President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva meet with members of general public of Gubadli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 25
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva have met with members of the general public of Gubadli district.
Welcoming members of the district general public, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- President Ilham Aliyev: Hello.
-Mehriban khanim Aliyeva: Hello, it is a pleasure to see you.
-President Ilham Aliyev: Hello, it is a pleasure to see you.
I have invited the natives of Gubadli district to Gubadli today. You are welcome to Gubadli. It is a significant and historic day in the history of Gubadli district today. Exactly one year ago, the victorious Azerbaijani Army liberated Gubadli from Armenian occupation, and from now on 25 October will be celebrated in our history as the Day of Eternal Victory. I sincerely congratulate you, the people of Gubadli, and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.
25 October played an important role in the subsequent course of the war. Because after the liberation of Gubadli, our road in the direction of Lachin was clear, and a few days later we liberated the villages in the southern part of Lachin. Thus, we took control of the Lachin corridor and the outcome of the war was already decided. It is true that fierce battles for Shusha were still ahead, operational plans were being prepared on the liberation of our other settlements, but the whole world and the enemy could see by now that there was no force capable of standing in our way. After Gubadli, we continued our victory march, our victory mission with dignity, and raised the national flag in Shusha on 8 November.
The liberation of each settlement is a historic event. From the very first and until the last day of the war, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were only advancing. The liberation of four villages on the first day brought great joy to the people of Azerbaijan. After many years, we all experienced the joy of this victory. At that time, of course, no-one could say for sure how long the war would last. Even after we liberated Shusha on 8 November, I personally could not say much longer the war would last. Our plans were to liberate all the occupied lands. But we did not know when the enemy would surrender. However, during the war, I repeatedly said in my speeches, addresses to the people and interviews with foreign journalists that if the enemy gave us a timetable for their withdrawal from our lands, we were ready to stop the war, and we kept that promise. As you know, on 9 November, the Armenian side also accepted its defeat, came to terms with this loss and signed an act of capitulation in the early hours of 10 November. We celebrate Victory Day on 8 November because it was on 8 November that the Armenian army surrendered.
When speaking of this glorious victory today, first of all, we must remember our dear martyrs. May Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs in peace. Our martyrs will live forever in our hearts. The people of Azerbaijan, the present and future generations will always be proud of our martyrs. One of them is our dear Shukur Hamidov. A resident of Gubadli district, he showed true heroism and died heroically in the battles for his native district. Shukur Hamidov was one of our most talented and courageous servicemen. He showed great heroism in the April battles. It was for this heroism that I named him a National Hero and personally presented this award to him. Then, during the first meeting with former IDPs, I met his father Nariman. I did not know that he was Shukur's father. He told me that at the opening of the IDP camp, and I greeted him. When I heard that Shukur had died – a few days ago, a year ago, it was the first anniversary of his death – we were all heartbroken. Shukur’s death is a great loss for us, for his family, for his relatives, for his father, for all of us. Therefore, today, on the first anniversary of the liberation of Gubadli, I would like to pay tribute to Shukur’s memory. He is an example for all our servicemen, for the younger generation. He sacrificed his life for his homeland and rose to the peak of martyrdom. The memory of our martyrs is and will be immortal.
After the completion of restoration work in all the liberated towns and villages, streets will be named after our martyrs. Their names will be given to schools. This process has already begun.
This will happen in all regions of the country, including the Karabakh-Zangazur region – after all the restoration work has been completed, streets and schools have been built. But there is a lot to be done. Many of you are visiting Gubadli for the first time after Victory, and you can see that the enemy has destroyed everything. The city of Gubadli is almost destroyed – there is not a single sound building left. The Armenian military simply used several buildings for their own purposes, and they were in a dilapidated condition too. When I came here in December last year, I saw that they were also in a bad condition. Therefore, we will rebuild all the villages of Gubadli district, including the city of Gubadli. The master plan of Gubadli is being prepared and will probably be submitted in the coming months, including to members of the Gubadli public. Of course, this master plan will meet the most modern requirements. The nature and historical past of Gubadli will be taken into account in planning the architecture. At the same time, specific work on the future development of Gubadli district is already underway. We have just celebrated the opening of a new substation, which is the seventh in the liberated lands. This infrastructure project takes into account the future development of Gubadli until 2050.
According to the information available to me, the total consumption of Gubadli district in Soviet times was 12 megawatts. However, this substation is designed for 40 megawatts, and if necessary, this capacity can be doubled. In other words, this is how we see the future development of Gubadli. In Soviet times, before the occupation, the population of Gubadli district was about 28,000, but now, according to my information, the population has reached 40,000.
All the villages have been destroyed, the city has been destroyed, not a single village has survived. Therefore, a lot will be done to accommodate the people of Gubadli. Infrastructure work is in the first place here. When you were coming here, you probably saw a very wide, four-lane road being built. There has never been a road of this size here. There was a narrow road from Zangilan to Gubadli and Lachin. We are now building a four-lane road from Zangilan to Gubadli and Lachin so that people can use this road comfortably. At the same time, there should be an opportunity to deliver products to the markets on time and without losses.
Zangilan airport will be commissioned next year. Zangilan and Gubadli are actually one and the same zone – the distance is not very large. Therefore, the people of Gubadli will also use it. Of course, the economic development plan of Gubadli district must be prepared separately. Because infrastructure projects have been approved. The master plan will cover all issues related to social infrastructure – schools, hospitals and other social facilities, residential buildings. Residential buildings will be built in Gubadli.
In Soviet times, there were more individual homes here. There were a few five-story houses. Fragments of one or two houses remain. Gubadli must develop as a city. Of course, with proper planning, all the conditions will be created for people to live comfortably here. As for economic development, of course, the district community must be very active in that – both in terms of the restoration work and in the development of the concept of future development of Gubadli. Because the district has immense potential, rich nature and natural resources. Two large rivers pass through the territory of Gubadli district – the Bazarchay passes right through the center of the city. The Hakari River is a great asset not only for Gubadli, but for all of Azerbaijan. We were deprived of these rivers. We were deprived of the Hakari, the Bazarchay, the Basitchay and the Tartar rivers. Armenians deprived us of them. This is a great asset. In fact, water resources are already recognized in the world as the main resource for the future, i.e. the primary resource for living. Therefore, proper planning must be carried out of what economic development should be like and what areas will develop. Of course, we will attract local and foreign investors. So we have major plans and there is a conceptual approach. After that, careful planning must be done, and I am sure that the residents of Gubadli will take an active part in that.
I have invited you today to celebrate this historic day together. This is truly a day that will live forever in the history of Azerbaijan. 25 October is Victory Day, the day of the liberation of Gubadli. After 27 years, we ended the occupation and drove the enemy out of our lands. The victorious Azerbaijani Army fulfilled its glorious mission with dignity. The second Karabakh war showed our strength and national spirit. It showed that we never intended to come to terms with that situation. Whereas the people of Gubadli, like other former IDPs, used to get together on the day of the occupation with great heartache every year, this date has been completely erased. However, we will all celebrate 25 October from now on. Congratulations again!
The chairman of the Milli Majlis committee on economic policy, industry and entrepreneurship, Tahir Mirkishili, said: Hello Mr. President, dear Mehriban khanim. It is a great honor and a great pleasure for us to be in the land of Gubadli together with you today. This is a historic day for us. You have returned these lands to their rightful owners. You have returned Gubadli to the people of Gubadli. Today, by inviting the people of Gubadli to Gubadli, you have brought us to our long-awaited dream. Mr. President, on behalf of our families and all the people of Gubadli, I express my deep gratitude to you for giving us the opportunity to experience these days.
Mr. President, as a result of the lack of government, statelessness and betrayal in Azerbaijan in the early 1992, we experienced great disasters. Great troubles befell us. We experienced a great human tragedy and were in danger of losing Azerbaijan. It was under the leadership of great leader Heydar Aliyev that we saved Azerbaijan. Thanks to his personal courage and genius, we saved our homeland. He laid a solid foundation, and the present-day state of Azerbaijan rests on that foundation under your leadership.
Mr. President, you and dear Mehriban khanim have done everything to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people who had found themselves far from their homes. You got rid of refugee camps, you built houses for them, you educated their children in universities and celebrated your birthdays together with us. In addition to all this, you have given us the hope and confidence that is of the greatest value to us. A new generation grew up on the basis of that hope and trust, and our victorious army defeated the enemy in 44 days by an order of Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev. Exactly a year ago, the enemy was driven out of these lands we are standing on now. Mr. President, we call it a 44-day war, but you fought for 17 years. Even though this war stopped a year ago, you are still fighting. In fact, I would not want that to happen, but events show that we will still have to fight a lot under your leadership. You are a symbol of Victory, and I am sure we will win many more victories.
Mr. President, as an economist I cannot fail to mention one issue. One of the biggest successes we have achieved under your leadership is our economic independence. It is your instructions, economic reforms, the huge economic projects that have created great economic opportunities for us. Thanks to these opportunities, you have done a lot for the social well-being of the people, for all of us on the one hand, but, on the other hand, we have created an army, bought weapons, fought and won. We have maintained that victory, and we saw along the way today that a lot of construction work is going on. Therefore, we are confident that our economic opportunities will continue to grow. We will achieve a lot of success under your leadership. Inshallah, Gubadli will be rebuilt and we will all have houses here. God bless you and your family. Thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. I want to say again that we must have very detailed plans for the economic development of Gubadli and other liberated districts. We have gained very good experience, state programs on the socioeconomic development of the regions are being successfully implemented. Several programs have already been implemented, and, of course, very good planning should be done in this area on the basis of that experience. I want to say again that there are already preliminary proposals for infrastructure projects, the construction of houses, the restoration of villages. The key thing is that those who will return here will live well, their well-being will be good. Of course, conditions will be created for that, but the areas in which they will be engaged must be identified correctly. The steps to be taken to achieve these goals must be taken correctly. The government has been instructed, various ministries are working, and I am sure that the Milli Majlis will also contribute to this work. There should be only good livelihood in such fertile lands.
I must say again that, as you know, I often visit these liberated areas and see some of the places where Armenians used to live. I can say that there is not a single new building there. Along the way – from Baku to Gubadli, Aghdam or Fuzuli – anyone going in any direction can see new houses along the way. As we pass through the villages, we see houses that were probably built 10 or 20 years ago, i.e. many houses were built in the years of independence. At that time, not a single building was built in the occupied territories, not a single one. They allegedly wanted to conduct settlement in Gubadli. An Armenian foundation built houses in Khanlig settlement. If you go and look at those houses, you will see that there are no conditions at all there. We have slightly renovated it and our servicemen are staying there now. In other words, they viewed these lands not as their own. They simply exploited these lands, cut down trees, plundered our natural resources, poisoned our rivers and showed their abominable qualities. But today the whole world can see this, the whole world. Because it is impossible to hide it. Everyone who comes here can see these ruins and evidence of Armenian fascism. But we are a constructive people and we will rebuild Gubadli.
Nariman Hamidov, father of martyred National Hero Shukur Hamidov: Mr. President, I am very lucky that this is my second visit here and I am meeting with you personally. I am pleased with Almighty Allah for giving you to Azerbaijan. Allah has granted a comprehensive commander and personality like you to Azerbaijan. Our people rallied around the state like a fist and said their word. This is an event that happened under your leadership, and everyone knows that. You are a steel-chested, formidable and irreplaceable leader. The path you have taken, the victory you have achieved seals and confirms what I have said. I have an idea that I have kept in my heart for a long time, and I will convey it here. I would request that our appreciative people confirm and applaud my opinion. I ask our legislature, the Milli Majlis, to declare Victorious Commander-in-Chief and President Ilham Aliyev “Permanent President of Azerbaijan”. I ask our people and the Milli Majlis to do this.
President Ilham Aliyev: I will veto that. I have such a right. Thank you, thank you very much indeed. I am grateful for these sincere words. But the greatest reward for me is that you are here, there are joy and pride in the eyes of former IDPs. This is the greatest reward for me. I said that I had met with the IDPs many times. Imagine that more than 100 settlements have been built, i.e. settlements for the IDPs, not houses. I have attended every opening, every opening ceremony. During the meetings with the IDPs – I have already said it once but I want to say it again – I saw that hopes were fading. Their hopes are dwindling. And this is natural. Because almost 30 years had passed and the issue remained unresolved. Everyone already understood that Armenia did not want to resolve this issue through negotiations. This made me very upset and sad. Those meetings strengthened my conviction that we should return our homeland at any cost. That sadness is gone now. Those sad moments are gone. Those memories are left in the past. Former IDPs already live with hope and pride. This is the greatest reward for me, and now the biggest task is to rebuild and restore these lands.
The war is over, and it is true that we are still forced to fight, and we are ready. In any form, on the battlefield, as it were – whether in the political arena or on the military battlefield. We have already shown that we are not a nation that will bow to anyone. At the same time, we have a lot of creative work ahead of us. This must be done in accordance with the victory in the war. In general, after this historic victory, the renewal, modernization of our country, the ongoing reforms, the fight against unpleasant situations, of course, must reach a whole new level. Because this Victory has shown the whole world that we are a great nation, and at the same time, it compels us, in the best sense of the word, to move forward only along the right path. Together with you, together with all the people of Azerbaijan, we will travel this road. The status in which travel this path is a different question. The main thing is that I will follow this path for the rest of my life – Inshallah, together with you.
Residents: Thank you very much.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
You have said that this is the second time, but it is actually the third time. I also invited you to the opening of the Military Trophy Park.
Nariman Hamidov: Yes, I remember. This is the third time. Thank you very much. We are proud of you, and life has proven us right.
Head of the Department of Baku State University, Professor Abbas Abbasov: All your activities are obvious – in the military field, in diplomacy and in politics. You are there on all fronts.
God sent you to this nation. God sent you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
Merited teacher Shamama Hasanova: Dear Mr. President – the hero of our nation, mountain and eagle-like. Today, we are very proud to be in this land entrusted to us by our ancestors. I express my gratitude on behalf of the people of Gubadli for giving us this sense of pride and this joy. Today, I am very happy to have the honor of conveying the greetings of the people of Gubadli to you. Mr. President, we, the people of Gubadli, are behind you like one person, we will stand by you in all this construction work – like we did in the 44-day war. The implementation of all your tasks, all your orders and your speeches are a priority in Gubadli today. Today, everyone in Gubadli is proud of you. I hope always to be your right hand in this creative work, to be with you and Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva. May Allah give you the power to complete this creative work with the help of Allah. Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, the lady of all ladies, may our First Lady always be with you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much indeed.
Shamama Hasanova: Today, Mr. President, we congratulate you as a victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief, as a victorious commander of the victorious Army. Believe me, you have erected such a monument in the heart of every person, in the heart of every native of Gubadli and indeed all our people that it can never be separated from its place.
I congratulate you and your family on such a happy day. May Allah always bring us together on such happy days. May Allah give the people of Gubadli this opportunity on such happy days, on such significant days.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, thank you very much, thank you very much indeed. It will be the case. Thank you!
Merited teacher Adalat Asadov (recites a poem).
Today, Mr. President has invited the natives of Gubadli to visit Gubadli. My wish from the Almighty is that we, the people of Gubadli, also invite our dear President, our great man, our great personality Ilham Aliyev to Gubadli as a guest. Always be there for us. May Allah protect you!
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Thank you very much. It will be the case. In the near future.
Hijran Huseynova, chairperson of the Milli Majlis committee for family, women and children affairs: Mr. President, you have returned us to our ancestral land. This is the greatest happiness for us. Throughout those 44 days of your talks and speeches, we felt how much anxiety you were going through – both you and Mehriban khanim. But from the first day to the last, we relied on you. We believed in you. All the people are rallied around you. You derived strength from our nation and led us to that Victory. Therefore, we wish you good health and long life. We are always behind you.
Shamama Hasanova: Those martyrs, Mr. President, who looked straight into the eyes of death, received strength and inspiration from you.
President Ilham Aliyev: You know, there have been many wars in the history of world. But I don’t believe there will ever be a war with zero deserters in the army.
Shamama Hasanova: Yes, yes, it is thanks to you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Because we know the history of World War II. There were so many deserters and traitors in the Soviet army at the time. In fact, German Nazis created a whole army of such traitors. We did not have a single deserter.
Shamama Hasanova: Thanks to you. They went to death relying on you.
President Ilham Aliyev: They were ready to die, they were ready to die for this land. This is the greatness of our people.
Then photos were taken.
First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva talked to residents. Returning to their ancestral homes, local residents expressed their gratitude for the liberation of the lands from occupation. A resident of Gubadli presented his handicraft to the First Lady.
The natives of Gubadli emphasized the work of First Vice-President and President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva in promoting the art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in the world. Residents voiced proposals to establish carpet weaving enterprises in liberated lands. First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva expressed her support for the proposals.
Then Nariman Hamidov, the father of National Hero Shukur Hamidov, thanked the First Lady for the work she was doing in the interests of Azerbaijan and for the care of wounded veterans of the Patriotic War.
Then, President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and members of the public toured the city of Gubadli.
President Ilham Aliyev: Where do you study?
Male student: I was the best in the country at school. I now go to Baku Higher Oil School.
President Ilham Aliyev: Oil school? What year are you in?
President Ilham Aliyev: First year. Very good!
Female student: I also study at Baku Higher Oil School. Our students are saying hello.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much, and please pass on my greetings to students. Thank you very much.
Female resident: I am very excited. Mr. President. I cry when I talk about the war. It is the most glorious page in the history of Azerbaijan.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, it is. I agree, thank you very much.
Young athlete: Mr. President, as a young Olympian, I also wanted to thank you on behalf of our athletes.
President Ilham Aliyev: I know you fought well. But you have to be a champion like Niyamaddin.
Young athlete: Thank you. Inshallah. I promise you!
President Ilham Aliyev: I am saying that he should be a champion like you, right?
Young athlete: He is our teacher. We have always tried to follow the example of teacher Niyamaddin.
President Ilham Aliyev: How old are you?
Young athlete: I was born in 1996.
President Ilham Aliyev: 1996. Haven't you seen these places?
Young athlete: I have not. It has been a great honor.
President Ilham Aliyev: Did your parents live here?
Young athlete: Yes, my parents used to live here, in the village of Gurjulu. It is a great honor to visit here with you.
Niyamaddin Pashayev: Mr. President, on behalf of myself and my family, I express my deep gratitude to you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
Niyamaddin Pashayev: This is the Gubadli I grew up in until I was 13 years old.
President Ilham Aliyev: Did you live here?
Niyamaddin Pashayev: Yes, I was born in Muganli village of Gubadli district. Inshallah, I do hope that just as major sports competitions have been organized in Azerbaijan – after the restoration of these occupied cities is completed – we will be lucky enough to host European and world championships, European Games, Islamic Games here.
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course! Definitely! Good sports facilities will definitely be built here. You will also come here and share your experience. Definitely!
Young athlete: Inshallah, from now on we will dedicate all our victories to you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. You have a very strong potential. I was watching you. Are you a bronze medalist of the World Cup?
Young athlete: Yes.
President Ilham Aliyev: In other words, he can become a world and Olympic champion.
Young athlete: Inshallah. We promise you. We will prove this in Paris, with God’s grace. Thank you very much.
Doctor: Mr. President, I worked here as a pediatrician for 15 years.
President Ilham Aliyev: In the district center of Gubadli?
Doctor: In the district center. Thanks to you, the children I treated liberated our lands from occupation. We now look at these lands and these houses, but can’t recognize anything.
President Ilham Aliyev: They have destroyed everything. And then they dismantled it. They first destroyed it before the war. Then they dismantled everything, took the stones and scattered them around. Everything will be rebuilt. An instruction has been given. The master plan is being prepared. It will probably be ready in two to three months. After that, the public will get acquainted with it. You should also make suggestions. Of course, a larger city is intended. The first such option has now been submitted to me – having a population of 10,000-15,000 people perhaps. Because before the occupation, the district center had a population of 5,000 people.
Of course, the villages will definitely be restored, Inshallah. This main road is being built now. A road is being built to Eyvazli. You must have heard about it.
Residents: Yes, it is the most strategic road.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, indeed. It is the Gorus-Gafan road that now passes through our territory.
Resident: Mr. President, as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief you know these villages better than we do.
President Ilham Aliyev: I know this by heart because all these instructions were given during the war – which village should be liberated, when and how.
Resident: Every day, people looked forward to an announcement from you. We got used to it.
President Ilham Aliyev: Sometimes, where there was a pause for a day or two, people started to get worried and wondered what had happened.
Resident: There were four Azerbaijani villages in Gorus region – Shurnukhu, Aghbulag, Chayzami, and Gurdgalag. Mount Kapaz could be seen from here. The Armenians named Mount Kapaz Aghbanni. These were all Azerbaijani villages. There are ancient cemeteries and other places left. Our village of Seytas was destroyed three times. It was burned three times in one season. In January 1990, my father's house was set on fire.
Resident: Mr. President, on the right side over there, there was a monument to the Great Patriotic War, a monument to the Mother. The names of all of them were written on it.
President Ilham Aliyev: They have demolished it too.
Resident: The area up the hill had a pavilion. They have even dismantled the stairs.
Another resident: Mr. President, if I am not mistaken, I remember the Great Leader coming to the Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in 1997 to see “The Cloth Peddler”. It was a meeting of pediatricians, and he was accompanied by his and brother Ihsan Dogramaci.
He went behind the scenes. I was in the image of Vali. People likened me to our great artist Lutfali Abdullayev. He came backstage and shared his impressions with all of us. He was very pleased.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, he often attended various performances.
Resident: May Allah rest his soul on peace. He has done a lot for artists, actors, and you are continuing his path. He is in our hearts. We all pray for you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Resident: Mr. President, let me say one thing. This river passed through here. Armenians wanted to build a boulevard here. They elevated that area to do that, but could not finish the job. We are here now. Our army came.
President Ilham Aliyev: Did they expand this place?
Resident: Yes, they wanted to expand it a little bit to go that way. They wanted to call it a boulevard, like in Baku. But their plans remained unfulfilled.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, we will do that. There must be places for walking along the river.
Resident: It would be great. It was quite narrow.
President Ilham Aliyev: They have expanded it but did not do anything here.
Resident: No, they are like that. They were too busy destroying everything. Because they had no hope.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes, of course. They knew that we would come back. They cut down most of the trees in the Basitchay reserve. The stumps remained but they were burned. The last time we were in Zangilan, we went to Basitchay. They have destroyed and cut down everything – this is unparalleled vandalism.
The city of Kalbajar was completely destroyed. However, they lived there in some places. It was completely razed to the ground. No problem, we will rebuild everything, it will be even better. I always said during the meetings with former IDPs at the opening of those settlements that this is your temporary residence. After the liberation of our lands, we will build even more beautiful houses and buildings. That day is approaching.
Residents: Thank you very much.
Hero of the Patriotic War: As a reservist, I participated in many events. I noted there that I am deeply grateful to our Supreme Commander-in-Chief for awarding me the title of a Hero of the Patriotic War at the age of 19. Thank God, we are with you in our homeland today. Thank you for honoring me and my comrades with such high awards. Thank you very much.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. I want to thank you too, and through you all our heroic sons. They drove the enemy out of our land at the cost of their lives. Look, we are standing here today because of such heroes.
Hero of the Patriotic War: We are ready to fulfill any command of yours at any time.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Which cities are these medals for?
Hero of the Patriotic War: Jabrayil and Fuzuli.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.