatedly confirmed by international organizations. After all, we provide the IDPs with such beautiful homes. The design, the interior and the provision of these homes are pleasing to the eye. Azerbaijan is in one of the leading places in this respect. I believe that this is our duty, we are doing and will continue to do this in the future too.
But we should also know, and all the Azerbaijani people should know that this is a temporary residence for you. After our lands are liberated from occupation, we will build as beautiful buildings and towns on the lands that are still under occupation, we will rebuild the cities destroyed by the Armenians. Our national heritage destroyed by the Armenians has been documented. We know our historical past well and we know well that Nagorno-Karabakh is the original Azerbaijani land. After the liberation of the occupied lands, all the buildings will be constructed anew, including the architectural measures to reflect the presence of destroyed historical monuments.
I am absolutely sure that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. There are many factors underpinning this confidence – our military power, and we have demonstrated it. As a result of successful military operations in 2016 and 2018, thousands of hectares of land were liberated from the invaders. On the example of the village of Jojug Marjanli, we see what work will be carried out on other lands freed from occupation and at what pace. We rebuilt Jojug Marjanli just a year after the military victory. Life there is in full swing now, the IDPs have returned to their native land. Suggestions are sometimes voiced that some IDPs may not return to these lands after they are freed from occupation. However, I am absolutely convinced that all IDPs will return to their native lands, as the IDPs from Jabrayil have done. For many years, they had lived in other places, including the city of Baku. But as soon as the opportunity emerged, they even queued up to return to their native land as soon as possible. The same applies to the settlement of Shikharh liberated from occupation. A large town has been built there now. This is the historical place of Azerbaijan located on the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region. A large town has been built on the territory liberated from occupation. We will carry out restoration work on all other lands that are under occupation today. Azerbaijan will secure its sovereignty.
Let me reiterate – military power, our international positions, the position demonstrated by international organizations in connection with the conflict. In particular, we can say that all international organizations and leading countries of the world strongly support the territorial integrity of our country, especially in recent years. This was once again demonstrated by the so-called “presidential election” recently held in Nagorno-Karabakh. Nobody recognized this fictitious president, the president in quotation marks. Leading countries of the world made an open statement. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – America, France and Russia, the European Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Parliament and other organizations stated that they did not recognize this election and that Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani land. Therefore, international law, our military power, as well as economic advantage will, of course, play a major role in the liberation of our lands. The negotiations are, of course, there, but you can see perfectly well that the force factor comes to the foreground in the world today. Some countries, even those with great democratic traditions, sometimes ignore international law and secure their interests. Due to what? Due to strength. Therefore, army building is always in the foreground in my activities as President. We have created such a powerful army that we are capable of carrying out any task. Of course, all the positive factors I have listed, as well as the demographic situation, will continue to secure our advantage. The solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is a historical issue, and we must solve it once and for all. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be fully restored. Today, a phased solution is on the negotiating table. Even though the Armenian leadership is trying to deny this in its official populist speeches, the fact is that a phased solution is being discussed within the framework of the negotiations. They are being hypocritical here too, deceiving its people and trying to deceive the mediators. No solution other than a phased solution is possible. What does it mean? At the first stage, a part of the lands is freed from occupation. There can be no other option. But I am saying that there can only be a phased approach. Our goal, the main idea is to fully secure our sovereignty once and for all, and we will do that. Let no-one have any doubt about that. We just need to be stronger, correctly assess the time and geopolitical situation to resolve issues. This is my opinion, and I know that the Azerbaijani people support my position. I have repeatedly stated and I want to say this again: the Nagorno-Karabakh issue can be resolved only within the framework of the territorial integrity of our country. I declare again: Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan, exclamation mark!
And yet, when dealing with this issue, I always return to the past, to history, and ask the question: why were our lands occupied? How did it happen that we could not protect these lands? How did it happen that the Armenians, using external support, occupied the lands and drove people out of their homes? I know the answer to these questions, and so do the Azerbaijani people. Nevertheless, I always think that if Heydar Aliyev had been the leader of Azerbaijan at the time, the enemy could not have occupied an inch of our land because under his leadership, the government of Azerbaijan had such a strong will in Nagorno-Karabakh that not a single Armenian could make a sound. True, they wrote denunciations to Moscow, to the Politburo saying that they were allegedly tortured or discriminated against. All this was a lie because there are economic indicators, and they show that people in Nagorno-Karabakh did not live any worse than elsewhere, in the regions of Azerbaijan. However, Heydar Aliyev’s determination, will and courage did not allow for anything to happen there. Before that, in the 1960s, there were some incidents but after Heydar Aliyev became the leader of Azerbaijan and until he left Baku for Moscow, there were no incidents at all. I personally visited Nagorno-Karabakh, Khankandi, Shusha together with my father. I saw this atmosphere in the early 1980s: in winter – there is well-known photo and video footage, and in spring. There were no problems in Khankandi or anywhere else.
I remember the Armenians stood at attention in front of Heydar Aliyev, greeting him. There was a day of poetry in the Azerbaijani language. Armenian and Azerbaijani poets read verses in the Azerbaijani language. The resolve, will, courage and wisdom of Heydar Aliyev did not allow any Armenian to raise his head. When visiting Shusha and seeing the history of this ancient Azerbaijani city, we realized again what a great historical heritage we have. I remember the great leader giving instructions on house-museums, the house-museum of Uzeyir Hajibayli, etc., so that Azerbaijani culture lived there forever. When Heydar Aliyev worked in Moscow, the Armenians and local traitors wrote denunciations and anonymous letters. It is clear that the factor of Heydar Aliyev did not allow the Armenians to raise their head. The local traitors and enemies of the Azerbaijani people wrote denunciations. The current ones also do. At that time, they wrote to the Politburo, but the current ones write denunciations against us to Western countries. The current national traitors, the group of criminal elements, as I have named them, is no different to those who wrote denunciations back then. Those were looking for patrons in other countries, and so are these. The main goal of both is to come to power at all costs. That is exactly why the lands are under occupation. Look at what happened during the incomplete two weeks after Heydar Aliyev resigned from high posts in the Politburo, the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union. One of the Armenian nationalists published an article claiming that Nagorno-Karabakh should be transferred to Armenia. And where? In a French newspaper. The Armenian diaspora joined this work. The people who headed the Soviet Union were also noted for a pro-Armenian position – we all know this perfectly well. And the movement began. What did the Azerbaijani authorities do at that time? It was November 1987. Only two weeks had passed from Heydar Aliyev’s resignation. What did the locals do? Nothing! They showed complete indifference! As if they were not born on this land. They remained indifferent and did not respond. They could not keep the situation under control. As a result, after some time a provocation was committed. Look at this history from this perspective. Only three to four months passed, and the Sumgayit provocation was committed in February 1988. What was it like? Armenian bandits, having created a gang there, killed several Armenians and pinned this on the Azerbaijani people. These are also historical facts.
We did not carry out the investigation. It was conducted by an investigation team from Moscow. It turned out that the leader of this gang was an Armenian. This was stated to him by witnesses he had committed violence against. There is footage of that. Relatives and next of kin of those killed by him said that he was the one responsible for the killings. But notice what happened then. This man was arrested and sentenced. A year later, he was sent to serve his sentence in Armenia. And what did they do to him in Armenia? They released him. But this man killed the Armenians, this was confirmed and there were investigation materials. Why did you let him go? It means that this was a prearranged provocation. It was committed by the Armenians and then pinned on the Azerbaijani people. This gave them the opportunity to raise the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. This is the true story.
What did the Azerbaijani authorities do? Nothing! The man who was leading Azerbaijan at the time did not know how to please Moscow officials. This is a national disgrace. Less than a few months after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Khojaly genocide was perpetrated. The Azerbaijani authorities failed to protect their citizens. A bloody crime, an act of genocide was committed against our people. A few months later, in May 1992, Shusha and Lachin were occupied. Who is guilty? The Popular Front of Azerbaijan. This is the main culprit. Of course, the government of that time is also responsible because it could not protect our cities. However, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan committed a betrayal in order to come to power. Those who allegedly organized the defense of Shusha committed treason, fled and went into hiding. Shusha is an impregnable fortress. It is impossible to capture it. It can be defended with a small contingent for years. However, they committed a betrayal in order to seize power and come to power. And so it happened. Then they sold Lachin as well. And they came to power. Their main goal was to come to power and plunder everything.
The criminal acts of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan do not end there. Shortly afterwards, as a result of their negligent activities, Kalbajar was occupied. They could not build the defense properly. And who would have built a defense after all? Who was involved in the defense? Illiterate people and traitors who had no idea about military affairs. Who was the head of state? A windbag who did not enjoy any respect among the people. Who plunged our people into this misfortune? They did! If Heydar Aliyev had been here at the time, would he have allowed this to happen? Therefore, we must know this. What did they do after they gave up Kalbajar? Instead of rectifying the situation, they launched a struggle against our own army. While our lands were being seized, they were bombing Ganja. After the occupation of Kalbajar, Lachin and Shusha districts, a connection appeared between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. But they were bombing Ganja in the meantime. Who did this? The Popular Front of Azerbaijan did! Those who are hanging around here and there today are also criminals. The people could not bear it and swept them away once and for all. This was when Heydar Aliyev came to power at the request of the people, and the situation stabilized.
They are the culprits and this is the historical truth. Tremendous efforts are being made today to rectify the situation and free the lands from occupation. However, the April battles and the successful Nakhchivan operation showed that the Azerbaijani army is capable of fulfilling any task. Today is Republic Day. Of course, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic is the source of our pride. Every citizen of Azerbaijan is justly proud that the first republic in the Muslim world was established precisely in Azerbaijan and that the Azerbaijani people initiated this. At the same time, we must learn the lesson of history today. Why did the Republic last less than two years? Why did it fall? Why couldn’t it maintain independence? These are the questions. In order to make a correct conclusion, we must know history. There is no talk of any mythology here. We should not deceive ourselves by fanning some events. Why? In order to prevent these events from happening again. What for? In order for our independence to be eternal. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic appeared as a result of a collapse of the Russian Empire. But it lasted only about two years. Very important steps were taken. Independence was declared and state attributes were introduced. The national army, Baku State University were set up, progressive laws were adopted. But at the same time, we must know that this independence was conditional. Foreign generals were calling the shots in Baku and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic had to coordinate its steps with them, even plans related to state attributes. The republic did not fully control the territory of Azerbaijan. Of course, we should never forget that one of the first decisions of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was the transfer of Irevan, our ancient city, to Armenia. This can never be justified and forgiven. Therefore, we must know this truth. The younger generation must know it. We must write and know history the way it is. We must know the truth so that this does not happen again. The Democratic Republic lasted only about two years and was unable to maintain independence. Many of those who led Azerbaijan left the country and independence was lost. You know, one can make beautiful slogans but these slogans must be underpinned by strong will, strength and action.
Heydar Aliyev raised our tricolor flag, lowered in 1920, in Nakhchivan 70 years later. If you have power, the flag will always fly high. At that time, at a session of the Supreme Council of Nakhchivan, the state flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was adopted as the official flag. A petition was filed with the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan to do the same. But they did not do that. Because they were afraid. The Soviet Union had not yet collapsed at the time. They were afraid of punishment from Moscow. Therefore, this historic day should be the source of our pride. At the same time, we should always remember that we must make our independence eternal and irreversible. Who should do this? We should, the people and the government of Azerbaijan should! Therefore, the strengthening of our country, the strengthening of our positions, the reforms underway in the country, the measures being taken in the economic and social spheres, the measures related to national values, the raising of our youth in a national spirit pursue one goal – Azerbaijan should never become a colony, should always be a proud and confident nation, an independent state, and our people should always be free.
I congratulate you and the entire Azerbaijani people again. On the occasion of this wonderful holiday, I wish all the people of Azerbaijan continued success and happiness. Thank you!