President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Turkey Hulusi Akar.
The delegation includes Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Yasar Guler, Commander of the Turkish Land Forces Umit Dundar, and Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces Adnan Ozbal.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said:
- You are welcome! I am pleased to see you. The year is drawing to a close, and I am very glad that you are visiting Azerbaijan at the end of the year. We have met many times this year. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely wish you and all the Turkish Armed Forces a Happy New Year. I wish you continued success in the New Year.
Two days ago, I spoke to my dear brother, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and we also discussed your visit. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the brotherly Turkish state, the fraternal Turkish people and personally Mr. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again for the great support provided to us. During the war, this great political and moral support gave us additional strength. The whole world saw again that Turkish-Azerbaijani unity and brotherhood are unshakable and eternal, and we stand by each other every day – both on good and difficult days. At the same time, we are rightly pleased with the growing power of Turkey in other parts of the world, especially in 2020 when Turkey gained a say on many issues. I have said many times that Turkey's strength is our strength and we are stronger together. I am confident that all our plans for next year will be implemented.
This year is of special importance for us. It will forever go down in the history of Azerbaijan as a year of great Victory. Many years of occupation have come to an end. Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity, expelled the aggressor from the occupied territories and restored justice, historical justice and international law. We have had martyrs, we have had wounded people, which is inevitable in a war. We vowed to the souls of our martyrs that we would restore these destroyed territories. Restoration work has already begun and preliminary contracts have already been signed. I am glad that Turkish companies are our initial partners again. They have already started implementing important infrastructure projects for us. Turkish companies are cooperating with Azerbaijani ones, in particular on the construction of the Fuzuli-Shusha highway. The activities of Turkish companies in all other projects have already been approved, including the construction of roads, tunnels and other infrastructure projects in Kalbajar. We must bring these regions back to life soon. When I was there, I saw that Armenian savagery has no limits, they have destroyed everything, they have razed everything to the ground, and it is clear that this destruction was not brought about by war. There were no such destruction during the war. After the war, after the occupation, they wanted to erase our historical, cultural and religious heritage, destroy our cities so that Azerbaijanis could never return to those lands. But they made a mistake, we have already returned, we will return, and the Karabakh region will become one of the most developed regions in the world.
Next year will be a year of great construction for us. Preliminary instructions have been allocated. At the same time, Armenian armed forces occasionally violate the ceasefire and, unfortunately, we have had more martyrs since the war ended. I can say that according to the information we have, the Armenian armed units that still remain in some of the liberated lands are not subordinated to the Armenian political leadership. Many of them have been neutralized and many others have been arrested. They cannot be considered prisoners of war – they are terrorists. They were given a chance. In particular, Russian peacekeepers joined the operation and they were allowed the opportunity to leave the area. Those who complied with this proposal came out and were handed over to the Armenian side, but some of them still remain and commit acts of terror against us. Nevertheless, on the whole, the ceasefire is observed, and I think that this is a positive aspect of the statement signed in the early hours of 10 November. At the same time, we are attaching great importance to the creation of the Azerbaijan-Armenia-Turkey corridor, and initial instructions have also been given. In the coming days, we will begin construction of a railway from Horadiz to Zangilan, to the Armenian border, and a feasibility study is currently being prepared. A temporary road has been built from Horadiz to Zangilan. I drove down that road myself – it is a comfortable and high-speed road. I think that the railway will take a maximum of two years to complete. However, we believe that we should not wait for this date and can transport cargo by rail to Horadiz and then by trucks. This is already an important issue on our agenda. I think and am sure that we can already send and receive first cargo from Azerbaijan to Turkey through Armenia and Nakhchivan. Thus, the Nakhchivan corridor, an important part of the Statement signed on 10 November, will be opened.
Finally, the last issue is the Turkish-Russian Monitoring Center. Azerbaijan is fulfilling its obligations in this regard as well. The Azerbaijani side is currently constructing a building for this Monitoring Center in Aghdam district. This Monitoring Center will be ready in the next 10 days – a maximum of two weeks. As far as I know, the Turkish side is ready to start operating. You are probably also in contact with the Russian side – the sooner the Monitoring Center starts operating, the better, because even though about two months have passed since the war ended, there are still threats and dangers. Uncontrolled Armenian armed forces operate in our territory and some of them do not want to leave or surrender. Therefore, there must be a Monitoring Center to eliminate this threat and ensure peace and stability in our region as a whole in the future. Unfortunately, some political forces in Armenia are cherishing revenge plans, openly declare that they will wage a war against Azerbaijan one day and occupy Azerbaijani lands. It will be suicidal for them. Of course, such attempts will be eliminated immediately, but there are threats. Therefore, monitoring and control must be carried out in this region, and I am confident that the Turkish-Russian center will fulfill this function with dignity.
Of course, the Patriotic War has further strengthened Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, and the military parade held with your participation and with the participation of my dear brother showed this again. You saw how much joy and enthusiasm it has aroused. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to greet our Azerbaijani and Turkish soldiers. This is an example of our unity. While watching the parade, we remembered the parade two years ago. At that time, we celebrated the heroism of Nuru Pasha's army, the Caucasus Islamic Army, in the liberation of Baku. This time we celebrated the liberation of Karabakh. Again, we are together and will be together forever. Welcome again!
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Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said:
- Mr. President, on my own behalf and on behalf of members of the delegation, thank you very much for taking the time to receive us. Thank you.
You are in regular contact with our President, but he is sending you his greetings again. So I pass on his greetings to you.
We take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, albeit with a slight delay. Many happy returns! I hope you continue your leadership with good health and success.
Of course, we have also experienced some emotional moments here. We do not forget this and always talk about it with friends. The first of these is your speech at 2 o'clock on 10 November. It was a Victory speech indeed. We always recall it. Secondly, we in Turkey were very pleased to watch the great lesson, the answer you gave at this table to those who remained silent for 30 years, observed the occupation and then remembered that they were the Minsk Group after everything was over. Indeed, everyone was proud of your determination.
The Karabakh Victory, as you said, has a very important place in the history of the Caucasus. It has been a turning point in terms of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations. It has also been a very important step for the future of the Caucasus. As you said, for this Victory to be crowned, Inshallah, after the Joint Center is set up in the shortest possible time, a communication link will be established between Nakhchivan and Zangilan, which will be very important for physically connecting the brothers with each other – Turkey, Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan.
Of course, after the end of this 30-year struggle, after the liberation of the occupied territories, Inshallah, the investments to be made in the coming period under your leadership will increase prosperity, strengthen peace and become a center of attraction for the whole region, for the Caucasus. The unity, equality and joint efforts of Azerbaijan and Turkey in ensuring peace and stability here with Azerbaijan’s determination will usher great prospects not only for today but also for the future. Inshallah, this brotherhood will continue to live like a heart, like a wrist, like a fist in the coming period. We think everyone will reconsider their plans regarding this region and be cautious.
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President Ilham Aliyev expressed his gratitude for the greetings of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and asked the minister to convey his greetings to the Turkish President.