Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu

21 november 2020, 16:00

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu.

President Ilham Aliyev said:

- Dear Mr. Minister.

Dear members of the delegation.

I am glad to welcome you to Azerbaijan. Sergei Kuzhugetovich, we met three months ago, when you visited us in connection with the Army Games. Today we will discuss issues related to implementing the trilateral statement signed by the Presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia. In our opinion, the provisions of the statement are being implemented successfully. This once again demonstrates the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides' readiness to end the longstanding conflict and come to a political settlement.

Last time I told you about our position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. You visited us at the end of August. Then, in July and August, there were two military provocation attempts, armed provocation against Azerbaijan. One was committed at the border in Tovuz district and the other in August. The first one was committed in July, while in August, there was an attempt on the part of a subversion group of the Armenian armed forces to penetrate through the line of contact. The head of this group was detained, and his testimony showed precisely the intention to stage an armed provocation. This policy continued and ended with our settlements coming under attack by the Armenian armed forces in late September. So we had to give them a befitting response. We all know very well what happened afterward.

After 44 days of armed confrontation and hostilities, a document was signed, which I consider a critical political document. It essentially put an end to many years of confrontation. I want to express my gratitude to you and the leadership of Russia, President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, for his active personal participation in drafting and adopting this important political document.

Regrettably, during the hostilities, the Armenian side flagrantly violated all norms of warfare and humanitarian norms. Our cities and villages were bombarded daily. As a result, 94 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, including children and women, more than 400 were injured, and over 3,000 houses either fell into disrepair or were destroyed. Cities located near the war zone were subjected to shelling, mortar and artillery fire almost daily. However, there were also ballistic missile attacks on the cities of Ganja, Mingachevir, Barda and other cities. Attacks were targeted, aimed at killing the civilian population. We have documented all these war crimes, the use of ballistic missiles, cluster munitions and phosphorus munitions, and appropriate instructions have been given on further legal actions to be taken by the Azerbaijani side.

Armenia has extensively used foreign mercenaries. We have numerous photo and video documents. We have passports of foreign citizens, particularly France, the U.S., Lebanon, Canada, Georgia and other countries. Some of these people are of Armenian origin, and some are not. This, however, does not change the essence of the issue because the participation of foreign mercenaries on the part of Armenia, of course, is unacceptable.

Despite all this, the outcome of the clashes is known to everyone. Azerbaijan's Armed Forces achieved a brilliant military victory, and we moved on to the plane of political settlement. Yesterday, Azerbaijan's Armed Forces entered the city of Aghdam and the rest of the occupied Aghdam district. So provisions of the statement are being fulfilled.

We also welcome the deployment of the Russian Federation's peacekeeping mission, which operates in contact with our bodies and, as far as we know, with the Armenian side. I believe that this is an essential factor in stabilizing the situation, and there have been no serious ceasefire violations since the signing of the statement. And I am sure there won't be any.

We also welcome actively ongoing negotiations between the Russian Federation and Turkey to establish a ceasefire monitoring center in Azerbaijan. We consider this a critical element in strengthening stability and security in this region. We are also grateful to the Turkish leadership and personally to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his involvement in creating the prerequisites for the cessation of hostilities. The fact that both Russia and Turkey are two friendly countries for us – our two neighbors will take part in measures to observe the ceasefire and to exercise control over it – also speaks volumes of the strengthening of the format of interaction between our two neighboring countries, and also within the framework of regional cooperation. I hope that the current ceasefire and our further plans to normalize relations with Armenia, if perceived positively by the Armenian side, can bring about a new situation in the region and reinforce cooperation, stability and security. Everyone will benefit from this – the peoples inhabiting our region, neighbors, and the whole world will be more secure.

So, again, welcome. I am delighted that you are visiting us with a large delegation. We have an extensive agenda today.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said: Thank you, dear Mr. President. First of all, I am grateful that you found the time to meet with us to discuss some of the urgent issues and matters that have become relevant. The time flies. Not much time has passed since the adoption of the plan by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, since the adoption of what I believe is a historic statement. However, the peacekeeping contingent, the peacekeeping forces, have already taken up the determined positions, i.e., the 23 posts were taken under control in the highway's direction to ensure the security of the line of contact. The return of refugees has begun. All the work that has been done to date is bearing fruit, of course.

As you have said, the ceasefire has been observed during all this time, perhaps except for some rare and what we consider minor fire exchanges, and I am confident that this will continue to be the case.