As reported earlier, on 16 August, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited Kalbajar and Lachin districts.
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva watched the spectacular view of Kalbajar from Omar Pass.
President Ilham Aliyev: We are heading to Kalbajar, to the liberated Kalbajar. We are going to Kalbajar through the Omar Pass. This road was widened in the last few months. Because this road was almost impassable. Tunnels are now being built along the road. Once the tunnels are built, traffic will become very comfortable. For now, we are usinge this road, and these beautiful scenery is also eye-catching. The scenery of Kalbajar is even more beautiful now. We continue our journey. Standing on this high pass, I would like to once again congratulate the people of Azerbaijan on the historic Victory.
This is my first visit to Kalbajar after the war. Several events are scheduled. The process of restoration and reconstruction of Kalbajar will begin.
Karabakh and East Zangazur are Azerbaijan!
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In a video recorded in a car on the way to Kalbajar, President Ilham Aliyev says: Mehriban khanim is capturing the spectacular views of Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar are already visible. As we know, Kalbajar has a very charming nature - mountains, valleys, 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.
Houses destroyed by Armenians. This is the territory of Zallar village.
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The President and First Lady attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a 11.6-kilometer tunnel to be built on the Toghanali-Kalbajar highway in Murovdagh.
The designed length of the highway connecting Goygol and Kalbajar districts is 81 kilometers. According to the order of the President, the highway is being built in accordance with the 1st and 2nd technical levels. Taking into account the development plan of Karabakh, the highway will have 2-4 lanes. The Murovdagh Range starts from the 16th kilometer of the project and increases from 1,900 to 3,260 meters to the top of Murovdagh. Taking into account the difficult terrain and security issues, the construction of an 11.6-kilometer tunnel under the Murovdagh Range was considered expedient. The head of state laid the foundation of the tunnel.
President Ilham Aliyev said: The road we are standing on is the Basarkechar-Kalbajar 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 conducting settlement in Kalbajar and other areas and make their movement more comfortable. This road goes directly to Basarkechar district. Basarkechar district is called Vardenis in Armenia, but the real 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 request 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 real names. For example, I have been following the media coverage of the tensions on the Nakhchivan-Armenian 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 prior to 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 real 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 the wanted to link Armenia with East Zangazur and Karabakh by three roads. The sole purpose of this was to pursue a policy of illegal settlement, 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, saw it and did not object to the construction of a road to Jabrayil District. When this road was being built at the time, we expressed our objection. We raised our voice, we said that this 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 Kalbajar mountains. 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 lines were installed recently.
This asphalt road was also built by the Armenians from Basarkechar. They built an alternative route to the Lachin corridor to go to Kalbajar. And it is a great road. We are using this road now. When this road was under construction, the Azerbaijani side expressed a vehement protest. We were saying that this should not be allowed. This is a part of Armenians' settlement 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 military booty.
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 he claimed that this is 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 “Kalbajar-1” Hydroelectric Power Station.
President Ilham Aliyev then viewed the progress of work at the Kalbajar Small Hydroelectric Power Station.
At present, the Kalbajar-1 Small Hydroelectric Power Station with a capacity of 4.4 MW is being completely reconstructed on the Lev River in Kalbajar district. The station's machine room, unit, generator, control panels and transformers are being upgraded. The 1.3km section of the destroyed plastic water pipe, which transfers water to the hydraulic unit, is being replaced with metal pipes. Work has been completed on the station's engine room and 110/6 kilovolt substation. Thus, the Kalbajar-1 Small Hydroelectric Power Station, which was destroyed and burned by the Armenians, is being completely rebuilt. The work is to be completed in the coming months.
President Ilham Aliyev: The Lev River is one of our beautiful rivers. It is not particularly long – about 20 kilometers. However, it originates in Azerbaijan and will serve to generate electricity from now on.
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President Ilham Aliyev: This is the Kalbajar substation. It was built in a short time, in only six months, and will supply electricity to Kalbajar.
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President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the opening of the 110/35/10 kV “Kalbajar” substation.
The head of state attaches special importance to the issue of connecting the liberated territories to the general energy system of Azerbaijan as soon as possible and providing them with stable and uninterrupted electricity. As a result, large-scale work has been carried out in this direction in all liberated settlements, including Kalbajar district. The prompt construction of 110/35/10 kV Kalbajar substation is one of the projects implemented.
New transformers with a capacity of 80 MVA have been installed at the new substation in Gamishli village of Kalbajar district. It is fitted with modern equipment. 110 kilovolt outdoor, 35 and 10 kilovolt indoor switchgears have been installed at the substation. The “Kalbajar” substation has been connected to the SCADA Dispatcher Control System remotely, and a new control building has been built for this purpose. The latest digital technologies have been used here.
The head of state launched the substation.
A 110 kV high-voltage two-circuit power transmission line was laid over a distance of 70 kilometers from Dashkasan to Kalbajar district, where the power system was completely destroyed by the Armenians. Some anchors of the line, which crosses Mount Murov, have been installed at an altitude of 3,400 meters above sea level.
Speaking at a tea table on the banks of the Lev River, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- We have opened the Kalbajar district substation. It is a very significant event. This is very important for the supply of electricity to Kalbajar district, and I can say that this substation was built in a matter of six months. In fact, it was built so quickly despite difficult weather conditions, difficult terrain and mountains. Nevertheless, we have put this important infrastructure facility into operation. You can also see the new poles. The highest location of the poles is 3,400 meters. It is indeed a project that requires great professionalism and skill, and it shows that our internal resources are so strong that we can do it in a short time. Thus, this substation will supply electricity to Kalbajar district. Prior to this event, I got acquainted with the construction of a hydroelectric power plant on the Lev River. The generation capacity there is 4.4 megawatts. We have already launched the Gulabird Hydroelectric Power Station, which has a capacity of 8 megawatts and is located in Lachin district. The Sugovshan Hydroelectric Power Station has also been repaired and reconstructed, and it also has a capacity of 7.8 megawatts. So look, we are already starting to generate more than 20 megawatts of electricity from alternative sources, and this is just the beginning. When the Armenians left these districts, they destroyed all hydroelectric power stations. We will restore them. The Gulabird station, the station on the Lev River and other hydropower plants – we will gradually increase their number to about 20, maybe 30, but gradually. Thus, our energy potential will be strengthened. Karabakh and East Zangazur will be a “green energy” zone and all our plans will be fulfilled. Doing so much in a matter of seven to eight months shows our strength, determination and strong political will.
Today we will have tea in a pear-shaped glass by the Lev River. This shows again that no matter how hard the Armenians tried, they could not break the will of our people. We had to come back here, and we did. They had to leave, and they did. Historical justice has been restored, and we have not only returned to Kalbajar, perhaps one of the most beautiful regions of our country, we are already implementing our plans for the development of Kalbajar. There will be further events. In the meantime, let's have tea and enjoy nature. Long live Azerbaijan!
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The length of the Kalbajar-Lachin highway built by the order of President Ilham Aliyev is 72.8 kilometers. The width of the carriageway, which will be built in accordance with the first and second technical categories, will be 9-16 meters. Underpasses and bridges will be built on the road, which will have two and four lanes. Three tunnels will be built as well. The total length of the tunnels will be 9,450 meters.
President Ilham Aliyev laid the foundation of a 3.4-kilometer tunnel to be built on the Kalbajar-Lachin highway.
The President said: The foundation of a second tunnel was laid today. A tunnel will be built on the Kalbajar-Lachin highway, and the commissioning of the second tunnel will make travel more comfortable. Roads are of special importance for the comprehensive development of the whole region, of East Zangezur. When the investment program for the liberated lands was launched, tunnels were built for these projects on my instructions, including one on the road to Shusha and here. The construction of a tunnel is also difficult, especially in such a difficult mountainous terrain. At the same time, it is very expensive. But we are doing it and we will do it. Because it is necessary for the development of the region, for East Zangazur. When people return here, they will have very comfortable communication with other regions of Azerbaijan. The link between Kalbajar and Lachin districts will grow stronger – the construction of an airport is planned in Lachin district. At the same time, travel in the direction of Kalbajar-Goygol-Ganja will become more comfortable. The work done in just eight to nine months shows again that we have a very strong will, political decisions have been made, all resources and technical capabilities have been mobilized, funding has been provided, human resources have emerged in Azerbaijan, including the area of construction, and comprehensive work is underway. Power lines, hydropower plants, substations, tunnels, bridges, airports, social facilities and all other issues are powering ahead. Here is a picture of this tunnel, which will be very comfortable and safe.
Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
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President Ilham Aliyev: Now we are heading for Lachin district. Then we will go to Kalbajar. We are going to Lachin district. We will lay the foundation of an airport there.
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 Kalbajar-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 doing today. And this is the only old road connecting Kalbajar with Lachin. The tunnel already has lighting. When the Armenians were leaving Kalbajar and Lachin, they wanted to blow up this tunnel. Notice how insidious these people were. Look at this part, they wanted to blow it up, but they didn't succeed. They were in a hurry to leave.
Beautiful sights of Azerbaijan. Kalbajar 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 completely destroy it.
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The airport to be built in Gorchu village of Lachin district is important due to several factors. First of all, there is no doubt that the construction of the airport here will give impetus to the socioeconomic development of the region as a whole and enhance its tourism potential. The construction of Lachin Airport also shows the scale of landscaping work carried out in our liberated historical lands. Lachin airport, which is of great strategic importance, will also contribute to the establishment of logistical centers. Lachin Airport will be the highest airport in Azerbaijan. It will have six airfields and a runway 3 kilometers in length. This airport will facilitate air travel to and from Kalbajar District.
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva laid the foundation of Lachin International Airport.
Speaking at the event, President Ilham Aliyev said:
-Today, the foundation of a large infrastructure facility is being laid on the liberated lands. The construction of an international airport starts in Lachin district. I announced the construction of this airport some time ago. I said that three international airports would be built on liberated lands. This work has already started in Fuzuli and Zangilan. Fuzuli International Airport will be ready for operation by the end of this year or early next year.
Work has also started in Zangilan, and I personally laid the foundation of Zangilan International Airport. Zangilan Airport will probably be commissioned in 2022. In Kalbajar and Lachin districts, as I announced after the war, land will be sought and international airport will be built. The search for a place, of course, took a long time. Because the terrain in Kalbajar and Lachin districts is such that it is impossible to find a plain here. Although both districts cover a very large area – mountains, forests, valleys, hills – there is almost no flat land. A place was chosen where it is possible to build an airport by carrying out large-scale earthworks. The airport runway will be behind me. It is hard to imagine that now. I think that for the first time in the history of the world, an airport is being built in such terrain conditions. Because all airports are usually built on plains. Since there is no such place here, the only place was chosen here, in Gorchu village of Lachin district. At the same time, the advantage of this place is that the distance to Lachin is a little more than 30 kilometers, and the distance to Kalbajar is a little more than 60 kilometers. At the same time, the distance to Shusha is about 70 kilometers. So in the future it will be possible to use both Fuzuli and Lachin airports to fly to Shusha. As I said, a lot of earthworks will be done here. Some hills will be cut, some gaps will be filled. Earthworks will be something that takes a lot of time.
As for the runway, it should be of standard size. The runway at all three new airports is three kilometers long. In other words, all types of aircraft, including the heaviest cargo planes, will be able to land at these airports.
So new opportunities will be opened for the restoration of the liberated regions - East Zangazur, Karabakh, the return of people here, to these places. It is hard to say how long this construction might take, but, of course, we want it to be completed as soon as possible. But it is hard to say, because there are logistical problems for the import of goods. The summer is over, and after a while, in October, it will start to snow here. Therefore, it will be difficult to use the roads. In any case, this historic event is happening today, we are starting the construction of Lachin International Airport. I think this came as a surprise to many. Some thought it was a miracle. Because during the Soviet era, there was never an airport in this region - in the Kalbajar-Lachin zone. And exactly for this reason. Because it could be a very expensive project and it is impossible to find an acceptable place. But we are doing this. The independent Azerbaijani state is capable of this as well. We have the technical capacity, financial capacity and strong will. It will be an Azerbaijani company that will build the airport. This is also very gratifying. Because active work of local companies in liberated lands is one of the most important factors. Along with us, companies from fraternal Turkey are also actively involved in large projects.
The construction and commissioning of Zangilan, Lachin and Fuzuli airports will revive the region. Of course, these airports will be able to receive cargo, passengers and military consignments. We must always be ready, constantly increase our military strength, create the military infrastructure, including airports that will serve our military purposes, and we are doing that.
I sincerely congratulate the people of Azerbaijan, the people of Lachin, the people of Kalbajar and all former IDPs on this wonderful event.
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva met with beekeepers and had a talk with them.
Beekeepers: Bee families have more than doubled in Azerbaijan.
President Ilham Aliyev: Our honey is also of very high quality. The Kalbajar 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, real Kalbajar honey. If you would allow me, I would like to give you two of these as a gift.
President Ilham Aliyev: Two would be too many, no. One is enough. We will taste the Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar but all the liberated lands in general are a great feed base for beekeeping. Armenians had large farms here and were engaged in exports.
President Ilham Aliyev: Beekeeping developed in Kalbajar even during the Soviet times.
Beekeepers: It was in the village itself in Soviet times. The Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar.
President Ilham Aliyev: I know, never. But then they wanted to appropriate Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar. We will be in Kalbajar in a few minutes.
We are in the city of Kalbajar, 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 Kalbajar, 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 Kalbajar.
The head of state raised the national flag and made a speech in Kalbajar city.
Speech of 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, Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar, Lachin and Aghdam districts to Azerbaijan.
During the first days of the second Karabakh war, the northern part of Kalbajar was liberated by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. There were fierce battles in the territory of Mount Murov and surrounding areas. We had martyrs. However, we took over strategic heights, and these heights allowed us the opportunity to control the transport 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-Kalbajar road. This 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 some directions and almost paralyzing 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 Kalbajar, 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 Kalbajar is a historic event. The occupation of Kalbajar was a great tragedy for our people. Because after the occupation of Lachin and Shusha districts in May 1992, Kalbajar was the next target for the Armenians. There is already a very clear idea about 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 struggle for power. The PFPA-Musavat duo was aspiring to take power, tried to seize power at any cost, and 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 actually surrendered to the Armenians. As a result of that, 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 Kalbajar District was occupied, the PFPA-Musavat duo had already achieved its ugly goals and was in power. They were in power for about a year. Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar. 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 ugly deeds. Many are forgetting that now. The younger generation is unaware of this. That was a period of our national tragedy, a period of national humiliation. The PFPA-Musavat government was perhaps one of the most disgraceful governments in the world, perhaps the most disgraceful. The country was getting lost, civil confrontation in the country was at its peak, the lands were under occupation, but they were only thinking of their own interests. The anti-national elements that came to power isolated Azerbaijan from almost all international partners, foreign partners, made serious mistakes in both foreign and domestic policy, committed crimes. The occupation of Kalbajar is the product of the treacherous PFPA-Musavat government. After the occupation of Kalbajar, a direct geographical link was established between Armenia and the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, and the occupation of other lands was inevitable. Because the PFPA-Musavat government did not pay any attention to 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 Ganja to protect their limping government. They took Azerbaijani soldiers prisoner. There are these videos. Armenians committed genocide here, destroyed our cities. Look at the state of Kalbajar and other cities now. Meanwhile, they wanted to take Azerbaijani soldiers prisoner and strengthen their own power. When they saw that this was no longer possible, they fled into hiding. They committed desertion at state level. The PFPA-Musavat government and its leaders are deserters, traitors, cowards, and this is the real 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 that were 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 10 years – five districts were to be returned to Azerbaijan, while Kalbajar 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 there could be no talk of a referendum there. My policy was that, and I openly stated this, all our lands must be liberated from the occupiers, our territorial integrity must be fully restored because we do not need an incomplete solution. This is why the Azerbaijani side did not agree to the proposals. But then it became clear that Armenia did not agree to that because Armenia’s goal was to keep these lands, all the occupied lands under occupation forever. The new information coming out now and the current situation in the liberated lands confirm that. Those who want to hand over the lands would not build 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, so to speak. 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 say again 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 repeat it. The course of the war is known to everyone. Our textbooks, research papers, articles and books should simply provide very detailed and extensive information about the war and the pre-war period, so that 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 saying these words about the second Karabakh war today, I want to pay attention to one issue. This war has also resulted in a complete destruction of Armenian mythology. Because, for many years, for 30 years the Armenians had been bragging about of 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 was destroyed or taken as spoils of war and is now on display in the Military Trophy 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 fugitives 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 been 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 to 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 into Karabakh during the war. They were there. But when they saw that the victorious Azerbaijani Army was heroically liberating our lands, they fled and hid. They should be asked why they left. 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, throw your medals in the trash. You are deserters and cowards. We have destroyed you. The former defense minister who played one of the key 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, 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 Ganja and ambushed them when they were crossing the Murov Mountain, the Omar Pass. They killed them – children, women, 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. This is their culture. 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 after the war, in a deliberate manner. 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 10 days, as they were unable to 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 in 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, should see the destroyed Aghdam, Fuzuli, Shusha, Kalbajar, Lachin, Zangilan, Gubadli, Jabrayil. The actions of Armenian savages are obvious. However, their supporters do not want to see it. But they must see, and they will! We will put it right in 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. 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 they will go to international court.
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 come and reimburse the damages to us, pay compensation, and then they can live comfortably.
Our forests have been destroyed by the Armenians. We have photos of “Azercosmos” – how much forests 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. This 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 entire 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, 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 sent residents of Kalbajar 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 Kalbajar and Lachin. This border was in Armenian hands for about 30 years. After the snow melted in May, we approached these borders, took our positions, settled in Zangazur and reinforced our positions there. This is our land. The opinions expressed in Armenia are completely unfounded. We are on our own 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 place they are talking about, they should have taken it. They should have stood there and said that this is the border. But what happened? As soon as we arrived and stood here, they said no, we were standing in the wrong place. We stand in the right place, we stand where we need to stand, 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 Murovdagh all the way 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 onset 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 Azerbaijani-Armenian 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 angry, let them go and drink water, as they say.
As you know, two economic regions, or rather, 14 economic regions were established by my order. Among them, the establishment of two economic regions – Karabakh and East Zangazur economic regions – was worthy of attention. I think this is a very correct step. It is based on both history and the future. Because 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 results of the war, to reinforce our positions in the liberated lands and to further strengthen our positions on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. 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 Kalbajar, one of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan, and we will live here forever. Long live Azerbaijan! Long live the people of Azerbaijan!
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President Ilham Aliyev: Kalbajar city. There is not a single safe building on the right or left side of the road even though some Armenians illegally settled in Kalbajar district. However, all houses belonging to the Azerbaijanis have been razed to the ground. This is the city of Kalbajar now. We will rebuild both the city and villages of Kalbajar. All the houses are in ruins.
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President, Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev then arrived at military unit in the city of Kalbajar.
Commander of the Land Forces Major General Anvar Afandiyev reported to Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev.
President Ilham Aliyev viewed conditions created at the military unit.
President Ilham Aliyev: Now we come to Istisu. The destroyed Istisu sanatorium is before our eyes. The savage enemy has also demolished this place. Notice what they have done to the sanatorium buildings.
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Kalbajar is known for its mineral deposits, beautiful nature, Istisu mineral resources and the “Istisu” sanatorium. After the occupation of our territories by Armenian vandals, they also exploited the natural resources there. One of the tasks ahead of us is to restore “Istisu” to its former glory.
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva also visited the “Istisu” sanatorium as part of their visit to Kalbajar.
A sanatorium of the same name was built around the famous mineral spring “Istisu” in the village of Istisu in 1928. Kalbajar district is known all over the world for its Istisu mineral resources and the sanatorium. According to sources, the hot mineral springs appeared as a result of a strong earthquake in 1138.
Due to its chemical composition and other properties, the Istisu water has no analogues in the world. The water temperature here is 58.8 degrees. The water temperature can reach 74 degrees on the surface and 90 degrees at depth. Istisu consists of 12 springs.
President Ilham Aliyev: The savages have also demolished this monument. Interestingly, the word “mir” is written here, and this monument glorified peace. The savage enemy also demolished it. They also demolished this site, they demolished this building, they demolished everything. We will restore all these places and life will return here.
President Ilham Aliyev also inspected the construction of a 51-kilometer Istisu-Minkand road.
President Ilham Aliyev: This is the Istisu-Minkand road. This road did not exist, it is being built. It will be 51 kilometers long. It is the road connecting Istisu settlement of Kalbajar with Minkand village of Lachin. This will be the second link between Kalbajar and Lachin districts. Currently, work is underway along this road. Earthwork has been completed. After that, the asphalt coating will be applied. So we will create this road infrastructure. It will be comfortable to reach Istisu using Lachin International Airport. There will also be a second overland link between Kalbajar and Lachin. This has both strategic and military significance. At the same time, this road is of great importance for the comfort of citizens, for the restoration of the Istisu resort and its modernization. This road project is also being successfully implemented. The map also shows the road through the settlements.
So our visit to Kalbajar and Lachin districts is coming to an end. The visit has been very successful. We inaugurated many important facilities and laid their foundation. The entire work on the future development of East Zangazur will go according to plan, and we will achieve our goal.
Karabakh and East Zangazur are Azerbaijan!
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President Ilham Aliyev: Livestock breeders have also returned to the pastures of Kalbajar. We have returned both beekeepers and livestock breeders. As you can see, they have settled down here. They are also grazing their sheep here. This tradition has also been restored. Before the occupation, livestock breeders always came here. Now they are greeting us. We are also greeting them. Welcome back to your homeland!
The sky bids farewell to us. We are approaching the Omar Pass. We are heading back.