Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening of Vagif Poetry Days in Shusha (PHOTO)

Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening of Vagif Poetry Days in Shusha (PHOTO)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 30


The Vagif Poetry Days have been organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the native city of the poet for the first time after the liberation of Shusha from occupation.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the official opening ceremony of the Vagif Poetry Days.

The head of state addressed the opening ceremony.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear ceremony participants,

First of all, I would request that we pay tribute to the memory of our martyrs who died heroically for the Motherland with a minute of silence.

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

Dear friends, it is a very significant day in the life of our country today. We are celebrating the opening of the Vagif Poetry Days in front of the mausoleum of the great Azerbaijani poet, statesman and vizier of the Karabakh khan Molla Panah Vagif. I heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.

Vagif’s mausoleum, like all other historical sites in the occupied territories, was vandalized by the Armenians. The mausoleum has been fully restored and was opened for the second time yesterday.

As you know, the decision to erect the mausoleum of Molla Panah Vagif in Shusha was made by great leader Heydar Aliyev. On his initiative, the mausoleum was opened here on 14 January, in snowy and frosty weather. This was no ordinary event. Because Shusha was a part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region at the time. As you know, the Armenians had claims to Shusha for many years, tried to portray Shusha as an Armenian city. However, there was no historical or cultural basis for that. We must also take into account that Molla Panah Vagif was not only a poet, but also a vizier of the Karabakh khan. During the Soviet era, Soviet ideology and the Soviet government's approach to history was such that khanates were described as a black spot in history. Despite all this, as a result of the resolve and determination of the great leader, this mausoleum was erected and Shusha was reaffirmed as an Azerbaijani city again.

Unfortunately, after the occupation of Shusha, all historical monuments and cultural sites, including the mausoleum of Vagif, were destroyed by the vandals. The occupation of Shusha was a great tragedy of our people. Because Shusha is the cradle of Azerbaijani culture. Shusha has a great symbolic meaning in the history of Azerbaijan. Shusha is the crown of Karabakh. After the occupation of Shusha, other districts and cities were occupied as well. Of course, the strategic importance of Shusha was lost for us, and the enemy took advantage of this and occupied Lachin a few days later – in May 1992. A year later, in April 1993, they occupied Kalbajar, thus establishing a geographical link between the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region and Armenia. Our defeat was inevitable, given that there was a period of chaos in Azerbaijan at that time. There was no regular army and there was civil confrontation.

The loss of Shusha led to the loss of other districts. However, we, the people of Azerbaijan, were never going to come to terms with this occupation. During the occupation, I repeatedly said that we would never come to terms with this situation, that we would liberate all the occupied lands, including Shusha, from the occupiers at any cost.

As you know, the process of negotiations lasted for about 30 years, but to no avail. The progress of events, the second Karabakh war and the actions of international forces show that this issue could never be resolved through negotiations. Because they wanted us, the Azerbaijanis, to come to terms with this situation. They tried to portray this situation, i.e. the frozen conflict, as a no-alternative option. We had a completely different opinion, and I never hid that. I said that if the issue was not resolved peacefully, we would restore our territorial integrity through war. All norms and principles of international law recognize this right. The UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and historical justice gave us this right. And we achieved this.

Shusha is an Azerbaijani city. The foundation of Shusha, as we all know, was laid by Panahali khan in 1752, and next year we will celebrate the 270th anniversary of Shusha. Despite the occupation, Shusha managed to preserve the Azerbaijani spirit. Everyone who comes to Shusha can see this. Even in a ruined state, even during the occupation when it was vandalized, Shusha was able to preserve its spirit, its stature. It did not bend, did not break, it waited for us. We had to come, and we did. We have come here as a victorious people. We did not come through negotiations, not as a result of any concessions made by Armenia, but by shedding blood, by giving martyrs, by showing self-sacrifice on the battlefield, by restoring our territorial integrity and by restoring our national dignity.

The 44-day patriotic war is part of our glorious history. This history will live forever. Because this victory is a unique victory in our history. The people of Azerbaijan deserved it, and we won the victory, drove the enemy out of our homeland, liberated our cities, liberated our native Shusha. Today, Shusha is being revitalized, and tangible steps are being taken to revive the city of Shusha. I first came to Shusha on 14 January this year, after the war. This date was not chosen by chance. Because 39 years ago, the mausoleum of Vagif was opened here with the participation of the great leader, and my arrival here specifically on 14 January had a great symbolic meaning. One of the first instructions during my first visit here was to restore Vagif's mausoleum, because the vandals had destroyed it. Vagif's bas-relief and the gravestone inside the mausoleum were removed. In other words, they committed vandalism inherent in them, as we have witnessed in all other liberated lands. The restoration of the mausoleum was undertaken by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and we are launching the Vagif Poetry Days in front of this mausoleum today. The Vagif Poetry Days have been restored, and so has the “Kharibulbul” music festival. In May of this year, we held this festival with great enthusiasm and restored this history.

During my first visit, all the necessary instructions on the restoration of Shusha were given. And a lot has been done in the seven months since January. Those who come to Shusha for the second or third time can see this. Yes, the city is still in ruins. No matter how hard the Armenians tried, they could not present Shusha as an Armenian city. If it were an Armenian city, then why is it in such a state, why was it destroyed, why wasn’t a single building constructed here? Except for the new villas of three or four Armenian officials, no new buildings have been constructed here. All the old buildings have been destroyed, all historic sites have been destroyed.

The restoration of Shusha began on 14 January, and great work was done in a short time. First of all, the road was paved. We saw on 14 January what condition Victory Road was in. It took us about two and a half to three hours to get here from Fuzuli. It was snowing, there was no road, there was a trail, with ice and mud on the surface. An asphalt road has been built now, and this is Victory Road. A highway is also being built. A highway with tunnels is being built from Fuzuli, and there will be a shorter road. Shusha's electricity infrastructure has been restored, high-voltage lines have been extended from Fuzuli, and a substation has been built. In other words, one of the main priorities was to supply Shusha with electricity. When the enemy was leaving Shusha, they blew up Shusha's water lines. We have restored water supply to Shusha. Water comes to Shusha from two sources now. The restoration of historical sites in Shusha has started. Vagif's mausoleum has already been restored. The bust of Vagif, which was destroyed by Armenians, has been restored, and it was unveiled again in a ceremony yesterday. Three mosques are being repaired. The renovation of the Yukhari Govharagha Mosque is nearing completion. Instructions have been given to repair the Saatli and Ashaghi Govharagha mosques. The repair of these mosques has been undertaken by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation too. The Natavan spring has been restored and now abounds in water. The Armenians also dried up 17 of the 17 springs here. If it were an Armenian city, why did they dry up these springs? Then Kharibulbul Hotel was opened, received its first visitors in May-June, and other steps were taken.

The busts of our geniuses Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Bulbul, which were shot at by the Armenians, have been brought and placed in the central square by me personally. Yesterday saw the start of another stage in the revitalization of Shusha. As I mentioned, Vagif's mausoleum and Vagif's bust were reopened, the statue of Uzeyir Hajibeyli, which was destroyed by the contemptible enemy, was erected again. An order has been given to restore Uzeyir Hajibeyli's destroyed house. Yesterday, Polad Bulbuloglu and his son, Bulbul's grandson, celebrated the opening of Bulbul's house. Polad has restored his father's house, and a beautiful museum has been created there. Karabakh Hotel reopened its doors to visitors after major overhaul yesterday. We saw what Karabakh Hotel was like during the occupation. Only two floors of it were working. There was no water or electricity. It was in a state of disrepair. This footage is available. It has also been restored, and I think that the most important of these measures is the laying of the foundation stone of a new residential complex.

The new hotel will be five-star. There will be 150 rooms in it. At present, there are 150 rooms in Karabakh and Kharibulbul hotels in Shusha – a total of 300 rooms. There will be a large conference hall and venues for events. The location of the five-star hotel was also chosen by me. The hated enemy was building the so-called parliament of the self-styled “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” there. This was intended to annoy us. There is no concept of a “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”. The foundation of that building had already been laid and stonework had already been completed. By my order, this devil's lair was destroyed.

The five-star hotel will be built in a beautiful location. The most important event was the laying of the foundation stone of the new residential complex yesterday. This residential complex will be built on the basis of the master plan of Shusha. The master plan of Shusha has been approved and is a very detailed and well-developed plan. At the first stage, the plan is to build 25 residential buildings here – three, four and five-storey residential buildings, so that citizens can begin to return to Shusha.

These comprehensive measures show that the revival of Shusha is progressing rapidly and the people of Shusha are returning to Shusha. Groups of people are coming to visit their hometown. At the same time, natives of Shusha are provided with jobs at the facilities that have already been opened here. So we will revive Shusha.

Dear friends, about 40 years ago my father was standing here, while I was standing over there. We were gathered for the opening of Vagif's mausoleum in frosty and snowy weather. Then, on 29 July 1982, I came to Shusha for the second time with my father. At that time, the Vagif Poetry Days were held. Today we are celebrating the opening of Vagif's mausoleum for the second time. My father was 59 years old when the Vagif Poetry Days were held. I am 59 years old now. Some may think that this is a coincidence. But I think that there is a great symbolic meaning in that. History repeats itself. The black page of Azerbaijan's history is behind us and we are able to breathe again.

During the occupation, many of us – both former IDPs and the entire Azerbaijani people, including myself – repeatedly thought that there is no justice in the world. Because if there was justice, we would not be in this situation. I was of the same opinion. But life has shown that there is justice, you just have to be patient, you have to be patient, you have to believe in justice and you have to work to achieve justice, you have to move towards the goal. Self-sacrifice is needed to restore justice. Today we can all say openly and deep inside that that yes, there is justice, justice has been restored, we are in Shusha today, and from now on we will live in Shusha forever.

While giving the good news of Shusha to the people of Azerbaijan on 8 November, I said that Shusha is already free, this is the truth. We are gathered in a free Shusha. I said that we have returned to Shusha. This is also true. Festivals, poetry days, cultural and many other events are already being held and will continue to be held. I said that we would revive Shusha. This is happening, because we are reviving Shusha.

Long live Shusha! Long live Karabakh! Long live Azerbaijan!


After the speeches, a video on the history of the Vagif Poetry Days was shown.

Young musicians performed “Karabakh Shikastasi”.


Woman: It is nice to see you!

President Ilham Aliyev: I have invited you.

Woman: May Allah grant you good health.

Women: Thank you very much. May Allah be pleased with you. May Allah grant you good health. May Allah protect you. We are proud of our President. We are grateful to Mehriban Aliyeva. Thank you for all this work. As a result of your far-sighted policy, we are here today.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, we are back.

Woman: Thank you. We have come here with a great sense of pride.

President Ilham Aliyev: We will live here forever.

Participants: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

President Ilham Aliyev: You will return to Shusha soon.

Participants: Thank you, Mr. President.

Woman: We are cultural workers. I am the director of the Central Library System. We have a large female team. They are all sending their greetings. Thanks to you, our cultural institutions did not have to see what displacement is.

Man: We kept it in Baku for 30 years and have returned it as a deposit. Mr. President, you have expanded the borders of Azerbaijan's glory. Long live our President!

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.

Man: I am writing something about Shusha. This is a great heroism. It is the heroism of both the army and you personally.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. The events will continue today and tomorrow.

Man: [Reciting a poem]

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. I think that we will hold Poetry Days as an international event next year.

Anar, Chairman of the Union of Writers: We want to hold our congress here in October.

President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, please do.

Anar: There will be visitors from abroad.

President Ilham Aliyev: It will be good. There is also a place to hold it here.

Anar: Very good, thank you very much.

Woman: Thank you, Mr. President. You have given us these wonderful feelings. We still can't believe it. It is a legend for all of us, Mr. President.

People's poet Vahid Aziz: Mr. President, I attended the event you mentioned. I was in the Central Committee then, I was standing here. When you said that I had fulfilled my father's will, I was moved. I have written a poem about that and will publish it.

Anar: I also came here for the Uzeyir Music Days. I came here together with the great leader.

President Ilham Aliyev: The monument to Uzeyir Hajibeyli was also destroyed. Nothing was left of it. We unveiled it yesterday. You can go and see it. Instead of the bust of Vagif, they opened a small hut-type shop.

AzTV employee: I also attended the first opening, as a representative of Azerbaijan Television. I prepared a report about it.

President Ilham Aliyev: I invited the participants at the time.

AzTV employee: Yes, thank you for that.

Man: I was also invited. I read a poem there.

President Ilham Aliyev: In winter or summer?

Man: Both in winter and summer. At the opening of the Poetry Days, I also asked our great leader. Thank you very much. May Allah protect you, Mr. President.

Participants: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much.

President Ilham Aliyev: Hello. How are you? How is the Kazakh land?

Man: As soon as I received the invitation from the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, I came here running from Gazakh. I will recite a poem:

[reciting a poem]

Thank you.

President Ilham Aliyev: Mr. Ahmadzadeh is also here. I specifically invited you then. Do you remember?

Ahmad Ahmadzadeh: Yes, it was winter. It was snowing heavily.

Young girl: Mr. President, we also thank you on behalf of the youth, on behalf of young writers. I was the same age as the occupation of Karabakh. But now I am glad that I am older than that occupation. Thank you very much.

President Ilham Aliyev: Very nice, thank you very much.

Participants: Thank you. Thank you very much.

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