Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of Military Trophy Park in Baku
12 april 2021, 14:45
- Hello, officers.
- Servicemen: Hello.
- President Ilham Aliyev: Be seated.
Dear servicemen, today you are being presented with high military decorations of our state. They were created on my initiative after the war. I gave the names to the awards after the war – the star of the “Hero of the Patriotic War”, the orders of “Victory” and “Karabakh”. These high military awards were established recently.
Before the start of the official ceremony, I suggest that we honor the blessed memory of our martyrs who heroically died in the Patriotic War with a minute of silence.
May Allah grant peace to the souls of all our martyrs. Be seated. May Allah grant patience and endurance to their loved ones. The relatives of our martyrs find consolation in the fact that the heroes gave their lives for their homeland. The consolation is that our lands have been liberated and our territorial integrity has been restored. At the same time, the consolation is that we avenged the martyrs on the battlefields. On the battlefield we have avenged the martyrs of both the second and the first Karabakh wars, including innocent people, victims of Khojaly and other civilians. We have restored historical justice in battle, through fighting and shedding blood. We have restored our territorial integrity and kicked the enemy out from our lands.
The venue of today's official ceremony was not chosen by chance. We are holding this ceremony in the new boulevard. The new boulevard was set up on my initiative several years ago. Its length is 12 kilometers. For comparison, I can say that the length of the old boulevard is only 3 kilometers. The establishment of this boulevard is evidence of the power of our state and its care for the people. It was about innovation, development and a manifestation of our strength. The second Karabakh war also demonstrated our power and modernity because we fought a war of the 21st century. It is no longer a secret today that our operations, successes and victory in the second Karabakh war are being studied in the leading military schools of the world. The world media have repeatedly circulated reports that leading countries of the world, including the United States of America, Great Britain, Germany and other developed countries, are studying all aspects of the second Karabakh war. They are trying to bring their armies in line with modern standards and modern requirements. Not only did we wage a war of the 21st century, we also won an unprecedented victory. Across challenging terrain, we assaulted several lines of enemy fortifications with professionalism, skill, power and military science, and achieved our goal by expelling the enemy from our lands.
We liberated our lands through development because development is the backbone of our victory. If there were no economic development or economic independence, if we had not secured that, we couldn’t have acquired the required quantities of modern weaponry. Therefore, the official ceremony today holds great symbolism. Innovation, development and strength are the primary factors. And also love for the Motherland, because it is love for the Motherland that underlies the appearance and creation of this boulevard. This area used to be an industrial zone. There were many outdated and run down enterprises here. This entire area was cleared and a new boulevard was created. The wasteland on the right has also been cleared and will be developed.
Another reason for this ceremony to be held here is the fact that the Military Trophy Park is located in this territory.
I have opened the Military Trophy Park today. The enemy's military hardware, crushed and taken as trophy, is further evidence of our strength and the enemy’s defeat. The equipment demonstrated here represents only a small portion of the enemy hardware we have destroyed and taken as trophy. We have destroyed and taken as trophy 125 artillery pieces, 366 tanks, seven S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, more than 50 other anti-aircraft missile systems, 522 trucks and other equipment.
Everyone visiting the Military Trophy Park will see the strength and resolve of our army, our Armed Forces. People will be convinced of how difficult it was to win this victory because the enemy was reinforcing its entrenchments in the occupied lands, building fortifications, digging trenches and shelters for 30 years. Despite all this, Azerbaijan’s servicemen showed heroism, professionalism and love for the Motherland, surmounted all these obstacles and defeated the enemy.
The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remained unresolved for 30 years. But our problems began even before that, more precisely in 1987, because the Armenians got a chance and took advantage of it as a result of Heydar Aliyev’s dismissal from all posts in 1987, including the post of a member of the Politburo. Less than two weeks after Heydar Aliyev’s resignation, one of Armenian nationalists, Gorbachev's advisor and right-hand man Aganbekyan, gave an interview to a French newspaper while in France and said that Nagorno-Karabakh should be annexed to Armenia. Under Heydar Aliyev, they could never have dared to do that. Therefore, Heydar Aliyev was the primary target for Armenians of the world because they knew that as long as was in office, he would never allow Armenian nationalism to raise its head. Equally, during his leadership in Azerbaijan in the 1970-1980s, all separatist tendencies were nipped in the bud. Take a look at history – as if nothing changed. A Soviet citizen who considers himself an academician makes such a statement in France and that narrative begins to circulate. We remember only too well what processes unfolded after that. They actually withdrew Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. A Special Administrative Committee was set up. A staunch pro-Armenian individual person was delegated there from Moscow. In fact, this is when our problems began. At that time, a dirty information campaign was carried out against Azerbaijan. The older generation remembers all this well.
But what happened after independence was gained? Four months after Azerbaijan had gained independence, the Khojaly genocide was committed. Armenia and the 366th regiment of the Soviet Union committed a war crime and vandalism. Civilians were killed. Among them were children, elderly and women. The world recognizes the Khojaly genocide today. Many countries have officially recognized this genocide. Shusha and Lachin were occupied three months after the Khojaly genocide.
It was the outcome of the betrayal of the PFPA-Musavat tandem, which had come to power at that time and was trying to legitimize it, that Shusha and Lachin ended up under occupation. Coming to power was the most important thing for them. The defense minister at the time was their man. He promised that if Shusha was lost, he would shoot himself in the forehead. He is still hanging around here and there like a stray dog. Power was actually concentrated in the hands of the Popular Front-Musavat tandem. Having surrendered Shusha and Lachin to the Armenians, they tried to overthrow the government in Baku, and they succeeded. A month later, they staged a military coup, seized the parliament building, overthrew the legitimate government and illegally came to power. It is a great betrayal on their part. What happened next? After that, the country actually found itself in an uncontrollable state. Chaos, anarchy, arbitrariness and robbery were pervasive. Our villages were under occupation, but the authorities of the Popular Front-Musavat were selling gasoline to Armenia. They admitted that themselves. These videos, this footage is still available. They admitted to that betrayal. Instead of strengthening and supporting the army, they only strengthened their own power. Heydar Aliyev did not allow the Armenians to occupy Nakhchivan, which was under blockade, although such attempts were made repeatedly. It was thanks to the Heydar Aliyev factor that our servicemen and civilians defended these lands in the fierce battles that took place on the border. In the meantime, they were sending paratroopers from here to Nakhchivan to oust Heydar Aliyev. The then commander of the internal troops, a dog hiding abroad today, sent troops there. While they were confronting Heydar Aliyev in Nakhchivan, we were losing lands and Armenians were capturing our villages one after another. That was the act of betrayal by traitors from the Popular Front-Musavat. But they chickened out and did not even dare to show their nose there because the people stood up and said that they would be crushed as soon as they appeared there. They unleashed a civil war, bombed Gandja and captured Azerbaijani soldiers, while our lands were under occupation. What was that if not treason? In April 1993, they gave Kalbajar to the enemy. After that, they began to panic, chickened out and found themselves depressed. They have not overcome that depression to this day. In order to save themselves, they had to turn to Heydar Aliyev so that they would not be hanged here, in front of the President's Office. Their gallows was ready. The Azerbaijani people could tolerate them for only one year. But notice how much damage they caused us in one year – our lands were under occupation, they ruined the army, unleashed a civil war and shed brothers’ blood. Therefore, when I say that they are traitors and enemies, I use this as a basis. I say this based on historical facts. Their despicable essence remains evident today. During the second Karabakh war, they also surreptitiously slandered our army and our just cause, pouring water on the enemy's mill. Therefore, without knowledge of history, it is implausible to properly assess today's reality.
After coming to power in 1993, Heydar Aliyev, relying solely on the support of the Azerbaijani people, put an end to all negativity, disbanded all illegal armed groups, established stability and order, and began building a regular army.
When I came to power in 2003, when starting my presidency, I promised that I would defend the territorial integrity, and I have kept my word. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been maintained for 17 years. Despite all the attempts of the enemy, no compromises were made. There have been pressure and threats. There have been coup attempts against me. In 2003, the scum of the PFPA-Musavat tandem attempted a military coup in Azadlig Square, but it failed because people did not support it. In 2005, they tried to organize an “orange revolution” in Azerbaijan. They even tied orange ribbons around their heads. Orange tents were delivered to the country. What was their goal? They wanted to bring traitors to power, hand over Karabakh to the Armenians and rule Azerbaijan. I have not and will not allow this to happen. That is why the decision was made, in certain foreign capitals, to overthrow Ilham Aliyev. Orange revolutions were in fashion at the time. They were happening here and there. Everyone can see today what those revolutions had begotten. Countries are in a deplorable state, overwhelmed by crisis that has been ongoing for 15-17 years. The chances that these countries will overcome the crisis are extremely slim. The people rallied around me again. They supported our independent policy again. Despite all the pressure and all attempts – they were also made later – I did not yield an inch on the Karabakh issue. On the contrary, after being elected president in 2003, I said that we should forget what arrangements been made before. I don’t recognize them. We need to start negotiations from scratch. Despite all the pressure, I succeeded in doing that. It is thanks to this that the Madrid principles were developed. Indeed, the Madrid principles did not completely suit us, and I am not hiding that. However, according to the Madrid principles, our lands were to be liberated. I have repeatedly stated that the territorial integrity of our country had never been and never would be the subject of negotiations, and life has proved me right. At that time, I believed in the successful completion of the negotiations because I had just been elected to this post and did not yet know how hypocrisy permeated the politics. I thought that everything this or that partner said was true. Subsequently, I realized that they were trying to deceive us all these years. They sought not to resolve but freeze the issue. International organizations directly involved in this issue tried to keep these lands under Armenian occupation forever. I realized that afterwards.
However, simultaneously, preparations were under way. I did not hide it. I have repeatedly said that if the issue was not resolved peacefully, we would resolve it by military means. And that is what happened in the end. We did everything as I promised. Throughout all these years, I have been saying that a second Armenian state will never be created on our lands. I was saying that the first Armenian state was created on our historical lands. One of the first decisions of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 was to transfer Irevan to Armenia as a capital. I condemned that decision. I said that it was betrayal, treason, an unforgivable act. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic had done a lot for the Azerbaijani people. However, we should not obscure history. We must know it. We must know that the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic existed in the 1918-1920 and our independence was half-hearted. We gave Irevan to Armenia. Representatives from Irevan objected to their pleas fell on deaf ears. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic did not have full power. British generals dictated their will here. An English general were to authorize our flag. We should call a spade a spade. We can’t make up false history. They invented sufficient false history for us both in Soviet times and in the first years of independence. We have become hostages of such false history. We must know everything – who played what role in history and what was the outcome.
While showing a principled approach at the negotiating table, we were also building a powerful army. Throughout these 17 years, military spending has been our main budgetary expenditure.
We have achieved our goal. The combat capability of our army has strengthened and increased, our army was provided with modern weapons, ammunition and equipment. To avoid dependence on one country, we acquired hardware and equipment from different sources. To achieve that, it was necessary to have had close ties with partner countries because the arms market is very sensitive. Commercial and business interests don’t decide everything there. Political interests do! We acquired equipment and weapons from partner countries, so that if something happens to equipment from one source, then we will still have reserve capabilities, and the second Karabakh war proved this.
We needed to prepare for the second Karabakh war, and we did. Political stability and civil unity were secured. With the support of the people, very confident reforms were carried out and the situation in the political space improved. On the international arena, international organizations adopted important decisions and resolutions that met our interests. When I talked about this in previous years, some thought that such documents may have been adopted, but all this was to no avail. We see the outcome today. Everyone can see it. Apart from the UN Security Council resolutions, there were no serious documents. There were also a resolution of the UN General Assembly, resolutions of the Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Parliament. Even the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is always hostile to us, had to demonstrate support for our territorial integrity. All this created a political and legal basis. If it hadn’t been for all this, the anti-Azerbaijan initiative of the Minsk Group co-chair countries in the UN could have manifested itself during the war. Everyone should know this. Many are not aware. During the war, they wanted to introduce sanctions against us. We are fighting on our own land. We are restoring our territorial integrity. The introduction of sanctions against us would have been an injustice and dishonesty. Who organized it? Minsk Group co-chair countries. Who prevented this? Countries that are friendly to us, the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, because we, as the country chairing the Non-Aligned Movement, acted with dignity, helped those countries, provided them with both financial and humanitarian support. In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided humanitarian and financial assistance to more than 30 countries. We defended their interests, so they, in turn, supported us. True, even if this or that resolution had been adopted, it could not have stopped us. Nobody and nothing could have stopped us. I repeatedly addressed the people during the war and I said that the enemy should get out of our lands, and I would stop the war. Therefore, it was necessary to make proper preparations on the international level, to make economic preparations. If we were dependent on a certain country or an international financial institution, could we have waged a war? Of course not! They put so much pressure on us, threatened us and tried to limit our opportunities!
Economic independence was one of the primary issues. And we achieved it. We achieved energy independence. We implemented historic projects. In 2006-2007, oil and gas pipelines were built. If these pipelines had not been built, we would not have such funds. And if there had been no money, there would have been no weapons either. Nobody gave us weapons. Unlike Armenia, no-one gave us $5 billion. The cost of their destroyed and captured weapons is $5 billion. We acquired it with money. If there was no economic independence, how could we acquire it after all? How could we fight? Our lands could have forever remained under Armenian occupation. Therefore, economic independence was the main issue, and we were preparing in this area. We had to turn Armenia into a dead end. We laid all transportation, communication and energy routes bypassing them. I was faced with so much pressure – I was told no, this route must go through Armenia, that railway must go through Armenia. I was told that we should not build Baku-Tbilisi-Kars because they would not lend money to it. I answered, well, so be it. I gave Georgia a loan in the amount of $725 million myself. We achieved it, built it and Armenia turned into a dead end. This in itself led to the beginning of a mass exodus from Armenia. When an exodus begins, the market shrinks. And when the market shrinks, no-one wants to invest in it. You have to be crazy to invest in Armenia, both in those years and especially now. Therefore, one of the primary objectives was to achieve an economic recession in Armenia. I do not hide this, and we have achieved our goal.
One of the most important issues has been the education of our youth in the spirit of patriotism. The second Karabakh war showed that great successes have also been achieved in this area. Of course, army building comes first. The material and technical infrastructure of the army, its combat capability, professionalism, conditions of service and living conditions of servicemen were improved. We have created a powerful army and have always been among top 50 in international ratings, but after the war, of course, we will rise to higher positions. We showed our strength during the war.
We gave Armenia a chance. We gave it a chance even during the April 2016 battles. The then leader of the junta, Sargsyan, promised me to return our lands in the aftermath of that bitter defeat. When the April battles were going on, they called Moscow day and night, they called the Chief of the General Staff of Russia, begging for Azerbaijan to stop the war. We stopped it on the condition that negotiations would resume immediately, and they did begin. A month after the war ended, a meeting at the level of foreign ministers of the Minsk Group co-chair countries was held in Vienna. Why weren’t there any meetings at that level before? But as soon as we dealt a blow to the Armenians during the April battles, a meeting was immediately held in May. A summit was held in Russia in June. Sargsyan gave me his word that he needed two weeks. He said, I promise that I will solve this issue. I agreed and he left. After that, either they orchestrated it or it happened by itself, but a police station was seized there. Under that pretext he refused. We were deceived again. And not only Sargsyan, but all of them. In 2018, the Nakhchivan operation was carried out and we taught them another lesson. We showed again that all this would end badly for them and that we will destroy them. But that failed to learn their lesson. In fact, it coincided with the change of power in Armenia. A new government was established in Armenia. A month later, after a successful operation on the border in Nakhchivan, we took over important strategic heights and already had complete control over the road leading to Karabakh. During the war – it is no longer a secret today – we knew what was being delivered to Nagorno-Karabakh. We could have blocked this path at any moment. It just wasn't necessary. And that did not serve them as a lesson either. Following this, the new government asked us for some time. They said, give us some time to resolve internal problems here, the problems left over from representatives of the old junta, and we will resolve them. And they deceived us yet again. A year later, Armenia’s prime minister said in Nagorno-Karabakh that “Karabakh is Armenia”. What did that mean? It meant that the negotiations were over, that any talks were meaningless. That was the end of the negotiations.
Other provocative steps, actions and speeches testified that Armenia did not want to return the lands. The picture we are seeing in the liberated lands, on the former line of contact, the defensive lines we have overcome show that they did not want to return an inch of our lands. Their intention was to deceive us, rely on their patrons, get free weapons and political support from them, use the lobbyists living in these countries and keep us in this position forever. After that, in July and September, provocations were committed on the state border, a sabotage group was sent here in August, and the second Karabakh war began in September.
The people of Azerbaijan have a comprehensive idea of the war. Over time, we will provide information on individual operations. However, the 44-day Patriotic war demonstrated our power, resolve and unity. It showed that the Azerbaijani people will never put up with this situation. We drove the enemy away every day, every single day. Over the course of 44 days, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan never retreated, even though offensives, retreats and maneuvers do occur during wars. Armenia failed to carry out a single successful operation. There were 10,000 deserters in the Armenian army, and they admit that themselves. They want to pardon them now, pardon 5,000 of them. What about the other 5,000? They probably left and are no longer in Armenia. There was not a single deserter in the Azerbaijan’s army, in our Armed Forces. The wounded, our seriously wounded servicemen lived with the goal of recovering as soon as possible and returning to the front again. The Azerbaijani people, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers showed high morale - professionalism and heroism, of course, but also high morale. Armenians ran, we drove them away every day.
All operations were carried out thoughtfully. Every day I was informed about the work done during the day. Meetings were held; work to be done the next day was planned accordingly. I can say that most of the targets were met. Of course, in some places there were delays, in some places a faster or larger operation could have been carried out. But it is a war, it cannot be planned. Every day, our servicemen put their lives at risk, because overcoming these fortifications, these lines of defense required professionalism, strength and courage. Our heroes put their lives on the line because their cause was right and they were fighting for their own lands. What were Armenian soldiers doing on our lands? I spoke about this at an international event several years ago. An Armenian asked me a question. He said a sniper war was going on there and Armenian soldiers were dying. I said that if they did not want to die, they should get out of our lands. During the war, I repeatedly stated that Armenia’s leader should give me a date when they would get out of our lands and we would stop the war at that same moment. And so it happened. More than 300 cities and villages were liberated on the battlefield. The Armenian army was crushed and destroyed. An army with 10,000 deserters is a disgrace. They were chaining their soldiers in battle positions to stop them from fleeing. That is an atrocity, atrocity against their soldiers.
After the Shusha operation, Armenia fell to its knees. The Shusha operation is a another epic, and it will be talked about for a long time. But anyone visiting Shusha and seeing those steep cliffs cannot imagine how this impregnable fortress was taken. We liberated Shusha only thanks to the professionalism, courage, heroism and national spirit. The enemy fell to its knees, bowed its head, threw in the towel, admitted defeat, signed an act of surrender on 10 November, and we returned the occupied Kalbajar and Lachin districts and the part of Aghdam district that was under occupation without a single shot fired.
The second Karabakh war is our glorious history. Our people will always be proud of this war. We have reasserted ourselves in the world as a victorious people. Armenia, however, is a country that has suffered defeat, a country that has fallen on its knees before us, a country with a bowed head, and it will always be the case. Their vandalism one witnesses across our liberated territories is horrific. All our cities and mosques have been destroyed. Cows and pigs were kept in our mosques; they insulted the entire Muslim world, destroyed and plowed up graves, unearthed the graves and looted gold teeth of the dead. If they are not savages, then who are they? Savage is perhaps too soft of a word to describe them. The whole world saw what their ideology was. They claim to be civilized people living here in a minority, belonging to a large civilization and they are surrounded by wild Muslims. They were saying this at every corner in Europe. At every corner in Russia, they were saying – help us, otherwise they will strangle us here. Everyone can see now what their civilization, their culture and their morality are like. Someone who destroys and plows up graves, removes gold teeth from the dead and keeps pigs in a mosque is a barbarian. There is no other name for them. The whole world saw that and we will make sure the world sees more.
People visiting the liberated lands and foreign visitors can see everything with their own eyes. We will restore all the liberated lands. We simply must never forget Armenian barbarism. We are a very kind people. This is our advantage, but at the same time, one cannot be kind when there is a barbarian in front of you. We must give them an answer that they will forever preserve it in their historical memory, so that this is never erased from their memory. Certain revengeful forces raising their heads there today should know that the iron fist remains in place and, if necessary, we can strike them in such a way that all this will end forever.
This official ceremony is being held today and you probably know the reason for that. First of all, it was necessary to prepare the new military awards because we did not have them before. We had to develop their design and organize their production. It took some time. In addition, due to the pandemic, it was not possible to hold such ceremonies indoors and suitable weather conditions were required. In addition, the Military Trophy Park was not ready. I wanted to meet with you on the opening day of the Park so that you are presented with these high awards and become first visitors to the Park. It took some time. But this ceremony is being held today. As Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I would like to express my deep gratitude to you. You have brought glory to our people, the Azerbaijanis of the world. Our Victory is not only the victory of our people, the entire Turkic world is proud of it. We have created a new reality. We have created it by shedding blood, showing courage and driving away the enemy. Everyone should and will reckon with us from now on.
Glory to the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan! Long live Azerbaijan!