Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the meting with the servicemen in Shusha

15 january 2021, 11:40

Dear servicemen, November 8 will forever go down in the history of our people. On November 8, Azerbaijan won a brilliant victory by liberating our ancient city of Shusha from the enemy. The liberation of Shusha required extraordinary heroism, professionalism and national spirit. Azerbaijan's army demonstrated all these inspiring features.

I have come to Shusha using the Victory road. That road is now open. There was no road there before. Azerbaijan's heroic army, crossing mountains, forests, valleys and tens of kilometers, liberated villages and settlements along the way, approached the city of Shusha, liberated the village of Dashalti and then liberated Shusha from the occupiers.

I am confident that the Shusha operation will be included in leading international military schools' textbooks. I already know that experts from many developed countries analyze every single day of the 44-day war because every day of the 44-day war is a story of triumph. The liberation of Shusha was a tremendous blow to the enemy because the enemy thought that it was impossible to liberate Shusha, and they were probably right to some extent. Panahali khan built this city, so that steep rocks and natural landscape would protect Shusha from all sides. In May 1992, Shusha was occupied due to the betrayal of the then leadership of Azerbaijan and the PFPA-Musavat duo fighting for power. At that time, the Armenians gave their so-called operation a name – Wedding in the Mountains. But there was no operation. The city of Shusha was surrendered. The then minister of defense said that if Shusha were lost, he would shoot himself in the head. Instead, he cowardly fled Shusha. After that, the Armenians invented legends about this operation – the so-called "Wedding in the mountains". We have arranged a "wedding" for them they will never forget. The heroic sons of Azerbaijan liberated Shusha from the occupiers by conducting a flawless military operation, demonstrating courage, bravery, heroism, strength and national spirit. After a long break, Azerbaijan's flag was raised in Shusha on November 8.

In my remarks at the inauguration of the magnificent National Flag Square in Baku, I said the day would come when Azerbaijan's flag is hoisted in the occupied territories, including Shusha. And this is the day. I remember some representatives of the Armenian separatist regime saying at the time that Azerbaijan's flag could be raised in Shusha only if Azerbaijan recognized the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh republic" and then opened an embassy in Nagorno-Karabakh. Notice what disgusting and arrogant expressions they used. They are hiding like mice now, tight-lipped, unable to utter a word. We came here as winners. We raised our flag. Azerbaijan's flag is flying in all the liberated lands. We have come here through fighting. Nobody handed these lands to us. Negotiations were futile. We realized that we had to liberate our lands on our own, and we did that. We have proved our strength to the whole world by crushing the enemy's head. We forced the enemy to kneel before us and sign the act of capitulation. That is is what happened, and the humiliating act of capitulation will go down in history forever. The whole world is talking about our Victory. Leading media outlets worldwide write about Azerbaijan's brilliant Victory and publish reports. Analytical articles are now being published, and books will be written.

The 44-day war of our glorious army is the war of the 21st century. We had appropriately prepared for this war, and we made no secret of that. I have said many times, including in my meetings with the military, that if the enemy does not leave our lands of its own free will, we will force them out of our lands. Force will play a role, and so it happened. Every single day of the 44-day war was a day of Victory. Every day we moved forward. We did not drop back a single time. It is an infrequent occasion in wars.

There are offensives during the battles, and then there are fallbacks and maneuvers. Yet, we advanced every day. Every week we liberated dozens of settlements from the occupiers. As a result, we liberated more than 300 settlements and Shusha by dealing crushing blows to the enemy. We forced them to withdraw their troops from Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar districts in just 20 days. They were thrown out of our lands, and we returned. From the day the war began, I told them to commit to vacating our lands. I said that the Armenian leadership should take this responsibility and give us a timetable for leaving our lands, and only then I would stop the war. Otherwise, we will go to the end. Despite the pressure, the phone calls and threats, I said that we would go to the end and drive the enemy out of our lands. We did that. We went all the way; we drove the enemy out and forced them to sign an act of capitulation on November 10, thus ending the war.

This war will live forever in our history. We won this war through sacrifices - our martyrs' lives and blood, and thanks to our servicemen's bravery. May Allah have mercy on all our martyrs! May Allah grant patience to their relatives! All martyrs' families are taken care of by the government. All martyrs' families will be provided with apartments and houses by the state. Instructions have already been issued this year. The allowance for martyrs' families has been increased from 300 to 500 manats, and these families will always be in the spotlight. The state has already provided apartments to the families of 9,000 martyrs killed in the First Karabakh War. Our wounded servicemen are being taken care of by the state. We will address the rehabilitation of disabled servicemen and provide them with modern prosthetics. I have awarded high orders and medals to thousands of servicemen who showed heroism in the war.

The Order of the Patriotic War is the highest military order of Azerbaijan. The "Victory" Order, the "Karabakh" Order. I suggested the names of all these orders myself. The servicemen who distinguished themselves in the liberation of our settlements and cities were awarded medals bearing these districts' names. Our army successfully liberated Jabrayil, Fuzuli and Khojavand districts, Sugovushan and Hadrut settlements, Murovdag range, the southern part of Lachin district, Gubadli, Zangilan districts and the city of Shusha on November 8. On November 9, the enemy surrendered, threw in the towel, was put on its knees and conceded defeat.

We are a victorious people. I last came to Shusha 39 years ago. I came here twice 39 years ago - first on January 14. Here I am again today, on January 14. I arrived as the Commander-in-Chief of the victorious Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. I have come as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army that broke the enemy's back, and I state it here under the sacred flag and before the heroic servicemen that we will live in these lands forever! We will restore Shusha and all other destroyed cities and villages. We will restore all our destroyed historical sites. Armenia spread falsifications about Shusha worldwide, claiming that Shusha is their ancient city. How can a city built by Panahali Khan be an Armenian city? After all, this is a matter of recent history, recent events. If they considered it their city, why did they bring it to such a deplorable state? Why did they destroy all the buildings? Look at the plight of the city. Over 30 years, they razed everything to the ground and only built villas and created amenities for themselves.

We will restore this city. A large group was sent here on my instructions and carried out an assessment. I received the first update yesterday and already issued relevant instructions. Soon, we will ensure the restoration of Shusha in a planned manner. Of course, we must protect Shusha like the apple of an eye from now on. Our soldiers, our heroic sons, will protect Shusha so that the enemy does not venture to look in this direction. I said that if anyone in Armenia even thinks of revenge, they will deal with our iron fist again. This iron fist broke their backs and crushed their heads. If they commit any provocation against us, our response will be harsh. They will regret and face a bitter defeat again. No-one can confront us. That will always be the case from now on. Azerbaijan's Army, Special Forces, our heroic sons, fighters of military units must cherish Shusha and all the liberated lands like the apple of an eye so that the enemy never dares to attempt anything ever again. If they do, the end will be bitter.

At the end of my speech in the Alley of Martyrs on November 8, announcing the liberation of Shusha to the people of Azerbaijan, I said: dear Shusha, you are free! Dear Shusha, we are back! Dear Shusha, we will reinvigorate you! I repeat the same words today. Shusha is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!