"... The problems of citizens expelled from all occupied regions and now living as refugees and internally displaced persons are the problem number one for us and for me personally".
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President Ilham Aliyev attended Forum titled "Karabakh: Back Home After 30 Years. Accomplishments and Challenges"
Official news 07 December, 2023

Co-organized by ADA University and the Center of Analysis of International Relations, the Forum titled "Karabakh: Back Home After 30 Years. Accomplishments and Challenges" has been held with the participation of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at ADA University.

 

Opening the Forum, Rector of ADA University Hafiz Pashayev said: Your Excellency, President Ilham Aliyev, dear participants of the ADA University Forum.

 

It is great honor and pleasure to welcome you, Mr. President, and all participants at our university at this historic time, when we can proudly say that Azerbaijan fully restored its territorial integrity and sovereignty. This remarkable achievement has been possible due to the visionary leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, who did outstanding long-lasting efforts in uniting all Azerbaijani nation behind common mission. This decisive victory has ended 30-year long occupation of Karabakh. Mr. President, please allow me to congratulate you with this unique achievement, and wish you great success in the redevelopment and reconstruction efforts in Karabakh.

 

The task ahead of us is gigantic. Alongside with infrastructure projects, the most important goal is a smooth return and resettlement of Azerbaijani IDPs. Close to 1 million ethnic Azerbaijanis were victims of the occupation with their homes being looted and ruined. At the request of the government, in the past three years, ADA university researchers have been meeting with IDP families and conducting various surveys in order to better understand their needs and priorities. Big majority of the respondents have expressed great desire to return back to their native towns and villages.

 

Yesterday, the participants of the forum have been able to witness amazing developments, which have taken place in the smart and eco-friendly village of Aghali in the liberated Zangilan region.

 

This forum with more than 60 foreign participants from renowned think tanks and research centers will allow us to further discuss the various social, economic, security and infrastructure aspects of the return process and the possible usage of the international experience in Azerbaijani context.

 

Mr. President, we thank you for agreeing to meet with participants of the forum and discussing issues related to the return of IDPs. Your vision on this matter will be very useful to all analysts and researchers who study our region and beyond. The floor is yours, Your Excellency.

 

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I'd like to express gratitude to Rector Hafiz Pashayev for the invitation. It's not the first time I participate in the ADA University Forum. Actually, I think, I didn't miss any of them. Last time, we met with a group of international experts in Shusha this May. I'm glad that this time you visited another liberated region of Azerbaijan, Zangilan, and witnessed the process of resettlement and reconstruction. I consider these kinds of gatherings very useful for me, because during this interaction we discuss many important issues. I also understand better what the questions are in the international expert community with respect to recent developments in our region.

 

Because situation in the region is changing. To a large degree, the initiator of the changes is Azerbaijan. This is natural, because we needed to fully restore our sovereignty over internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. We wanted to do it peacefully, the same way like we wanted to find a peaceful solution to conflict with Armenia for almost thirty years. But, unfortunately, it was not possible due to many reasons, which we already discussed broadly during our previous meetings.

 

Since May, when we met last time – not with the same group – but many of those, who were there in Shusha, are here today. The situation was different. We still had hopes that it would be possible to persuade Armenia’s leadership to comply with its international commitments, particularly, with the declaration, which the Armenian Prime Minister, the Russian President and myself signed in the early hours of the 10th November, 2020. We hoped that they would respect their own signature and make an important step in order to complete the long-lasting standoff. In other words, they had to withdraw their forces from Karabakh. They did not do it due to different reasons.

 

When we restored our sovereignty, two and a half years ago, we once again saw what we anticipated – a large number of Armenian military servicemen in Karabakh was positioned there without any respect to international law. Their numbers were close to 15,000 people. For three years, we were very patient and we hoped that finally, it would be possible to find the solution to the situation. We realized that the situation is not normal. Our proposals from the very beginning of the time - when the Second Karabakh War ended - were very clear. People who live in Karabakh have two options: either to become Azerbaijani citizens – we provided all the necessary legal and also security framework for that – or to find another place to live. There can be no other option. The other option can be a residence permit or work permit to live and to work in the country, which you don't consider to be your country.

 

So, that option was on the table and unfortunately, our appeals and our statements were not properly addressed.

 

After our meeting in Shusha last May, in the end of May, at the meeting with people who returned to Lachin - former refuges - I expressed my position on the situation and said that there is an opportunity to find a normal solution to this issue. I also said that the leaders of separatists have a chance for amnesty if they surrender. That was a public statement. But unfortunately again, my words were not properly assessed. So now, the leaders of separatists are in Azerbaijan. They wanted to come here and threatened us that they would come on tanks. But now, they are waiting for the Azerbaijani justice to say its word.

 

Despite that, we still hoped that we can establish contacts with the representatives of Karabakh Armenians. Unfortunately, those people there who monopolized the so-called power did not allow that to happen. Moreover, in September, there were two events, which actually were considered by us as crossing over the last red lines. First, the congratulation from the Armenian Prime Minister to the so-called nagorno-karabakh republic with respect to its so-called independence, which was totally in contradiction with what the Armenian Prime Minister said and signed. Because October last year was the time when the Armenian Prime Minister officially recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. After that, after many statements in the same direction, sending a congratulation letter to separatists is absolutely unacceptable, and is very contradictory.

 

And the second - just the week after that - and the last red line was so-called elections of the so-called president of the so-called nagorno-karabakh republic, which was also a total violation of verbal agreements after the Second Karabakh War, that nothing is going to be changed in that area.

 

So, one day, in even less than one day, the anti-terror operation totally allowed us to restore our sovereignty. As soon as the operation started – by the way, the operation was held without any damage to civilian infrastructure, any casualty among civilians – we announced that if the army laid down its weapons, we would stop and allow them to leave. So, it lasted less than 24 hours. After they announced that they surrender, all the actions on the ground had stopped.

 

So, this is actually what happened. I think, the most important events that happened since our last meeting in May. Now we are in the face of addressing several international challenges. Unfortunately, we face some misunderstanding from the countries, which we considered to be our partners. And we are trying to explain our position and also trying to explain that international law norms are obligatory for all. They should not be selective. And what has Azerbaijan done? It has done the right for self-defense based on UN Charter, Article 51. It was done based on international law and the sovereign right of Azerbaijan to control fully its territory as any other country should do.

 

You was in Zangilan yesterday. I know that my representatives in the liberated areas informed you about the reconstruction. I don't want to go much into details. Of course, if you have questions about that, I will be ready to answer, but I don't want to take much of your time, because if I start talking about what has been done during the last three years, our time will expire. So, I would prefer to stop now and continue our discussions.

 

16 October, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended inauguration of recreational park in Sugovushan settlement of Tartar district
28 September, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev visited Jabrayil district
17 JUNE, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Ilham Aliyev and Rais of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov visited Aghali village of Zangilan district
28 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Ilham Aliyev met with people who returned to the city of Lachin and presented house keys to them
27 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Ilham Aliyev examined progress of construction in village of Zabukh of Lachin district
27 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Foundation stone was laid for Zallar village of Kalbajar district
27 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev laid foundation stone for village of Yanshag of Kalbajar district
05 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika The village of Shukurbayli broke ground in Jabrayil
04 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev visited Lachin and Gubadli districts
03 MAY, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited Aghdam district
08 April, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President of Azerbaijan held one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister of Georgia
06 April, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev arrived in Tajikistan for state visit
04 April, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Türkiye’s first indigenous electric car Togg presented to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
04 April, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev attended symbolic sail-away ceremony for Azeri-Central-East platform topsides
28 March, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev received Masim Mammadov over his appointment as Special Representative of President in Lachin district
27 March, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Baku Olympic Stadium hosted Qarabag vs Galatasaray charity match
20 February, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Plenary session on security issues in South Caucasus was held as part of Munich Security Conference
20 February, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev was interviewed by TV channels in Munich
20 February, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev`s visit to Germany
08 February, 2023 / Rəsmi xronika President Ilham Aliyev visited the embassy of Türkiye in Azerbaijan, and expressed condolences over heavy losses