President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva have attended the inauguration of a modular hospital of the Health Center of the Ministry of Emergency Situations for the treatment of coronavirus patients in Khatai district, Baku, ONA reports.
Minister of Emergency Situations, Colonel-General Kamaladdin Heydarov reported to President Ilham Aliyev.
After viewing the conditions created at the health center, the head of state gave an interview to Azerbaijan Television, Public Television and Khazar Television.
Interview of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- Mr President, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. The first question is about today's modular hospital. You have been familiarized with the conditions. Could you please share your impressions?
- The impressions are very positive. Most importantly, this hospital was built in an extremely short time and is expected to station 800 patients. Considering the fact that the number of COVID patients is growing, we need extra beds, and work in this direction is ongoing.
This hospital has all the necessary conditions – wards, a laboratory, a diagnostic center. There are good conditions for doctors. Most importantly, the hospital is designed for 800 beds. A new hospital will be built in this territory in about a month and a half. It will also be a modular hospital. The number of beds there will be about 1,300. In other words, in about two months we will be able to station more than 2,000 patients. We will thus obtain additional opportunities in the fight against the disease.
- Mr. President, as you noted, modular hospitals have been opening in Azerbaijan in connection with the fight against coronavirus lately, and you are taking part in the opening of another medical facility again. You have briefly touched upon this, but could you please provide more detail about whether there are plans to build additional medical institutions in the future?
- Yes, there are such plans. As you know, five modular hospitals are already in operation. The construction of these hospitals in such a short time shows that we can take the necessary steps even in time pressure. You know that not a single country was ready for the pandemic. The number of beds we had was designed for a normal operation. Therefore, it was necessary to build hospitals of a modular type, and we did that. As you know, two of them are already operating in Baku, one in Sumgayit, one in Ganja, one in the Absheron district, and five more hospitals are under construction. We thought that 10 hospitals should be enough for us. However, we see that there will be a need for additional hospitals. Therefore, I recently ordered to purchase 10 more modular hospitals and determine their location. We must be prepared for the most critical situation. As a matter of fact, we decided to build 10 modular hospitals when the disease did not spread very widely. This decision was made in April, when we had approximately 30, 40, 50, 60 people falling ill daily. Of course, it was necessary to take preventive measures. But we could not imagine how the disease would develop. We did have an assumption and the processes taking place in the world also showed that the number of patients might increase. In this case, we could end up in a hopeless situation. Where would we place these patients? Therefore, the adoption of this decision at the time was the right step. Today, the decision to build an additional 10 modular hospitals is designed for the future again.
In general, patients with coronavirus are currently receiving treatment in 45 hospitals in our country. I should also note that 36 of these hospitals were built on my orders recently. It is not too difficult to imagine what problems we might face today if these hospitals had not been built. We still have enough vacant beds today, but we must be prepared for any situation.
I must say that 350 patients are currently undergoing treatment at the “Yeni klinika” hospital commissioned this year. We will soon increase the number of beds there to 700-750. Therefore, it is easy to calculate that, if necessary, we will be able to station more than 5,000 patients in a short period of time – i.e. 2,100 in hospitals, 3,000 in 15 modular hospitals and an additional 350 in the “Yeni klinika” hospital.
- Mr President, would you please assess the situation in the world, including our country, in relation to the coronavirus pandemic?
- As you know, coronavirus is becoming increasingly widespread in the world. After easing the restrictions, some countries, like us, saw that the spread of the disease had accelerated. Therefore, many countries in the world are now returning to restrictive measures. I believe that this is the right decision, because there is no vaccine today to completely cure this disease. This being the case, the number of infected can increase further.
As for us, thanks to the adoption of all preventive measures, we managed to keep the situation under control. It is still under control now. Even though approximately 500 new patients a day are registered, i.e. the rate of the infection is high, the situation remains under control. Of course, since the early days of the pandemic, we have been taking very important steps. In February, we had only six laboratories. Currently, their number has reached 29 and 15 more laboratories have been ordered and are on the way. So their number will reach 44. This will allow us the opportunity to conduct even more tests. I should also note that more than 500,000 tests have been carried out to date, and Azerbaijan is somewhere in 40th place in the world for the number of tests per capita.
We have also resolved the issue of preparing hospitals for this. I can say that most of these 45 hospitals are located in the regions. These hospitals were built as part of a regional development program and currently meet the highest standards.
Of course, we are taking steps related to the adoption of restrictive measures in accordance with the situation. In May, when we took the first mitigating steps, I said that if we see an increase in the spread of the disease, we will have to return to tightened restrictions. And so it happened. I believe that keeping the quarantine regime in place today is the right step. I must note that many countries are returning to a more stringent form of quarantine.
Of course, any question requires comparison. I can say that in some developed countries with the same population as ours, the number of infected people is around 60,000-70,000 and of the dead 10,000 people. The healthcare systems of these countries were often cited as an example. This shows that no country can consider itself fully insured, as this disease knows no boundaries. Therefore, there is an even greater need for international cooperation, and Azerbaijan is taking the necessary steps in this direction.
This disease has demonstrated one more thing: it was usually believed that such terrible pandemics, epidemics and mass deaths from infectious diseases are possible only in backward countries. But life has shown that this is not the case. Life has shown that developed countries suffer the most from the pandemic these days. If they cannot completely cope with this problem, then, of course, it is not too difficult to imagine the situation in not very developed or backward countries.
Of course, before taking any steps, we deeply analyze the situation. When applying restrictive measures, of course, consultations are held with specialists and doctors. In other words, we are not doing this work spontaneously. We are taking thought-out steps. The main goal of these actions is to protect our citizens, their health and lives from this disease. During the pandemic, it is necessary to mobilize all our capabilities so that we can get out of this situation with small losses.
- Mr President, you have touched upon the quarantine regime. Is it possible to predict how long the quarantine regime will last? In other words, is there a level based on which we can say that this is when the quarantine regime may end?
- You know that during the pandemic, we usually introduce a quarantine regime for one or two weeks. Analyzing the situation and tightening control mechanisms, we looked at what tightened measures lead to. I can say that the number of infected people, which was growing rapidly some time ago, has now stabilized. As I said, in the past few days the number of new infections already averages around 500 people. But we have not yet reached a positive momentum. The number of infected people still exceeds the number of those who have recovered, and this negative trend, as I have already noted, is an additional burden for our healthcare system. Therefore, we will soon see how long the current regime will last – whether it will be tightened or relaxed. I want to say again that from the first day to the present the state has been taking all necessary steps. The main reason for the spread of the disease is the irresponsibility of some people. They do not follow basic rules and do not adhere to them. Therefore, we had to increase fines. Sometimes we have to take tough actions against those violating the quarantine regime. But they should also realize their responsibility. All the rules are designed to protect people’s health, including those who violate the quarantine regime. However, we see that some people are openly violating this regime. The disgraceful incident that happened at a famous hotel yesterday is unacceptable. Therefore, of course, the Azerbaijani police was right to intervene. I gave the police the strictest order to respond to all violations in an appropriate manner. No-one is above the law – whether it is a local or foreign company, a local or foreign citizen. It doesn’t matter – we must protect our people, their health. At the same time, the existing laws and regulations applied in connection with the quarantine regime should be the basis for everyone. Therefore, we will continue to take steps in this direction. I believe that if those violating these rules show more responsibility and discipline, we can keep the pandemic under control.
- Mr President, Azerbaijan has been closely cooperating with the World Health Organization since the start of the pandemic. This organization has described Azerbaijan a model country in the fight against coronavirus. Could you please assess our ties and cooperation with this organization?
- We have been in contact with the World Health Organization since day one because this is the main organization responsible for this work on a global scale. We invited their specialists. They were seconded here, arrived in our country and gave some advice. On the basis of that, we took some of our steps. As you said, the World Health Organization praised the work done in Azerbaijan at the first and subsequent stages, and at present. We maintain close ties to this day. I believe that each country should work closely with this organization because we can only receive advice from the World Health Organization. Therefore, we support this organization in the international arena as well. As you know, we have provided financial assistance to it. Today, the organization’s representative office is very active in Azerbaijan and is taking tangible steps to prevent the spread of this disease. We are grateful for this activity. As you know, the Director General of the World Health Organization also participated in the summits Azerbaijan has organized. I believe that we will continue to successfully cooperate with this organization even after the pandemic.
- Mr President, what is the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on socioeconomic spheres in our country? Could you please share your opinion on this matter?
- Of course, the pandemic has left a mark. The world's leading financial institutions are putting forward various predictions these days – what kind of recession the global economy will suffer, what is store for the eurozone, what it the outlook for unemployment? We see that in countries where unemployment was low, it is increasing sharply. A significant blow has been dealt to the global economy, and since Azerbaijan is also a part of the global economy, this has adversely affected our positions too.
We started the year with very high hopes and ambitious plans. In the first months of the year, our economic indicators were quite high. We believed that 2020 would be the first year to bring excellent results thanks to the recent reforms. Of course, the pandemic interfered with all our plans and we consciously took very strict restrictive measures, including those in the field of trade and other areas. We expected our economy to slide into recession. Following the results of five months, the recession in the economy of Azerbaijan amounted to 1.7 percent. The results of six months of this year will probably be known in a few days. You know, this will all be restored. Therefore, I want to say again that when we were faced with a choice, our choice was unequivocal and firm: people's health is in the foreground and the economy is in the background. Despite this, we did not delay or curtail a single social project. On the contrary, social projects implemented this year at the expense of the state budget are more impressive than last year. For example, projects related to the most vulnerable categories of the population are being implemented in a larger volume this year. In particular, a record number of buildings for internally displaced persons will be built this year. More than 7,000 IDP families will be provided with new apartments. This year, a record number of apartments will be commissioned - 1,500. Martyr families are usually provided with approximately 700-800 apartments every year. More than 400 apartments are to be provided to those who have an impeccable service record of 20 years in the army. We have increased the number of those who receive targeted social assistance. This figure approaches 85,000 – 85,000 families, or more than 300,000 people. Other important social projects have been implemented as well. As you know, 3 billion manats have been allocated to support the unemployed, as well as informally employed, to provide material assistance to those working in the areas affected by the pandemic, and some of them have already been spent.
Therefore, we will allocate as much as necessary. On the other hand, even though our economy has experienced a recession, there is development in some sectors. For example, agriculture. Following the results of five months, we observed more than 3-percernt growth in this industry. Agricultural reforms and transparency are producing very good results today. Growth in the non-oil industry over the first five months was 16 percent. And this is a manifestation of the industrialization process of recent years. Therefore, I believe that in general we will finish this year at the proper level. Despite the sharp drop in oil prices on world markets, our foreign exchange reserves decreased by only $98 million in six months. We expected a larger decline, a recession. Whereas the price of oil is estimated at $55 in our budget, the average price over six months was $38. So this is a major loss for us. On some days it fell even lower. As you know, some representatives who call themselves opposition even congratulated each other, rejoiced at the fact that the oil price fell to $14 and the country would face major problems. Seeing this disgusting picture, the Azerbaijani people were further convinced of who is who. Because the drop in the oil price will first affect the solution of people’s social problems. If oil prices remain low for a long time, then we inevitably have to reduce our investment costs. In this case, unemployment will increase. We will have to reduce social spending, and people will be affected by this. I think that Armenia and the anti-national council which calls itself the opposition are the only ones to rejoice in the falling oil price, because both of them cherish hostility for Azerbaijani statehood. The people of Azerbaijan must know this. But as I said, even if the oil price drops to $14, we will continue to stand on our feet, because we have created such a great financial and economic potential in recent years that we can cope with any crisis.
I want to touch upon another issue in the economic sphere. As you know, a serious struggle is being waged with the shadow economy, and this struggle is producing results. This is seen and appreciated both by the business community and people working in business entities. More than 100,000 employment contracts have been signed this year. In essence, this means narrowing down the scope for informal employment because these almost 100,000 people used to work in the shadow economy before and did not disclose their wages. Thus, they deprived themselves of future retirement benefits and medical insurance. So the awareness raising work, the very serious administrative steps, the contacts between state and business entities, the extension of a grace period for them led to the fact that more than 100,000 labor contracts have been signed, and this is not the limit. We still have perhaps hundreds of thousands of other people work in informally. I am sure that they will gradually move away from the shadow to the “white" economy. These reforms are simultaneously manifested in budget revenue. Notice that the vast majority of trade and public catering facilities were closed during this period. Tourism is at zero even though we expected approximately 3.5 million tourists to come to our country this year because last year a record high of 3 million was reached. This is what our plans were for this year. And this would mean an influx of at least $2 billion into the country's economy. We have lost this too. However, in six months, tax and customs authorities managed to attract an additional 423 million manats into the budget in excess of the forecast. Of these, 98 million manats were provided by customs and the rest by tax authorities. Due to what? Due to transparency, accuracy and narrowing the scope for the shadow economy. So we are implementing these reforms even at the most critical moment and produce excellent results. Of course, as I said, all these funds will be spent only on social projects, including the fight against COVID.
- Mr President, Azerbaijan has provided humanitarian assistance to many countries in the fight against the pandemic. Please share your opinion on this subject.
- Yes, you are right. To date, we have provided humanitarian and financial assistance to more than 30 countries. Let me note that we did not announce this, because we did not do it to advertise ourselves, but simply as a duty of solidarity with other countries. However, after several heads of state sent letters of appreciation to me, this already became known. Of course, we do not attempt to hide it. Conversely, I believe that this is our great advantage because we helped more than 30 countries even in the difficult period and did the right thing. Of course, it is on difficult days that countries should support each other. On trouble-free days, anyone can say good words and make good statements. But we must show this solidarity not in word but in deed, and we have done that. I believe that the international positions of our country have strengthened further as a result of this. Azerbaijan is already a country with a very positive image in the world. Recent events have once again confirmed this. This humanitarian and financial assistance shows again that Azerbaijan is, first and foremost, a country that stands firmly on its feet and does not withdraw into itself in difficult times. On the contrary, our initiatives during this period, including initiatives on an international plane, encourage international cooperation. Azerbaijan has once again reaffirmed its reputation as a country playing a very important role on a global scale.
Secondly, this is our philosophy. I am convinced that if someone asks for help, we should fulfill this request as far as we can, because we can make even more friends only through cooperation, kindness, help and support. We did this by means of a consistent and thought-out policy. We have never tried taking advantage of the difficult situation of any country to snatch something for ourselves. We always tried to help. If someone appreciates this, then thanks, those who forget should know better. In any case, our conscience is clear. During this period, of course, we can and will continue to provide assistance. In particular, we donated $10 million to the World Health Organization. The first donation was intended solely for the implementation of their plans, while the second donation was provided for countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, those worst affected by the pandemic and in the most difficult situation. We have provided financial assistance to other international organizations. Let me reiterate: I believe we did absolutely the right thing.
- Mr President, at such a time you personally put forward a number of initiatives in the international arena. As an example, we can cite the summits of the Turkic Council and the Non-Aligned Movement. Do you think these initiatives can be evaluated as an indicator of the international authority of Azerbaijan?
- Certainly! You know, I believe that every country – at least this is the position of Azerbaijan as we see it – should carry out fully-fledged activities in one organization or another. In other words, this activity, in particular, activity as a chairing country, should not be formal in nature. It may certainly be formal too, because chairmanship of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States is based on the principle of alternation and chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement is done through elections. We took over chairmanship of both organizations at about the same time –last October. Two summits were held in Baku. At that time, I stated as chairman that we would be active, we would defend the interests of the member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement on a global scale, and uphold justice and international law. Therefore, in this difficult time, of course, I felt that there was a great need for the summits. I should note that the Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States was the first summit in a new online format. After that, other organizations took similar steps. The summits of the member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Turkic Council were very successful. Their final documents highly appreciated this initiative of Azerbaijan, its role in this area and actions aimed at solidarity.
In addition, I took part in the Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union and outlined the position of Azerbaijan. A Summit of the Heads of State of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan was also held recently. This meeting was also very important. We have come up with specific results. This summit dealt more with logistics and the transport sector. But on my initiative, we have somewhat expanded its format. And by putting forward the initiative again, we achieved the establishment of intergovernmental working groups. Consultations are currently under way. Investments, trade, transport and logistics, energy, telecommunications –a very important trilateral format has already been formed here. I can say that we have always been very interested in the trilateral format of cooperation and given preference to it. We have such formats of cooperation with several countries. And this is a new trilateral format that can give an enormous economic effect.
Another initiative of ours was related to the special session of the UN General Assembly. This initiative was also praised globally, more than 130 countries supported our initiative. So the session will take place in the near future.
- Mr President, the only country that voted against your initiative to hold the special session of the UN General Assembly was Armenia. What do you think is the reason for that? Is this a manifestation of Armenia’s hatred towards us or is it self-isolation from the world?
- Probably both. I believe that the main reason for this is the Azerbaijanophobia that is pervasive and promoted by the state in Armenia, a manifestation of hatred towards the Azerbaijani state and the Azerbaijani people. However, Armenia put itself in an extremely unsightly position and isolated itself from the world, as you said. After all, to oppose this initiative is nothing but recklessness and a fruit of irrational consciousness. By putting forward this initiative, we pursued one goal: to join efforts on a global scale. In connection with this initiative, we will have specific proposals, because we did this in the Turkic world and as part of the Non-Aligned Movement, which brings together 120 countries. At present, we want to do this on a global scale, so that there is a unified approach, so that countries do not become self-contained, so that developed countries could help those in a difficult situation. We don’t see this now. We see who is helping who. So that after the vaccine is developed, it is provided to countries that cannot buy it for free. So that donor organizations and large businesses could speak their word. That is, we put forward these proposals for this and to demonstrate solidarity. It remains to be seen what will happen after the vaccine is invented. There is currently a struggle for medicines and equipment. We were faced with this situation ourselves. We could not have some of the ordered and purchased equipment delivered to our country because we did not have such opportunity. What will happen after the invention of the vaccine? Nobody knows that. First of all, how effective will this vaccine be? Testing is in progress now. Also, will it be available to poor countries or not? Will it be sold or distributed by the World Health Organization? Or will rich countries take advantage of this and save their citizens, while people in poor countries will be left to die? This is unacceptable. All these issues require a unified approach. We must raise this issue even if countries do not reach a consensus at the UN General Assembly. We raise this issue as a responsible member of the world community. Therefore, this step of Armenia’s is completely incomprehensible.
As you know, we needed 97 votes for this initiative to pass. But we got the votes of more than 130 countries. I believe that two key factors played a role here – the relevance of this topic and support and sympathy for Azerbaijan in the international arena. We won this sympathy thanks to many years of consistent activity, principled and independent policies.
I have repeatedly said that we are pursuing an independent policy, and no outside force can influence it. We have repeatedly demonstrated this at different times. Therefore, the sympathy for Azerbaijan is at the highest level today. Nine years ago, with the support of 155 countries, we were elected a member of the UN Security Council. I should note that at that time Armenia put forward its candidacy earlier than us. But seeing that we had nominated ourselves, they realized that they were helpless us and quietly withdrew their candidacy – i.e. they fled from this arena of a diplomatic battle. Five years later, they fled from the battlefield and Azerbaijan freed part of the occupied lands from occupation. So this is great international support given to us 10 years later. I do not want to compare our country with anyone else but I do not think that many countries would be able to win such support at the UN. This is the result of our honesty and the fulfillment of our word. I have repeatedly said that our words are as valid as our signature and their impact is the same. We are a country that keeps its word.
As for Armenia, they have put themselves in a very ridiculous situation. More than 130 countries have officially supported our initiative, and did this in an individual manner. Although the Non-Aligned Movement fully supported this, all countries individually informed either us or the UN by letters. Several countries remained silent. That is, they simply did not respond to this. The only country that opposed is Armenia. The Armenian ambassador to the UN sent a very strange letter stating that they are opposed.
First of all, Armenia itself is one of the countries of the region and perhaps even of the world that have been worst affected by the pandemic. They acknowledge themselves that they are not coping with the pandemic. There are no doors left they haven’t knocked on for help. They are still trying to live by begging and imploring, at the expense of some help from here and there. Under such circumstances, they should be interested themselves. Secondly, this once again demonstrates their xenophobic, racist and fascist nature. The world has already repeatedly seen their true face. Today, fascist ideology prevails in Armenia. I said earlier that the regime may change, but the fascist ideology of this country remains unchanged. We are the target of this ideology. Their Azerbaijanophobic ideology still manifests itself today. They are isolating themselves from the world. But this step, of course, cannot affect anything. The world community will simply once again pay more attention to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, see that this is why this step was taken, so Armenia has raised an objection and remained in isolation again.
- Mr President, you spoke about the actions Armenia has taken in international organizations. However, cases of violation of democracy and human rights are widespread in this country. European organizations are turning a blind eye to all this. What do you think is the reason?
- I think that the main reason is the Armenian lobby and its financial resources. The Armenian lobby protects Armenia in all organizations. I personally saw this as the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. That is, Armenia was completely beyond criticism. At that time, pro-Armenian deputies and wealthy Armenian natives of European countries were using all opportunities, financial opportunities to protect Armenia from any criticism. Violations of human rights and democracy in Armenia are not a matter of today. There has never been democracy in Armenia. Immediately after emerging as an independent country, Armenia showed its true essence. The fascists who committed the Khojaly genocide cannot be democrats. A country setting its sights on foreign lands, leaving a million people homeless cannot be democratic. They have violated fundamental rights of a million citizens of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis living in Armenia. However, those who patronize the Armenians, primarily the Armenian lobby with its money, as well as the dirty lobbying activities of the Armenian government in Europe, have always protected them from this criticism. In essence, this is not lobbying, but corruption. I believe it is necessary to thoroughly investigate this activity in Europe. We have sufficient signals that some politicians, MPs and members of the government of a number of European countries are showing a special attitude towards Armenia. There are people who have visited Karabakh hundreds of times. We all understand quite well what is behind this. Therefore, let the law enforcement agencies of Europe investigate this issue, the “contribution” of the Armenian government to the spread of corruption in Europe and, of course, the hypocritical policy of Armenia, as it lies to every power center that it wants to listen to it. It wants to sit on several chairs. So far it has succeeded. It wants to exploit a fake story, the fictitious “events” of a hundred years ago – the “genocide”. It wants to portray itself as a victim, a long-suffering people. Although everyone knows too well that the Armenians committed genocide against us. These are the main factors.
However, Azerbaijan’s focused activities led to the fact that the umbrella over Armenia has already been pierced. We are revealing their true nature and exposing their fascist gut. He who erects a monument to fascist Nzhdeh and defends this monument is a fascist himself. We are saying this, and there is already sufficient information about this fact on a global scale. Until I raised this issue, no-one talked about it. I raised this issue, and it received broad international support. Now everyone already knows that Nzhdeh was a fascist. And this fascist is their symbol of heroism. Their occupying policy has been exposed. The documents of all leading international organizations adopted recently express explicit support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. There is comprehensive information about the occupation. In addition, the current leadership of Armenia reveals all the dirty deeds of the previous government. As they say it themselves, Armenia was led by bandits from 1998 to 2018. They have exposed these criminals and bribe-takers themselves.
I said earlier that if a country is led by bribe-takers, criminals and thieves for 20 years, then this is a country of criminals, thieves and bribe-takers. It can’t be otherwise. The history of their “independence” is a history of disgrace. The territorial claims made against the Azerbaijani people in the first years of independence, the Khojaly genocide, the occupation and expulsion of Azerbaijani citizens from their native lands and, at the subsequent stage, the illegal seizure of power. All the leaders of Armenia came to power illegally. Just look at the history of this country. The terrorist act in the Armenian parliament in the late 1990s reveals their true nature. This is a terrorist country, the government of a bandit, criminal and corrupt junta led Armenia until 2018 and brought it to such a terrible situation. It turns out that the presidents of Armenia were bribe-takers, and both are being prosecuted now. Their generals were thieves who sold soldier’s stew in the markets. Their heroes were fascists, terrorists and criminals. This is today's Armenia. Notice what has been happening there for the last two years. The picture will be completely clear then. Over the past two years, a dictatorship regime has been formed in Armenia. The junta has gone and the dictatorship has come. Human rights are flagrantly violated and journalists are arrested in Armenia. One journalist went on a hunger strike in prison and died. The constitution is grossly violated in Armenia. Illegal amendments are made to the constitution whereas changes can only be made by referendum. Political opponents are persecuted, political party leaders are deprived of parliamentary immunity and threatened, criminal charges are brought against their relatives, power is seized, there is absolutely no distribution of power. The prime minister is also a judge, a prosecutor, the head of the executive body and even chairman of parliament. The legislative, judicial and administrative mechanism is concentrated in the hands of one person. A dictatorship has already been formed in Armenia.
But notice how international organizations react to this – do many talk about it today? They don’t react at all. Where is the OSCE media representative who slanders Azerbaijan day and night and is now bending over backwards to stay in office. Why is he silent? Why was he silent when a journalist died in prison? Why was he silent when there were violations? Where is the Council of Europe? Why isn’t Armenia criticized? Why isn’t a rapporteur appointed for Armenia, for political prisoners? I ask all these questions, but they remain unanswered. They are not answered because it doesn’t suit them. And what can they answer after all? Will they answer that they are falsifiers? They will not say that. So they prefer to be silent.
We have seen falsification of European institutions in all the elections held in Armenia. All elections were rigged, but a positive conclusion was given in the end. There is no need to go far. Before their alleged revolution, Sargsyan tried to illegally seize power, falsified parliamentary elections and appropriated more than 50 percent of the vote. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the OSCE observation mission gave a positive conclusion to this. Did you not see that this person is a falsifier, that he stole the votes, that there was a process of bribing voters in Armenia?! International observers give positive feedback to Sargsyan’s authorities on his rigged elections, and then the people rose. Because the Armenian people hated Sargsyan and his junta, did not conceal that, and he is an element that deserves to be hated. At that time, when the people rose, the whole world saw the helpless state he was in. In fear, he stepped aside, said, ‘I was mistaken, forgive me’, and ran away. A coward! There is no other name for him. And he was trying to posed as a hero. The whole world saw what a hero he is. This executioner who committed a crime against the peaceful Azerbaijani population cowardly fled and hid. His main goal now is to remain at large. So after the regime of Sargsyan’s junta was overthrown, new parliamentary elections were announced and his Republican Party, which has the same symbolism as fascists, did not even get one percent of the vote. How is it possible: a few months ago he won 50 percent and now only 1-2 percent of the vote? Of course, it was falsification. But this is not what I am talking about. It is clear that Armenia is a fictitious state, and falsification there, of course, is the key factor. I want to ask European falsifier-observers who turn a blind eye to this, repeating words about democracy and trying to denigrate Azerbaijan. Answer! How could you give a positive conclusion when the whole Armenian people hate this person and the elections showed that?
Therefore, this issue is absolutely clear and this hypocrisy has already been fully exposed. No-one is in any doubt now that most of the decisions made by all these institutions are political in nature and represent a political order. They stroke the heads of countries that bow and kneel before them like Armenia, while countries that act with dignity, stand firmly on their feet and demand respect like Azerbaijan are attacked. The main thesis of these attacks is human rights and democracy. Of course, all these remarks are false. Our successes in the international arena we have just talked about indicate that Azerbaijan today is at the top of international politics and those who slander on us are in crisis.
- Mr President, my question is related to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The OSCE Minsk Group has recently issued a statement as well. In general, what processes have been taking place in the negotiations recently and is there any change in Azerbaijan’s position in the negotiations?
- No. There is no and cannot be any changes in our position because our position is fair. It is based on both historical justice and international law. I have made quite a few statements on this issue, including those within the framework of international events, and everyone already knows about it. Therefore, there can be no changes in our position. The conflict must be resolved within the framework of the territorial integrity of our country. We will never allow for the creation of a second Armenian state on Azerbaijani lands. All occupied lands must be freed from the invaders and Azerbaijani citizens must return to the lands of their ancestors. This is a principled position supported by the world community.
All leading international organizations have at various times, including recently, used clear expressions and adopted decisions and resolutions related to the territorial integrity of our country. The UN, its Security Council and the General Assembly, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Parliament, the European Union, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO and other organizations have adopted resolutions. So this is a legal plane, a picture that fully strengthens our position.
As far as historical justice is concerned, I believe that quite a few statements about this were made at the Munich Security Conference. I heard that after my speech, the people of Armenia have been studying the Kurekchay peace treaty. Very good, let them study it so that they know history well and do not deceive themselves and the international community, because there isn’t a single word about the Armenian people in the Kurekchay peace treaty. This agreement was signed by Ibrahim Khan on the one hand and a Russian general on the other. Ibrahim Khan of Karabakh and Shusha – these are the epithets and words that were said in relation to his position. So this historical truth was, of course, unexpected for the leadership of Armenia. They probably did not know this history. They deceived each other so much, they lied so much that sometimes they believe in this lie themselves. It is one thing when the prime minister of Armenia lies in a certain square in Armenia, but it is quite another thing when he shamelessly and unscrupulously lies at an international event. He Armenianized a king who had nothing to do with the Armenian people. This is an absolute lie. “Karabakh is Armenia” is yet another lie. A fairly weighty answer was given to that. There are lies related to events that happened in Armenia.
This is one side of the issue. As for the Minsk Group’s statement, we expect other statements from them, specific statements, we want to hear them. The prime minister of Armenia says, “Karabakh is Armenia”. I answer this, and answer properly. But why doesn’t the Minsk group respond to this? Why doesn’t it answer that this expression violates the essence of the negotiations formed by the Minsk Group and actually makes them meaningless. Did the Minsk Group co-chairs respond adequately to this? They did not! For two years now, the Armenian side has been trying to change the format of negotiations, stating that Azerbaijan should negotiate with self-styled and fictitious “leaders” of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh. Is there an adequate answer to this? There is not! An answer is issued using some abstract words in order to please both sides. But that time has already passed. We demand clarity. Who is taking these steps? Armenia! We are committed to the format of negotiations and take their essence as a basis. Of course, we are not satisfied with everything, but we have made it clear what suits us and what doesn’t. What does Armenia do? By declaring that “Karabakh is Armenia” it draws a line through the essence of the negotiations. Ideas about the need to change the format of negotiations make them meaningless. Should there be an adequate reaction to this or not?! The fictitious president of the far-fetched Nagorno-Karabakh republic who was not elected as a result of fictitious elections holds an inauguration ceremony in Shusha. Is this an adequate answer? After all, this is an open provocation. Until now, the unrecognized criminal Nagorno-Karabakh regime has held several "elections", triumphs in Shusha. Why is there no adequate reaction to this? Why isn’t it stated that this is a provocation for which Armenia will be held responsible? I am the one talking about this, but it should be them doing that if they want the issue to be resolved peacefully. What is the main thesis of their statement? A military option is impossible. Who said that? Open the UN Charter and see if countries have the right to self-defense or not? Who do you think you are?! Are you above the UN?! Are you above the UN Charter?! In this case, they should say: we, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, believe that the thesis reflected in the UN Charter is wrong. After all, there is a limit to everything. Therefore, we expect more serious, specific and focused statements from them. Armenia is engaged in illegal settlement of the occupied lands. I have repeatedly raised this issue. Members of our delegations in all international organizations have been instructed: this issue should be the number one issue on their agenda. Are the Minsk Group co-chairs making a statement on this issue or not?! The last OSCE fact-finding mission visited the occupied lands 10 years ago. Ten years have passed. Over the past few years, we have been insistently telling them that a new mission should be sent. For the past 10 years, Armenia has been bringing Armenians from Syria and other places there, forcibly holding them, changing the historical names of our cities and building churches in the occupied lands. So they will say tomorrow that this is Armenian land. We have repeatedly told them. Is there a reaction? There is not! Was it impossible to send a fact-finding mission in 10 years? They are not interested. What will they see when they arrive there?! They will see that there is an ongoing settlement. Ten years ago, they reflected this in their report. They probably don’t want to reflect this now. Has the Minsk Group made a statement about this? It hasn’t! You know, we are trying to be patient and constructive. But there are almost no negotiations now. The video conferences of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have no meaning whatsoever. This simply shows that the Minsk Group is doing something. But how much longer can this last? To do something means to do something. I said that we would not negotiate for the sake of imitation. We want to negotiate on the merits. They have now come up with the expression of “substance negotiations”. They came up with this expression themselves, its essence is clear – yes, without changing the format of the negotiations and without supplementing the subject of negotiations on the table. In this case, of course, we will participate in the negotiations. Otherwise, there is no need for meaningless negotiations. This is exactly what we expect from the Minsk Group and are firm in our position. Justice is on our side. We proved our cause both in the international arena and on the battlefield, and let no-one forget about the April battles.
- Thank you very much, Mr President. Thank you very much for your time!
- Thank you!