Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited Kalbadjar and Lachin districts

16 august 2021, 20:30

As reported earlier, on 16 August, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited Kalbadjar and Lachin districts.

President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva watched the charming view of Kalbadjar from Omar Pass.

President Ilham Aliyev: We are heading to Kalbadjar, to the liberated Kalbadjar.

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In a video recorded in a car on the way to Kalbadjar, President Ilham Aliyev says: Mehriban khanim is capturing the spectacular views of Kalbadjar as we admire the beautiful nature of Azerbaijan along the way. I am sure that this will be very interesting for those watching this footage. The forests of Kalbadjar are already visible. As we know, Kalbadjar has a very charming nature - mountains, valleys and forests.

Look at these ruins. The Armenians destroyed these places when leaving. They have destroyed all the buildings, hydroelectric power stations. These destructions are further evidence of Armenian savagery.

Armenians destroyed houses here. It is the territory of Zallar village.

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President Ilham Aliyev said: The road we are standing on is the Basarkechar-Kalbadjar road built by Armenians. They built a second path to connect Armenia with Karabakh – in addition to the Lachin corridor. So they built this road to conduct resettlement in Kalbadjar and other areas and facilitate their movement. This road goes directly to Basarkechar district. Basarkechar district is called Vardenis in Armenia, but the actual name of this district is Basarkechar, Goycha region, ancient Azerbaijani land. Basarkechar district was established in the territory of Armenia in 1930.

The absolute majority of those living there were Azerbaijanis. Residents of Zod village were also Azerbaijanis. They were deported from Armenia. Only in June 1969, Armenia renamed Basarkechar district to Vardenis. I ask that the name Basarkechar, not Vardenis, be restored to our general lexicon when reports are prepared from this region of Azerbaijan. All other ancient Azerbaijani settlements located in the territory of present-day Armenia should be called by their original names. For example, I have been following the media coverage of the tensions on the Nakhchivan-Armenia border. Our media write about what is happening in and around the Armenian village of Yeraskh. The name of this village is Arazdayan, and Azerbaijanis used to live there before deportation. Therefore, all ancient, i.e., historical names, must be restored. These names are also available in various books. Therefore, I request that both journalists and the general public use the original names of these places – not Vardenis but Basarkechar district, Basarkechar city.

We are using this road now. The Armenians also wanted to build a third road, a road to Jabrayil. I repeatedly expressed my views on this during the war. So they wanted to link Armenia with East Zangazur and Karabakh by three roads. The sole purpose of this was to pursue a policy of illegal resettlement, which is a war crime. Unfortunately, international organizations dealing with this issue, first of all, the OSCE Minsk Group, remained indifferent to it, did not criticize Armenia, did not try to deter it from doing so, but simply acted as observers. They even visited here, witnessed it and did not object to constructing a road to Jabrayil District. When this road was being built at the time, we expressed our objection. We raised our voice; we stated that that should not be allowed and that illegal activities cannot be carried out in Azerbaijan. But no one heard us. However, I have come here today. I am standing on this road. We will stand on this road forever. We will live in this region forever.

And these are beautiful mountains of Kalbadjar. There are mountains, rivers, forests on all sides – it is a paradise. And it will also become a paradise.

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President Ilham Aliyev: Gamishli village. We have created our energy infrastructure here. And these high-voltage power lines were installed recently.

The Armenians also built this asphalt road from Basarkechar. They built an alternative route to the Lachin corridor to go to Kalbadjar. And it is a fine road. We are using this road now. When this road was under construction, the Azerbaijani side expressed a strong protest. We were saying that this should not be allowed. That was a part of Armenians' resettlement policy. But no one listened to us. As a result, we have come here and raised our flag. We drove the enemy out of our lands and are using this road now. Armenians have been deprived of this road. So this road can also be considered a military trophy.

They wanted to build a third road across Jabrayil. And it was also left unfinished. Their dreams remained unfulfilled.

These are our houses, the houses of the Azerbaijanis destroyed by the Armenians. For 30 years, the Armenians had only exploited our lands, plundered natural resources, destroyed and demolished houses. And then they dared to claim that this was Armenian land. There has never been Armenian land here, and there never will be. This is the land of Azerbaijan. We, the Azerbaijanis, the owners of these lands, have returned. We have driven the enemy out of our lands, crushed the enemy army and returned here by showing heroism and self-sacrifice.

We have arrived at the site of the "Kalbadjar-1" Hydroelectric Power Station.

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President Ilham Aliyev: Now we are heading for the Lachin district. Then we will go to Kalbadjar city. We are going to the Lachin district, where we will lay the foundation of an airport.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: Is this a new road? Or was it here before?

President Ilham Aliyev: No, it was here before. Of course, the Kalbadjar-Lachin road will be reconstructed at the highest level. Both tunnels I have just laid the foundation of will make this road even more comfortable. This is a famous tunnel built in Soviet times. It is written here – the construction began in 1958, and the length is only 200 meters. The tunnels we will build are 11 kilometers and 5 kilometers long. This is what Azerbaijan is capable of today. And this is the only old road connecting Kalbadjar with Lachin. The tunnel already has lighting. When the Armenians were leaving Kalbadjar and Lachin, they attempted to blow up this tunnel. Notice how insidious these people were. Look at this section, they wanted to blow it up, but they failed. They were in a hurry to leave.

Beautiful sights of Azerbaijan. Kalbadjar and Lachin districts are among the most beautiful in terms of nature. No matter how much damage the Armenians caused to our nature, they could not destroy it.

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President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva laid a foundation stone for Lachin International Airport.

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President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva met with beekeepers and talked to them.

Beekeepers: Bee families have more than doubled in Azerbaijan.

President Ilham Aliyev: Our honey is also of very high quality. The Kalbadjar honey will probably be of better quality than others. Therefore, you should both supply the domestic market and export it. Is there anything to show?

Beekeeper: Yes, there is. I will now give you a bee hat.

President Ilham Aliyev: They know who we are, so they won't touch us. Is this honey?

Beekeeper: Yes, this is honey, natural Kalbadjar honey. If you allowed me, I would like to present you with two of these as a gift.

President Ilham Aliyev: Two would be too many, no. One is enough. We will taste the Kalbadjar honey. Is this ready?

Beekeepers: Yes, it is ready. Here is one, and I will find the other in another box.

President Ilham Aliyev: No, one is enough. One is enough to taste.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: One is enough.

Beekeepers: It will sting you now.

President Ilham Aliyev: No, it won't touch us; it knows who we are. Are there other beekeepers besides you?

Beekeepers: Yes, there are other beekeepers too. Five beekeepers have come here as part of a pilot project. Then other beekeepers came as well. Let me take out one more.

President Ilham Aliyev: No, that will do.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: There is a bee on top.

Beekeeper: This one is not fully sealed. I want to give you a fully sealed one.

President Ilham Aliyev: No, this is enough.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: There are bees there. I am recording.

President Ilham Aliyev: Let's have a picture taken.

Thank you. I promised to all the IDPs that I would return them to their ancestral homeland.

Beekeepers: We believed that, because we believed in you, we believed in our people, we believed in our martyrs. Twenty percent of this year's crop will be sent to the families of martyrs.

President Ilham Aliyev: Very good. You will probably expand your farm.

Beekeeper: Yes, we will expand it because not only Kalbadjar but all the liberated lands, in general, are an excellent feed base for beekeeping. Armenians had large farms here and were engaged in exports.

President Ilham Aliyev: Beekeeping developed in Kalbadjar even during the Soviet times.

Beekeepers: It was in the village in Soviet times. The Kalbadjar honey was well-known in the Soviet Union. Inshallah, we will return this fame to it.

President Ilham Aliyev: The Armenians have done many illegal things, destroyed and exploited our nature.

Beekeeper: Our ancestral roots are here. My father's grave is here. Armenians have never lived in Kalbadjar.

President Ilham Aliyev: I know, never. But then they wanted to appropriate Kalbadjar and change its name. But then we also came, taught them a lesson and took back our lands.

Beekeepers: Thank you very much! Thank you!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you!

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: Thank you, good luck to you! Thank you very much!

President Ilham Aliyev: Say hello to your families.

Beekeepers: May Allah protect you for our people. Thank you!

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We are approaching the city of Kalbadjar. We will be in Kalbadjar in a few minutes.

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We are in the city of Kalbadjar, at the entrance to the city. These are the deeds of savage Armenians. Notice how the Armenians have completely destroyed the city. Savage Armenians have destroyed Kalbadjar, as well as other cities and villages of Azerbaijan. All buildings are ravaged. Armenians lived in some buildings illegally. When they were leaving, they set fire to those buildings and knocked them down. Times change, but the ugly face of Armenian fascism doesn't. When they occupied these lands in the early 1990s, they destroyed our towns and villages. When we drove them out of here in 2020, they cut down trees, burned them and destroyed buildings.

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President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva then arrived in the city of Kalbadjar.

The head of state raised the state flag in Kalbadjar city and delivered remarks at the event.

Remarks by the President Ilham Aliyev:

- Our lands were liberated from occupation as a result of the military operation. The second Karabakh war will go down in history as our glorious Victory. As a result of the Victory, the Kalbadjar district was liberated from the occupiers together with Lachin and Aghdam districts. Armenia signed an act of capitulation on 10 November and undertook to return Kalbadjar, Lachin and Aghdam districts to Azerbaijan.

During the first days of the second Karabakh war, the northern part of Kalbadjar was liberated by Azerbaijan's Armed Forces. There were fierce battles across Mount Murov and surrounding areas. We had martyrs. However, we took over strategic heights, which allowed us to control the transportation and communication infrastructure Armenians were using. So by taking over the strategic heights in the northern part of Kalbajar, we were able to substantially limit the movement of the Armenian armed forces in this direction. As a matter of fact, they were unable to use the Basarkechar-Kalbadjar road. It was a part of the military operation, the counter-offensive operation. We conducted the counter-offensive operation in several directions, and each direction was important. Because we were already liberating the occupied territories by breaking the line of defense in some directions, taking over strategic areas in other areas and almost paralyzed the actions of the Armenian army. In some areas, we simply conducted military maneuvering to prevent the redeployment of Armenian armed forces. Thus, a part of Kalbadjar, a small part of it, was liberated on the battlefield. However, most of the district was liberated after Armenia had signed the act of capitulation.

The liberation of Kalbadjar is a historic event. The occupation of Kalbadjar was a great tragedy for our people because, after the occupation of the Lachin and Shusha districts in May 1992, Kalbadjar was the next target for the Armenians. There is already a clear understanding of the occupation of Shusha and Lachin in Azerbaijan. Everyone knows that the occupation of Shusha and Lachin was the result of the betrayal by the PFPA-Musavat tandem. At that time, there was a power struggle.

The PFPA-Musavat duo was aspiring to take power and tried to seize power at any cost. Certain forces and traitors under their control practically handed Shusha over to the Armenians. There was practically no defense of Shusha. Certain armed groups stationed in Shusha left the city, and Shusha was surrendered to the Armenians. As a result, there was a power crisis in Azerbaijan, and the PFPA-Musavat duo took advantage of it to illegally oust the government, stage a military coup and come to power. The occupation of Shusha and Lachin is an act of betrayal on the part of the PFPA-Musavat duo. When the Kalbadjar district was occupied, the PFPA-Musavat duo had already achieved its sordid goals and was in power. They were in power for about a year. Kalbadjar was occupied in early April 1993, and the PFPA-Musavat duo, the PFPA-Musavat government, is to blame for that. Their treacherous and anti-national government paved the way for the occupation of Kalbadjar. Because they were in power almost from the spring and summer of 1992, and for the duration of one year, they were only engaged in looting, bribery, robbery, lawlessness and other dirty deeds.

Many are forgetting that now. The younger generation is unaware of this. That was a time of our national tragedy, a period of national humiliation. The PFPA-Musavat government was one of the most disgraceful governments in the world, perhaps the most disgraceful. The country was being lost, civil confrontation in the country was at its peak, the lands were under occupation, but they were only thinking of their interests. The anti-national elements that came to power isolated Azerbaijan from almost all international partners, foreign partners, made grave mistakes in foreign and domestic policy, committed crimes. The occupation of Kalbadjar is the outcome of the treacherous PFPA-Musavat government's performance. After the occupation of Kalbadjar, a direct geographical link was established between Armenia and the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, and the occupation of other lands was inevitable.

The PFPA-Musavat government ignored army building. No reforms were carried out in the army. On the contrary, they used every opportunity at their disposal to weaken our army. The lands were under occupation, but they were bombing Gandja to protect their limping government. They took Azerbaijani soldiers as a prisoner. There are videos of that. Armenians committed genocide here, destroyed our cities. Look at the state of Kalbadjar and other cities now.

Meanwhile, they wanted to take Azerbaijani soldiers prisoner and strengthen their grip on power. When they realized that this was no longer possible, they fled into hiding. They committed desertion at the state level. The PFPA-Musavat government and its leaders are deserters, traitors, cowards, and this is the absolute truth.

Of course, when liberating our lands, we took steps to make sure that all our lands would be freed. It is no longer a secret that the proposals on the table during the negotiations did not meet our interests. I stated openly why I did not agree to the proposed option. What had been discussed for the past ten years – five districts were to be returned to Azerbaijan, while Kalbadjar and Lachin districts would have been returned to Azerbaijan after a referendum in the former Nagorno-Karabakh. Of course, we could not agree to that because a referendum was never an option. My policy was that, and I openly stated that all our lands must be liberated from the occupiers. Our territorial integrity must be fully restored because we do not need an incomplete resolution. That is why the Azerbaijani side did not agree to the proposals. But then it became clear that Armenia rejected them because Armenia's goal was to keep these lands, all the occupied lands, under occupation forever.

The new information released now and the current situation in the liberated lands confirms that. Those who wanted to vacate the occupied lands would not have built 6-line defensive fortifications. It is now clear that their goal was to perpetuate the status quo, not to return an inch of the land to us and drag on the process. They did it for 30 years, relying on their foreign patrons, and they wanted to do it for another 30 years, for 300 years. They thought that this policy would bring them success. They thought that Azerbaijan would not liberate its lands through war. They thought that someone would stop us. They thought that their patrons would influence and put pressure on us. But they did not know that all the people of Azerbaijan lived with the dream of ending the occupation, expelling the enemy from our lands. And we returned to the land of our ancestors. We returned by crushing the Armenian army. We returned by crushing the head of Armenian fascism. We returned by punishing Armenian executioners. We returned by avenging the blood of our martyrs. We are back, we are here today, and we will be here forever!

I want to repeat that the second Karabakh war is our historic Victory. There has never been such a victory in the centuries-old history of Azerbaijan. There is already sufficient information about the war, and I do not want to belabor the subject. The course of the war is known to everyone. Our textbooks, research papers, articles and books should provide very detailed and extensive information about the war and the pre-war period. We can record this history the way it is, write it the way it is, so that future generations always know it, don't forget it, including the Armenian savagery.

But while speaking of the second Karabakh war today, I want to pay attention to one issue. This war has also resulted in the complete destruction of Armenian mythology. For many years, for 30 years, the Armenians had been bragging about their "military victory". The Armenians had invented several myths that they allegedly had an "invincible army" and that their army could allegedly hold on to these lands forever. We have blown this myth to smithereens. There is no Armenian army today. The Armenian army has been completely destroyed. The vast majority of weapons and ammunition of the Armenian army were destroyed or taken as spoils of war and are now on display in the Military Trophies Park. We have put an end to the mythology that portrayed the Armenian army as an "invincible army".

The second myth was that Armenian soldiers were "brave" and could prevail in any war. We have dispelled this myth as well. Armenian soldiers are deserters and cowards. They have acknowledged themselves, and this has been proven that there were 10,000 deserters in the Armenian army during the war. There was not a single deserter in the Azerbaijani Army. So this myth was also blown to smithereens. Armenian soldiers are deserters.

Another myth was that the Azerbaijanis would not fight for their lands, that they had come to terms with this situation, and if the war had not started for about 30 years, it would not start in the future either. We have dispelled this myth too. We have shown that we had never intended to come to terms with this situation. I have said this many times. I said in all my speeches that we would never put up with this situation that we would liberate our lands from occupiers at any cost, and we did that. This mythology was also shattered.

Yet another myth was associated with their so-called "military commanders". They were saying that there were prominent generals and commanders in Armenia capable of fulfilling any military task. We saw that their generals are thieves, sellers of soldier's stew and traitors. Their commanders are also cowards and deserters. Khojaly executioners Kocharyan, Sargsyan and Ohanyan poked their nose into Karabakh during the war. They were there. But when they realized that the victorious Azerbaijani Army was heroically liberating our lands, they fled and hid. They should be asked why they ran. They were in Khankendi, all three of them. Why did you run away? Why did you go into hiding? I said this before, and I will repeat – take out that metal scrap of your chests, throw your medals in the trash. You are deserters and cowards. We have destroyed you. The former defense minister who played one of the critical roles in the Khojaly genocide barely escaped from Shusha at the last moment. They ran away like rabbits. We have destroyed them. We have destroyed their so-called "heroes", their heroes of non-existent Artsakh. They will live forever with this mark. Deserters, traitors, executioners, and cowards – they can only wage war against unarmed civilians. When Khojaly was occupied, there was almost no force to resist them; there were only civilians. They were civilians living in these homes. The snow had not yet melted here in April, and most of them died here. They chased them from here in the direction of Gandja and ambushed them when they were crossing the Murov Mountain, the Omar Pass. They killed them – children, women, and the elderly. They were forced to cross the Omar Pass barefoot in the snow, covering dozens of kilometers. Many froze and died on the way. This is Armenian savagery. We have defeated the savages. We have saved the region from savages and fascists. No one should ever forget that.

Another Armenian myth was that Armenians allegedly have ancient history and culture and were surrounded by "savage Muslims" here. They claimed that Armenia was the center, the cradle or the last stronghold of culture in the Caucasus. Yet, this is what their culture is all about. These buildings, excavated graves and destroyed mosques are! This was done by Armenians, not an alien from another planet. This was not done during the first Karabakh war but deliberately after the war. Like barbarians, savages and vandals, they demolished the bricks and stones of houses one by one and built huts for themselves.

Even when they were about to leave after signing the act of capitulation, they asked us for time. The Russian leadership asked us to give them an extra ten days, as they could not collect their rags. They asked us to give them some time to come out. We showed humanism again. We gave time until 25 November. But what did they do at this time? They burned and destroyed houses that did not belong to them, the houses they lived illegally in. We can see those houses along the way. They cut down and burned the trees. This is Armenian savagery. Times change, but Armenian fascism does not and will not change.

No one should forget that. No one should believe the flattering words they say sometimes. Whoever wants to believe this should see this scene. They should see the destroyed Aghdam, Fuzuli, Shusha, Kalbadjar, Lachin, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Jabrayil. The actions of Armenian savages are apparent. However, their benefactors do not want to see it. But they must see, and they will! We will put it right before their eyes. We are now publishing books. I have given the instruction, and there will be presentations. There will be exhibitions in foreign countries. We will show it all. Those who do not want to see it will be forced to see it. They will see what Armenian fascism and Armenian savagery are.

During the occupation, Armenians also illegally looted our natural resources. Some foreign companies helped them in this work. These companies now have two options: either they will pay us compensation or go to international courts.

Legal proceedings have already been launched. We started that, invited well-known international law firms and lawsuits are being prepared now. Our gold deposits Soyudlu in Kalbajar, Vejnali in Zangilan and elsewhere, were exploited by foreign companies. Didn't these companies know that this is Azerbaijani land? They did! But they ignored that. They will be held accountable now. We have said that if they don't want us to embarrass them on a global scale, let them step up and reimburse the damages to us, pay compensation, and then they can live comfortably.

The Armenians have destroyed our forests. We have photos of "Azercosmos" – how much forest we had before the occupation and how much we have now. Armenians have destroyed about 60,000 hectares of trees and forests. They cut down and took away the trees. From what I heard, the parquet business was developing fast there. That is also looting. They will be held accountable for this looting too. They poisoned our rivers. Look at the condition of the Okhchuchay River? The Okhchuchay is a natural disaster, and it is a foreign company that did that. That company must and will be held accountable. The total damage is being calculated. Monitoring is now being conducted on all liberated lands, towns and villages, certification is underway, certificates of all houses are being prepared, the damage is being evaluated, and we will demand compensation for all the damage in international courts.

Natural resources have been looted and exploited, our rivers have been poisoned, our forests have been cut down, our houses have been destroyed, and our mosques have been demolished. Who did this? The Armenians did! They must be held accountable, and they will be.

Meanwhile, we have started large-scale restoration work, including Kalbajar and Lachin districts and the East Zangazur region. Some of this work has already been completed – a substation has started operating. I have got acquainted with the construction of a hydroelectric power plant. A groundbreaking ceremony of an international airport has been held in Lachin. We have laid the foundation of two tunnels. Other infrastructure projects are underway. At the same time, as a pilot project, we have invited residents of Kalbadjar and Lachin districts engaged in beekeeping and animal husbandry here, created conditions for them to start work, and this work has already begun.

At the same time, we are strengthening our state border in the direction of Kalbadjar and Lachin. This border was in Armenian hands for about 30 years. After the snow melted in May, we reached those borders, took our positions, settled in Zangazur and reinforced our positions there. This is our land. The opinions expressed in Armenia are entirely unfounded. We are on our land. Lake Garagol and other places are ours. We are here now. This area was in the Armenian hands for 30 years. If that border crossed the location they are referring to; they should have taken it. They should have stood there and said that it was their border. But what happened? As soon as we arrived and were stationed here, they said no, we were being stationed in the wrong place. We stand in the right place, we stand where we need to be, and we will stand wherever we consider necessary. Let no one forget that. That is why the entire border infrastructure and military units are being established by the Ministry of Defense and the Border Troops along the border – from Mount Murov all the way down to the Araz River, and we are strengthening these borders.

The construction of 700 kilometers of local roads is underway. I am not even talking about the main intercity roads because sufficient information has been provided about those projects. The construction of 700 kilometers of roads leading to our borders is underway, and about 80 percent of this work will be completed before the arrival of winter. In other words, the ground and gravel roads will allow us the opportunity to reinforce our positions in these areas – both for movement and from a military point of view. Of course, we are the ones who have a say on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. This is natural, and we will continue to have a say. Some irrelevant opinions are sometimes voiced about this issue in certain foreign circles. There is no need for that. We are standing where we consider it necessary, and if anyone is annoyed by that, if anyone is enraged, let them go and drink water, as we say.

As you know, two new economic regions, or rather, 14 economic regions overall, were established by my order. Among them, establishing two economic regions – Karabakh and East Zangazur economic regions – was worthy of attention. I think this is the correct step. It is based on both history and the future as both Karabakh and Zangazur are our historical ancestral lands. The Karabakh economic region includes all the regions of the Karabakh region. The East Zangazur economic region covers the regions belonging to East Zangazur. West Zangazur is currently under Armenian control. But as a result of the construction of the Zangazur corridor, of course, we will use this corridor to return our citizens to their ancestral lands. There are such plans, and this is only natural because our citizens were deported from the territory of present-day Armenia – not only from Zangazur district but also from Goycha district, which borders here. So they have the right to go and live on their ancestral land. We are keeping that for the next stage.

At the current stage, our main task is to consolidate the outcomes of the war, reinforce our positions in the liberated lands, and strengthen our positions on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border further. Reconstruction and restoration work has already begun, and this is one of the priority tasks. The gradual return of former IDPs to the liberated lands is also on the agenda. I have already said that the first group of former IDPs will be settled in Zangilan in a few months. At the same time, pilot villages have been selected in Aghdam, Jabrayil, Fuzuli and Khojavand districts. Work is already underway to start the restoration of those villages and return our citizens there. The master plan of Aghdam city has been approved. The master plans of other cities are expected to be approved in the coming months.

So we will identify our further goals correctly and achieve these goals. We are here today, in Kalbadjar, one of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan, and we will live here forever. Long live Azerbaijan! Long live the people of Azerbaijan!