Azerbaijani president, first lady attend ceremony to give out apartments, cars to martyr families, war disabled in Baku (PHOTO/VIDEO)
BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 21
A ceremony to give out apartments and cars to families of martyrs and war disabled has been held in Khatai district, Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the presentation ceremony.
President Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva viewed conditions created at the apartments.
President Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva then met with members of martyrs` families and war disabled.
The head of state addressed the meeting.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear friends, it is a very significant day in your life today. The state is providing you with apartments. I sincerely congratulate you on this occasion.
I have reviewed your new place of residence. It makes a great impression. The apartment building has been constructed to modern standards, apartments are very spacious and fully renovated. So you can just bring in furniture and live here. This is another manifestation of the state's attention to you.
As you know, the problems of martyr families and those disabled in the war are always in the spotlight and a lot of work has been done in this direction in recent years. Suffice it to say that more than 8,000 martyr families and those disabled in the war have been provided with apartments. About 7,000 cars have been provided as well. I believe that we will achieve a record figure in this area this year – there is no doubt about that. This year, 1,500 martyr families and those disabled in the war will be provided with apartments by the state. All apartments are in new buildings built to the highest standard. At the same time, 400 vehicles are envisaged for you, so we have managed to achieve the highest indicator in this area this year.
For comparison, I can say that 934 apartments were provided last year and 1,500 this year. In previous years, there were about 500-600-700. So this suggests that active work is under way to resolve this problem and provide apartments to martyr families and those disabled in the war. I want us to complete this program as soon as possible, and we will achieve that. It is no secret that major funds are envisaged for this purpose. As you know, a significant part of the state budget is spent on social issues. Within the framework of these social expenditures, very large programs are being implemented covering the families of martyrs, those disabled in the war, war veterans and internally displaced persons.
With regard to the housing problems of internally displaced persons, a record figure is expected in this area this year. More than 7,000 families of internally displaced persons will be provided with apartments this year. This shows once again that we are ready to incur any expenses to achieve this. We are doing that. I am glad that the private sector also joined this work after my call. As you know, the private company “Pasha Holding” has built three settlements for internally displaced persons at its own expense in the Gobu settlement. About 4,000 IDP families have already been settled there. At the same time, the state, of course, took over a significant part of the construction of houses for families of martyrs and those disabled in the war. But the private sector is already active too. This year, “Kapital Bank” provided people of this category with 68 apartments at its own expense. This is a manifestation of civil accord and of our state policy, a sign of the state's and private sector's concern for people of this category. At the same time, this testifies to the power of our country, because a policy may be correct and intentions may be good, but if there are no opportunities to implement this, then the intention will remain just an intention.
In recent years, we have created such a great potential in the economic sphere that we can carry out this work today. How could we have accomplished this work if it were not for this potential? Who would have helped us? Unfortunately, we did not have such opportunities in the first years of independence. This is why displaced persons lived in tents and it was generally impossible to provide the families of martyrs with housing. In parallel with this, we have a strong social policy, because the country needs economic power primarily to become even stronger and to secure its interests, so that its people live even better.
The information provided to me today shows that a huge amount of work is being done in the social sphere. A lot of work was done last year. As you know, benefits for martyr families have been increased by 20 percent – from 250 to 300 manats. Benefits for the IDPs have been increased by 50 percent and some have been increased by 100 percent. Last year, several billion manats were spent on resolving people’s social problems. This year, during the pandemic, about 5 million people are provided with material support by the state. All of this takes our resources and funds. If we did not have economic potential, how could we do this? The state provides enormous support, new hospitals, modular hospitals are built for people suffering from the pandemic. Patients are provided with medicines. We have attracted specialists and doctors from several foreign countries. Every single step requires money. We are doing this because it is our duty. We can do all this because we have the opportunities. And we are creating these opportunities with our work and focused activity. Both foreign and domestic policies should pursue one goal – the country should become even stronger and people should live even better.
The increase in pensions – this year pensions have been increased by an average of 27 percent, and the average salary – by 25 percent. All this demonstrates our policy. Of course, other important projects are being implemented in the social sphere as well. The self-employment program allows people the opportunity to provide for their families and not depend on government assistance. This year, 12,000 people will be involved in this work and 90,000 people will be provided with paid public jobs. I can say frankly that public jobs are something our country can develop without. We are simply creating conditions for people to earn money, so that low-income categories of the population can receive money at the level of the minimum wage.
So all these and other social projects, the launch of the DOST service require ideas, innovation, policies and, at the same time, funds. It is no secret that the bulk of our funds come from the energy sector. And this became possible thanks to the successful implementation of Heydar Aliyev's oil policy. Imagine where we would be now if we did not have oil and gas pipelines and foreign companies didn’t invest billions of dollars in the oil and gas industry of Azerbaijan. Could we live at this level? Of course not! Could we defend our just cause in the international arena to such an extent? Of course not! Therefore, this is a special contribution of the great leader to the people. This is how we have created foreign exchange reserves now and are investing in other sectors of the economy and infrastructure. Thanks to this, business and the private sector are developing. Everyone should know that no matter how fast the non-oil sector may develop today and in the coming years, the main source of revenue for us is still the energy sector – oil and now gas. Therefore, this sector is of strategic importance to us. Of course, I am trying and will continue to try to develop this area. By launching new oil contracts and new projects, we will ensure our long-term development.
Therefore, oil and gas production, oil prices on world markets are issues of particular importance to us. They are important not only to us, but also to all countries producing and exporting oil and gas, because the economies of these countries, already established economies, are built on this. Therefore, a one-dollar drop in oil prices means a loss of millions of dollars. Notice that oil prices have dropped several times this year and our revenues have decreased accordingly, but not a single social project has been cut. On the contrary, during the pandemic, we have done, are doing and will continue to do our best.
In this difficult period of the pandemic, the crisis in the world continues. A total of 150 countries of the world have applied to international financial institutions for loans. I must say that Azerbaijan is not on this list and we live at our own expense. Oil prices are falling sharply, but despite this, we are doing all this work. This is the right policy. This is our respect for the families of martyrs, for the memory of martyrs. But, unfortunately, there are those in the country who are delighted with the fall in the oil price. Who is happy about it? I have said this before but I want to say it again so that the Azerbaijani people know this and do not forget. First, Armenia is happy because they understand that if the recession lasts long, then Azerbaijan's revenues will decrease, it will reduce its expenses, will not be able to acquire weapons and ammunition in the required volume, will thus become weaker, and Armenia will take advantage of that. Armenia is happy about this, and this is natural. But it is not clear how some citizens of Azerbaijan or those who consider themselves to be citizens of Azerbaijan can be happy about it. This information has already been disclosed to the public. Notice how those who call themselves the national council but are actually an anti-national group rejoiced at the drop in oil prices to $14. They pass on “good news” to each other, congratulated each other, some even said not to rush because the price would fall even more and then they would celebrate. What does that mean? This means that our incomes will decline and we will not be able to acquire enough weapons. Moreover, the world’s arms market is already a very expensive sphere today, and the acquisition of any weapon requires huge funds, especially in the modern period. Today, the preference is given to smart weapons, so to speak. Such weapons are very expensive. But we are acquiring and will continue to acquire them. If we didn't have the opportunity, could we purchase them? So what does this disgusting group that calls itself opposition want today? It wants Azerbaijan to be helpless, powerless and unarmed in the face of Armenia, as was the case in their time. They are trying to bring Azerbaijan to the state it was in when our lands were seized. Therefore, the Azerbaijani people should know everything. When I say that this is a hostility, not an opposition as opposition cannot be directed against the state, I am absolutely right. They want to take us back to those dark days, the days when we lost our lands. We lost them precisely because of negligent activities and betrayal of the abhorrent government of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. We lost our lands as a result of their power struggle. Lands were being at the time, but the Popular Front of Azerbaijan unleashed a civil war here and shed brotherly blood. The Armenians bombed our cities, captured them, Kalbajar was occupied, but they were bombing Ganja, their own city, and taking Azerbaijani soldiers prisoner. What is this if not betrayal? If those who treacherously sold such an impregnable fortress as Shusha to the Armenians are not traitors, then who are they? All this is well known to you. It was during that period that you lost your loved ones, lost your health. You remember everything well, you remember those dark days. If Heydar Aliyev had not come to power, no-one knows whether Azerbaijan would still be an independent country today. But they want to return us to those times again. They are happy with the fall in the oil price. I said that they are worse than the Armenians.
As you know, as a result of Armenia’s recent military provocation, we had martyrs and blood was shed, including that of a civilian. The Armenian army tried to seize our positions in the Tovuz direction, a part of our lands. It treacherously and suddenly organized an attack using artillery, as a result of which our soldiers were killed and injured. The necessary measures were immediately taken and a retaliation operation was carried out, resulting in the killing of dozens of enemy soldiers and destruction of their equipment. You have probably also seen video footage on the Internet of the Azerbaijani army destroying strongholds, command posts and other military infrastructure of Armenia with targeted strikes. How are we doing this? Using modern weapons. These weapons are not produced in Azerbaijan. they are very expensive. Without material resources, we would not be able to do this. The pipe dream of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan is for Azerbaijan not to have the opportunities and lose its lands again. In order to celebrate our military victory, thousands of people took to the streets. Thousands of people supported the state and the army. This beautiful picture was a symbol of civil consent. People’s excitement and emotions manifested themselves in a positive way. I immediately instructed the law enforcement agencies, primarily the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to take all measures to maintain public order. You probably saw on the Internet that police officers were walking next to people because people were walking along driveways and any accident could have happened. Where did they come in an organized manner? To the Avenue of Martyrs – just as they were supposed to. They expressed their support there. However, some dirty elements, members of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan took advantage of this, tried to provoke riots, broke into the parliament building where they wreaked havoc. What is the connection between the parliament building and the victory? It is a victory, and everyone recognizes that. Armenia is already forced to admit it too. We have seen a lot of outside support these days. So the will of the people came true and it should be celebrated. But why was it necessary to destroy, break the walls and offices in the parliament building? They went all the way up to the third floor. They smashed doors and windows of offices. Have you come here to destroy the supreme legislative body? Who would do that? An enemy, no-one else!
Would a person who is attached to his people and homeland do such a thing at a time when the war is going on? An investigation is under way now. I don't want to get ahead of the investigation. I don't intend to interfere at all. But everything is obvious. Some video footage has already been released. See how pathetic and helpless these people look. Where is their “feat”? Where is their “heroism”? Now they will be brought to book. I have said this before and I want to say it again: not a single person who committed these crimes, these actions can escape responsibility. We will find them all and we are already finding them one by one. We will find everyone and bring them to justice. Let the people know them. Let their parents be ashamed of who they have raised. What kind of mankurts they have raised. Therefore, the public should know this. Not only them but also their parents are responsible – of course, this is more of a moral responsibility. But let the parents be ashamed. What does this remind us of? You probably also remember 1992. The military coup carried out by the Popular Front of Azerbaijan began with the seizure of the parliament building and ended there. This footage is available are TV channels will probably show them. At that time, the Azerbaijani authorities could not withstand them because they did not show courage and determination. Most importantly, there was no support from the people. Therefore, as soon as a group of people gathered here and attacked, the government completely collapsed. Everyone retreated in different directions, ran away and hid, some at home, others elsewhere. There was complete anarchy. Using the same scenario, they tried to do it this time again. Using the same scenario, they wanted to seize the parliament building and proclaim their power there. The materials of the investigation are already proving this. Let me say again that I do not want to be ahead of events. The Azerbaijani people will find out everything. In fact, they wanted to seize power illegally. But as I said, those years are long gone. Azerbaijan is not the same any more. Azerbaijan is a strong state, there is a strong government in Azerbaijan with a strong will, and most importantly, there is support of the people. These days I probably receive thousands of letters every day. In them, citizens express their support and solidarity. After my speech, people want to serve in the army. As I said, let those who broke the glass there join the army. As of that day, only 150 volunteers had applied to the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription. But less than a week after my words, about 50,000 people signed up. About 50,000 citizens of Azerbaijan – the absolute majority of them being young people – have already applied to the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription in order to defend the Motherland, indicated their names and addresses. I am grateful to them. This is the Azerbaijani people and Azerbaijani youth, not those who broke windows and doors of the parliament. They are the Azerbaijani youth who are ready to fight in Karabakh to their death today.
Let me once again express my gratitude to them and their parents. They have raised worthy sons for our people and state. I would like to say again that the Azerbaijani army can fulfill any task today. The Azerbaijani army is fully equipped, and if additional manpower is needed, then, of course, we will use them.
So far, there is no need for mobilization. If necessary, it will be conducted. I have said this before and I want to say again – I will not go into too much detail. We know what, when and how to do something. We will not give up our policy. Our policy is fair. Our policy is based on international law, historical justice, and we will achieve what we want.
I would like to touch upon another issue. I want the Azerbaijani people to know this. Of course, the information space is very broad now. These days, we have felt tremendous international support which never existed before – neither in the early 1990s, when the war was going on, nor at any other time. Naturally, the first support, the first fraternal step came from fraternal Turkey. Dear President of the Republic of Turkey, my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan unequivocally supported Azerbaijan and said that he was next to us. He noted that Azerbaijan and Turkey, two fraternal countries, were always together. I want to express my deep gratitude to my brother for this support. We are in constant contact these days. He called me, expressed support and condolences over the death of our martyrs. He said that we would be together until the end.
I, too, have always shown great respect for my friend and brother President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. My love for the Turkish people is no secret to anyone. I have repeatedly said that there are no other two countries in the world today that would be as close to each other as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is based on history, our common ethnic roots and on today's policies. Other high-ranking officials of Turkey, including the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, members of parliament and public figures have also expressed their unequivocal support of Azerbaijan.
Many countries have expressed support on an individual basis at the level of government officials. Therefore, I am grateful to them. International organizations, primarily the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, expressed support for Azerbaijan. This organization includes five countries – Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They are members of this organization and unequivocally supported Azerbaijan. In reply letters, I expressed my gratitude to the heads of these countries. These letters have been published.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has expressed its unequivocal support. It unites 57 countries. This is support for both justice and Azerbaijan. You know how much effort I am making to strengthen Islamic solidarity. Azerbaijan is doing everything possible to eliminate or mitigate any disagreements between some Muslim countries, so that we could create order, solidarity, and establish friendship in our own home in the first place. First of all, we must create unity in the Muslim world because if there is no unity here, no-one knows what might be in store for us. Muslim countries appreciate this. All countries, 57 Muslim countries, have supported us even though Armenian communities have quite extensive opportunities in some of these countries and even though Armenian official bodies in these countries, their embassies are trying day and night to lure some Muslim countries to their side. We are seeing that. Sometimes they arrange visits. They also go to Muslim countries at the level of the head of state. We keep track of everything. We see and should see this. Sometimes heads of some Muslim countries pay official visits to Armenia. Of course, we are legitimately worried about that. We say openly that solidarity should be not in words, but in deeds.
What kind of contacts can there be with Armenia which is responsible for the destruction of Muslim mosques? Look up on the Internet the condition of the Agdam mosque, the Shusha mosque, mosques in other cities. They have knocked them down. Moreover, Armenians keep cattle there and desecrate our sacred places. Who is doing this? Armenia! These mosques are not only ours, they belong to the entire Muslim world. I wonder how it is possible to maintain any ties with a country that commits such dirty deeds? What kind of friendship can we talk about here? What kind of friendship can there be? Therefore, I want to say again that Armenia is trying to win them over. But first of all, this will not be and should not be allowed by the people of these countries. If they see that the authorities of these countries show their religious affiliation only in words, then the people of these countries should have their say and be in solidarity with Azerbaijan. As we stand in solidarity with all Muslim countries, we expect the same attitude from them, especially on such sensitive days, on such a sensitive issue when Armenia attacked us, tried to seize our positions, killed our military personnel, civilians, destroyed our villages. I signed an order yesterday. An inventory of all buildings damaged in Tovuz District – a commission has been set up – will be carried out and we will restore these houses in a short time. But is it possible to restore human lives? Is it possible to restore the life of a 76-year-old elder? Who did this? Armenia! Unfortunately, some countries trying to introduce themselves as our friends handed them these shells so that they would kill Azerbaijani soldiers, Azerbaijani citizens, children, old people, just like they did in Khojaly. At that time, we had no strength. By saying we, I mean the former government which led Azerbaijan at that tragic time. We have to say this frankly – this is really the case. The people of Azerbaijan, the citizens of Azerbaijan should know everything. Therefore, we highly appreciate this decision of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Non-Aligned Movement, which brings together 120 countries, also unequivocally supported Azerbaijan.
I would like to draw your attention and the attention of the Azerbaijani people to one more issue. You have probably heard that after we dealt a crushing blow to Armenia, they immediately ran for protection to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). They demanded that the CSTO make a statement condemning Azerbaijan. They could not achieve this and no statement followed. A general commentary was made, and that was it. However, I must say that six countries are members of the CSTO. Three of them supported Azerbaijan through international organizations. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, members of both the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States and the CSTO, supported us through the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States. Belarus is represented in the Non-Aligned Movement. By joining the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, it also supported us. So three out of six countries unequivocally supported Azerbaijan. It could not be otherwise because we are friends with them, they can trust us both in good and difficult days. This is the first thing. Secondly, let the cowardly leadership of Armenia remember how they insulted the CSTO they are now asking for help, how they arrested its Secretary General without any agreement with other countries, how they opposed the appointment of a representative of Belarus as the new CSTO Secretary General and did not give him the opportunity to start working for a whole year. So what seems to be the problem? At that time, the CSTO was bad and you insulted it, but now you are begging it for help. Fight with us one on one and we will see who gets the upper hand.
So all these issues show again that Azerbaijan has turned into a huge force in the international plane, within the country and in the fight against its notorious neighbors. This has been achieved by us, the people of Azerbaijani. The people of Azerbaijan can be absolutely sure that the independence and freedom of Azerbaijan, the well-being of our citizens and the building up of the power of our country will always be in the spotlight. The number one national issue for us is the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I have repeatedly expressed my thoughts on this issue – in international organizations, from international platforms and in the country. I do not want to repeat myself, but the Azerbaijani people should know that this is a national issue. We must resolve this issue in such a way that this solution fully meets the interests of the Azerbaijani people. We do not need any half-hearted solutions because they will be temporary. Only a certain stage can be half-hearted. The solution to the issue must be complete. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be fully ensured. All occupied lands without exception must be vacated. The citizens of Azerbaijan must return to all the occupied lands, including Shusha. This is my policy, and this is a part of my policy, a part that can still be discussed openly.
You all know my opinion perfectly well. Azerbaijan is a country faithful to its historical past and we know history well. We know, and so do the Azerbaijani people, what kind of future we want for ourselves. Therefore, the territorial integrity of our country is not, was not, should not and will not be negotiable. We must return and we will return to our native lands. Inshallah, after that we will meet there and remember these days. I sincerely congratulate you again and wish you good health and happiness! Thank you!