Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva participated in “Lachin City Day” festivities held on the bank of Hakari River
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 the City Day is held in Lachin with grandeur 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 when 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 of 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 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 brought us this joy. Taking this opportunity, we honor the memory of all our martyrs and pray for Allah’s mercy on them. Thanks to our heroic sons' courage, we are here today at the cost of their blood and lives. 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 for the people of Lachin and the entire nation. The occupation of every village and city was a great tragedy, but the occupation of Lachin was a massive test from a strategic point of view, a great disaster. Because a geographical connection was established 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, and 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 and every former IDP is proud today. Every Azerbaijani, all Azerbaijani citizens throughout Azerbaijan, and 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 had 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. We fought a just war. We fought on our land. We have no interest in other countries’ land, 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 precisely what happened.
We are rebuilding Lachin now. When I arrived in Lachin in September last year, the city’s appearance was somber. 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 resettlement here. They purposefully brought Armenians from foreign countries from the Middle East and resettled them in the homes of Azerbaijanis. I want to repeat that this is a war crime. Unfortunately, international organizations and Armenia’s patrons paid no heed 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, strength, and mighty fist also crushed their skulls. 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 impact our determination. We showed this during the war by advancing for 44 days, crushing the enemy and raising our flag. We are compelled 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 or 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 the political plane. The sooner Armenia’s patrons understand this, the better it will be for Armenia and the region because we are a nation of builders. Building and creating the city of Lachin in just eight months shows our people’s talent and resolve. At the same time, it shows that we are the actual owners of these lands.
Armenia occupied our lands for 30 years. Anyone coming to the liberated lands can see the manifestations of Armenian atrocities with their own eyes. Why were cities and villages destroyed if this land really belonged to them? Why were all historical sites destroyed? They also knew perfectly well that sooner or later, we would come back. We also knew that sooner or later, we would return. 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 occupied cities.
I remember the day when I turned 50 years old. I met the people of Lachin in Karabakh, the Aghjabadi district of Karabakh, in the Takhtakorpu settlement. And I told them that, as a new settlement was being inaugurated, 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 precisely what happened. I celebrated my 50th birthday with the people of Lachin in Aghjabadi, and my 60th birthday in Shusha, and today, I am participating in these festive events with you on Lachin City Day. This is a great happiness for me, you, and each of us. We are living joyful days, and I am sure that our people will live in peace and tranquility from now on and 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 behind it are putting forward various conspiracies against us. Nothing can turn us from our path. April 23 means the complete restoration of our territorial integrity. Establishing the border checkpoint means completely restoring our territorial integrity, and we did it within the framework of international law. We are safeguarding our territory and borders and will continue to protect them.
That is why many milestones are associated with 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, and 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 salute 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 East Zangezur show our prowess and demonstrate that we consistently achieve what we want.
I congratulate you again. Long live Lachin! Long live Azerbaijan!
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The event continued with a concert.
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President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva met with the event participants after the concert.