A military parade dedicated to the third anniversary of the Victory in the Patriotic War has been held in the city of Khankendi.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their son Heydar Aliyev attended the parade.
Minister of Defense, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov reported to President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Victorious Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state greeted the military personnel.
The memory of National Leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and martyrs, who gave their lives for Azerbaijan`s sovereignty and territorial integrity, was honored with observing a minute of silence.
A military orchestra performed the National Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The head of state made a speech at the parade.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear servicemen, I congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on Victory Day.
Servicemen: Thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Three years ago, the city of Shusha, the crown jewel of Karabakh, was liberated from the occupiers. A day later, the enemy army surrendered and waved the white flag. Thus, the Second Karabakh War resulted in a complete victory of the Azerbaijani state. This is a historic event.
For many years during the occupation, the people of Azerbaijan worked hard for our lands to be freed from the invaders as soon as possible. We brought this holy day closer every day and every hour with our hard work.
When the people of Azerbaijan placed great trust in me for the first time 20 years ago, I promised to my dear people as President: I will do everything in my power to restore our territorial integrity. Both in the run-up to the election and during my swearing-in ceremony, I promised to my people that the day would come when we would raise the National Flag of Azerbaijan in every corner of the occupied lands. I remember saying five years ago, during a military parade held in the Azadlig Square in Baku in September 2018, that the day would come when the Azerbaijani flag would fly over all our lands that were still under occupation, and this day has come.
Our victorious Armed Forces who gifted us this day showed courage, heroism and selflessness on the battlefield and expelled the enemy from our ancestral lands. This is a historic event. There were no such bright victories in the centuries-old history of the Azerbaijani people. The Shusha operation and indeed all other military operations we carried out in 44 days, the bravery of our soldiers are an epic of heroism. By defeating the enemy on the battlefield and liberating our cities and villages, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers showed true heroism for forty-four days. Every day we went forward, we never took a step back. The enemy army seeing the professionalism and selflessness of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces was in a huge state of panic, and according to their own admission, there were 12,000 deserters in the Armenian army during the 44-day war. Not a single soldier of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces left the battlefield. This once again demonstrated the indomitable spirit and high moral qualities of the Azerbaijani people to the whole world.
The Shusha operation, of course, has a special place in the 44-day Patriotic War. Because liberating Shusha, which is considered an impregnable fortress located in a very difficult geographical terrain, with only light weapons and in many cases in a hand-to-hand combat, required great strength, professionalism and dedication. The sons of Azerbaijan showed exactly that.
Twenty years ago, when I started my work as President, I told my dear people that we should be ready to liberate our lands by means of war. At that time, there were still some hopes for peace talks. However, over the years, these hopes faded away. Armenia did not want to leave our lands of its own accord. The mediators who were involved in resolving the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict actually tried to freeze the situation. They believed that the people of Azerbaijan would come to terms with this situation. However, the people of Azerbaijan were never going to accept this situation. I have stated many times from different platforms that we will not accept this situation, we will not allow for a second Armenian state to be created on Azerbaijani lands, and if the negotiations end without results, we will use force to liberate our native lands from the invaders on the battlefield on the basis of international law. If the Armenian leadership and certain foreign forces standing behind it back then and today had listened to my words, there would have been no need for the Second Karabakh War. I have repeatedly told the leadership of Armenia that if you do not vacate our lands, you will face us on the battlefield. Whoever stands behind you, it cannot turn us away from our just cause. The 44-day Patriotic War showed this once again.
Over the course of 44 days, a lot of pressure was put on Azerbaijan. Threats were coming from different places and capitals. However, no one could divert us from the right path. I appealed to the people of Azerbaijan during the Patriotic War, saying that the enemy should give us a timetable of when it would vacate our lands and we were ready to stop the war. And so it happened. After the Shusha Victory, the enemy was practically ready to capitulate and signed the act of capitulation the following day. And we stopped the war. At that time, our Armed Forces were just a step away from Khankendi. Stopping the war at that time was our conscious choice. The fact that we are holding the military parade here today, in the central square of the city of Khankendi, once again shows how correct and wise that decision was.
At that time, I had no doubt that the day would come when the Azerbaijani flag would be raised here, in the city of Khankendi. The cessation of the 44-day war on November 10, 2020 allowed us to the opportunity to return Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts to us without firing a single shot. This was a part of the act of capitulation signed by Armenia and also our demand. Armenia was forced to fulfill this demand. Because they saw the strength of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan on the battlefield and the political determination of the leadership of Azerbaijan. The liberation of the Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar districts without a single shot being fired saved the lives of thousands of our young people. We would have liberated those districts on the battlefield anyway. However, the number of our martyrs could have been higher.
After the Second Karabakh War, we further accelerated the process of army building without stopping for a single day and did not conceal that. We immediately moved to all the important locations in the Karabakh region. At the same time, we took control of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, which was under occupation for many years. We gradually improved our positions on the border and, as a result of various measures, gained the most favorable positions on most of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Why did we do that? Because we knew that revanchist forces were raising their head again in Armenia. We knew that the foreign forces standing behind Armenia and inciting them to act against us would give them provocative signals again. Therefore, we had to protect our border, and as a result of several military operations, the situation on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border is under our control today. At the same time, several military operations carried out in the Karabakh region have created conditions for us to take control over favorable heights in this region as well. At the same time, these operations were a signal to the political leadership of Armenia that they should implement all the provisions of the capitulation act and, first of all, withdraw their armed forces from Karabakh. This is their obligation. But in reality, we saw the exact opposite. Not only weren’t the Armenian armed forces withdrawn, even more forces were actually sent. At that time, the Lachin-Khankendi road was not under our control yet, weapons and mines were being brought, and the political leadership of Armenia did not want to withdraw its armed forces from Karabakh.
The military operations we carried out in the last three years, including the Farrukh operation, the Saribaba-Girkhgiz operation and indeed other military operations, have greatly improved our strategic positions. At the same time, these operations were a message sent to Armenia that nobody and nothing could stop us, that Karabakh is the land of Azerbaijan, that we are the ones dictating the situation here, and that they should immediately withdraw their armed forces from our lands. If they had listened to my words at that time, there would have been no need for the anti-terror measures in September. They only have themselves to blame for all their troubles. Their troubles did not start only three years ago. They started at the beginning of the 1990s. At that time, the ungrateful people who ate the bread of Azerbaijan and drank the water of Azerbaijan raised a territorial claim against us on this square. Right in this building, which was constructed by the state of Azerbaijan at one time, insidious plans were being prepared against Azerbaijan. The troubles of the Armenian people were caused by the people who led Armenia. They believed that they would keep our lands under occupation forever. They themselves believed in it so much that they tried to convince their foreign partners that they have a strong army, that they have strong potential, that they have strong patrons, and Azerbaijan will never venture to liberate its lands by military means. Some of the countries that are grist to their mill and are still standing behind them today share this responsibility with them 100 percent.
And we were saying that we would never come to terms with this situation. And we did not conceal that. So many times we have been told that there was no military solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. I was saying that if this issue is not resolved peacefully, we will be left with no other option. Unfortunately, the heroism and professionalism we showed during the 44 days did not teach the Armenian leadership a lesson.
The anti-terror operation in September took only one day, even less than that. Showing professionalism and heroism, the Azerbaijani Army decided the fate of that operation in a short time, capturing all strategic locations and forcing the enemy army to surrender. Not only did they surrender, even the so-called regime they had created in our lands 30 years ago was terminated. That regime also fell apart, although it was an illegal regime. Thus, we restored historical justice. September 20, 2023 will remain in our history, just like November 8. After the Shusha operation on November 8, the back of the enemy army was broken and a day later, they signed the act of capitulation. On April 23 of this year, we fully restored our territorial integrity by taking control of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border in the direction of Lachin and on September 20, we fully restored our state sovereignty. The book of the separatists was now closed. There will be no room for separatism in Azerbaijan anymore. The state of Azerbaijan controls its entire territory today, and this has been achieved by our brave men standing on this square today and by tens of thousands of Azerbaijani soldiers. We have achieved this Victory at the cost of their blood and lives.
I want to say again that we have been moving towards this day for 20 years. Preparations were underway, Azerbaijan's position at the level of international law was being strengthened. As a result of our successful activity at the political level, the whole world already began to realize that we are the right side. The reforms we carried out in the economic field allowed us the opportunity to build an independent economy, not to depend on anyone and to build our own life. Strong political resolve made it possible to conduct an independent foreign policy, pursue a domestic policy and not allow anyone to interfere in our own affairs. However, there have been many such attempts in history. We have protected our state, our national dignity, our way of life, and our traditions so that no one can interfere in our affairs.
Of course, army building was considered the top priority. Material and technical provision, the supply of weapons and ammunition, the improvement of the army’s fighting capacity and, above all, the education of our youth in the spirit of patriotism – these are the main factors leading Azerbaijan to Victory. No matter how many weapons and ammunition you may have, no matter how many modern military technologies you may use, it is soldiers and officers who achieve victory with their weapons. They put their chest forward, they are ready to die, and we have shown that. In the most difficult and unfavorable geographical conditions, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers showed unparalleled heroism and bravery by breaking through six lines of defense, passing over more than a million land mines and destroying the enemy positions located on the hills. The memory of our dear martyrs will live in our hearts forever. We showed the whole world the strength, determination and indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people. In other words, we were waiting for this day while making preparations. During these 20 years, I never doubted that this day would come and a military parade under the Azerbaijani flag would be held in the city of Khankendi.
Of course, I could not talk about our plans in the interviews with numerous foreign media representatives during the 44-day war. However, the questions were practically the same. I once said that without Shusha our work would be incomplete. However, even then I knew that without Khankendi and Khojaly our work would be incomplete. Three years ago, I gave an order to the Azerbaijani Army to stop. And I want to say again – history has shown that it was a correct decision. However, from that day to this day, to September, we worked every day and tried to fully restore the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. On October 15, I raised the Azerbaijani flag in Aghdara, Asgaran, Khojavand, Khojaly and Khankendi. There can be no greater happiness than this – for me, for you, for the people of Azerbaijan, and for all Azerbaijanis of the world.
Four years ago, while speaking at the Khankendi City Stadium, the prime minister of Armenia arrogantly said: “Karabakh is Armenia, full stop!” We showed him and those like him, as well as those behind them, that he was on the wrong path – by shedding blood on the battlefield and giving martyrs. We showed to them that Karabakh is Azerbaijan – by fighting in spite of everything, and today everyone should know that no one can joke with us. If the Armenian leadership cherishes some revanchist sentiments, if the countries that are used to manipulations behind Armenia still prepare some insidious plans against Azerbaijan, let them take a look at today's parade. Let them know that more than a thousand of our brave men are lined up here, and we have more than 100,000 brave men like them. No force can threaten us. We are ready to fight on any level, we have shown this on the political and, if necessary, on the military front. In the 21st century, no army has shown as much professionalism and dedication as ours. No nation has loved its native land as much as ours and was ready to die for it. We all know this well, so let the world know it too.
We don't need a new war. We have achieved what we wanted, we have restored international law, we have restored historical justice, we have restored our national dignity, and we have shown the enemy where it belongs. The enemy has knelt before us, and today I am here addressing the Victorious Armed Forces. So, we have fulfilled all the tasks, but at the same time, from now on, the army building will be one of the priority issues for us. Let everyone know this and let no one forget it.
Once again, dear servicemen, I heartily congratulate you and the entire Azerbaijani people on Victory Day.
Servicemen: Thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Long live the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
Servicemen: Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
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Following the speech of the President of Azerbaijan, the ceremonial march of the drill teams of the Armed Forces accompanied by the military orchestra started.
The parade was commanded by First Deputy Minister of Defense - Chief of the General Staff of the Azerbaijan Army, Colonel General Karim Valiyev.