Opening speech by Ilham Aliyev at the 7th Congress of New Azerbaijan Party

05 march 2021, 16:45

Three years have passed since the sixth congress of our party. These have been decisive years for our country and region. Many important events have taken place in the life of the country in three years. Naturally, the most important among them is the restoration of our territorial integrity, the brilliant victory won in the Patriotic war. Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity, has restored historical justice, and has expelled the occupiers from our ancestral lands. Our glorious victory is the source of our pride. Today our victory is being studied in world’s top universities. The people of Azerbaijan have shown unity and solidarity. The Azerbaijani army has demonstrated courage, heroism and professionalism. Our entire people rallied into a single fist, inflicted crushing blows on the enemy and liberated our historical lands from the invaders. We have completed this historic mission.

Over the past 17 years, in all my statements related to the conflict, I said that the Azerbaijani people would never come to terms with this occupation. Azerbaijan will never allow the creation of a second Armenian state on its historical and ancestral lands. We will never accept an agreement that does not completely suit us. In various speeches and interviews before the war, I said that we do not need some sort of an incomplete peace treaty. We must fully restore our territorial integrity. We must fully restore historical justice, because an incomplete agreement wouldn’t align with the interests of our people and historical justice. An incomplete agreement would increase the risks of war in the future. We needed a complete and absolute victory. We have won this absolute victory, defeated the enemy, destroyed its army and achieved what we wanted.

Presidential and parliamentary elections have been held in the past three years. Presidential and parliamentary elections occupy a special place in the modern life of our country, especially given that the reforms carried out in our country entered a new stage in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Azerbaijan today is a country conducting large-scale reforms. In everyday life, in the economic indicators of our country and in the successes achieved in the social sphere, we see that these reforms are of great importance. At the same time, our initiatives and reforms play an essential role in improving the public and political climate.

The program I announced after the presidential elections is being implemented, and we are consistently achieving our goals. After the presidential elections, I set the restoration of our territorial integrity as a primary task, and we have achieved that. At the same time, clear goals were set in the political, economic, social and other spheres, including addressing certain deplorable matters. We are pursuing these goals in a consistent and focused manner.

This is precisely what necessitated the holding of the Seventh Congress of the New Azerbaijan Party today. A new situation has arisen. We have created it. We are a country that creates new realities.

Many projects implemented on our initiative in the past brought innovation to the region and led to new formats of cooperation. Our successful energy and transportation policy not only led to the emergence of energy and transport corridors, but also created new formats of cooperation in the region and, in a broad sense, in Eurasia as a whole. Today, the number of countries that have united around these projects and are implementing them with us is growing. This determines the inevitability of cooperation among these countries, even countries that did not previously have particularly warm relations with each other. Therefore, the correct analysis of our policy in the world recently and the high assessment of our activities fully reflect the reality. The outcome of the second Karabakh war also created new realities for the region. New opportunities for regional cooperation have emerged. Important conditions became available to ensure long-term peace. Simultaneously, new opportunities have emerged for our country to enter a new phase.

We are doing all this work consistently, and if we look at our history of the last 17 years, we can see that goals were identified and done so correctly, that we achieved them and then identified new goals. Thus, we ensured sustainable development in both political and economic spheres, turned Azerbaijan into a country enjoying great authority and respect in the international arena, and accomplished our main objective – the restoration of territorial integrity.

The New Azerbaijan Party is associated with the name of great leader Heydar Aliyev. The party was established around Heydar Aliyev. His political experience, knowledge, services to the people, true patriotism displayed during his work in Nakhchivan and devotion to his people rallied the progressive people of Azerbaijan around him. Of course, the work he did in the 1970s and early 1980s played an important part here. I have said many times and members of the party know this, as should the younger generation, that when Heydar Aliyev began to lead Azerbaijan in 1969, the Azerbaijan Republic was one of the most backward republics of the Soviet Union in all respects. In 1982, thanks to Heydar Aliyev’s performance, we rose to top tiers. If two republics were donors for others, Azerbaijan became one of them. The work he did at the time made achieving significant development possible, revitalize industry, agriculture and light industry. People recall that time. Furthermore, Heydar Aliyev’s resolve, courage and wisdom, his constant interaction with the people, the fierce fight against corruption rightfully earned him great sympathy with the people.

Another important factor is associated with the Nakhchivan period of Heydar Aliyev's activity, because Nakhchivan was subjected to Armenian attacks on the one hand and to groundless attacks and persecution by the then leadership of Azerbaijan, on the other. Nakhchivan, which actually found itself in a blockade, carried on without electricity, gas, water, without any material resources, and the Heydar Aliyev factor played the crucial role there. No matter how hard the Armenians tried, they failed to achieve what they wanted in Nakhchivan even though Nakhchivan was their next target after Karabakh. Heydar Aliyev and the people that rallied around him managed to defend Nakhchivan, show the enemy its place and win fierce battles on the border.

At the same time, the great leader’s unambiguous and resolute steps related to independence were highly appreciated by the people. At the time, a referendum on the preserving the Soviet Union was held in the Republic of Azerbaijan and its outcome was grossly falsified. Allegedly, the Azerbaijani people did not want independence and preferred to live within the Soviet Union. It was absurd because the events of 20 January had taken place recently. The injustice towards Azerbaijan, the expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh and then from adjacent districts, the expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Armenia – all this remained a wound in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people. Could any patriot vote against independence under such circumstances? So it was completely falsified. In the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Heydar Aliyev did not allow this referendum to be held. This was a step that required great courage and heroism. At the same time, the leadership in Baku under the flag of Soviet Azerbaijan at that time, was clinging to the past. On the instruction and initiative of Heydar Aliyev, the tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was approved as an official flag in Nakhchivan, and the collapse of the Soviet Union was still a long way off.

So all these factors earned Heydar Aliyev even more respect among the people.

The establishment of the New Azerbaijan Party was a necessity. I want to reiterate that brave and fearless people clearly saw that our young country, which had just restored its independence, was facing a great disaster at the time, and the processes unfolding in the country had already become uncontrollable. A military defeat was compounded by an internal crisis. The negative processes in the country, the political squabbles and the power struggle questioned the very independent existence of our country. To imagine what was happening in those days and months, one should look no further than present-day Armenia. That is an embodiment of what happened back then – hopelessness, total apathy, depression, lack of trust in any political force, authorities and the opposition. That is the picture of the young independent Azerbaijan of that period. How can a country develop in such a situation? Our lands were captured, our territorial integrity was violated, more than 300,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from Armenia, all Azerbaijanis were expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh, Shusha and Lachin were under occupation, a geographical connection was established between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, refugees and IDPs emerged and there were no prospects for change. Who would have changed this situation? The PFPA-Musavat tandem, which was then in power, pursued its interests only. The random people who came to power are like twin brothers of those who came to power in Armenia in 2018 - inexperienced, ignorant, uncivilized and incompetent cowards and deserters. Whatever epithets remain, anything negative would suit them. They governed Azerbaijan at the time.

Could the nation trust such people? The country was in a free fall. The old party nomenclature became completely paralyzed, the PFPA-Musavat tandem, which had come to power illegally, plundered and destroyed the country, sold gasoline to Armenia despite the ongoing war. People were appointed to all positions for a bribe. Moreover, they were random people, crooks. I have repeatedly talked about this – notice who governed Azerbaijan, people of what moral values and experience.

Like the people who came to power in Armenia in 2018, they destroyed the country and eventually brought us to the brink of an abyss. Could the Azerbaijani people tolerate this? Of course not! This was the historical necessity of establishing the New Azerbaijan Party.

At that time, patriotic people, the famous “91”, showed courage and national thinking and, despite repressions, turned to the great leader. This required a lot of courage because laws did not work then and everyone could do whatever they wanted. Law enforcement agencies unreasonably detained and battered people, insulted them on air. Total anarchy, chaos and arbitrariness were pervasive. They killed, maimed and detained whoever they wanted. Such was the picture at the time. The supposedly democratic Popular Front introduced censorship. Censorship was introduced by them at that time. Whoever raised a voice of objection were battered or killed. Why was the founding congress of the New Azerbaijan Party held in Nakhchivan? They didn’t allow it to be held in Baku. They were so afraid of the Heydar Aliyev phenomenon and so aware of their own insignificance that they knew if the congress were held in Baku, their power would come to an end because the people's hatred for them was boundless.

Today I would like to once again mention the “91”, for whom national interests were paramount at the time. I highly appreciate their activities. Many of them are in our ranks today. They will continue to work hard and carry out activities in the Veterans’ Council of the New Azerbaijan Party and in public life. The people of Azerbaijan should not forget them. As President, I always highly appreciate their work. And not only because they reached out to Heydar Aliyev but because they were not afraid, did not retreat and put the interests of the country above everything.

November 1992 paved the way for a new phase in the life of our young country. Less than a year after that, in October 1993, Heydar Aliyev, supported by the absolute majority of the people, was elected as President, and the process of our country's emerging from crisis began.

We must know this history well. And those who did not live through this history ought to study it. I have already said that our textbooks should provide extensive information about this history. Living witnesses to this history should share their memories for it to live forever. The history of our independence began precisely then, not in October 1991 – even though we celebrate 18 October 1991 as Independence Day. But everyone should know that those processes were beyond us. Azerbaijan was actually late. Many former Soviet republics had already declared independence. The Soviet Union was already falling apart. Disintegration processes were already under way. Why did they wait until 18 October? Was it not possible to proclaim independence earlier? Of course it was! Therefore, the true history of our independence is associated with the name of great leader Heydar Aliyev because prior to that independence was merely a word but it was not there in fact. Could Azerbaijan conduct an independent policy? No! Could we defend our borders? No! Did we have a say in the international arena? No! What kind of independence is that?

Of course, by analyzing that period correctly, we will insure ourselves against certain risks in the future. The younger generation, those who do not know that period and did not live at that time should know at what cost we were able to maintain independence and who we owe it to. Had Heydar Aliyev not come to power at that time, Azerbaijan would have been a puppet state under someone else, a semi-colony.

We must know this history, we know it and will continue to build our activities on this solid foundation, just as we have done up until now. The time between 1993 and 2003 was crucial. The foundations of our statehood were laid. A political assessment of the 20 January tragedy was given. Why didn't the Poplar Front-Musavat tandem provide a political assessment to the 20 January tragedy? They had a whole year. Why, because their hands were also imbrued in the blood of the Azerbaijani people. They also wanted to hush up the 20 January tragedy. Only Heydar Aliyev gave a political assessment to the tragedy of 20 January. Only under Heydar Aliyev was the Constitution adopted. It was on his instructions that the censorship introduced by the Popular Front-Musavat tandem was lifted. Political reforms began and a multi-party system emerged. We broke out of international isolation. Azerbaijan began to be regarded as a reputable and esteemed country. Large investments were attracted to our country. Army building began. We didn't have a regular army before. Important steps were taken to bringing to forefront competent individuals – those who are still contributing to various spheres of life in our country.

Of course, in 2003 the people voted for the policy of Heydar Aliyev and showed confidence in me. Because I said that if the people trusted me, then I would remain faithful to the policy of the great leader. This was one of the main factors. Life has shown that in the last 17 years we have achieved truly historic successes. It will take a long time to characterize this period. Everything is obvious. I am sure that our historians, political scientists and scholars will appropriately describe this period in articles, books, textbooks. It was a new phase for our young country – based on the previous period, on a solid basis, yet a new era. And this is natural because each period has its own requirements. We cannot live in the 21st century based on the requirements of the 1990s. Even today, after the war, a new time begins. We must put aside all the gains made in the old days. Yes, it created a foundation for us, a basis; it made achieving our primary goal possible. But if we always talk about past without thinking about the future, then what will happen? We must focus on the future. We must be ahead of our time. I said that our race in the restoration of Karabakh is against time. We must plan the future of the country to ensure long-term sustainable growth, so that independence becomes everlasting, so that the power of our country grows, so that our leverage increases and the Azerbaijani people always live in the land of their ancestors safely.

If we approach history from this angle, the 2003-2020 was the time for preparations. We had to prepare, and I made no secret of that. I said that if the matter was not resolved peacefully, then we would resolve it by military means. I was pressured so much because of this. So many representatives of large countries accused me – Ilham Aliyev didn’t want peace, he wanted war, he threatened others, and that war was not an option. So many times you and the Azerbaijani people had heard that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had no military solution. So many people had said that. Did I agree to this? No! So many times attempts were made to convince me to sign a protocol with Armenia, in one form or another, committing to peacefully resolution of the conflict - to exclude the military option. I didn’t agree to that. After that, they began to accuse me, claiming that if the President rejected that, it meant he was preparing for war. I said yes, I am preparing, and so are the people and the state. I was saying that if the issue was not resolved, then we will resolve it by military means. I spoke openly, made no secret of it. That was a period of preparation.

First of all, we had to be prepared mentally. Along with all other factors, that factor played the key role. From the first day of the war, the moral advantage was on our side, and not only because we were right and they wrong. Armenian propaganda has poisoned the minds of the Armenian people so much that many of them may have believed that they were right in occupying our lands. I was saying that they need to be treated. They are sick, a virus more dangerous the coronavirus has permeated them. That is what the Armenian politicians had done to them with their nationalist and racist agenda, the Azerbaijanophobia and Islamophobia. Not only because we were right. We received a moral advantage because all these years we lived with one goal: the restoration of our territorial integrity and the expulsion of the enemy from our lands.

It would be safe to say that I spoke about this, about the conflict in all my speeches and at all international events. I knew that this factor would be decisive in the upbringing of the younger generation. But notice what some non-governmental organizations, some supposedly peace-loving circles were pushing us to. They were saying that we should let representatives of civil society and other representatives meet, we should allow cooperation, let Armenia and Azerbaijan cooperate with each other. From the highest platforms and at many bilateral meetings, I have heard these words many times – you must cooperate, if you cooperate, you can convince those living in Karabakh, and if Armenia sees that Azerbaijan is showing goodwill, then the issue will be resolved. They tried to deceive us.

I kept saying that cooperation was possible only if the enemy vacated our lands. I remained true to my word again. The enemy did not leave of its own free will, we drove them out, expelled them, but at the same time we are ready to cooperate. The deputy prime ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia have already met several times. What are they talking about - cooperation. Are we against cooperation? No! Today Armenia shies away from cooperation, attempts to hamper the implementation of the Zangazur corridor. But they will fail. We will make them. We will force them. We will achieve our goals, just as we drove them out of our lands. But what benefit could cooperation with Armenia bring to us back then? None of course! So many times we were told to allow civil society representatives meet. There were such meetings at one time. But we saw that the main essence was being left out – as if there was no war, as if there was no Khojaly genocide, as if our refugees and displaced persons were not expelled from their native lands by the Armenians, as if our homes and mosques were not destroyed. How can we forget thats? So many times attempts were made to convince us that oil pipelines should pass through Armenia’s territory. When I rejected that idea, the financing of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was delayed by one year. At that time, we needed loans. Leading international financial institutions did not issue loans for a whole year to force us to agree. I said if they don’t give loans, forget them, we would find resources ourselves.

We have created this reality. I want to repeat that moral preparation played a key role. The younger generation has grown up with love for the Motherland and hatred for the enemy, and this young generation has liberated our lands from the invaders. I said that representatives of all generations performed successfully in the liberation of our lands, but the absolute majority of those across the battlefields have been the people who were children when I came to power in 2003. They matured, showed patriotism and dedication, sacrificed their lives, became martyrs, became wounded, showed heroism and restored historical justice.

What other preparatory work was required? Economic, of course! You can't do anything without an economic foundation. Unlike Armenia, no-one helped Azerbaijan. We have achieved everything through our hard work. We never begged like Armenia, never humiliated ourselves, never asked anyone for help. Therefore, economic independence was among primary conditions for preparing and strengthening political independence. We have achieved this. Today we do not depend on anyone for anything, not on any parameter. We hold top positions in the economic sphere – in terms of external debt, economic growth and foreign exchange reserves per capita. So we are at the forefront in any criterion and have ensured transparency. Yesterday I was informed that a very influential organization analyzed the performance of over 60 sovereign funds worldwide, and the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan ranked fifth across all the parameters, all criteria. I instructed to publish that list for everyone to see which sovereign funds are listed there. Pay attention to the report of the Davos Economic Forum. We are ahead of developed countries in terms of economic development and infrastructure projects. Did anyone help us? No! Did we borrow money for that? No! Our external debt accounts for only 18-19 percent of the gross domestic product. In addition, our foreign exchange reserves are five to six times higher than our external debt. We can pay off the entire external debt tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in a month, should we so decide. So we have achieved all these successes through hard work, as a country whose lands were under occupation, as a country in an extremely challenging geopolitical situation. It was preparation for the patriotic war in the economic, political sphere, in the field of internal stability.

Notice how much foreign investment Azerbaijan attracts today. The main factor here is internal stability. We are at top positions according to Doing Business report. At present, we have improved our standing and are among the leading countries. Does anyone invest even a dollar in Armenia? No! You have to be crazy to invest there. Even Armenians living abroad do not invest there. Why? There is chaos there, there is turmoil, there is no stability, and there is no leader. There is no person who can be trust; for any investor to say that I trust this government and I have confidence in this head of state and that is why I invest there. This year, we have attracted $400-500 million of foreign investment in renewable energy alone. One agreement has already been signed, and another one will be concluded this or next month. They proposed it themselves. Seven leading companies competed for these projects. Two of them presented the most favorable offers to us. They will finance a construction of a solar and a wind power plant with a capacity of 440 megawatts. Azerbaijanis will work there both during construction and operation. How much benefit will this bring us? There are so many proposals today regarding the liberated lands. We are compiling them now. We need to choose the best ones. Today we don’t need to knock on some doors or ask for a loan from some bank. In general, I advised the government against taking external loans. We should take loans only for high-tech projects to import technology. But if we are building a road – we have asphalt, bitumen and gravel – then why should we seek external loans? The same goes for other projects.

Therefore, internal stability is the crucial factor. It exists in Azerbaijan. But is it there in many parts of our region? No! Notice what processes are unfolding, what disagreements are there. Foreigners arrive to certain countries to reconcile them. That speaks volumes about the state of affairs in a country if foreigners are there to reconcile someone? Or look at Armenia. If there were no outside help now, it would be gone, completely! And it has nothing to hope for. There is no foundation for development. There is no ground for internal stability. They can't even stage a coup d'état properly. They don’t know themselves whether they carried it out or not. Today the army does not obey the authorities. The president says: I am not involved in politics, do not involve me in these matters and let me live in peace. What a disgrace! The prime minister – I don't want to say anything more about him. Look at other places. I mean the post-Soviet space and beyond. Therefore, there had to be internal stability but thanks to what? Thanks to policies, and the unity of the people and government. Not through force. And we have achieved that. At the same time, issues of social security and social justice played an important role here.

During the preparation period, we had to change the international situation in our favor of course, because in the 1990s – I don’t know why, but perhaps it was an implication of the ill performance by the Popular Front-Musavat in the early 1990s – they had ruined relations with almost all countries in just one year. They put forward claims to some countries, made us enemies with some neighbors. They are to blame, and we know that, they are the ones. At times they acted as puppets, aiming to secure a safe haven for them. Therefore, we had to destroy those stereotypes. Why should it be that some country has good relations with Armenia and not with Azerbaijan? Why? I wondered what underlay that, if there were some fundamental issues, if there were fundamental disagreements - no, only ambition, incompetence, stupidity and submission to foreign control. They received those signals from abroad – don't seek closer ties with one country, you can't get closer to another. So the Popular Front-Musavat tandem isolated us in our region. We were in an isolated state, but Armenia was not.

So what did we achieve? Armenia is in an isolated state today, while we are building relations with all our neighbors very effectively, based on friendship and good neighborliness. This was also a kind of preparation. I want to say frankly that if preparatory work had not been done in this area, then we could have faced difficulties in the second Karabakh war. Armenia has isolated itself. In other words, we isolated it from regional projects, from oil and gas projects, ruined their economy, and we can say with a sense of pride that we are the main factor here, as any independent economic expert can confirm. We exposed Armenia as an ambivalent and unstable country with no future. As economic challenges compounded, the exodus of the population from there became even greater. Demographic problems arose, which in itself led to shrinking of the economy. No-one will invest in a confined economy. What is there to invest in if there are no people and no money? One has to recover these investments in the future, and that requires a vibrant market. In our country, on the other hand, investments came in a large flow, the population was growing. We are already 10 million. As a matter of fact, our population in Soviet times was 7 million and the population of Armenia was 3.5 million. Today the population of Armenia is 1.8 million and ours is 10 million.

As for international issues, I want to repeat that we have managed to dramatically change the situation in the region. In my speeches on foreign policy, I said that our cooperation with neighboring countries holds a special place among our priorities. But at the same time, we have established relations with all other countries. Today there is not a single country with which we would have problems. We have developed close ties with the European Union. Strategic partnership documents have been signed with nine member states of the European Union. I don’t want to go into details, but I must say this. Which of the Eastern Partnership countries signed a strategic partnership document with nine EU member states? None! They have signed an association agreement. I have seen this document. That is not an agreement, but an instruction, plain instruction. These countries are instructed to do things this or that way. I rejected it. I said that we did not need any instructions. We know what to do ourselves. Today we are working on an equal agreement with the European Union; it has already been agreed by 90 percent. Of course, the pandemic and the war intervened in these matters a little. These negotiations will be resumed in the near future. Therefore, we have achieved success in this area, because we have a multifaceted foreign policy.

The hard work we have done in international organizations. Some thought it was in vain. No, this is not the case. We needed to further strengthen the legal basis for the second Karabakh war. Until 2005, the main legal basis for us was only the UN Security Council resolutions. Of course, these are very important resolutions but they were not implemented. We enforced them. However, in 2005, thanks to work we did after lengthy discussions, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution that suits us. Of course, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is not a structure that handled the Karabakh issue, but its resolution was the legal basis. Looking at that, other organizations followed suit. The UN General Assembly adopted similar decisions and resolutions. So did the European Parliament, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement and others. That is the legal basis. As a result, we managed to achieve the inclusion of a provision reflecting the principle of respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty of our country and the inviolability of our borders in the “Partnership Priorities” document initialed with the European Union several years ago. Since 2004, I have been constantly discussing this issue with the European Commission. I put it to them – how is it possible that you support the territorial integrity of Georgia, Moldova, include that in bilateral documents and some statements, but when it comes to us, you only speak of the need to resolve it peacefully. That is not fair. How long can this go on? I worked with some of the Presidents of the European Commission and spoke about this every time, and finally we have achieved this. Now that is a legal basis. Who could say that Azerbaijan was wrong when the war broke out? We are on our own soil. I made statements that we had no objectives on Armenia’s territory, that we would not cross and did not cross the border with Armenia. Therefore, such a legal basis was a must.

We then joined the Non-Aligned Movement. Some “politicians” were displeased, claiming it was pointless. The Non-Aligned Movement is the second largest international body based on member states. During the sordid campaign against us during the war in the UN Security Council a resolution was drafted. Who stopped it? Some of the Non-Aligned Movement member states! They defended us. The nature of our chairmanship in this organization is not formal. We defend members of this organization, we provide them with assistance, and we helped them in response to COVID without fearing anyone. We defend their just cause. They also defended us. So this resolution did not pass. Even if it had been adopted, it could not have stopped us. Nobody and nothing could have stopped us. I said that the Armenian prime minister himself must provide us with a timetable for the withdrawal of Armenian troops, after which we would stop. But it could have given us a headache. Therefore, we act as a reliable partner there too. We have convened a special session of the UN. There was resentment there as well. I can reveal that now, let people know. We have held COVID-related summits of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Turkic Council. We also appealed for a UN special session to be held. The process of approvals and coordination took several months. Finally, in December last year, we held it too. This was also international preparation.

Of course, one of the main issues was army building, and our glorious Victory speaks volumes about everything. I don’t want to belabor the subject. I want to reiterate that all these preparation domains ultimately crossed at one point – the historic Victory in the 44-day war that is a source of pride for us. From now on, this Victory will live for centuries in the souls and hearts of the Azerbaijani people. There have not been such brilliant and absolute victories in the centuries-old history of Azerbaijan.

We are entering a new phase. I will continue to express my thoughts about this period because, from a conceptual point of view, the vision is there. We see everything clearly. Of course, life, in particular, issues related to the restoration of Karabakh, will make various adjustments to our plans. And this is natural. But from a conceptual point of view, I would like to share some thoughts about the future.

At the new stage, we need to further deepen the political dialogue. This process began before the war, and I believe it yielded good results in a short time. We can say that all parties, except the anti-national council calling itself a political entity, all political forces spoke in favor of dialogue, welcomed our initiative, and this dialogue has already taken place. I can say with full confidence that this happened without any outside interference. I remember that in the 1990s and even during my presidency, some representatives were coming here from abroad to organize a political dialogue for us. This was an insult to us. Who are you? Mind your own business! Your countries need a political dialogue more than Azerbaijan does. They are bickering amongst themselves but this is a completely different story. We have achieved this in a short time. And again, we simply had identified fundamental contradictions there were and areas we could not agree on. We came an agreement that there can be no difference of opinions on national issues. Common issues include the Karabakh issue. Common issues include the activities of political parties, the development of democracy, the establishment of economic freedoms, and boosting our country’s prowess. This political dialogue is under way to this day. I very much approve of it. I believe that it is of great importance for improving the future political system of our country. I also call upon representatives and members of the New Azerbaijan Party to be mindful of the the fact that we have no problems with any political entity in the country. With anti-national elements, of course, we will never sit down at the same table because they are traitors. They receive instructions from abroad. Their emissaries are based in foreign capitals. They receive money from there; try to cast a shadow over our glorious Victory, to mislead our people. They referred to Pashinyan as an example for us, called him a clean person, a democrat. They wished for Azerbaijan to have such a leader too. This democrat has arrested all the opposition. If the war had not started on 27 September, he would not have released them. The leader of the main opposition party was arrested a few days before the war. Criminal cases were launched. Now there is a man calling himself the leader of the opposition there, but he was also resurrected from the political death. He was also summoned and banned from leaving the country. Is this democracy? It goes without saying that West is turning a blind eye to this. The West has already fully exposed itself on issues of democracy. There can be no other opinion. It turns a blind eye to this, of course. But why are our “democrats” silent? Why aren’t they saying that Pashinyan should become our role model? Let them repeat that statement and explain themselves. There is no person in Armenia who would not make fun of Pashinyan. They have given him some nickname, they know better. Our opposition cited him as an example. Why, because they received an instruction from there, from the center, from their center. What was the goal? The goal was to bring turmoil to Azerbaijan, undermine the leadership’s authority in Azerbaijani, and print slanderous and fake articles – all this is happening right before our eyes. We have not forgotten this. They wanted to distract us from the main task, so that we succumb to infighting, to unfounded accusations, and thus, distract us from the main task, so that the occupied lands would forever remain in the Armenians’ hands. That was their agenda. The national traitors represented on the anti-national council are also pursuing this goal. The same goal is pursued by those who are trying to cast a shadow over the Victory of our valiant army. In the history of Azerbaijan, perhaps, there were no such despicable people as them. But we cooperate with all other political entities and will continue to do that.

As for the economic sphere, a new stage is already evident here too. This is a period of transparency and integrity precision, an end to monopolies. We have already demonstrated this many times. This is further evidenced by the results of two months of this year. In two months of this year, our revenues exceeded the forecast by about 200-300 million. Much of the credit belongs to tax authorities. Another part was collected by the customs authorities. By what does it mean? The tax base is expanding and businesses are emerging from the shadows. Entrepreneurs are pointed in the right direction. The rules of conduct have been determined. The people and entrepreneurs see it. Thus, even during the pandemic period, we are fiscally confident and do not experience any problems with budget execution. On the contrary, we have started large-scale reconstruction work in Karabakh. All this requires funds. Therefore, this is the main issue in the economic sphere. The development of entrepreneurship, as well as the systematic implementation of all work on the liberated lands, and establishment of incentives for investment – those instructions have also been issued. I am sure that foreign investors will come to the liberated lands with great pleasure.

Our foreign policy course remains unchanged. The war and post-war periods also showed that this was an absolutely correct course. During the war, some countries put forward certain claims to us. What was my response? The Azerbaijani people know that. Those claims no longer exist. The unfounded accusations have already been eliminated. I believe that the relations with countries that demonstrated an unfair position during the war are normalizing. In other words, they had initiated normalization and we accepted it. We understand that there might have been some internal politics at play. Their information could have been incorrect. In any case, we are not interested in dragging this issue. I said that we should turn this page even with Armenia, that's all. We will never forget the Khojaly genocide. We will never forget the heroism of our martyrs. But we have avenged our martyrs, including the victims of Khojaly. We took revenge on the enemy on the battlefield. I believe that this victory is befitting of us, demonstrating the greatness of our people. After that is how we must from now on. We have avenged our martyrs and punished the enemy. Before the eyes of the whole world, they fell on their knees before us, surrendered, threw in the towel, and from now on they will always live with the stigma of a defeated country. From now on, we will live as a proud people and a state with a high fighting spirit.

Therefore, we are open to cooperation in the field of foreign policy. Today, many countries are showing interest in the restoration work in Karabakh. We have invited them. Foreign policy will remain unchanged. Azerbaijan has established itself not only in the political plane. We have asserted ourselves as a responsible chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as a country capable of defending its own rights. We won both on the battlefield and in political sphere. After the war, Armenia, no matter how hard it tried, could not achieve what it wanted. The municipalities of some countries are adopting some decisions. They don't matter at all. They are totally irrelevant and we couldn’t care less about them. Some parliaments are passing resolutions. But what do we see? Naturally, we have fair claims too. Officials of those countries – foreign ministers or other ministers advise against doing that - that this is unacceptable. I have been informed that the foreign minister of one country, Luxembourg, used some unacceptable term. Besides, I cannot understand what Luxembourg has to do with us. This country is far from this region. To put it mildly, it doesn’t wield much political clout in the world for its foreign minister to make such claims against us. Other than that there was no inappropriate conduct towards us elsewhere. Therefore, the post-war period also once again shows the success of our foreign policy.

Of course, the war is our glorious page in the military sphere. At the same time, it is an experience. As Commander-in-Chief, someone in charge of all work, I know where our weaknesses are. We have addressed those shortcomings even as the war unfolded. Important decisions were made during the war. After that, this experience, of course, will and should become the basis for us. Instructions were given to create a more modern army, because now military experts, international military experts say that Azerbaijan was waging a war of the 21st century. We must plan and be prepared for the war of the 22nd century perhaps in 50 years' time because power is everything. Unfortunately, this is the case. If international law does not work, only the factor of force can become decisive.

Sharing with both party members and the Azerbaijani people my thoughts about some of the upcoming tasks today, I call on all political forces and the entire public for a broad discussion. There is a need for this, because, I want to repeat, we have entered a new phase. A completely new geopolitical situation has emerged in our region and the country. Therefore, we must take the right steps to emerge triumphant at all times, so that Azerbaijan’s flag always flies high.