President Ilham Aliyev receives in video format Secretary General of Turkic Council
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Secretary General of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States Baghdad Amreyev.
President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Dear Mr. Secretary General,
Welcome to Azerbaijan! I am delighted with your visit. I know that you have visited Aghdam and Fuzuli, and seen firsthand the destruction that the occupying forces have unleashed on our cities. The once flourishing cities of Karabakh, Aghdam and Fuzuli, which were home to tens of thousands of people, are now in complete ruins. There is not a single building in Fuzuli. In Aghdam, all the buildings have also been demolished, and there is only a dilapidated mosque remaining. And even that, as I said, as it turned out later, was done in order to attach this place to the local terrain, as a reference point for possible artillery strikes in the event of an offensive of the Azerbaijani army in this direction. It is no coincidence that foreign journalists called Aghdam a “Hiroshima of the Caucasus”. I think the same could be said about the city of Fuzuli, and other cities that were under occupation. Zangilan, Jabrayil and Gubadli are almost completely destroyed – not only cities but also villages. And when you drove to Fuzuli and Aghdam, you probably saw along the road the completely destroyed villages. All this destruction took place after the end of the first Karabakh war – precisely to erase traces of the Azerbaijani cultural heritage in these territories, to prevent the return of Azerbaijanis to these territories, and for purposes of pure theft and plunder. In fact, window frames, doors and roofs were removed. Everything that could be taken away, the vandals and thieves took away. The territories that were not fully destroyed were used for a policy of artificial settlement, which represents a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions and is a war crime. As a matter of fact, whereas the former Armenian government concealed this in the early years of the occupation, the current Armenian government was proud of this and defiantly posted videos on the Internet and in the media of citizens of Middle Eastern countries of Armenian descent coming and settling down in Shusha and other cities. Thus, they completely ignored not only international legal norms but also the norms of human morality.
And what kind of morality can we talk about when the whole world can see the destruction the invaders have committed there? There have been many wars and destructions in the history of mankind, but I think that the 20th century has not seen such barbarism, vandalism and destruction, a deliberate destruction of cities and villages.
As for the other liberated territories, there was artificial settlement of both citizens of Armenia and mainly the Armenians from the diaspora in Kalbajar and Lachin districts, for example. But when the invaders had to leave these territories in accordance with the statement signed on 10 November – they were allowed about 20 days to do that – they set fire to the houses they did not build and illegally moved into, cut down forests and destroyed the entire infrastructure. There were more than 10 hydroelectric power plants in Lachin and Kalbajar districts. They are all destroyed. So this is barbarism. It is simply impossible to find another word. And this was done right before the eyes of the whole world. After Azerbaijan had regained control over the territories, representatives of international organizations, embassies and journalists visited them and saw everything with their own eyes. This is unprecedented vandalism and barbarism – as if some kind of a savage tribe walked through these territories.
As for the city of Shusha, no-one can remain indifferent to what state it is in now. This pearl of the Caucasus, a unique and inimitable city not only in our region, but also in the world is completely desolate. Mosques have been destroyed, historical and cultural sites have also been destroyed, Vagif's mausoleum has been destroyed, the tombstone has been broken, the bas-relief of Vagif has been broken, the bust has been destroyed, the Natavan Palace has been destroyed, the Bulbul house is in a dilapidated state, the house of Uzeyir Hajibayli is gone, with only walls remaining. This is barbarism. This is a cultural genocide, and there is no justification for it. The war is over and Azerbaijan has won a victory. But we will never forget this. We must never forget this. Therefore, on my instructions, when all our cities and villages are restored, we will leave a neighborhood, perhaps a larger territory in each city the way the occupiers left them, so that the Azerbaijani people never forget this, so that the next generations remember that we must protect our land and rely only on our own strength.
Of course, we will restore everything that was destroyed in the occupied territories. The restoration process has already begun. I think that the first steps we have taken will already be visible in the near future. A big return program is being prepared. And I think that we will all see the revived cities in the near future.
I would like to express my gratitude to you, dear Secretary General, and also to the head of TURKSOY, for your support during and after the war. The Secretary General of the Turkic Council has repeatedly made statements during the war. At the very beginning of the war, you made a statement in support of Azerbaijan, in support of our territorial integrity and sovereignty, the inviolability of the borders of our country, as well as a statement that the conflict must be settled within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This was done practically on the second day of the war. On 20 October, you made a statement condemning the ballistic missile bombing of the city of Ganja and expressed condolences to the Azerbaijani people. Also, at the end of October, you made a statement on the need to resolve the conflict within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions and also spoke about the violation of the Geneva Conventions by the Armenian side. You addressed me with a letter, and in early November, on 2 November, we met in Baku and you once again expressed support for Azerbaijan. During the 44 days, four official statements were made on behalf of the Secretary General of the Turkic Council. We appreciate that very much, as well as the fact that you are now in Azerbaijan, that you have visited the liberated territories and seen with your own eyes what you heard about and what you probably saw on TV. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to you on behalf of the entire Azerbaijani people. The Turkic Council is the organization that supported us the most during the war. We are also grateful to other organizations – both the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement. We are grateful to the countries that supported us at this time.
Because moral and political support in such a difficult time means a lot for our people, of course, and for the whole world to learn even more about what was happening. One of the results of our victory is that no-one has any doubts whatsoever about what was the cause of the war was in the early 1990s, what the results of the occupation are and what the occupiers did in the occupied territories. Therefore, international law, the historical justice of Karabakh belonging to Azerbaijan and what international media and international organizations have already seen with their own eyes prove that we are right, prove what we have been trying to prove for 30 years and ultimately proved by force of arms, on the battlefield, by driving the occupiers from our sacred lands.
Once again, I express my deep gratitude to you. I look forward to active cooperation with the fraternal countries during the period of restoration of the liberated territories. I have already said that in the first place, in fact, not only in the first place but in general, we will attract companies from friendly countries. They constitute a majority in the world, but among them, of course, there are those that actively supported Azerbaijan during and after the war. Therefore, I think that this topic will be discussed within the framework of the Turkic Council, of course, we will analyze what has happened and make plans for the future. But I can already say with confidence that the process of restoration of our territories will also be supported by our fraternal countries. Of course, I count on the active support of TURKSOY in the restoration of our historical and cultural sites, and I am sure of that. Because about 70 mosques in the liberated territories have been destroyed, museums have been looted and the entire social infrastructure has been destroyed. You probably saw the surviving wall of the Drama Theater in Agdam. Apparently they got tired of destroying. They probably ran out of strength. Therefore, I think that communicating the atrocities of the occupying forces to the world, especially in terms of the destruction of our cultural historical heritage will also be the focus of TURKSOY's attention, along with the assistance in terms of restoring our historical and cultural sites. This process has already begun.
As for the Agdam mosque, specialists have already been involved. Also, after visiting Shusha a few days ago, I gave instructions on starting work on the restoration of our religious sites. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation will play an active role in this. Instructions have also been given on the restoration of the Vagif mausoleum. I gave instructions to restore it this year. We plan to revive the days of Vagif poetry this year and hold the Khari Bulbul festival this year. It is no coincidence that I have declared Shusha the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. I think that after its restoration, Shusha with its nature, landscape, history and historical sites can rightfully become the cultural capital of the entire region. Of course, I do hope that you will travel to Shusha during your next visit. We are already building a road there now. An international airport will be opened in the near future, this year. So Shusha will see many international events, will receive friends and brothers, as it has done throughout history.
Once again, I express my gratitude to you, thank you for your support, and I wish you all the best.
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Secretary General of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States Baghdad Amreyev said:
- Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much for welcoming us today. First of all, I sincerely congratulate all the fraternal Azerbaijani people headed by Your Excellency on Azerbaijan’s victory in Karabakh. The liberation of Azerbaijani lands is not just a victory for Azerbaijan, it is a great victory for the entire Turkic world. This victory has made us very happy and aroused a sense of pride among the Turkic peoples, who are always with you. On behalf of the Turkic world, I once again express my gratitude to you and wish Azerbaijan and the Turkic world new victories.
Mr. President, I express my deep gratitude for your inspiring speech.
We really visited the liberated territories yesterday and saw with our own eyes the completely destroyed sites, almost entirely. Of course, the sight of this destruction is downright depressing. During my meeting with representatives of the media, I said that these lands were never unattended, there are true owners of these lands, they have returned these lands to themselves and will restore these lands, the prosperous lands in Fuzuli, the glorious land of Aghdam and other liberated territories very soon. Very soon, they will restore their former glory, their former rich appearance. On 2 November, we were here together with the leaders of the business communities of our countries. We discussed the possibility of the participation of entrepreneurs from our countries in the restoration projects of Azerbaijan. This issue is being actively discussed now. And we will soon hold a major business forum in Baku on the participation of our entrepreneurs in these activities.
Yesterday, I had the honor of visiting the liberated territories together with the leaders of other Turkic organizations – the Secretary General of TURKSOY, Dusen Kurabayevich Kaseinov, and the President of the International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation Gunay Afandiyeva. We also discussed the possible participation of our organizations in the restoration of cultural sites, and we will soon carry out relevant work and meetings with our countries – how we will participate in the restoration of these sites together with Azerbaijan. The preliminary negotiations between our countries revealed a deep interest and enthusiasm of our countries and peoples in rendering assistance to Azerbaijan. We propose to declare Shusha the cultural capital of the Turkic world in 2022 – we declare it every year – and hold a lot of cultural events that will emphasize such a great cultural significance of Shusha for the entire Turkic and Islamic world. Yesterday, we also discussed this issue with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Bayramov. With your permission, we will start this work. We will hold about 20 cultural events in Shusha in 2022. By this time, we are sure that Shusha will be restored and regain its former appearance. We have always been by your side. We will always be by your side.
I would also like to take this opportunity to report to you on the current agenda of the Turkic Council. We have now completed the preparation of the Turkic strategy for 2020-2025 and the Turkic vision for 2020-2040, as per your instructions issued during the Baku summit. This document contains the future vision of the Turkic world, our cooperation, integration in all areas – politics, economy, culture, education, tourism, youth, etc. I have the honor of submitting this ready-made document to you today – a copy of Turkic World Vision-2040. After your approval at the upcoming summit, we will begin the implementation of this document, which was developed during the year in a joint manner, in close coordination with the ministries and departments of member countries of the Turkic Council.
We are also preparing for an informal summit in Turkestan, which was initiated by first President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, at the end of March this year, and for the next summit of the Turkic Council, which is due in Istanbul this fall. I think that with your support these summits will become another turning point for the development of our integration and the unity of the Turkic world. Mr. President, the Turkic Council is always ready to carry out all the necessary work to further deepen our relations. Thank you very much for everything you have done for the Turkic world.
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Then the Secretary General of TURKSOY, Dusen Kurabayevich Kaseinov, and President of International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation Gunay Afandiyeva informed President Ilham Aliyev about the work done and presented the head of state with books on the cultural heritage of the Turkic-speaking states and peoples.