BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 13
On 13 October, 2020, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev was interviewed by Turkish Haber Türk TV channel. On 14 October, the TV channel broadcast the interview with the head of state. Trend presents the interview.
- We are with the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev. Mr. President, you have a busy schedule, both at the front and in diplomacy. Thank you very much for your time with Haber Türk.
- Thank you.
- Mr. President, a meeting between Armenia and Azerbaijan took place in Moscow, which lasted 11 and a half hours. But after that meeting, Armenia bombarded the city of Ganja and targeted civilians with particular cruelty. It is noteworthy here that Armenia aims at Azerbaijan from its own territory. Why did Armenia need this attack at a time when the meeting was held at the diplomatic level? Have you received the desired support from the world community or any messages on this issue?
- This dirty policy of Armenia is understandable because they resort to such heinous actions whenever they are defeated on the battlefield. The display of cruelty towards civilians and unarmed population is a common thing for them. The Azerbaijani people saw this on the example of the Khojaly genocide. This time the Azerbaijani Army, having carried out a successful operation along the entire front, liberated several cities and villages. Our operation to liberate us from the occupation continues successfully. This morning, I was informed that the Azerbaijani Army has achieved even more impressive successes in this direction. We will provide this information at the right time.
The reason for this treacherous attack by Armenia is that they are trying to expand the geography of this conflict and involve the Collective Security Treaty Organization of which they are a member. This is why they bombard Azerbaijani lands, civilians and provoke us to retaliate. But as I said, our revenge would be on the battlefield. We never take any action against civilians. All our goals are military. From the first days of the operation, military targets were reviewed again and we eliminated them with precise and aimed fire. The Armenian army suffered a lot of damage. We have destroyed more than 200 tanks, two S-300 anti-aircraft installations, numerous other pieces of equipment. A total of 33 tanks and other hardware have been taken as trophies.
This is another terrorist act on the part of Armenia, but it cannot break the will of the Azerbaijani people. We will fight the enemy with even greater determination, we will liberate our lands with even greater zeal, and we will raise the flag of Azerbaijan in all the occupied lands.
As for the reaction of international organizations and the international community to this, as always, Turkey has openly and unequivocally supported us on this issue again. The statements of my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the statements of other high-ranking officials were further manifestation of the position of brotherhood. Pakistan and its Prime Minister have made a very positive statement, showing great solidarity. Other countries have made similar statements. But I can't say that it was widespread on a global scale. However, it is as clear as day. A statement is made about a ceasefire, but such a cowardly attack is organized less than a day later. This shows yet again who is not interested in a ceasefire.
I said that our goal is to return the citizens of Azerbaijan to all the occupied lands. I said that the ceasefire would allow things to move from a military onto political and diplomatic levels. At the diplomatic level, this issue should be resolved around the negotiating table, Armenia should withdraw from the other occupied territories, Azerbaijani citizens should return there and peace should be established. But it seems that Armenia's plans were completely different. They believed that by using this ceasefire, they could reduce their military losses, gain time, mobilize new forces and thus continue their attacks on Azerbaijan. They were wrong. I said that if Armenia did not act positively, they would regret it, and I was right.
- Mr. President, your Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian foreign minister held a meeting that lasted 11 and a half hours. When this meeting was underway, you said that you have one condition – they should provide a timetable, in other words, a timetable for Armenia's withdrawal from Karabakh. Was the timetable provided at the Moscow meeting? Did Moscow submit any project or plan related to the future of Karabakh?
- No, the timetable was not provided, but we did not particularly insist on that because we were satisfied with the provisions of the Moscow agreement, the Moscow statement that met our interests. I should also say that the Moscow discussions dragged on because there were plans to include articles that did not suit us in this statement. We didn't know about that. When our foreign minister arrived in Moscow and sat down at the negotiating table, proposals were presented to both ministers. Naturally, I was informed as we were in constant contact. I set out our conditions outside of which no arrangements were possible.
This is why, given the situation, we have slightly softened our position in relation to the timetable. But this does not mean that there will be no timetable. There will be one. When? This will be established during the discussions. It was indicated in the statement that the discussions would be resumed on the basis of the fundamental principles, i.e. the Madrid principles, which confirm the return of our occupied lands to Azerbaijan. At the same time, the format of negotiations remains unchanged. In particular, negotiations will be held between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The participation of any representative of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh republic" in these talks is not negotiable. We are satisfied with that. Our expectation was that negotiations should start immediately and the timetable should be presented to us within these negotiations. We must be satisfied with this timetable. In other words, it cannot be a long process. We have waited for 30 years. The patience of the Azerbaijani people has already run out. I am sure that if negotiations resume, this timetable will be provided to us. However, the violation of this agreement, of this statement on the part of Armenia shows that they simply intend to gain time and continue attacks on Azerbaijan.
- Mr. President, Armenia is making attempts related to the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia is trying to solicit political pressure from France, Russia and other countries with a strong Armenian diaspora. You are taking a decisive position on the issue of liberating Karabakh from occupation. What is your model related to Karabakh after its liberation? Will it be an autonomous region or an independent entity? What will be the process related to Karabakh like?
- First of all, I have to say that the attempts currently being made by Armenia are inappropriate and very harmful for themselves because no country will ever grant independence to Nagorno-Karabakh, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan and belongs to it from the point of view of international law. No country will recognize it. This being the case, all such attempts will be fruitless. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is recognized by the whole world. Notice that the Minsk Group co-chair countries recognize our territorial integrity. We have initialed a document entitled "Partnership Priorities" with the European Union. It expresses support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty of Azerbaijan and the inviolability of our borders. So I do not believe that any country will recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh because an hour later we will cut off all diplomatic ties with such a country. Definitely! Therefore, all attempts by Armenia are designed simply for the internal audience, i.e. its own public, as if they are engaged in some kind of diplomatic activity too.
As for the post-war period, there will be no changes in our position. Our position is based on historical justice, international law and best international experience. In other words, at the first stage the Armenian armed forces must withdraw from the occupied territories. In principle, this issue has already been reaffirmed within the Minsk Group – five districts, then two districts, then Nagorno-Karabakh itself, Shusha, Khankandi – the Azerbaijanis lived in many villages there. Azerbaijani citizens must return there and discussions on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh in a new environment, in a new climate will be continued. We will get even closer to peace. Therefore, there is no change in our position on the Armenians living there. Azerbaijan is a multiethnic state. Thousands of Armenians live in different parts of Azerbaijan, especially in Baku, and they are our citizens. There are many ethnicities living in our country and this increases the strength of our country. Therefore, the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh should not be worried at all. Once we save their lives from that criminal junta, they will live better, safer, in a more secure environment and their well-being will improve because they live in poverty now. We will invest in it, we will implement social programs there, we will have programs to create jobs. All this will be a new stage for the Armenians living there and the Azerbaijanis who will return there.
This is our position. And Armenia's position is to expel the Azerbaijanis from there, carry out ethnic cleansing, raze the historical and religious sites of Azerbaijan to the ground, and then declare that this is ancient Armenian land. The Armenians were resettled there by tsarist Russia at the beginning of the 19th century. This is history. We know this history. Therefore, this is our position. The Azerbaijani people know and support this position.
- Mr. President, as far as I understand, you have explained not only the operation but also the period after it, provided a phased concept. However, we know that during the conflict, sad events took place in Karabakh, 30,000 Azerbaijani Turks were killed, became martyrs. Will the two peoples be able to live together again in this geographic space? Or will Armenians and Azerbaijani Turks live in separate districts? What is the plan?
- You know, the Azerbaijani people are very kind. That is exactly why representatives of dozens of other ethnicities live in Azerbaijan peacefully and with dignity. Therefore, I am absolutely convinced that Armenians and Azerbaijanis will be able to live together in these regions. Just like they live in other places of Azerbaijan today, just like, for example, they live in Georgia. More than 300,000 Azerbaijanis and about 200,000 Armenians live in Georgia. In some villages, they live together, in the same village. There are no problems between them. They live like normal neighbors – in Russia, in Ukraine and other countries. Why can't we do it here?
I believe that we must be ready for that. We must prepare our peoples for this. Everything I have told you today is accepted by the Azerbaijani people and receives their support. At the same time, this is my appeal to the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh today. Let them know that the Azerbaijani people are not their enemy. The Azerbaijani people simply want to live in the land of their ancestors. They have the right to do so. Let them live there alongside us. But to drive us out of there so that they could live there on their own is unfair. We can never agree to that.
Of course, any war ends in peace. Therefore, we must also look at the post-war stage now. If both sides show a firm will and international organizations help us in this matter, then I think this can be achieved. It won't be easy but we must try to achieve this.
- Mr. President, Armenia is currently shelling the settlements of Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan takes aim only at military sites in the course of operations, conducts operations only in the territories of the Karabakh region. At the same time, Armenia is shelling Ganja, Mingachevir, Barda and other places with dense population centers. What is the goal: to sow panic, chaos and fear? What is the psychological state of the Azerbaijani people at the present time?
- You are right, the goal is exactly this – to sow panic, chaos and fear. Azerbaijan is a completely different country today. A new generation has grown up. New people have been raised in the conditions of independence – patriots, both morally and physically strong. At the same time, the older generation has a completely different world outlook today. Our state has a strong determination. We have a powerful army. That is why the heinous attacks failed to break our resolve. The city of Tartar suffered the most from the Armenian vandalism. Thousands of shells fell on Tartar. Tartar is a small town. Not as big as Ganja. I was informed this morning that from 7 o'clock to half past 9, over a thousand shells fell on the city of Tartar in two and a half hours. But the people of Tartar stand as firmly as a mountain, united in a single fist, do not go anywhere and say: we will die but we will not retreat. The same holds true for Aghdam, Goranboy, Aghjabadi and all other regions located close to the frontline. They are used to living face to face with the enemy. In 2016, after the famous April battles, I went to the regions affected by Armenian vandalism. I visited one village. The distance from that village to Armenian positions was 100-150 meters. Our servicemen told me: don't go there, don't go, it is dangerous there. I replied that our people live there, isn't it dangerous for them? Imagine how brave and proud these people are to live there, create and raise children under enemy fire. Such are Azerbaijani people!
So these treacherous attacks will not force us to deviate from the chosen path. Another goal of Armenia is to stop us. They think these mean strikes will stop us. Nobody can stop us because our cause is fair. We are going along this path and we are following it successfully. We raise our flag, free our lands and we will go all the way to the end!
- Mr. President, regarding the Minsk Group. Although the conflict has been going on for 30 years, no solution has been found. Yesterday, in an interview with one of the media, you spoke about the possibility of revising the format, more precisely, the possibility of changing the composition. What should this composition be like? Should Turkey get a seat at the negotiating table? The fact is that a message came from Russia in the morning that they did not really want Turkey's presence at this table. What is your attitude to this issue? I would like to ask you another question in this regard. Mr. President, if Russia wants to send peacekeepers to Karabakh, how will you react to this? If I am not mistaken, one of the media outlets has already asked you this question.
- First of all, I must say that the dispatch of peacekeepers to the region should take place on the basis of the consent of both countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan. The dispatch and composition of peacekeepers. In other words, who will be there and what countries they will represent. If one of the countries vetoes it, then, of course, this will not happen. The second question is that everyone should understand: when people talk about sending peacekeepers today, they talk about Azerbaijani lands, the territory of sovereign Azerbaijan. Without our permission, no country will be able to send its peacekeepers to our lands. This is against the law. This runs counter to international law. This is unacceptable.
Therefore, we are not worried about that. There may be such efforts and intentions. I do not rule that out but all questions should be decided at the table. I must also say that the fundamental principles that are the topic of discussion envisage the dispatch of peacekeepers at the final stage. First of all, it is necessary to resolve the issues I have noted - the liberation of our lands, the return of internally displaced persons, the opening of borders, the establishment of transport and trade communications. After that, the dispatch of peacekeepers is not rule out. But since we have not come close to a positive result in the 30 years of negotiations, this issue was not discussed at all. So there may be various assumptions and interests on this issue but it is impossible without Azerbaijan's consent.
As for the question related to the activities of the Minsk Group, I have already said several times that the Minsk Group was established in 1992. We do not know what groundwork there was at the time. There are countries in this group that are not interested in this region at all. They have no interests and no influence in this region. Therefore, if they want a solution to this conflict – we do want this – then there must be countries that could contribute to peace in real life.
Of course, we see fraternal Turkey in this process. We welcome this. We know that the Minsk Group was established by the OSCE, which has its own rules. There are probably some legal procedures involved in changing the composition of this group. We don't want to go too much into detail. Therefore, I said that it did not matter whether this would be de jure or de facto – the main thing is that Turkey should be at this table. It is already there because my dear brother, dear Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has repeatedly met and talked with respected Putin about the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. For many years now, i.e. for more than 10 years, this issue has been on the Turkish-Russian agenda. I am aware of this. Both the President of Turkey and the President of Russia told me about this. Turkey is already there. There is an even larger volume, an even larger scale now.
You know, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaks on the phone with Mr. Lavrov, the Turkish Defense Minister Mr. Hulusi Akar, speaks with Mr. Shoigu. Who can say that Turkey is not in the process. If there is no Turkey, then why are you saying this? Turkey is there. And we will do everything possible to keep it this way because this issue cannot be resolved without Turkey's participation. Everyone should understand this. As for the formal side of the issue, I repeat that the Minsk Group may remain, it has not achieved any result in 30 years anyway. But the sooner this issue is resolved, the sooner the Minsk Group will become unnecessary.
- Mr. President, on the one hand, the prime minister of Armenia Pashinyan danced in Shusha before the operation and tried to cheer up his people. On the other hand, suffering defeats in this war, he began to blame Turkey. He accused Turkey of transferring foreign fighters here. At the same time, we see that international media also devote a lot of attention to this topic. Among other things, one of the American newspapers circulated reports about foreign fighters and Turkish planes in Azerbaijan. How do you assess that dance of Pashinyan? Is the current situation obvious? Secondly, I would like to know your opinion regarding Turkey's position and the topic of these aircraft.
- Pashinyan's dance in a drunken stupor and his other insults aroused legitimate anger among the Azerbaijani people. We are avenging these escapades of his on the battlefield. Azerbaijani soldiers are showing on the battlefield who is right and who is not. We demonstrate our power, the will of the people on the battlefield. Pashinyan's other provocations also do not and will not remain unanswered. The dignity of the Azerbaijani people is being restored. The blood of our martyrs does not and should not remain unavenged. The cities and villages we have already liberated are our best response to the likes of Pashinyan. He already understands who is who. I warned him. I told him that this path would lead them to disaster. I told him not to play with the dignity of the Azerbaijani people, to be attentive and careful. He thought that Armenians of the world would protect him. He thought that big states would fight in his place, and he still wants it today. In the course of one day, he telephoned the President of Russia, esteemed Vladimir Putin, several times. Some of these calls were reported on in the media, others were not. We have information that even after the latest ceasefire, Pashinyan called Putin. These actions of his, of course, demonstrate that this person is in panic, he is confused. The Azerbaijani army is inflicting such a crushing blow on the enemy that they have found themselves in an awkward state. This is one side of the issue.
As for the involvement of Turkey here or the transfer of some foreign forces, this is an absolute lie. I have already expressed my attitude to the issue related to the Turkish F-16. Turkish F-16 aircraft are here. They flew here during the exercises, stayed here afterwards and after the Armenian attacks. But they are on the ground, not in the air. None of them took part in this war. Not a single person from Turkey participates in this war. As for foreigners, this is also a lie. This is slander. We were not provided with any evidence. There were just statements from France and Russia, and that was all.
- Has any specific evidence been provided?
- There is no evidence. No statements were made. Our intelligence is not informed of anything.
I can tell you now that our intelligence agencies contacted the countries that slandered us and asked for evidence. They did not give any. Only words. Let them write whatever they want in the media, we are not concerned. Western media have always been on the side of Armenia. They treated us negatively before. Therefore, we are used to this kind of slander. But statements of certain officials are unacceptable. Either prove it or take your words back. This is not the case. And this is not necessary. Azerbaijan has a strong enough army to resolve these issues on its own.
Besides, as for the participation of foreign citizens, let them look at Armenia and see how many terrorists there are there. There are RKK camps there. They also exist in Nagorno-Karabakh. After the liberation of this region from the invaders, we will destroy these camps too. So many foreigners are taking part in these battles against us today. The terrorists killed there have passports of Canada and Lebanon. Whether they are of Armenian origin or not is another matter. A citizen of another country has come here and is fighting against us. They are mercenaries.
They also say that Turkey is providing military assistance to Azerbaijan. You know, Turkey is our brother. Our fraternal relations have already gone through great trials. We buy military equipment from Turkey, but we also buy it from other countries. We buy it from Russia, Israel, Belarus, Iran, Ukraine, Eastern European countries, including Turkey. Turkey has a developed military-industrial complex today. Why shouldn't we buy it from them? Notice what Armenia is doing. We buy everything with money. I have a complete list and it will be published later, but I want to draw your attention to several issues. During these two weeks, more than 200 Armenian tanks were destroyed and 33 tanks were taken as trophies. In other words, we have destroyed 233 Armenian tanks. Two S-300 installations were destroyed. Everyone knows the cost of each one. In addition, the OSA-35 air defense systems were destroyed. "TOR", "KUB", "KRUG", trucks, anti-tank weapons. If you count all this, the cost of equipment we have destroyed and taken as trophies is estimated at 1-2 billion dollars. The question is where poor Armenia found the money to buy all this. Did it buy it with money? No! They received it for free. Everyone knows who gave it to them. They give and continue giving them weapons. After the clashes in Tovuz District, the conflict ended on 16 July and starting from 17 July cargo planes began delivering weapons to Armenia every day. Are these items in Armenia's budget? No! Armenia's foreign exchange reserves amount to $1.5 billion. That's all. It has no more money. The external public debt of this country is approximately $8 billion. So it is a failed state. Where does so much of destroyed equipment come from? And much more equipment will be destroyed. If the war continues, we will destroy their entire army, all of their army! Therefore, the sooner they stop the war, the more tanks and guns they will be able to save. There is so much more of this is on the territory of Armenia. Russia has a military base in Armenia and there are 5,000 soldiers there. Does Turkey have a military base in Azerbaijan? No! Armenia's border with Iran and Turkey is protected by Russian border guards. Are there Turkish border guards on the border of Azerbaijan? No! So no-one should accuse us. Otherwise, we will have to reveal all the unpleasant moments.
- Mr. President, you have mentioned RKK camps in Karabakh. Is there information in what districts they are located?
- We have intelligence about this. I don't want to talk about this in more detail. Most of all, they are present in mountainous regions. A part of the occupied territories is in the mountains and a part is in the lowland. Most of all, they are located in forests and mountainous areas. We have repeatedly contacted international organizations in this regard. Even when I was in my previous capacity, as a Member of Parliament and head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I raised the issue there too. I drew the attention of European parliamentarians to the fact that they should apply sanctions to Armenia. Armenia is a terrorist country, a country that encourages terror. Therefore, this kind of intelligence is available. At the same time, this was confirmed in a statement of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. For some reason, this statement was not published in any media. It said that foreigners were fighting in Azerbaijan. Even though Armenia is not mentioned in that statement, it says that RKK is also involved in the battles. It is clear that there can be no RKK in Azerbaijan. Why isn't there a single word about this in the Western media? They want to conceal this, to divert attention from it. But after the flag of Azerbaijan is hoisted on all these lands, not a single terrorist can remain there alive.
- Mr. President, issues of energy security are being discussed today. Armenia has carried out attacks that targeted TANAP or pipelines going to Turkey. How will you ensure security in this direction? Europe needs energy resources. What do European friends think about this?
- They are a little worried. Of course, we take this into account because anything can be expected from Armenia. One of the reasons for the clashes that took place in Tovuz district in July was also to approach this pipeline or to establish control over it. That was why they wanted to enter our territory and occupy new lands. But they experienced the bitterness of defeat. Since 2006, when the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was put into operation, to this day, there has not been a single problem on the territory of Azerbaijan related to the security of pipelines, not a single one – neither technical nor due to any provocation. Because on the territory of Azerbaijan we have a fairly sophisticated security system. Monitoring, physical protection and electronic protection are carried out. The location of the pipeline deep under the ground provides a certain degree of protection from air attacks, of course. But if Armenia implements these dirty intentions, i.e. plans to put the pipelines out of operation, then the response to their actions will be very tough. We have already warned them about this. I believe that European countries that will receive gas through TANAP next year should also warn them because TANAP is not only our project. It also has other shareholders. TAP has European shareholders. This is a project of exceptional importance for the energy security of Europe. Therefore, we should all be interested in this project not sustaining any damage.
- Mr. President, I want to ask one more question. Pashinyan is confused now. He has endangered not only himself but also the Armenian people. The 3 million people living in Armenia are in danger. Did any of the Armenians living of Europe, some businessmen working there act as an intermediary, saying that the Armenian people are not to blame, he is crazy. Have there been any phone calls from people interested in speaking about that?
- No, we have not received any phone calls or messages in this regard. But this wasn't something unexpected. You know, every leader, every manager must have some experience. Knowledge also matters, but you need experience, managerial experience. The people who have now come to power in some countries have no experience whatsoever. He did not even run a small collective farm. He didn't even manage a small company or a shop. He probably didn't even manage five people. How can he lead a country? It is difficult to lead a country, especially in our region. This is not so difficult in established European countries because there are countries where people do not even know who is leading them. People are not interested in this, they live their own lives, there is an established system, everything is systematized. In our region, a lot depends on the person leading the country – life, security, well-being of people, international authority. Pashinyan is a man from the street. Who was he before? Nobody! A writer, not even a writer but a correspondent for a newspaper. He came from the street and became a leader. What did he do after that? He is leading Armenia into an abyss. Look, there is absolute dictatorship in Armenia today. Criminal cases have been initiated against both ex-presidents. One of them served a couple of years, then he was released, but the criminal case remains open. The other was forbidden to travel outside the country. Two days before these clashes, the chairman of the main opposition party was arrested. Then Pashinyan crushed the Constitutional Court, dissolved it. He blackmailed the chairman of the Constitutional Court, threatened him with arrest and placed his own people there by force. He imprisons journalists and media representatives. One of them went on a hunger strike and died in prison. There are problems in the international arena, with traditional allies. He has created problems with Russia, Belarus and other traditional allies. Now Pashinyan pins most of his hopes on the Collective Security Treaty Organization. In Russian, this organization is called the CSTO. Its Charter says that in the event of an attack on one of the countries from the outside, the other member-countries must save it. But the general secretary of the CSTO was an Armenian, a man of the previous regime. He threw him in jail, thus insulting this organization too. He has done so much. Everyone already knows that Pashinyan is a product of Soros. He is someone managed by Soros. The source of the coups and "revolutions" that took place in post-Soviet republics is one and the same. Soros has already become a household word. I don't mean only him. Look for photos of Pashinyan with Soros on the Internet. They stand hand in hand, pressed against each other. A disgusting photo. This is who his father is. Therefore, Soros controls him. The events that took place in Armenia are yet another defeat for Soros.
In 2005, they wanted to do the same in Azerbaijan – the Orange Revolution. But I stood in front of them, crushed them, drove them out of here and then closed the Soros foundations. I drove other non-governmental organizations out of here. I said that we know what to do ourselves. Go and make revolutions somewhere else. They settled in Armenia, money started flowing there through non-governmental organizations and people were brought up in that spirit. Today, 90 percent of Pashinyan's team are representatives of Soros, Transparency International, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other similar dirty organizations. Therefore, in an interview with one of the Russian channels the other day, I said that our goal is not to create problems for Pashinyan. The longer he stays in power, the better for us. You know what I mean.
- Mr. President, last question. Frankly, I didn't plan to ask it but I want to ask it as well. How will events develop after this? There is very serious public support from Turkey. In other words, speaking about the public, I mean people, everyone watches your speeches and supports them. I have been in Azerbaijan for 15 days, I have visited Barda, Mingachevir, Ganja. People provide you with tremendous support. Wherever we have been, I ask people, and they say: "Never mind, let my house be destroyed, let my car burn out, that doesn't matter, the main thing is to return Karabakh". Immense support! We see this when we ask each of them a question. Everyone here supports you – both the opposition and the government. How will this process develop now? What do you expect? How long do you think this process will last? You are the son of an experienced father, the son of Heydar Aliyev, the most experienced political figure in the Caucasus and the region. Do you remember what he told you about Karabakh, Turkey and this region?
- You know, we will solve the problems of people whose houses have been destroyed. Let them not be worried. And in the shortest possible time. I remember when Armenia attacked us in April 2016, more than 1,000 houses were destroyed. During my meetings with the owners of these houses, I said: don't worry, we will restore all the houses. About eight months later, I visited them again, I visited Aghdam and other front-line regions, and handed them the keys to their houses.
An earthquake occurred in the city of Shamakhi a year and a half ago, and thousands of houses were destroyed. I went there and said: don't worry, we will restore all the houses. We did that too. There are several houses left, but they will also be restored. About 10 years ago, a flood occurred in our country, a large area remained under water. More than 5,000 houses were destroyed. All of them were restored by the state. My approach is this: if you had a house with an area of 100 square meters, you will get a new one with an area of 120-150 square meters. If you had a shack, then you will get a new beautiful and well-renovated home. Therefore, people who have lost their home and property will receive help. In addition, many people in our villages have also lost their livestock. It was a source of income for them. I have already issued an instruction, they are calculating how many animals have been lost, and this will also be reimbursed. We will definitely resolve this issue. The Azerbaijani people know that they will not apply to any insurance company, that there will be no red tape, that some official will not create problems for them because all this is under my personal control. Everyone knows this, and my instructions will be fulfilled.
These events demonstrate the greatness of the Azerbaijani people again. They say, let my house be destroyed, let my property be gone if only Karabakh is returned. We all live with this idea, everyone. For 30 years, we have lived with this dream, in separation – for 30 years. Wasn't there supposed to be an end to that? We will put an end to this and are doing exactly that.
Therefore, we must only go forward in this matter now. We gave Armenia a chance. We did not have to agree to this ceasefire. We could have said that we disagree. Who could have forced us?! No-one! We agreed to this so that people would not die on this and on the other side. I feel sorry for them too. They are also being driven. Our Ministry of Defense has circulated video footage of Armenian soldiers being chained, chained to iron, to each other's feet so that they do not run away. So many such bodies have been found. This is horror. They are not humans. On top of that, punitive battalions have been following Armenian soldiers in recent days. If someone retreats, then they shoot them on the spot. So there is such atrocity, such fascism.
Since we have lived with this dream, we want to return there, but in a peaceful way. Therefore, we gave Armenia a chance – observe the ceasefire, do not violate it, sit down at the negotiating table, resolve this issue, return our lands to us. We don't need your land. We do not claim the lands of Armenia. I told you that the Armenians can live on where they lived. We have no problems with them. So our policy fully consists in this at the current stage.
As for the post-war period, of course, not only the region but also the whole world will change. It is already changing. Everyone saw our power. We will be reckoned with even more. The role of Azerbaijan in certain regional issues is already very significant, and it will grow further. Of course, the Turkish-Azerbaijani unity will become even stronger. This is vital for both Turkey and Azerbaijan. The unity of Turkey and Azerbaijan brings stability and peace to the region because our intention is to secure our interests.
Turkey plays a very important stabilizing role in the region and in the new geography today. The support my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provided since very first hours of these clashes has maintained stability. Some may not understand this. If it were not for these words, if my brother had not said that Azerbaijan is not alone and that Turkey is next to Azerbaijan, then the situation may have deteriorated. Someone else may have tried to fish in troubled waters here. Therefore, we must now create a new strategic picture, a strategic vision in this region. We have already started thinking about this, but we do not want to get ahead of ourselves. First, we need to solve this job, complete this work, restore our territorial integrity, after which a new period will begin for Azerbaijan, a new period will begin for the region, the balance of forces will change, and I believe that the power of Turkey and Azerbaijan will increase even more.
- Mr. President, thank you very much. You have taken your time despite the busy schedule, in particular when news comes from the frontline. On the other hand, you are in the thick of diplomatic processes. Of course, during the conversation with you, during this interview, I saw again that you are actually very well aware of what is happening in Armenian society. On behalf of Haber Türk, I express to you, Mr. President, my deep gratitude for your time.
- Thank you! Many thanks.