Azerbaijani President gave an interview to Azerbaijan Television in Salyan-UPDATED

Azerbaijani President gave an interview to Azerbaijan Television in Salyan-UPDATED
# 18 April 2023 18:18 (UTC +04:00)

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been interviewed by Azerbaijan Television in the city of Salyan.

APA presents the interview.

- It is nice to see you, Mr. President. First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

Mr. President, you visit all the regions of Azerbaijan of a regular basis, get to know the work being done and the ongoing development on the ground, provide your recommendations and tasks. Today you visited Neftchala and Salyan districts. Please share your impressions about the trip.

- My impressions are very positive. As you said, I often visit the regions of Azerbaijan. As you may be aware, state programs on the socioeconomic development of the regions have been implemented in Azerbaijan since 2004. The fourth such program is currently underway. As a result of the implementation of these programs, large-scale construction work has been carried out in the regions. This work continues. My visits to the regions are also a means of exercising control, i.e. how the tasks I have issued are being implemented. At the same time, further tasks and recommendations are provided, so that all the goals we have declared – first of all, improvement of people's well-being, creation of infrastructure facilities, including social infrastructure – are implemented in the regions. In a nutshell, the overall development of Azerbaijan's regions has both a social nature and, at the same time, strengthens our country.

Today's trip is also a traditional one. I have visited Salyan and Neftchala districts several times in the past, and the ceremonies I attended during this trip are an indicator in themselves. There is a beautiful “ASAN xidmet” center, which is the 25th center already. The “ASAN xidmet” system is already very well known in the world as an Azerbaijani brand and is highly appreciated by the country's population. I must also note that the services provided in “ASAN xidmet” centers are welcomed by the population and the approval rate of the service is 99.8 percent. I don't know if there is any other service that would be so popular with the population. At the same time, several countries in the world are already implementing the “ASAN” model. We provide methodology support to these countries. Over the last few years, that is, over 10 years, there have been 61 million applications. So the establishment of this service was actually created a revolution in the field of public services. It has been a turning point, and more than 300 services are provided there now. In other words, “ASAN xidmet” is an example of our intellectual products. At the same time, we are already exporting intellectual products.

Other activities are also evidence of the great things being done. For example, the Olympic Sports Center, the children's hospital, the maternity hospital, the digital control center for electricity supply, other measures, as well as the steps related to the creation of jobs, including the opening of a large fishery in Neftchala district. All this shows that our country is developing dynamically and that social policy is being successfully implemented. There are also infrastructure projects – today I attended the opening of a road. Our initiatives related to the real sector of the economy, including jobs, our initiatives related to industrialization, our initiatives related to the production of export-oriented products – all these are being implemented and once again show the strength of our country. Again, today's visit has clarified a number of points. In other words, I am very pleased with my trip today, with the results of the trip, and with what I have seen.

- Large-scale and rapid restoration and reconstruction work is underway in the liberated territories – Karabakh and East Zangezur. A period of great revival has already begun in those areas. What can you say about this work?

- This work is going according to plan. As you may know, the restoration of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur is our top priority, and most of my visits to the regions are to those specific regions. However, I regularly go to other parts of our country. The work done in Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur shows again that we, the owners of these territories, have returned to our ancestral lands. Over 30 years, Armenia devastated these lands, did not leave a single stone unturned, was engaged in looting and robbery, and was engaged in barbarism. We, the owners of these lands, have come to build and create. Therefore, as soon as the war ended, work was started immediately. Currently, former IDPs live in two settlements – in the villages of Aghali and Talish. We see the future face of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur as a whole in the example of these villages – prosperous cities, prosperous villages, infrastructure created on the basis of smart management principles. So all this is obvious. Let me say again that these two projects show the entire population of Azerbaijan and the whole world what the future face of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur will be like.

Infrastructure projects are being continued. Achievements made in the first three months of the year have allowed us the opportunity to make additions to the budget. The government has already been instructed to conduct budget reconciliation and submit it to the Milli Majlis. First of all, 1.1 billion manats in excess of the forecast was collected by the Tax Service in the first three months of the year. This is also a result of transparency. It is a result of new governance methods. In the customs sector, the funds collected above the forecast exceed 400 million manats. At present, the reforms ongoing in the field of customs and the process of eliminating the shortcomings from previous periods are going on successfully. In three months alone, 1.5 billion manats were collected in excess of the forecast. Of course, we have completed only the first three months of the year and, of course, this number will increase further before the end of the year. Therefore, in order to speed up work and fulfill other tasks facing the country, I think the budget reconciliation should be performed.

In general, I think that the additions to the budget will account for at least 3 billion manats, perhaps even more. Most of this amount will be used in the reconstruction of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur. Our military spending will be in second place. Because there is a great need for that. Everyone is watching the processes going on in the world. Threats are increasing in the world. Dangers are growing. It is true that we crushed the enemy and achieved a great Victory in the Second Karabakh War. However, revengeful forces are rising in Armenia again, so we must be ready for any situation and create an army that would be exemplary on a global scale, be one of the strongest armies. The Azerbaijani Army is already strong now. We showed our strength on the battlefield. On the battlefield, we showed the strength, resolve and indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people. At the same time, we showed the professionalism of our soldiers and our military potential.

In the two and a half years that have passed after the war, a lot of attention has been paid to issues of army building. I can say with full confidence that the Azerbaijani Army today is much stronger than the Azerbaijani Army that won the war in 2020. At the same time, I want to say again that we have to be ready for any situation and at any time. Therefore, all issues related to building the army and stepping up our defense potential are our top priority, along with the task of restoring Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur. Therefore, we will channel most of the funds into these directions. Other key expenses will also be provided. This shows again that at a time when many countries around the world are struggling with an economic crisis, political crisis and military crisis, Azerbaijan is increasing its state budget, which is already at a record level. After this increase, of course, our budget expenses will set a new record, reaching at least 36 billion manats.

The public is regularly updated about the progress of work going on in Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur. I should inform you that all the activities related to the implementation of infrastructure projects, railways, highways, electricity supply, water supply, and land reclamation measures are going according to plan. Two airports are already in operation, and the third airport is under construction.

I said some time ago that we would return the former IDPs to the city of Lachin by the end of this year. Well, I can say with full confidence today that we will achieve that in the summer months. So we are doing this work ahead of schedule. Whereas we planned to build a little more than 400 houses in the city of Lachin at the first stage, according to the latest information, according to our latest plans, the number of private houses alone will be 570. At the same time, more than 140 apartments will also be ready. In other words, we will accommodate more than 700 families in the city of Lachin in the summer months of this year. At the same time, work is underway in the villages of Zabukh and Sus, where the policy of illegal settlement was carried out. We will return the former IDPs to those villages by the end of the year.

In parallel with this, the first residential compound is being successfully built in the city of Shusha. We will soon lay the foundation of the second large residential compound, i.e. a project consisting of many houses. The construction of residential buildings in the cities of Aghdam, Fuzuli and Zangilan is going according to plan. Preparations are underway in the cities of Kalbajar and Jabrayil. In parallel with this, schools, hospitals, social facilities, mosques – more than 10 mosques are being rebuilt or fundamentally refurbished. More precisely, only two mosques are being refurbished because all the remaining mosques were razed to the ground by the Armenians. So our construction work is proceeding in this direction, and this shows again that all our plans, all the goals we have declared are and will be materialized.

- With your permission, our next question is related to peace negotiations with Armenia. What stage are the negotiations at now?

- As you know, the initiatives Azerbaijan put forward regarding negotiations are the key factor today. Because despite the occupation, Armenian savagery and barbarism, it was Azerbaijan that proposed to sign a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia and it was Azerbaijan that put forward the well-known five principles. These principles are the fundamental principles of the norms and principles of international law. We have declared from the very beginning that negotiations are possible and a peace treaty can be signed on the basis of these principles – the sovereignty of countries, territorial integrity, inviolability of borders and other principles.

In the last two years, there have been various zigzags in the position of the Armenian side, i.e. there have been various changes in it. As a result, it seems to us that Armenia has generally agreed to our approach. Because there is no other option. This is why Armenia officially recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty at the Prague and Sochi meetings in October of last year. In other words, they accepted that the borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia should be resolved on the basis of the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991. What does that suggest? It suggests that the borders between allied republics are considered state borders. So by taking that official step, Armenia officially recognized Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan. Armenia, which used to say that “Karabakh is Armenia and full stop” must now repeat our words that “Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark”. Because if they have said “A”, they should also say “B”. Having shown its readiness for a peace treaty based on the Alma-Ata Declaration, Armenia should now officially declare that Karabakh is Azerbaijan.

I believe that the progress of this issue is evidence of that because there is no other option. We have repeatedly stated that we will not discuss our internal affairs with any country. Karabakh is our internal matter. Armenians living in Karabakh should either accept Azerbaijani citizenship or find another place to live. There is complete freedom in that, all democratic fundamentals have been offered. This issue should be resolved on the basis of human rights. Today, our actions show that and our intention is to sign a peace agreement soon, to put an end to this conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

I should also note that in the two and a half years that have passed since the Second Karabakh War, Armenia, its patrons and, at the same time, the countries and forces that support it have clearly witnessed our resolve, determination and strength. I don't want to list anything now. Many important events have taken place over these two and a half years, both in the direction of the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border and, at the same time, in the region under the control of Russia's temporarily deployed peacekeeping forces. We have repeatedly shown that we are the owners of these lands and we will not allow anyone to call the shots on our territory.

The separatists should also understand that they have two options: either they will live under the Azerbaijani flag or they will leave. We have chased Serzhik Sargsyan, Robert Kocharian and Seyran Ohanyan, the main figures of the separatists, out of Karabakh like dogs and brought them to their knees. They came to Karabakh during the Second Karabakh War supposedly to fight against us. All three ran away from our lands like rabbits. None of them can poke their nose into Khankendi or any other place now.

The separatists, who are currently inventing some fictitious names for themselves – one calls himself a president, another calls himself a minister, another one calls himself a speaker of some parliament – this group of clowns must finally understand that they cannot play with our patience. We have tried to explain to them many times in different ways that they will either follow our word or they will be rejected from there and leave the Armenians there, who have actually become their hostages and captives, in peace. I am sure that the majority of the Armenian population currently living in Karabakh is ready to accept Azerbaijani citizenship. Simply put, these leeches, these predatory animals won’t let them do that. They won't let these people live comfortably, having kept them as hostages for 30 years. Therefore, my position is this. Let everyone hear it – both the Armenian leaders and the forces standing behind them today. No-one can influence our will. We have proven it – both during and after the war. If necessary, we will prove it again in any form.

- A few days ago, an incident happened that exposed Armenian substance yet again. The National Flag of Azerbaijan was set on fire at the European Weightlifting Championship in Armenia. What is your take on that?

- I think that this is yet another dirty act of the Armenian government. I see it that way. It did not happen by chance, it was not an act by some individual. This is yet another dirty act of the Armenian government. There are many reasons to believe in this. First, the humanoid creature who committed this incident was in direct contact with high-level officials of the ruling circles of Armenia. Secondly, no punishment was given to this creature. On the contrary, they have made him a hero in Armenia. They allegedly detained him and released him a few minutes later. They set up a spectacle there, they welcomed him with applause and no punishment or fine was imposed on this person. So what does this mean?

Such a disgraceful event takes place before the eyes of the political leadership of Armenia and there is no reaction to it. So the Armenian government, the state of Armenia is the mastermind behind this ugly act. But they should not forget where the flag of Azerbaijan flies today. The Azerbaijani flag flies in Karabakh today. The Azerbaijani flag flies in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli, Kalbajar, Lachin, Shusha, Hadrut, Talish, Sugovushan, and hundreds of villages. Today, the Azerbaijani flag flies in Zangezur mountains. Let them not forget that. Can they approach those flags? Can that humanoid creature and his ilk approach those flags? They are afraid even to look at those flags from afar. By burning our flag, they only showed their ugly qualities to the whole world. I want to say again that behind this is the Armenian state, the Armenian government, the anti-Azerbaijani campaign conducted in Armenia for many years, the Azerbaijanphobia conducted in Armenia for decades. This is not an ordinary event.

I also want to note that this incident cannot shake us, of course. It cannot have any impact on our determination. But they should think carefully. One day they may wake up to see the Azerbaijan Flag above their heads.

- Mr. President, with your permission, we would like to ask you one more question related to this topic. In that championship in Yerevan, female athletes from Türkiye won gold and silver medals and dedicated them to Azerbaijan. You and Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva congratulated them. We would like to know your thoughts about this.

- Yes, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva and I congratulated our dear girls, Cansu and Gamze. First, because they achieved this great victory in Armenia – the enemy state, the state that is the eternal enemy of both Azerbaijan and Türkiye, and had the Turkish flag raised there. The Armenians burned our flag, but the Turkish flag flew there. They played the National Anthem of Türkiye. The National Anthem of Türkiye must have deafened all the enemies sitting in the hall. They dedicated this victory to Azerbaijan and the people of Azerbaijan. What a wonderful move! This is why they won the love of the entire Azerbaijani people. I want to congratulate them again. Today, when I attended the opening of the Neftchala Olympic Center, I instructed the Minister of Youth and Sports to invite these girls to Azerbaijan on my behalf and let them be our guests. This once again shows our unity. The Turkish-Azerbaijani unity and brotherhood is unshakable. We are one, and in the congratulatory letter to them, we also wrote that where there is Turkish flag, we are there too, and the whole of Armenia saw it. Some scoundrel burns our flag, but the next day the glorious flag of the brotherly state of Türkiye is raised over the heads of those enemies and they are forced to stand and listen to the National Anthem of Türkiye.

I want to once again congratulate our beautiful girls. We are proud of them. In fact, I think this event will go down in history, and not only in the history of sports, but also in the history of world politics as a whole, in the history of the Turkic world. Every one of us, every each child of the Turkic world should be like Cansu and Gamze. This is what I want.

- Thank you very much. Many thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions.

- Goodbye.


President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev gave an interview to Azerbaijan Television in Salyan, APA reports.