By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has urged the international community to react to the destructions Armenians committed on Azerbaijani territories held under occupation for nearly three decades.
He called on UNESCO and other international organizaitons to inspect the scenes of destructions in Azerbaijan's recently liberated lands.
On December 23, President Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyev visited Gubadli and Zangilan regions, areas recently liberated from three decades of Armenian occupation.
“All our villages, historical and religious monuments have been destroyed by the enemy. The whole world should see it,” Aliyev said during the tour in Gubadli, adding that the Armenian authorities will be held accountable for these crimes.
Aliyev spoke about double standard of some countries whose parliaments recently adopted anti-Azerbaijani resolutions.
"Let the countries that have adopted resolutions against us have a look and open their eyes… For us, these resolutions are of no importance, they are just a piece of paper. But the fact is that the accusations against us are baseless again. Members of the French Parliament, members of the Belgian and Dutch parliaments, have a look and see what did your dear Armenians have done to these lands? Look at the map, look up the encyclopedia and see which country Zangilan and Gubadli districts are part of," he said.
UNESCO ignores mosques’ destruction
Aliyev condemned the lack of international attention to Azerbaijan's destroyed national and religious heritage against the background of concerns over the protection of Armenian sites.
"Some are raising the issue of the religious heritage of the Armenian people in the liberated lands now. But why didn’t anyone raise the issue of our national and religious heritage? A UNESCO official recently made an unfounded statement that they had allegedly asked us but Azerbaijan remained silent. We have repeatedly appealed to UNESCO for 30 years, repeatedly stated that our mosques have been destroyed, our historical sites have been destroyed, our historical sites have been Armenianized. Have they sent a mission here at least once? Has our request been answered at least once? As soon as the war ended, they started to protect the sites of the Armenian people."
President Aliyev urged UNESCO and other international agencies to inspect the destroyed scenes.
"We are protecting all sites, we are protecting the sites of all nations, and the world knows that. But you should have a look, there was a mosque here, UNESCO, come here, come and see this. The Council of Europe, do not remain silent, come and see this! All our mosques are destroyed. Is it possible to destroy mosques? Is it not a crime to demolish a mosque? How much longer will this injustice last? How long will this hypocrisy last? How long will these double standards last? How long will this Islamophobia last? It was the Armenians who destroyed it. Can someone introducing himself as a civilized person and is even accepted by some foreign patrons as such do this? Can a civilized person keep pigs in a mosque? Let the whole world see this! Let Muslims of the world, the peoples of Muslim countries see this," he stressed.
"Everything along the road is destroyed – from Jabrayil region to the liberated lands in Gubadli... All buildings, all houses, our historical sites, our mosques and graves have been destroyed by the hated enemy. All these crimes are documented," he said.
Furthermore, Aliyev described Gubadli’s liberation on October 25 as a historic event that brought Azerbaijan closer to victory.
“Armenians built military fortifications and a military base for themselves in [Gubadli’s] Khanlig village. Illegal settlement was carried out in Khanlig village. Armenians brought from abroad were settled here illegally. This is also a war crime. According to the Geneva Conventions, a country that illegally settles the occupied territories commits a crime," he said.
President Ilham Aliyev said the liberation of Gubadli took several days due to Armenian troops' strong fortifications in the city. Gubadli was Azerbaijani armed forces’ next destination after Zangilan’s liberation on 20 October. Aliyev noted that the Gubadli operation required special professionalism and self-sacrifice.
"The Azerbaijani Army showed professionalism and self-sacrifice. First of all, we took the heights dominating the city, the surrounding villages, including Khanlig settlement, Padar, Sariyatag, Mahmudlu villages, and other strategic heights. After that, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces entered the city and cleared it of the enemy," he said.
Aliyev noted that Gubadli’s liberation gave the Azerbaijani troops a great strategic advantage as the next direction was Lachin region.
"The road from Gubadli to the southern part of Lachin region was constantly under fire. Because the road to Lachin region passes right next to the state border of Armenia – the distance there is perhaps 10-20 meters, so Armenia was constantly firing on us from that side. Therefore, our military units reached the strategic heights of Lachin region by other roads and various mountain paths. Thus, Gulabird village, Safiyan village, Turklar village located in the southern part of Lachin region were liberated. At the same time, the capture of strategic heights allowed us the opportunity to keep the Lachin corridor within firing range," the head of state said.
Aliyev hailed the Gubadli operation as greatly important since the city of Shusha was liberated on November 8 after Gubadli.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan built its tactics so that the losses were minimal.
"The tactical methods we used are a novelty for the world’s military science. More information on this issue will be provided in due course," he said.
The president pledged further retaliation if Armenia decides to fight again.
"If they still cherish any revenge sentiments, they will face a bitter end. If a single bullet is fired here from the other side – the Armenian border is 5 kilometers from here – we will crush them so hard they will forget their own names," he said.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan will continue strengthening its army.
"We will continue to strengthen our army. Next year's budget is now being discussed. On my initiative, military spending is increasing. First of all, because we used up a lot of our weaponry during the war, and it needs to be replenished. At the same time, there are plans to continue purchasing modern equipment. The modernization of our army, the combat potential of our army, the professionalism of our army will always be in the spotlight," he said.
He added that Azerbaijan should be strong as there are no guarantees about Armenia's plans in a few years.
"We have won a victory! We have driven the enemy out of our lands! But no-one can guarantee that Armenian fascism will not rise again in a few years. Therefore, the Azerbaijani state must always be strong. The Azerbaijani state must always have a strong army. We know how strong we are. And so does the world," he noted.
Nagorno-Karabakh to be restored
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is restoring Nagorno-Karabakh.
"Foreign experts have been involved and invited, and they will do all the appraisal work. Video and photo documents are being collected, and the entire damage will be calculated. Our lands have been exploited. Our natural resources have been exploited. A gold deposit in Zangilan region has been exploited. The same holds true for other liberated territories… We will restore all our cities, settlements and villages. Our people will return there and we will live on our lands forever. No-one can expel us from our lands ever again," he said.
Aliyev regretted that some Muslim states still have close ties with Armenia despite Yerevan's aggression against Baku.
"Unfortunately, we are still hearing that some Muslim states call Armenia a friendly country. The executioners who ruled this 'friendly country' for 20 years have done this [destruction of mosques]. They came here and destroyed our mosques and insulted us. The whole world should see this."
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