Baku, April 3, AZERTAC
Security Council under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan convened a meeting on April 2.
The head of state made a speech at the meeting.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
- Today, Armenia staged yet another armed provocation against Azerbaijan by attacking our positions on the line of contact and firing at residential settlements located near the line of contact.
As a result of this armed provocation, we have suffered losses. Soldiers and civilians have been killed. Let us honor the memory of the victims by a minute of silence.
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A minute's silence was observed in memory of those killed.
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President Ilham Aliyev: May Allah rest the souls of those killed. May Allah grant patience to their relatives and friends, and recovery to those wounded.
I am instructing the Cabinet of Ministers to put forward proposals on the provision of financial assistance to the families of the victims, and the Ministry of Defense to submit suggestions on awarding the individuals who asserted themselves in combat and fought heroically for their homeland.
This is yet another of Armenia's armed provocations against our country. It is not the first time it has resorted to such provocations. A similar provocation was committed on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, in the direction of Gazakh, a few days ago. Armenian saboteurs attacked our positions and two of our soldiers were killed in this attack. The enemy received a fitting rebuff.
I want to say by this that today's provocation is also a manifestation of Armenia's insidious policy against Azerbaijan. Today, the Armenian provocation received an adequate response from the Azerbaijani army. Powerful blows were dealt to the enemy. They suffered heavy losses. The Minister of Defense will provide more detailed information on this issue today. I can say the enemy has received crushing blows.
At the same time, our heroic fighters have managed not only to stop the provocation. They have also seized more favorable military positions. Today, Azerbaijan's advantage on the line of contact has been further reinforced. As a result of military operation carried out – I would also like to note that this operation was carried out in response to provocation – we have won a great military victory. I want to congratulate our army and the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.
I am sure that none of the enemy's provocations will remain unanswered. The enemy will continue to receive an adequate response. The Azerbaijani army is capable of doing that. The sons of Azerbaijan are defending the homeland, fighting for their country and becoming martyrs. Memory of all our martyrs will live in our hearts forever.
The reason for such actions on the part of Armenia is no secret to me. I have repeatedly expressed my thoughts on this subject to the Azerbaijani public, to the mediators dealing with this issue and to the heads of co-chair countries. Armenia does not want peace. Armenia does not want to vacate the occupied lands, and all of its efforts are aimed at maintaining the status quo to the maximum extent possible. These words rest on a lot of evidence. The process of negotiations has been going on for more than 20 years. Over these 20 years, at decisive moments, Armenia has always resorted to provocations. Armenia constantly creates tension on the line of contact. The terrorist act in the Armenian parliament at the end of last century also pursued this goal – to prevent the achievement of a possible agreement in connection with the conflict and thus to preserve the status quo.
You will recall that French President Mr. Hollande organized a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Paris in 2014. The meeting was held in a very constructive atmosphere and its results were quite reassuring. During the meeting, we also talked about security at the line of contact and confidence-building measures. However, less than two weeks after the meeting, Armenia launched a military exercise on the occupied territories, on the territory of Agdam District, deploying, as they acknowledged themselves, 47,000 troops. That was clear-cut provocation. What was the point in conducting it, especially after the Paris meeting which was considered a success?
The Azerbaijani army exercised great restraint for a few days. I also sent out the instruction not to yield to provocation. But after that the enemy went completely impudent and attacked our positions by mobilizing helicopter gunships. The Azerbaijani army destroyed one of the helicopter gunships. Armenia needed that. It was their provocation. They needed that to say that Azerbaijan violates the ceasefire and acts aggressively.
The source of today's provocation is the same. They are attacking our positions again. Our soldiers and officers are killed. After that, Azerbaijan punishes them and they appeal to the world, claiming that Azerbaijan violates ceasefire. We did not break the ceasefire – we simply gave a fitting rebuff to the provocation. As long as Armenia does not renounce provocative actions, the Azerbaijani army will continue to punish them.
The main goal of Armenia is to keep the status quo unchanged. Unfortunately, the numerous statements by the heads of Minsk Group co-chair countries are having no effect on the Armenian authorities. These statements lie in the fact that the heads of the USA, Russia and France have repeatedly pointed out: the status quo is unacceptable, it should be changed and the issue should be resolved soon.
Changing the status quo would mean that occupiers should vacate the occupied lands. The Armenian leadership does not want that. This is the main issue. They want to turn this into a never-ending process. They want negotiations to last for another 20 years. They are insincere at the negotiating table. Recently, the Russian President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of this country have put forward some proposals together with other co-chairs. We welcome that. Both during the meeting and in official statements, they expressed their views on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan enjoys tremendous support. Meetings indicate that the US side is very interested in the soonest settlement of the conflict. I know that the leaders of Armenia have received certain signals and messages. In other words, the co-chairs, the heads of their states have been trying to resolve the issue. The Nuclear Security summit had not even ended when Armenia committed this dirty provocation, thereby dealing a huge blow to the peace process. They are trying to take advantage of this to accuse Azerbaijan.
The corrupt media, the corrupt politicians, pundits and commentators line up to accuse Azerbaijan. If we pay attention to the media of some countries, we can see that there is lop-sided information. Azerbaijan is accused. They circulate distorted information about the fighting.
The Armenian army suffered a huge blow today. For the first time since the establishment of the cease-fire, such as a devastating blow has been dealt to them. They have only themselves to blame. However, they are trying to mislead public opinion and conceal their losses. I heard that the Armenian leader is trying to disclose false information about the losses. This clearly shows that they just want to deceive their own people. Today, the Armenian side uses all the possibilities – Diaspora organizations, their agents in different countries and corrupt politicians – to pin the blame on Azerbaijan.
We are not guilty of anything. We have simply responded to this provocation. And rightly so! If more provocations are committed against us, they will be punished again. This is the first thing. Secondly, we are fighting on our own land. We did not occupy Armenian land. We are fighting on our own land. If Armenian soldiers don't want to die, let them get out of Azerbaijani lands. I have repeatedly said this and I want to say it again.
Armenia has violated all international norms. It ignores UN Security Council resolutions and flouts the resolutions of other organizations. It has barbarously destroyed all buildings, historical and religious monuments on occupied lands. The OSCE fact-finding mission has visited the occupied lands twice. We have their data. Our mosques, graves, monuments, buildings and museums lie in ruins. All valuable items have been looted. This is unprecedented barbarism. The executioners seated in the highest posts in Erivan have committed the monstrous Khojaly genocide. After all, aren't they supposed to be brought to book for that?!
We exercise restraint, patience and constructivism although we have lived in the conditions of a ceasefire for more than 20 years. Nevertheless, we are trying to resolve the issue peacefully. I have repeatedly stated this and I want to say it again today: we want a peaceful solution to the issue. We do not want war. We do not want to shed blood. We do not want young people to die. We do not want mothers to shed tears. We do not want Azerbaijani and Armenian mothers to shed tears. But we want what is ours!
I want to say it again: we want to resolve the issue peacefully, but resolve it. We do not intend to continue participating in an endless process just to create a semblance of talks. We have said this to the mediators. The Armenian side is also aware of that. Therefore, for a peaceful solution to the issue Armenia must vacate the occupied lands. There is no other option. If the Armenian leadership cares about the future of its people, then it must take this step. Armenia's criminal and dictatorial regime leads this country into an abyss. The demographic situation in Armenia has reached a critical point. The economy is destroyed, all freedoms are violated and there is pervasive dictatorship. Above all, the criminal regime is the enemy of the Armenian people. This is why their future lies only in a normal relationship with neighboring countries. But how can you have a normal relationship if you have occupied 20 per cent of a neighboring country's land in the 21st century, committed an act of genocide and then blame the people subjected to genocide for violating the ceasefire?
I want to repeat: Azerbaijan sticks to a position of principle. Our territorial integrity is not, never has been and never will be the subject of negotiations. This conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country. There is no other option. As for the Armenian population living in Nagorno-Karabakh, they can live peacefully in Azerbaijan as citizens of Azerbaijan in the future. Azerbaijan is a multiethnic and multi-confessional country. Azerbaijan is an example for many countries, the space of multiculturalism and tolerance.
All conflicts must be resolved on a single principle. The principle of self-determination of nations must not violate the territorial integrity of countries. This is what the Helsinki Final Act states. Therefore, I want to say once again: we will not give up our position of principle on the settlement of the conflict. At the same time, we are committed to negotiations and will continue trying to resolve the conflict in peace. Along with this, we will increase the power of our army, so that such provocations, Armenian provocations do not remain unanswered. I believe that today, 2 April, will be a good lesson for them.
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Then Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov addressed the meeting.
It was noted that in the early hours of 2 April, Armenian armed forces went on the offensive on the positions of Azerbaijani Armed Forces from different directions and shelled our residential settlements. As a result of these provocative attacks, our soldiers died as heroes. In response, Azerbaijani armed forces launched a counter-offensive from all directions and inflicted a crushing blow to the enemy.
Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said:
- Dear Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief! I report that Armenian armed forces have recently increased provocations on the territories located along the front line by using heavy weaponry and artillery against our population. Recent events show that the number of casualties among our civilian population has increased. To prevent these provocations, we made an assessment of the operational situation and decided to deal blows to the firing points and artillery units of the Armenian armed forces and make them move away from our villages. At the same time, taking into account the movement of reserves of the Armenian armed forces in a certain direction, reconnaissance units of Azerbaijani armed forces carried out planned activities in three directions in the early hours of 2 April. In view of the operational situation and as a result of a combat operation, we recaptured the villages of Talish and Seysulan, as well as several mountain tops in the direction of Horadiz. The main objective of this operation was to prevent provocations and reduce the impact of gun emplacements on our communities.
I report that during the operation, the Armenian armed forces deployed their reserves in Madagiz, Agdere and other settlements to carry out an operation for placing them in the combat zone. To prevent this, our armed forces carried out combat activities and dealt blows to these areas. As a result of these blows, Armenian armed forces suffered huge losses in manpower and hardware. I report that our armed forces, given the operating circumstances, strengthened their positions in these directions and at these altitudes. During the day, the provocations of the Armenian armed forces were successfully nipped in the bud. In these battles, the Armenian armed forces suffered heavy losses. According to our information, about 100 enemies were killed and several hundred people were injured. Many units of armored vehicles and artillery pieces were put out of action. Taking into account the operating circumstances and the deployment of major military units of the Armenian armed forces in Madagiz, blows were delivered to it. I also report that several artillery units from Madagiz carried out direct attacks on our positions and settlements.
I report that in light of the operational situation our armed forces continue to take measures to fully control the situation along the front line and are ready to prevent any possible provocations.
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President Ilham Aliyev: I would also like to note that President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu have phoned me and expressed their condolences over the victims, as well as their support. In addition, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko also phoned me to enquire about the situation and express his concern.
We will now discuss the wider issues and talk about future plans. Let me repeat: today, 2 April, will go down in the history of the Azerbaijani army as the day a brilliant victory. I congratulate the Azerbaijani army and all personnel of our Armed Forces on this great victory.