Details added (first version posted on 16:34)
Baku, Azerbaijan, May 2
Army building is the priority of Azerbaijan's policy and it is natural, as the country is in a state of war, the war hasn't ended yet, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said.
He made the remarks during the meeting with the personnel of a military unit in Azerbaijan's Terter district.
"The ceasefire regime was established in 1994. Nevertheless, Armenia constantly grossly violates the ceasefire," said the president.
President Aliyev noted that when the international pressure on Armenia over the conflict increases, it even more violates the ceasefire and stages armed provocations.
"The international community has already been fully informed about the conflict," Azerbaijan's president added. "Over these years, we managed to prove to the whole world that we are the aggrieved party."
"Armenia - the aggressor, has committed genocide against the Azerbaijani people, occupied our lands and continues this occupation," said President Aliyev. "The [OSCE] Minsk Group co-chairs, who are engaged in this issue, have repeatedly said in recent times that the status quo is unacceptable and should be changed."
It means that the occupation should be ended, said President Aliyev.
"It is a signal directly addressed to Armenia," said the president. "Therefore, when Armenians see that Azerbaijan gains more support worldwide, they periodically stage armed provocations in order to disrupt the negotiations and continue the policy of occupation. We witnessed this in the recent past. They attacked our positions in the summer of 2014. Our army gave an adequate response that time as well."
In November of the same year when there emerged certain hope in the negotiations, Armenia, as it said, held large-scale exercises in Aghdam district with participation of the personnel consisting of 47,000 people, said the president. It was a purely provocative move, he added.
"The Azerbaijani side showed high restraint for several days. But afterwards, two military helicopters of Armenia attacked our positions," said Ilham Aliyev. "Azerbaijani army destroyed one of them. Taking the advantage of this, Armenia accused us and the negotiation process came to the deadlock again."
Using this as a reason, they began to accuse Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire, said Ilham Aliyev, adding that the goal was clear: to disrupt the talks again and to continue the occupation policy.
President Aliyev noted that since early 2016, some progress has been observed in the negotiation process.
"A lot of pressure is exerted on Armenia on the part of the [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chairs, according to the information we have," Azerbaijani president said. "However, they don't openly say it. They always try to maintain a balanced position. But the reality is that nowadays Armenia is the side that prevents peaceful resolution of the conflict."
President Aliyev further said that considering the current situation, the Armenian armed forces decided to resort to regular provocations, and this happened in early April.
"They again committed an armed provocation and attacked our positions," he said.
"Azerbaijani army with great skill and professionalism held a counter-attack, stopped the enemy, and our positions on the contact line were strengthened even more. At the request of the Armenian side, we agreed the ceasefire to be restored April 5. We don't want war."
Azerbaijan wants the problem to be resolved peacefully, but it should be settled, President Aliyev said.
"Holding negotiations just for the sake of negotiations makes no sense," he said. "Thus, on April 5, it was agreed to restore ceasefire. We adhered to the ceasefire, and continue to do so today as well. But, unfortunately, Armenia once again shows an insincere approach," Aliyev said, adding that not a single day has passed without the ceasefire violations by Armenia since April 5.
In the first days after the April 5 ceasefire agreement, Armenia tried to attack Azerbaijan's positions and take back the lost territories, the president said. He went on to add that after the Armenian troops realized it wasn't working, and Azerbaijani soldier stands his ground, they started armed provocations against civilian population.
"Our villages were shelled, civilians got wounded and killed, over 500 of our houses were damaged, over 100 houses were either completely destroyed or burned down," said Ilham Aliyev.
"This is the ugly face of Armenian fascism. They did the same during the first Karabakh war, they committed the Khodjaly genocide. And today, realizing lack of forces on the battlefield, they target civilian population."
President Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani army have never been at war with civilian population.
"We just destroy the enemy's firing positions when we are shot at," Azerbaijani president said. "But, at the same time, the Azerbaijani army must protect, protects and will protect its citizens. The settlement of the conflict will allow the Armenian government to build an independent state. I still hope that their aggressive policy will come to an end, because there is no other way."
"The people of Azerbaijan will never reconcile with such a situation, and the recent events have once again shown it," he said. "The armed provocation committed against us wasn't left unanswered, and everyone knows it. The sooner Armenian leadership understands that it can develop only in conditions of peace with Azerbaijan, the faster the conflict will end."
He stressed that the settlement of the conflict should be based on the norms and principles of international law.
"All the international organizations - the UN, the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement and other organizations - protect the fair position of Azerbaijan," the president said. "No international organization supports aggressive policy of Armenia. No country in the world puts the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan under question. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. The occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region and other lands are our historical lands. Azerbaijani citizens must live and will live on these lands."
"Once again I'd like to say that we will seek to put Armenia on the right path through negotiations," he said. "We will strengthen diplomatic, political, economic pressure and intensify positions of the contact line of troops. If another Armenian armed provocation is committed against us, the necessary answer will be given again, and the result will be the same, because today the Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies on a global scale."
"Material and technical basis of our army has been considerably strengthened and expanded," the president said. "The most modern weapons, equipment is purchased, and nowadays the Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies in terms of financial security. Discipline in the army is at the highest level, just as the combat capability is, and the fighting in April showed it. The army is in high spirits. The morale state of our army, soldiers, and officers is very positive."
"The sense of patriotism is very high not only in the army but the whole society," the president said. "The whole society is united for the sake of a single idea. There is no issue more important for us than the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This is the primary issue. We must resolve this problem and we will."
The president noted that he always treated servicemen with great respect.
"Everything necessary will be done for the construction of the army," he said. "That's what we are doing now. The biggest spending is military spending. This has gone on for many years. Sometimes pro-Armenian politicians from different countries accuse me. Why does Azerbaijan increase the military budget? That takes place because we have been subjected to aggression."
"If there was not such aggression, then, of course, this wouldn't be necessary," he said. "However, life showed how right we were. If we didn't have strong combat capabilities, today the situation on the contact line would be different. Our greatest achievement is the increase of combat capability, material and technical equipment, purchase of weapons and equipment, patriotic spirit, professionalism, the skill of soldiers, valor and heroism demonstrated in the fighting in April."
"You now carry the service face to face with the enemy," the president told the servicemen. "You defend our land, our people. This is a great and honorable mission. I cordially congratulate you all and I wish you success. Always be loyal to your Motherland, love your Home land, protect it and the citizens. Long live Azerbaijani army!"
On behalf of the whole personnel, Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov expressed deep gratitude to Azerbaijan's president, commander-in-chief, for his care od the armed forces.
He noted that thanks to the commander-in-chief's attention and care, today, the armed forces have been fully provided with weaponry and equipment at a high level and the social issues have been resolved.
"In order to justify care, trust, the personnel constantly improves and enhances the combat training level," said Hasanov. "Mr. President, I would like to assure you that the personnel of the armed forces are ready and able to fulfill all your orders in a short time."
President Aliyev noted that a new situation has emerged on the line of contact after the Armenian armed provocations.
"This situation differs from the previous one. It once again shows that we have full advantage on the line of contact," said the president.
"Certainly, from now on, we will even more strengthen our positions on the line of contact," he said, adding that necessary measures are taken in order to achieve that.
"I believe that the opposing side has already understood that there are no grounds for ensuring any interests by military means," said President Aliyev.
"All the efforts are in vein. In order to restore peace in the region, it is simply necessary to put an end to the aggression. I believe that it will be so," he added.
Then, the commander-in-chief handed the awards to the fighters for bravery they showed when suppressing the Armenian provocations.