Baku, June 25, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of a naval base on the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the establishment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The head of state first laid flowers at a statue of national leader Heydar Aliyev.
Minister of Defense, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov reported to Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev.
President Ilham Aliyev viewed the general layout of the base.
The Azerbaijani President cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the base, and then met with its personnel.
Chief of the General Staff of the Navy Shahin Mammadov reported to the head of state.
President Ilham Aliyev saluted the soldiers.
The national anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan was played.
President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev addressed the event.
Speech by President and Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev
- Dear servicemen!
I cordially congratulate you and the people of Azerbaijan on the upcoming Day of the Armed Forces and wish the entire personnel of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan further success.
In anticipation of this wonderful holiday in the life of our country, a very significant event is taking place. Today we are gathered for the opening of a naval base. This event shows the strength and power of our country. This base meets the highest world standards and is one of the largest military installations created in Azerbaijan in recent years. It is also one of the largest military installations in the Caspian basin. Several years ago, following my decision, we started the construction of this base, and it is already being opened today. I am sure that the base will be of great importance in strengthening the military potential of our country.
I reviewed the photographs of the old base here and was further convinced that the old base did not meet our requirements and was fairly outdated. Despite the fact that the world is going through an economic and financial crisis today, Azerbaijan is a strong state that takes all the necessary measures to build the army and strengthen its military capabilities. The development of the Navy is in the spotlight, ships are refurbished, a modern infrastructure is created and such beautiful bases are commissioned. The Navy is an integral part of our armed forces and the development of the Navy will continue to be in focus.
I have to note that the Caspian Sea is a sea of peace and cooperation. This is the position of the Azerbaijani state. We are trying to initiate the deepening of peace and cooperation in the Caspian Sea. I am glad that all the neighboring countries share this position. The relations of friendship and cooperation existing among Caspian littoral countries are a guarantor of peace and security in the Caspian Sea. In many cases, Azerbaijan puts forward regional cooperation initiatives, including the initiatives that bring Caspian littoral countries closer together. In the future, our relations with neighboring countries that are based on friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation will develop, and this is a guarantor of peace in the region, the Caspian region.
Azerbaijan is successfully implementing a process of army building. This is a priority issue for us. Our army is growing and increasing its strength. Discipline in the army is enhancing and reforms are bearing fruit. The combat capability of our army is growing and its material and technical equipment is improving. As you know, military spending constitutes the bulk of expenses of the Azerbaijan state budget. We will continue to maintain our military spending at the highest level and will provide for all the needs of the army.
In recent years, the material and technical infrastructure of our army has grown significantly. To see this, suffice it to look at the amount of funds being allocated to the military. Ten years ago, our military expenditure was below $200 million, whereas today these expenses are in excess of $3 billion. For comparison, I can say that military spending in Azerbaijan is roughly twice as high as the entire state budget of Armenia. Of course, it demonstrates the strength of our country and testifies to the attention being paid to the army.
Domestic problems of servicemen are also being addressed, their wages are increased, while the servicemen with an impeccable service record of 20 years are provided with apartments by the state. A military infrastructure is being put in place. On my orders, new bases, military units and townships are established in all regions of our country today. At the same time, everyday problems of servicemen are resolved at a high level. The process of creating a military infrastructure will be continued in future because a lot more needs to be done. But I can say that a great job has been done in a short period of time. Military personnel are also well aware of this, as I regularly visit military units and see that. Work in this direction will be continued. In short, the combat readiness and the patriotic spirit of our army are at a high level. Material and technical infrastructure is also at the highest level. Day-to-day problems of our servicemen are being resolved and a modern military infrastructure created.
I should note that Azerbaijan has been able to significantly enhance its military capabilities in recent years. Our country receives the most sophisticated weapons and ammunition, hardware and equipment. Today, in terms of material and technical infrastructure, as well as combat capability, the Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies in the world. At present, the acquisition of weapons and equipment allows us to fulfill any task with dignity. At the same time, about 10 years ago, I initiated the creation of a military-industrial complex in Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan manufactures military equipment of around a thousand denominations, which is an essential factor in equipping our army. Thus, we have largely reduced our dependence on imports. We are acquiring only high-precision and modern weapons and ammunition of a great destructive force, combat helicopters and airplanes. Everything else our army needs, including equipment, machinery, shells and cartridges, are manufactured in Azerbaijan. We have even started to export our military products. Azerbaijan displays its products at leading international military shows in the world. An international exhibition has already been held in Baku, which is an indicator of the military potential of our country.
As I have already mentioned, army building is a priority issue for us, and it will continue to be the case. If we consider that we live in a time of war, of course, this is the way it should be. However, the processes and bloody clashes taking place in the present-day world, the military conflicts occurring in different regions compel countries that are not even in a state of war to see military and army building as a priority.
Our biggest problem is the ongoing occupation of our lands. This injustice continues for many years. In the early 1990s, as a result of incompetence and betrayal of the then leadership of Azerbaijan, our lands were occupied. Unfortunately, despite all the decisions of international organizations, this occupation continues. The norms of international law are grossly violated, but the world community remains indifferent. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions relating to the conflict. They also state that Armenian armed forces should unconditionally withdraw from our lands. More than 20 years have passed, but the resolutions are not being fulfilled. This is a great injustice against us, our country and people. But today's world, unfortunately, is built on injustice. International law is violated, there is no pressure on the occupier state, while the country under occupation sees no support.
Under such circumstances, we certainly need to rely only on our own strength, which is what we do. Of course, the documents, resolutions and decisions of international organizations increase our political and diplomatic possibilities. Today, no country recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an entity. This is our great political and diplomatic success. The decisions of international organizations provide a legal framework for a settlement. This framework is also based on historical justice, because Nagorno-Karabakh is native Azerbaijani land. The Azerbaijani people lived and worked on these lands for centuries. The historical monuments created on these lands show once again that it is our historical and ancestral land. In fact, not only Nagorno-Karabakh, but also the present-day Armenia was created on historical Azerbaijani lands. We all know that. The world also knows that. The Erivan khanate, Goycha and Zangezur are our historical lands, and we, the Azerbaijanis, must and will return to these lands.
The power factor plays a major role in today's world. The principle of "might is right" is crucial. This is a reality. We live in a real world. Of course, there are rules of international conduct and norms of international law. There are international organizations. But we do not see tangible results of this activity. I want to note again that in many cases we see injustice against our state and people. How can it be that in some cases UN Security Council resolutions are carried out in a matter of hours, but when it comes to us these resolutions remain on paper for 20 years? It is an injustice and double standards. I want to say again: having carefully analyzed the real situation, we have once again come to the conclusion that we must rely on our own economic and military strength and the talent of the Azerbaijani people.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved only within the framework of the territorial integrity of our country. There is no other option – the Azerbaijani people and Azerbaijani state will never agree to any other option. We must and will restore our territorial integrity. We do not lay claims to the lands of other nations although, as I have already noted, the territory of the present-day Armenia is our historical land. We will not give our land to anyone and never come to terms with this situation.
In order to resolve this conflict soon and in our favor, we must become even stronger. We are building a strong state. Today, Azerbaijan is recognized worldwide as a powerful state. Please note that bloody clashes, conflicts, civil wars, political and economic crises are taking place everywhere. Azerbaijan is an island of development and stability. Sound policies, the unity between the people and the government, the independent policy are the main prerequisites for all our successes. We have built a strong economy, and no country can compare to Azerbaijan in terms of economic development today. The pace of economic development we have seen in the past 10 years is unmatched for any other country. Today, Azerbaijan continues its successful economic development. This enables us to pursue an independent policy. If our economy was dependent on other countries or international financial institutions, of course, they could dictate the will of other countries to us. Today, no outside force can impose its will on us. If such attempts are made, we nip them in the bud. The Azerbaijani state has its own way. It is a path of independence and development. The Azerbaijani people are the masters of their fate. No outside force can affect our will or cause us to turn from the path of development because economic development is the main guarantor of our successful development and our independence.
The military personnel are well aware of the situation on the contact line. This is also known to the Azerbaijani public. I can say that over the past year, the Azerbaijani army has secured complete domination on the line of contact. In the summer of last year, Armenia attempted to stage a provocation on the contact line, but this provocation was adequately suppressed and the enemy was rebuffed. According to our data, since July-August of last year more than a hundred invaders have been destroyed. Sometimes we are blamed for the tensions on the contact line and the fact that the Armenian side sustains numerous casualties. Our answer to this is very simple: let them get out of our lands! Then the conflict will be resolved and peace can be established.
I have said this to the Armenian side several times and I want to say again: if you do not want to die, get out of our lands. According to our data, the enemy is in panic and hysteria now. After being defeated on the frontline, they tried to take revenge on us, but these attempts were unsuccessful. The more provocations they make, the more losses they will sustain. I want to say again that the Azerbaijani army shows its advantage today. The patriotic spirit, our fighting capability and technical possibilities, of course, precondition our advantage. The equipment, high-precision weaponry and ammunition available to the Azerbaijani army can destroy any target in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
Dear servicemen! We have lived in the conditions of independence for nearly 24 years. Independence is our greatest treasure and greatest asset. For centuries, the Azerbaijani people, our ancestors lived with the dream of independence, but only we have been lucky enough to see it. Today, the independent Azerbaijan is recognized as a model country in the world. The unity between the people and the government in Azerbaijan is at the highest level. Azerbaijan has all the guarantees of freedom, the democratic development is fast, and our economic potential and military power are strengthening. There is a wonderful social climate in Azerbaijan. We really are an exemplary country, and the main reason for all these successes is independence.
We had energy resources in the past too. At the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Azerbaijani oil accounted for 50 per cent of the world's oil. But where were these riches and their benefits then?! These resources did not belong to us. Only in the years of independence did we achieve good results.
Our nation is free and independent. We are building our life ourselves and do not depend on anyone. Our independence is measured not only by state attributes. We pursue an independent policy, express our opinion on all international platforms and have a strong position on all international issues. Sometimes it irritates external forces and the circles that have a negative attitude to us. But it does not matter at all to me. The main thing is the security and well-being of the Azerbaijani people, the development and strengthening of the Azerbaijani state.
Today, the independent Azerbaijan is developing successfully and steadily. We have made great strides, but our main task is to restore our territorial integrity. I am sure that the strengthening Azerbaijan will achieve this goal and our national flag will be raised in Shusha and Khankandi. It is the duty of every citizen of Azerbaijan to bring this sacred day closer through hard work.
Dear soldiers, I once again congratulate you on the upcoming Day of the Armed Forces and wish you good health and happiness.
Long live the Azerbaijani army! Long live Azerbaijan!
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Then the head of state reviewed the conditions created at the naval base.