President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva take part in Lachin City Day festivities held near Hakari River (PHOTO/VIDEO)

Politics Materials 26 August 2023 13:53 (UTC +04:00)
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva take part in Lachin City Day festivities held near Hakari River (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Asif Mehman
Asif Mehman
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 26. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva have attended the “Lachin City Day” festivities, supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and organized by the Ministry of Culture and Special Representative Office of the President of Azerbaijan in the Lachin district, on the bank of the River of Hakari in the city of Lachin.

The head of state addressed the event.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear residents of Lachin, dear friends.

First of all, I sincerely congratulate the people of Lachin on the City Day. This is the first time that the City Day has been held in Lachin with great solemnity and enthusiasm. As you may know, I recently decreed that city days be held in the liberated territories, so city days were established. City days are the days where our cities were liberated. The city of Lachin was completely liberated on August 26.

As a result of the Second Karabakh War, the Lachin district was liberated from occupation on December 1, but the city of Lachin and two villages, Zabukh and Sus, were not under our control. Because the former Lachin corridor passed through this city and these villages. We built a new road in a short time and returned both to Lachin and to the villages of Zabukh and Sus. I had a meeting with the people of Zabukh today. Last night, after a long break, after 31 years, they returned to their native village and have already settled there. The residents of Lachin have been here since May 28. On May 28, on Independence Day, I presented the first group of Lachin residents with keys to their homes, so thus the revival of Lachin began. Since then, about 1,000 residents of Lachin have settled in the city. Houses for 900 families will be ready by the end of the year. So by the end of this year, several thousand city and rural residents will move to Lachin. This is tremendous happiness. It is our victorious Armed Forces that gave us this happiness. Taking this opportunity, we honor the memory of all our martyrs and pray for God's mercy on them. At the cost of their blood and lives, thanks to courage of our heroic children, we are here today. Today we are celebrating holidays in our native land. There can be no greater happiness than this.

The occupation of Lachin was a great tragedy both for the people of Lachin and for the entire nation. The occupation of every village and city was a great tragedy, but the occupation of Lachin was a huge test from a strategic point of view, a great disaster. Because a geographical connection was created between Armenia and the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Province. Our subsequent losses were preconditioned precisely by the loss of Shusha and Lachin. The month of May was associated with these two tragic days in the history of independent Azerbaijan. May was a tragic month in our independent life – Shusha was occupied on May 8 and Lachin was occupied on May 18. This occupation shook us from within. This occupation marked the beginning of the occupation of other lands. Because Shusha was the first to be occupied, followed by Lachin.

Today, we are celebrating holidays in Shusha and Lachin. The people have returned here, life is reviving. This morning, I attended several events together with the children. I asked them both in Zabukh and the city of Lachin: you have come here from Baku, Sumgayit and other places, don't you miss your previous homes? They said no. We live proudly in our native land. Every native of Lachin, every former IDP is proud today. Every Azerbaijani, all Azerbaijani citizens throughout Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanis of the world live with a sense of tremendous pride because we have shown the strength and determination of the Azerbaijani people to the whole world, we shed blood, won a historic Victory and returned to our native land. This couldn’t have been done through negotiations, war was the only option out. We fought a just war. We fought on our land. We have no interest in the land of other countries, but we are not giving our land to anyone either. I expressed the position of the Azerbaijani state on this issue even during the years of occupation. I have repeatedly said that the people of Azerbaijan will never come to terms with the occupation and will return to their native lands at any cost, and this is exactly what happened.

We are building Lachin now. When I arrived in Lachin in September last year, the appearance of the city was very sad. The city was almost destroyed. There were a few clumsy buildings left over from the pre-occupation period. As you may know, the Armenian state committed a war crime and carried out illegal settlement here. They specifically brought Armenians from foreign countries, from the Middle East, and settled them in the houses of Azerbaijanis. I want to repeat that this is a war crime. Unfortunately, international organizations and Armenia’s patrons turned a blind eye to that. This was acceptable to them. Because, just like the Armenian state, Armenia's patrons abroad also believed that these lands should remain under occupation forever, but our determination, our strength, our fist hit them too. Because the creation of a second Armenia and a second Armenian state in our land was not only a product of the Armenian leadership.

Today, we have proved to the whole world that no-one can influence our determination. We showed this during the war, we showed it by going forward for 44 days, by crushing the enemy and raising our flag. We are having to prove it again in the three years that have passed since the war. Because the campaign against us, the ugly propaganda cannot affect our determination, cannot make us turn back. Justice is on our side, international law is on our side, we are not afraid of anyone and we have shown it both on the battlefield and on the political plane. The sooner Armenia’s patrons understand this, the better it will be for Armenia and for the region. Because we are a nation of builders. Building and creating the city of Lachin in just eight months shows both the talent and resolve of our people. At the same time, it shows that we are the true owners of these lands. Armenia occupied our lands for 30 years. Anyone coming to the liberated lands can see with their own eyes the manifestations of Armenian atrocities. If this land really belonged to them, why were cities and villages destroyed? Why were all historical monuments destroyed? They also knew perfectly well that sooner or later we would come back. We also knew that sooner or later we would come. In numerous meetings with the former IDPs during the years of occupation, I told them that the day would come when we would raise our flag in Lachin, Shusha and other cities that were occupied at that time.

I remember the day when I turned 50 years old. I met the people of Lachin in Karabakh, in Aghjabadi district of Karabakh, in Takhtakorpu settlement, and I told them that, as a new settlement was being inaugurated, that the state was providing you with good conditions, but after the liberation of our lands, we would create better conditions for you in Lachin, and this is exactly what happened. I celebrated my 50th birthday together with the people of Lachin in Aghjabadi, I celebrated my 60th birthday in Shusha, and today I am participating in these festive events together with you on the Lachin City Day. This is a great happiness for me, for you, for each of us. We are living happy days, and I am sure that our people will live in peace and tranquility from now on, will build and create in our own land. In the example of the Lachin district, we see reviving Azerbaijani realities. We see the reviving lands.

I would also like to touch upon another issue. As you know, on April 23 of this year, a border checkpoint was established in the Lachin district, on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. We did it again by showing determination, courage and confidence. So much pressure, so many threats were made to us. It continues to this day, within various international organizations, as Armenia and those who stand behind it are putting forward various conspiracies against us. Nothing can turn us from our path. April 23 means complete restoration of our territorial integrity. The construction of the border checkpoint means complete restoration of our territorial integrity, and we did it within the framework of international law. We are safeguarding our territory, we are protecting our borders and we will continue to protect them.

That is why many historic events have taken place in the Lachin district. Today, look how beautiful the city of Lachin has become in just eight to nine months, in less than a year. We started the restoration work in October of last year, and today we are receiving guests in Lachin. Guests have come from different parts of Azerbaijan, diplomats representing foreign countries have arrived. This shows again that our nation is a nation that builds and creates in its native land.

Dear residents of Lachin, I sincerely greet you again and congratulate you on the City Day. I am sure you will live comfortably and happily in your ancestral lands. You deserve it. For 30 years, you have suffered both physically and mentally. Today, the reviving Lachin, the reviving Karabakh, and the reviving Eastern Zangezur show our strength, show that we always achieve what we want.

I congratulate you again. Long live Lachin! Long live Azerbaijan!

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The event continued with a concert.