POLITICS


Azerbaijan writes history: Our destination is Karabakh

President of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani Army changed the 30-year-old status quo in 10 days

Baku, October 14, AZERTAC

... Baby boys who came from Karabakh in diapers 30 years ago are returning there today as rescue soldiers of the victorious Army.

... A mother opens a small bag she has been keeping for 30 years, takes out a key with her trembling fingers and hands it to her sons: this is the key to our house in Karabakh, go and open our door.

... They say men don't cry. Uncle Adil, a 70-year-old IDP I know, cried twice in his life: when he left his home in Jabrayil 27 years ago and when he heard the news of the liberation of his homeland 27 years later. First were the tears of utter grief and second of boundless joy.

I recalled these moving life episodes after watching President Ilham Aliyev's yet another historic address to the nation a few days ago, his logical, convincing and heartfelt statements in interviews with Al Jazeera, Euronews, CNN International, Sky News, Al Arabiya, TRT Haber, CNN Turk, Haber Global, Rossiya-1, Russia's “Perviy Kanal” and other TV channels. I hope the reader understands and forgives my emotional recollections.

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Ever since 27 September, the first day of the news about yet another military provocation of Armenian aggressor against Azerbaijan and the rapid counter-offensive of our Army, I have been reaching for the keyboard to share the thoughts and ideas I have accumulated and describe the events I have witnessed over the years. Being able to predict possible scenarios of events based on the achievements of our army to date is the nature of our profession. But I would like to put this aside for a while and, first of all, share the feelings of joy and pride my heart is overwhelmed with.

As someone who has dedicated his entire life to journalism, I think this is probably the first time I have encountered such an unusual situation. I start typing a story on my computer but have to stop an hour or two later. Developments unfold so fast, we receive so much hot news from the frontline and telegram channels overflow with news so much that lines and even whole paragraphs become out-of-date after an hour or two and I have to start everything all over again. This is something I have probably never experienced in my 45 years as a journalist.

We are living at an extraordinary time. The people of Azerbaijan are writing a glorious history under the leadership of their President and with the help of their brave Army. Every hour and every minute of these days is a saga.

Our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev responded to those who argued that there was no other option to resolve the conflict but through negotiations. There is another option – he said and did what he said. He showed to those who had been saying for years that the status quo was unacceptable but did nothing to change it and even stroked the occupier’s head that this is how the problem should be resolved. Our victorious Army sprang into action by the order of the Commander-in-Chief and took only 10 days to change the status quo that had lasted for almost 30 years. Now there is no status quo and no line of contact. The determination of our people and the Commander-in-Chief, the Azerbaijani Army did it on the battlefield.

From the first day of the counter-offensive, our President has bravely resisted the incessant pressure of the superpowers demanding “Stop the fire and start negotiations”, knowing exactly what needs to be done and how. This was further confirmed during the battles for Karabakh. Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev did the work of an army alone: on the battlefield and on diplomatic and political platforms. He once again showed his place to the likes of Pashinyan, who said that “Karabakh is Armenia”, danced frivolously in Shusha, thus openly insulting us. He left Pashinyan, a hypocrite, adventurer and a street man far from politics, high and dry. He made him beg for help. Let him say “Karabakh is Armenia” now. Let's see how he says that.

Pashinyan, who came to power with Soros's money, humiliated the Armenian people and brought it to his own deplorable state.

Ilham Heydar oglu rose even higher in the eyes of the world thanks to his determination, courageous and wise decisions, and with him rose the honor and dignity of our people.

We are extremely lucky to have a President who stands up to the end in defense of our national interests and is the guarantor of Karabakh’s salvation. Our people believe in their President. Relying on this belief, Ilham Aliyev, who knows exactly what to do and how, gave Armenia one last chance and said, “Get out of our lands, get out, make a commitment, and return to the format of negotiations. Whatever we say will happen, and we are giving them one last chance to leave our lands peacefully, to get out of there. We will return to our lands no matter what and restore our territorial integrity.”

Recent developments have shown both the enemy and the whole world that it is impossible to play with the dignity of this honorable people, to insult it. The President of Azerbaijan, the people of Azerbaijan could not and did not forgive Pashinyan for this.

Today, the people of Azerbaijan are rallied around their leader like a fist and demonstrate unprecedented solidarity. They have risen to the battle of life and death for their homeland. At this fateful moment, 10 million hearts beat like one heart. This, in the true sense of the word, is a Patriotic War. Azerbaijani soldiers drive the enemy out their homeland at the cost of their lives. The mother, whose house was blown up by an enemy shell, the mother who has lost her son holds her head up and says: Long live the Motherland!

No sane person would want war. However, the peace-loving people of Azerbaijan were forcibly involved in this war by the Armenian leadership, international Dashnak ideological centers that would not give up the policy of aggression. We were compelled by the indifference of the world, the passing game of international organizations, the so-called mediators of the Minsk Group. For 30 years, the victim of aggression has been treated in the same manner as the aggressor itself. For 30 years, the world has been turning a blind eye to this injustice and the sufferings of one million Azerbaijanis whose motherland has been plundered. This is a war of the people who stood up saying “Enough is enough”, it is a battle for the restoration of historical justice, a right given to us by international law.

Our President has repeatedly stated from the international arena, from the UN platform that the occupation must end and the aggressor must be forced to do so. Has the Minsk Group mediating a settlement of the conflict taken a single step towards that in the 26 years of its existence? It didn't! They gathered, talked and dispersed. The four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council 27 years ago remain on paper to this day. Someone who came to the Armenian political leadership from the street drew a line through the process of negotiations by saying “Karabakh is Armenia, full stop.”

Responding to the impudent enemy with the words “Karabakh is Azerbaijan, exclamation mark”, our President told the world: Do not interfere, we will decide our own destiny ourselves.

“Azerbaijan wants to conquer Nagorno-Karabakh”, says the French president, one of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group which has been given a mediation mandate to resolve the conflict. It seems that Macron is either ignorant of history or dancing to the tune of the Armenian lobby in France. Our President responded to him harshly, urging him to apologize to Azerbaijan for these strange words. People like Macron are not alone. The war is not being waged in Armenia, it is being fought in Azerbaijan. By the way, the Russian President emphasized in an interview that the war is not going on in Armenia.

Against the background of these two different approaches, it is necessary to ask the windbags from third countries, who often repeat the thesis about “Azerbaijani aggression” invented by the Armenians, to start using their brains: doesn’t the talk of “Azerbaijani aggression against Karabakh” sound as nonsensical as “French aggression against Marseille” or “German attack on Bavaria”?

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After these brief reflections on the conflict, war and the world's approach to it, I would like to return to the area I am directly related to. For me, the point of reference was the view expressed by the President of Azerbaijan in an interview with CNN-Türk. The head of state spoke about the black propaganda campaign being conducted against Azerbaijan for many years and explained the reasons for it. In particular, we, the media, are a direct witness to this. We respond to incessant slander, evil and slander. We try to disseminate materials about the realities of Azerbaijan, the realities of Karabakh and Khojaly in the world media we cooperate with by all possible means.

Now, since the beginning of the recent events, a new wave of black propaganda has been launched. Circles of interest in some countries and the media are fabricating lies to tarnish the image of Azerbaijan and form a false opinion about the conflict in the media. As the President noted, we have made great strides in fighting these accusations on our own. But we also have limited opportunities. In many cases, our voice is not heard. International media outlets are more pro-Armenian and spread false information about the conflict. It is good that on such difficult days, brotherly Turkey and its media are with us, adding their voice to ours and conveying the truth about Azerbaijan’s fair cause to the world.

A number of media today are circulating Pashinyan’s speculation about the alleged involvement of Turkish F-16 fighters and Turkish servicemen in the military operation. Azerbaijan and Turkey are brotherly countries and close neighbors. Our great leader expressed this brotherhood in a few words, “One nation in two states”. It is natural and understandable that Turkey supports us on such difficult days. But it is also indisputable that we are liberating our lands ourselves. The Azerbaijani Army is capable of giving the enemy any answer.

As for Armenia, there are many who support it and transfer weapons to it. Take France, which is particularly active these days. But are Armenians and French “one nation in two states”? Or maybe they are neighbors? Paris and Yerevan are 4,500 kilometers apart, at least a 50-hour drive away. Azerbaijan is at arm’s length from Turkey.

Our closeness and the fact that our Turkish brothers say that “Azerbaijan is not alone” both irritate and frighten Armenia. The Turkish army today is one of the two strongest NATO armies. Turkey produces modern weapons. We buy weapons from Turkey and other countries – Russia, Ukraine and Israel. Occupying Armenia receives weapons free of charge. Does begging Armenia with a collapsed economy have the money to buy weapons? Emphasizing this in one of his interviews, the President said, “If expensive weapons had not been given to Armenia for free, this conflict would have been resolved long ago.”

Today, the frontline is only a conventional term. The whole of Azerbaijan is the frontline – with all of its sons and daughters, young and old. Everyone works hard for the Motherland, for our great victory. In these fateful moments, journalists are soldiers and their words are a weapon. As always, Armenia has opened a second war front against us – the information war front. Pro-Armenian media (such media exist in many places – in France, Germany, the United States, Russia, on both sides of the ocean) spread lies, slander Azerbaijan and concoct biased information. This has always been the case but their enthusiasm has acquired tremendous proportions now. Let them lie – even if the lies are spread, they don’t catch on.

These days, the Azerbaijani media regardless of their political affiliation and position are showing unprecedented solidarity and providing information support for our cause. As for AZERTAC, we are doing our utmost to communicate materials about Azerbaijan’s just cause in international media. Our agency is the vice-president of the Organization of Asia Pacific News Agencies (OANA), which brings together 44 agencies from 35 countries. We are actively represented in the News Agencies World Congress (NAWC). In fact, Baku hosted the forums of both major international organizations in 2016. Our partners include information giants such as Chinese Xinhua, Russian TASS, Turkey's Anadolu, South Korea's Yonhap, Japan's Kyodo and Malaysia's Bernama. Speaking of partner media, I would like to mention the English-language newspaper China Daly, which has more than 100 million readers in different parts of the world.

During the active phase of operations on the front line, these and other reputable news agencies have published and continue to publish numerous reports, photos and videos with reference to AZERTAC. In addition, our correspondents abroad publish articles in the local media in response to the lies and slander fabricated by the Armenian regime. At the same time, AZERTAC has appealed to the heads of all international and regional media organizations it is a member of, calling on them to cover Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and the events in the region objectively and impartially and to stand for justice.     

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Azerbaijan did not want war. That is why both our great leader Heydar Aliyev and President Ilham Aliyev have been working for 30 years to resolve the conflict through negotiations and peacefully. As a journalist who covered the historic visits of our great leader from the very beginning, I am a personal witness to that. Heydar Aliyev worked extremely hard and applied maximum effort to resolve the Karabakh conflict without bloodshed and through negotiations. Since this is the subject of a long conversation, I will only mention two examples.

Key West, 3 April 2001. With the mediation of the Minsk Group co-chairs and with the participation of Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held talks in a completely new format. At this meeting, our great leader made a historic statement, stating the reasons hindering a settlement of the conflict, conveying the realities of Nagorno-Karabakh and expressing his views on possible solution options. Here is a small quote: “Today, it is impossible to find another case in the world where one state would occupy the territory of another and conduct ethnic cleansing there. Unfortunately, the world community remains tight-lipped to this tragedy... Our hopes for the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group such as Russia, the United States and France have not yielded the expected results yet”.

This harshly-worded statement of Heydar Aliyev, his resolute position and legitimate claims created a certain anxiety.

I remember the great leader going to Washington from Key West. US President George W. Bush met with Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kocharyan separately. I also remember very well high-ranking US officials speaking about the success of these meetings and talks at a White House briefing. A month earlier, our great leader visited France.

Paris, 5 March 2001. The next round of talks between President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan took place at the Elysee Palace with the participation of French President Jacques Chirac. After more than three hours of talks, all three presidents held a joint press conference. Without going into the nitty-gritty, let me say that answering journalists' questions, the French President said that significant progress had been made in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “I would like to express my sincere hope that this conflict will be resolved by the end of this year”.

Indeed, the Key West and Paris talks raised great hopes. In the spring of 2001, the settlement of the conflict was very close. But something invisible turned the wheel in another direction.

Almost 20 years have passed since then. George W. Bush was replaced by Barack Obama and then by Donald Trump. Jacques Chirac was replaced by Nicolas Sarkozy, then by François Hollande and then by Emmanuel Macron. The conflict remained unresolved...

We witness the relentless efforts of President Ilham Aliyev to resolve the conflict through negotiations. At some point, a solution seemed to have been found. For example, the Madrid Principles agreed by the parties provide for a gradual return of the occupied Azerbaijani lands. We were hoping that these principles would work. However, Pashinyan came and drew a line through the negotiations that had lasted for 30 years, through the Madrid Principles which were acceptable to both sides, and said: we will not return an inch of land to Azerbaijan. This was followed by Armenia’s notorious military provocations which left Azerbaijan with no other option than to take up arms.

No-one would probably argue that the developments all the people on our planet are witnessing now are truly historic. The leader of Azerbaijan, the people of Azerbaijan continue to write history – our President writes this history with his determination, wise policy and leadership, our people write this history with great unity and determination, and our soldiers write this history with their blood and weapons. It is the duty of journalists and reporters to chronicle these moments of truth.

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What were the goals behind delaying the settlement of the conflict so long? They thought that the older generation would die and that the new generation replacing it would forget Karabakh or Khojaly because it had never even seen these places. Thus, things will calm down themselves. On the contrary, time has shown that they are wrong in their thinking and calculations.

Chingiz Aitmatov's novel “A Day Equal to a Century” comes to mind here. No empire, no occupier, no foreign power, no matter how inconceivable, has managed to manipulate the peoples. The new generation may have never seen Karabakh but love of the motherland is invisible. It is a memory of blood, a memory of history and it cannot be erased. The new generation that has not seen Karabakh is ready to die for it and does it. Even schoolchildren know how dear Karabakh is.

The 30-year landscape we talked about has suddenly changed (in fact, quite expectedly). In fact, the aggressor itself and those interested in keeping the status quo unchanged contributed to that. They decided to bring their “homeless poor relatives” from another country and settle them in Karabakh. It turns out that they wanted to repair the house they once forcibly took over from the rightful owner and hang a poster on the wall saying “This house is ours, full stop”. After that, new war declarations were made and a new military aggression against Azerbaijan began...

Apparently, many warnings that the patience of legal landlords was not unlimited fell on deaf ears. The legal owners of the land led by their Commander-in-Chief rose to restore historical justice by saying that “This house is ours, exclamation mark!” I wonder why the aggressor’s patrons are so worried about that.

In his statements and speeches, numerous interviews with local and foreign media, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev speaks openly and decisively to the UN, the OSCE, the Minsk Group and the likes of Pashinyan. He says we cannot wait another 30 years and the occupiers must leave our lands.

After Ilham Aliyev's address to the people on 27 September, tens of thousands of people filled with faith, pride and joy took to the streets of Baku with a flag in their hands and the word “Karabakh” in their mouth! There were unprecedented images in the capital! Commanded by the Commander-in-Chief, the Azerbaijani Army began to carry out its combat mission with dignity. In a short time, after 30 years, our tricolor flag began to fly in some of our lands again: in the city of Jabrayil, in the settlement of Hadrut, in Sugovushan, in the village of Talish and in other villages. As someone from Jabrayil, I also experienced personal happiness, so I am grateful to the Commander-in-Chief, our salvation Army and brave Azerbaijani soldiers!

As I said at the beginning, the babies who were carried through snowy passes and dense forests in the arms of their parents and on the shoulders of their grandparents 30 years ago are now returning to their ancestral lands in tanks. We are happy to be living witnesses of this Victory March.

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War has its own laws. The army fights with the army, the soldier fights with the soldier – face to face, bravely. Whoever is strong gets the upper hand. Armenia, defeated on the battlefield, violates these laws, commits war crimes and fires on our cities and villages, fires on civilians. As a result of the enemy’s treacherous attacks, many civilians, including children and women, were killed and wounded, houses, apartment buildings and facilities were destroyed.

On 11 October, before the ink on a ceasefire agreement could dry up, a ballistic missile was fired on Ganja, Azerbaijan's second largest city which has no military facilities on its territory and is located 80 kilometers from the combat zone. Ten civilians, including five women, were killed. Also, 34 people were injured, including 10 women and nine minors. The silence of the international community, especially the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, on this grave crime of Armenia is another unfortunate manifestation of the double standards and indifference to the plight of others.

These provocations and treacherous attacks of the enemy cannot and will not break the will of our people. Today, the people of Azerbaijan, who have suffered a thousand tragedies for centuries and written many glorious pages in their history, have one dream – to liberate their lands from enemy occupation.

I would like to complete my noted with the emotional words and prayer of First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, which resonate in the hearts of every Azerbaijani: May the Almighty God help the people of Azerbaijan in its sacred struggle! May Almighty God grant every Azerbaijani the opportunity to kiss the sacred land of Karabakh!

Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

Aslan Aslanov

Chairman of the Board of AZERTAC

Vice President of OANA

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