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President Aliyev Talks of Achievements, Future Vision After Inauguration

By Gunay Hajiyeva February 16, 2024

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President Ilham Aliyev during his inauguration, Baku, Azerbaijan, February 14, 2024 / President.Az

Ilham Aliyev was sworn in on Wednesday as the President of Azerbaijan, a week after winning the snap presidential elections on February 7.

President Aliyev said his victory in the elections was a testament to the great confidence the people of Azerbaijan placed in him.

He recalled winning his first term as the President of Azerbaijan in 2003, noting all the pledges he made at the time are fulfilled over the past 20 years.

“A new era begins now. We are entering this period with a clear face and with our heads held high. There will be further achievements in this era, and I do not doubt that. Because the history of recent years shows that all the tasks, we set for ourselves are fulfilled. Of course, the whole of Azerbaijan is entering this era, and the people who have demonstrated unity, including great unity in this election, will achieve even greater success,” President Aliyev stated.

In his inauguration speech, President Aliyev delivered profound statements that highlighted the principal targets and strategies within Azerbaijan's domestic and international policy framework. His address outlined the government's agenda, setting a clear path for the nation's future direction in both internal governance and foreign relations.

Here are the highlights from President Aliyev’s inaugural address:

  • The Second Karabakh War marks a significant chapter in our history. Nevertheless, it could have been prevented if Armenia, its leadership, and its supporting forces adhered to international law and implemented the four resolutions of the UN Security Council. If the world’s great powers had imposed sanctions on Armenia for its policy of aggression or at least condemned its policy of aggression, there would have been no need for war. The state of Azerbaijan showed restraint for many years;
  • We showed on the battlefield what we are capable of. We completely crushed the Armenian army on the battlefield in a matter of 44 days. We brought it to a state that, according to their own admission, there were more than 12,000 deserters in the Armenian army. Not a single person from the Azerbaijani Army left the battlefield or ran away;
  • In the post-war period, we have demonstrated our principled position on all issues. During the numerous meetings with those trying to act as international mediators and with the Armenian side, it was stated that all the obligations they had undertaken should be fulfilled;
  • For three years, we demonstrated patience, we did not intend to create new tensions, and the entire chronology of events during the period from the Second Karabakh War to the anti-terror operation once again shows that Azerbaijan's position is a fair one. Indeed, Armenia and the forces behind it do not want to see that, but everything is documented and it is impossible to conceal anything today. Over the course of three years, not only did Armenia fail to withdraw its armed forces from the Karabakh region, it sent additional weapons and mines;
  • Therefore, the anti-terror operation was inevitable. Contradictory points in Armenia's position have become commonplace. If Armenia does not make some contradictory statements for a week, we start wondering what is going on there. The state that officially recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and declared it in October 2022 on the one hand did not give up its territorial claims against us on the other. This was evident in their statements, as well as their laws, including their fundamental law, and also congratulatory letters sent by the Armenian leadership to the separatist forces;
  • The anti-terror operation in September (2023) once again showed the strength of our Armed Forces. In a matter of just a few hours, the approximately 15,000-strong expeditionary corps of the Armenian army was completely paralyzed and was forced to sign the act of capitulation for the second time. With this, separatism in the territory of Azerbaijan was nipped in the bud. Azerbaijan fully restored both its territorial integrity and state sovereignty;
  • I believe that one of the primary goals for us in the coming years is to further strengthen our Army and the Armed Forces. After the Second Karabakh War, great steps were taken in this direction, and I have spoken about this issue on different occasions. I said that the Azerbaijani Army is stronger today than in 2020, and the anti-terror operation, which lasted only a few hours, is a clear example of this;
  • Today, necessary steps are being taken for the future development of our Armed Forces. Necessary weapons and equipment are being purchased, new armed units are being set up. The number of Special Forces has been increased several times, and the number of soldiers in the new “Commando” units is in the thousands, and this process continues; 
  • We are creating a very powerful military and industrial complex, the first phase of which has already been completed. The second stage will be even more extensive. This year alone, at least one billion manats will be invested by both private and public enterprises in this, and we will provide ourselves with an even larger amount of weapons and equipment, export a larger amount;
  • At the same time, we must protect our borders more vigorously. I am setting this task as a priority. Important steps have been taken in this direction, especially if we take into account the fact that after the Second Karabakh War, we returned both to the Azerbaijan-Iran border, which was occupied at that time, and to the conditional border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Of course, the construction of border infrastructure is of particular importance, and here we are using and will continue to use the most modern approaches.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had been in an armed conflict for nearly 30 years over the Karabakh (Garabagh) region, which is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Armenia launched full-blown military aggression against Azerbaijan following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991. The bloody war lasted until a ceasefire in 1994 and resulted in Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and one million expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by Armenia.

On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict took a violent turn after Armenia’s forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated about 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

Khankendi, as well as certain parts of Khojaly and Khojavand districts, remained within the temporary monitoring zone of the Russian peacekeeping mission deployed in certain parts of the Karabakh region after the 2020 war.

Despite the legally binding demands on the withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, the largest portion of the troops was stationed in Khankendi along with the other settlements, including Khojaly, Aghdara, Khojavand, and Asgaran. The peacekeepers failed to enforce the withdrawal despite their relevant obligations.

Since 2020, the Armenian army formations committed dozens of provocations, causing loss of life on the Azerbaijani side.

Azerbaijan Armed Forces launched on September 19 one-day local anti-terrorist measures to neutralize illegal Armenian armed formations and their military infrastructure in the Karabakh region. The operation came on the heels of the intensifying Armenian attacks on the Azerbaijani positions and deadly mine incidents killing four police officers, two road construction workers, and two servicemen of the Azerbaijani army.

By the time of the cessation of hostilities, the Azerbaijani military disabled artillery systems, radio-electronic warfare, military equipment, ammunition depots, military strongholds, and shelters of the Armenian army formations stationed in the Karabakh region. In addition, more than 90 combat posts and strategically important positions of the illegal Armenian military formations were taken under control during the one-day operation until September 20.

On September 20, the illegal Armenian separatist regime requested through the Russian peacekeeping command to cease the local anti-terror activities by agreeing to withdrawal and complete disarmament of the Armenian armed formations.

On September 28, the separatist regime in the Karabakh region announced self-dissolution and called on the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region to become acquainted with the conditions of reintegration presented by Azerbaijan, in order to subsequently make an independent and individual decision on the possibility of staying in (or returning to) the Karabakh region.

President Aliyev hoisted the state flag of Azerbaijan in Khankendi on October 15.