Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening of “Kharibulbul” festival in Shusha (PHOTO)

Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening of “Kharibulbul” festival in Shusha (PHOTO)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 12

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Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan is hosting the “Kharibulbul” music festival. After 29 years, Shusha, the cradle of ancient culture, welcomes its natives and guests again.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, their daughters Leyla Aliyeva and Arzu Aliyeva attended the “Kharibulbul” festival organized on Jidir Duzu plain in Shusha.

The head of state made an opening speech at the festival.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear friends, it is a significant day in the history of our country today. After a long break, the “Kharibulbul” festival is being held in the Jidir Duzu plain in Shusha, a city sacred to each of us. I heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.

We have been looking forward to this day for 30 years. We have lived with a longing for Motherland for 30 years. We had to reconcile with this injustice for 30 years, but we did not put up with it. We were always saying that we would never come to terms with this situation and that we would liberate our native lands from the occupiers at any cost, and we did exactly that. The “Kharibulbul” music festival, being held this year for the first time after a long break, is dedicated to the memory of our martyrs. We are indebted to our heroic soldiers. We are indebted to the people of Azerbaijan. Our people united and showed solidarity, or people united like a fist, and this victory was won by the people of Azerbaijan. This is a victory for all of us. I would request that we commemorate our heroic martyrs of the Patriotic War with a minute of silence.

May Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs in peace!

We have restored this remarkable tradition, and the “Kharibulbul” festival will now be held in Shusha every year. This year's festival covers representatives of the peoples living in Azerbaijan. Representatives of different nations living in our country will perform at this festival. I gave this recommendation to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the organizer of the festival because all the peoples living in Azerbaijan have contributed a great deal to the Patriotic War. The Patriotic War has once again shown that all peoples in Azerbaijan live in friendship, brotherhood, and solidarity, and this 44-day war showed again that there is national unity and national solidarity in our country. It is no coincidence that the first festival will feature representatives of the peoples living in Azerbaijan. So we are sending another message to the whole world from here, from Shusha, from our ancient land. Countries should develop in this way, in multi-religious, multi-ethnic countries and societies. There is development, there is unity, there is national solidarity, there is peace here. We follow what is happening in different parts of the world, and I can say that we could foresee the present-day situation a few years ago. Therefore, we promoted multiculturalism, promoted the coexistence of different peoples both domestically and internationally, including through numerous events held in our country. We were saying that this was possible. We were saying in the example of Azerbaijan that it was possible, we were showing that we shared our experience, we shared our views, and I think that our efforts have paid off because the world has a clearer picture of this issue now.

The 44-day war resulted in a complete victory for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan won a complete victory, expelled the invaders from ancient Azerbaijani lands, and raised the Azerbaijani flag in all liberated lands. The 44-day war is our glorious history. Every day of the 44 days represents a heroic saga. Every day we gave martyrs, shed blood and yet we moved forward. Every day we moved forward. There was not a single day in the 44 days on which we would take a step back. We only moved forward, giving martyrs and shedding blood. Our people were and we united, and this conditioned this Victory. More than 300 towns and villages were liberated from the invaders on the battlefield, and the liberation of Shusha, the impregnable fortress, is a separate heroic saga. Everyone visiting Shusha and Azerbaijani citizens who have already come to Shusha can confirm that liberating it from occupation required great heroism, courage and self-sacrifice. Our heroic soldiers climbed these steep rocks and liberated Shusha from the invaders in a hand-to-hand battle although the occupiers fired at us from tanks and artillery. We gave martyrs in the battles for Shusha. But the national spirit that drove us forward secured this victory. The liberation of Shusha actually meant the collapse of the Armenian army and the Armenian state. Because a day later, Armenia was forced to sign an act of capitulation, which was drafted in accordance with our conditions, and we returned Lachin, Kalbajar and Aghdam districts without firing a single shot. It is no coincidence that the day of the liberation of Shusha, 8 November, was declared an official public holiday in Azerbaijan, it was declared Victory Day, and we will celebrate this holiday every year.

Shusha is a national treasure of the Azerbaijani people. The recent announcement of Shusha as the cultural capital of Azerbaijan shows this again. Shusha is an ancient Azerbaijani city. Next year we will celebrate the 270th anniversary of Shusha. Panahali Khan founded Shusha in 1752, and from that time until the occupation, Azerbaijanis always lived in this city. Hard as the Armenians tried, they could not erase the Azerbaijani spirit from Shusha. Yes, the loathsome enemy destroyed our buildings, our mosques, our historical monuments. However, Shusha was able to preserve its Azerbaijani spirit. Shusha was in captivity for 28 and a half years, but it did not bend, did not break, preserved its dignity, protected its national spirit, protected the spirit of Azerbaijan.

Dear friends, I am sure that many of you are here for the first time since the occupation. You can see and feel that. This is my third time in Shusha, and every time I come here I say that I want to stay. I do not want to leave here. Shusha has a unique aura. I have never seen a city like Shusha elsewhere in the world. There probably isn’t one. We are gathered in free Shusha after a long break today. Azerbaijani mugham will be performed on the Jidir Duzu plain today. After a long break, we will celebrate this wonderful music holiday in Shusha. It is a music holiday in the true sense of the word. Yes, we did return to Shusha on 8 November by fighting and shedding blood, but Azerbaijani culture, prominent representatives of Azerbaijani culture have returned to Shusha today, and this return is a reality, and everyone must reckon with this reality.

From now on, we will live in Shusha forever. The restoration of Shusha has already begun. The instructions are being fulfilled. The Yukhari Govharagha mosque has already been repaired and holiday prayers will be held there tomorrow.

It is no coincidence that the festival has been organized on the eve of Ramadan. We are a nation bound by our religious, national and spiritual roots. Otherwise, we would never have been able to end the occupation. For all these years, we have lived with one goal – to liberate our lands, restore justice, protect our national dignity, and we have achieved this. Today's event shows again that we have returned to Shusha and will live here forever. Restoration work has begun in the city and, as I already said, the Yukhari Govharagha mosque has been repaired. Five years ago, after the liberation of Jojug Marjanli, I had a mosque similar to the Shusha mosque build there. I said at the opening of the mosque back then that one day we would restore mosques in Shusha, we would build new mosques. Today, on the eve of Ramadan, the foundation of a new magnificent mosque was laid in Shusha. The “Khan gizi Natavan” spring, which was once dried up by the Armenians, now abounds in water. All this has a great symbolic meaning. This is our return. We will build and restore Shusha, while the contemptible enemy has destroyed Shusha. Those here, our friends will walk around and see the ruins Shusha has suffered. But let me say again that we kept Shusha, Aghdam, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin, Kalbajar in our hearts. We will restore the destroyed mosques, but we had built those mosques in our hearts during the occupation. And we are gathered here now, on the Jidir Duzu plain, a place sacred to every Azerbaijani, and celebrate this holiday of music, this holiday of unity, this holiday of return, this holiday of dignity. Long live Shusha! Long live Karabakh! Long live Azerbaijan!

XXX

The “Kharibulbul” festival then began.

President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, their daughters Leyla Aliyeva and Arzu Aliyeva listened to the performances of festival participants.

XXX

Meeting with journalists after the concert, President Ilham Aliyev said: Thank you for being here, in difficult times. Hello Mirshahin.

Mirshahin: Kudos, Mr. President. Congratulations!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, thank you very much, and I congratulate all of you.

X X X

The head of state posed for a photo with journalists.

X X X

President Ilham Aliyev: Anar reminded me that you said at the press conference that you wanted to come here. We have fulfilled your request. I wanted our journalists to come first and hold this festival. Where are you staying?

Journalist: We came here directly.

President Ilham Aliyev: OK, directly.

Anar Alakbarov: They will stay here overnight.

President Ilham Aliyev: There are opportunities to stay here now. Let's invite foreign journalists to come and see this.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for your attention. We always feel your support, thank you very much.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, I have always supported you. Thank you for raising such topical issues. In many cases, I learn about the processes taking place in the country from you. This in itself encourages executive bodies to work more responsibly.

Journalist: This is our first meeting with you after the war.

President Ilham Aliyev: Indeed.

Journalist: With your permission, I also want to say that I have seen wars in the world for 40 years. This has been the first war in which one person was doing military, political and informational work.

President Ilham Aliyev: Because if you had not communicated the realities associated with this war to the attention of the world community, the international opinion about this issue would have remained distorted. You remember perfectly well that we did not have access to world media at that time. Only you were here and took photos. Meanwhile, the Armenians were using every opportunity to spread utter lies in all countries. This time, however, both you and I communicated the truth about the war. Our brave soldiers climbed those rocks and drove the enemy out of here. Mirshahin, you were here a long time ago, before the occupation. Some are probably here for the first time.

Mirshahin: I was here before the occupation.

President Ilham Aliyev: Someone who comes here for the first time can see that it is generally considered impossible to liberate Shusha. It is hard to just climb here on foot, not to mention carrying a machine gun. And the enemy is on top, with tanks, cannons and firing positions. Indeed, this is an unprecedented heroic saga.

Journalist: I have seen wars in the mountains of Afghanistan. I couldn’t believe this. After the liberation, I came here and saw everything. I climbed from here on foot myself in 1992. The roads were closed, cars wouldn’t be allowed to go through.

President Ilham Aliyev: Which road did you use?

Journalist: Directly from Dashalti. I walked to this place four hours. Snipers fired on me three times, but the shots went wide.

President Ilham Aliyev: You recently published this photo – I have seen it. Remember the state of Azerbaijani soldiers at that time? There was no outfit, no weapons, no controls. Today our soldiers are like lions, they are like lions. They have created a miracle.

Journalist: It is possible to say that nobody lived here.

President Ilham Aliyev: Nobody.

Journalist: Only at the entrance to the city, but not many people.

Mirshahin: I was in one of the houses in Zangazur.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, in the Shurnukhu village.

Mirshahin: That man also shared some good refutations related to the Armenian government. It worked out quite well, very well. He cited five aspects. He also talked about the low pension. He said that Karabakh is Azerbaijan.

President Ilham Aliyev: Moreover, he said that he had broken into the house of an Azerbaijani.

Mirshahin: Yes, he made some very important statements.

Journalist: Mr. President, we are particularly grateful to you for the victory in Shusha. This is a truly wonderful victory. This is a huge victory indeed. You seem to have returned life to the Azerbaijani people. You have breathed life into us. Believe me – just a year ago, we could not even dream of coming to Jidir Duzu and attending a concert here. This is an incredible miracle, Mr. President. May Allah bless you and our army.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you!

Journalist: Mr. President, I am saying quite sincerely that there is no such head of state elsewhere in the world.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, thank you very much. A year ago, different music was played here. Other actions were taking place here. The enemy has received a worthy response for those actions, for all its crimes. From now on, only Azerbaijani music, the music of the peoples living in Azerbaijan will sound here. This is truly a great historic achievement. Every time I come here, I experience special feelings. I am sure that you are also experiencing these feelings, because we have been lucky to see Shusha again. This is great happiness. Of course, we are seeing again that Shusha is a truly Azerbaijani city because one can feel the Azerbaijani spirit here. Architectural sites, springs – although the Armenians have changed the patterns and erased the inscriptions on these springs. Nevertheless, the Azerbaijani culture is in full swing all around us, so to speak. We are back forever. We will live here forever. I have said that Shusha will become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not only Shusha, but also all other liberated cities.

Journalist: I have been traveling in Karabakh for six months and am an engineer and architect myself. Indeed, I haven’t seen such beautiful places anywhere else in the world. Indeed, the beauty of Shusha and Kalbajar is unique.

President Ilham Aliyev: People lived here, albeit only a few. According to the information we have – we later clarified this information – about 1,600 Armenians lived here, mostly military personnel and their families. In other words, there was never an Armenian population here. You can see the way the city looked during the occupation. We have tidied up the city a little, we have been cleaning for six months now, trying to make the city clean and orderly. All buildings were destroyed and unfinished. There are no new buildings. They have built several villas for themselves – you have probably seen them. Historical buildings have been destroyed and there is no urban infrastructure. Have a look – those pylons were not there before. They were using the pylons from ancient times. They claimed that this was an Armenian city, but if it was Armenian, then why did you bring it to such a state? Why didn't you live here? Why didn't you build anything? Why did you destroy it?

Journalist: Nobody would burn their house when leaving.

President Ilham Aliyev: Of course!

Journalist: But they did, which means that these houses were not theirs.

President Ilham Aliyev: You have also visited other liberated lands. There is pristine nature there, the color of those trees and the sky. I have not seen such colors.

Journalist: Aghdam is completely ruined. Seeing this picture, one thinks that this was done only in an attempt to erase memory. After all, why would someone settle scores with a grave? They simply wanted to erase history, to erase memory. I think that only this was their goal.

President Ilham Aliyev: Of course it is. They wanted to erase history so that we never come back. They believed that Azerbaijan would never get on its feet. They didn't believe that we could get on our feet. They did not believe that we could have both strength and determination. This is why they were saying: let's destroy everything so that they never come back, let’s erase history, destroy monuments and graves. And tomorrow we will say that it was Armenian land, and they said exactly that. Shahbulag was brazenly renamed into Tigranakert. What a falsification! They claimed that Shusha was an Armenian city. But this city was founded by Panahali Khan. We all know this well. He also called it Panahabad. How can it be an Armenian city if Panahali Khan arrived here from Aghdam 275 years ago?

Journalist: Moreover, Mr. President, they also threw some new stones there. I saw it myself.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes.

Journalist: Supposedly it was “Tigranakert”.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, there?

Journalist: Yes, right next to Shahbulag.

Journalist: I have seen several churches in Kalbajar, old churches, and the Armenians added new stones to them. And they did this in such a way that it is immediately noticeable. Seeing this, I immediately said that they were all fake stones. I asked people and they said that these stones were brought here 10-15 years ago.

Serviceman: Mr. Commander-in-Chief, with your permission, Special Forces want to have a photo with you.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, absolutely!

X X X

A photo was taken with Special Forces fighters.

X X X

Everyone said together: Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

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