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Azerbaijan has long prioritized ways of liberating the lands that have been under the boots of the Armenian occupation army since early 1990s. And this is namely a military solution that has come to the fore in recent years though the negative international reaction to the unenviable possible choice of Azerbaijan.
Speaking to the top brass of the army recently, President Ilham Aliyev reiterated the vitality of additional measures to increase the army’s combat readiness for the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
“Of course, the main thing is the combat efficiency. All other factors that I noted serve to increase combat efficiency. The necessary steps are also being taken in this direction. This is evidenced by military operations in both 2016 and 2018. We managed to free a large territory from the invaders. In 2016, we liberated part of Fizuli, Cabrayil, Agdara districts from the enemy and raised the Azerbaijani flag on these lands. We entered the trenches dug by the Armenians in the occupied lands. Currently, we are located and entrenched there. As a result of the successful Naxcivan operation, we liberated from the invaders a territory of over 10,000 ha and reached strategic heights. The road leading from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh passes before our eyes,” President Ilham Aliyev has said.
The Azerbaijani president is confident that extra steps aimed at increasing the combat readiness of the national army is the key to the restoration of the territorial integrity.
Our territorial integrity must and will be restored. Let no one doubt it. We just need to become even stronger. We must constantly monitor the geopolitical situation, correctly analyze the changing international situation and make more friends in the world and we are doing it. Today, the countries that become friends of Azerbaijan are more and more, President Ilham Aliyev said.
Illegal settlement of Armenians
Since the occupation of Azerbaijani lands, the Armenian governments have pursued a policy of illegal settlement of the occupied lands though delusive promises that never come true due to demographic disaster.
In remarks about the issue in question, the Azerbaijani leader lashed out at Armenia’s illegal settlement in the occupied lands, adding that “I have already expressed my thoughts on this issue several times, including at international events. I paid attention to this issue in the framework of the latest Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union. We raise and will raise this issue in all international organizations and illegal settlement must be put to an end”.
The Azerbaijani leader urged the international community and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to pay special attention to this issue so that to stop the illegal settlement. They renamed our cities, first on the territory of present-day Armenia, and now in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions, the president reminded, lambasting the destruction of mosques and Armenizing “our historical monuments, lands”. Aliyev said.
Armenians seek illegal settlement, but experience difficulties due to lack of human resources.
The president assured that Azerbaijan is determined to protect own positions and interests without any hesitation amid positive changes in approaches of international organizations pertaining to the principle of territorial integrity and “many of the speakers at the latest Eastern Partnership Summit of the EU, world leaders have clarified” their positions on this issue.
The president has renewed his attitude towards separatist Karabakh’s self-determination ambitions and vowed that this will never come true.
The principle of territorial integrity prevails over the principle of self-determination of peoples. Let no one doubt it. As for Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue as a whole, the principle of self-determination does not apply to them, because the Armenian people have already determined themselves, they have an Armenian state, albeit created on the Azerbaijani soil.
We cannot allow the creation of a second Armenian state on the Azerbaijani soil. However, once again I want to say that the principle of territorial integrity prevails today. Therefore, from the point of view of international law, historical justice, our position is perfect. Of course, the conflict must be resolved on the basis of these principles. But, as I have already noted, the force factor in the world is coming to the forefront, and we must accumulate strength and resolve the issue in any way, President Ilham Aliyev added.
The Azerbaijani army factor
The Azerbaijani army is the most powerful factor for the de-occupation of the lands and the people of Azerbaijan are fully confident of it.
“Azerbaijan’s cooperation and partnership with NATO is almost the same age as Azerbaijan’s independence and sovereignty. This is not by chance. NATO allies highly value relations with Baku in the context of regional and international security,” French ambassador to Azerbaijan Zachary Gross said in a Twitter post.
The past week brought details of a telephone conversation between Azerbaijani and Russian Defence Ministers Zakir Hasanov and Sergei Shoigu in April 2016. “In the first three days of the April war 2016, the small army of Azerbaijan defeated the Armenian army,” Zakir Hasanov said.
“Sergei Shoigu treats Azerbaijan very well. We have very good and trusting relations with him. During the 2016 hostilities, after the defeat of part of the Armenian army, we captured the Lalatapa height and began to advance towards the village of Talis. At that point, Armenians phoned Sergei Shoigu, begging him to call me to ask for a halt to the advance of the Azerbaijani army. In a telephone conversation, I explained to the Russian defence minister that the counterattack was a response to their propaganda and aimed at pushing them away from settlements along the front line,” Hasanov said.
The defense minister emphasized that the military operations of 2016 were a test for the Azerbaijani army, which went through reforms. “In addition, we started reforms in the army and we needed to confirm: are we developing correctly, are we building a professional army in the right way. Many forgot the incident of 2015 when there were local military operations in which the Armenian army was defeated, suffered heavy losses. They even lost a helicopter then and this should not be forgotten.
The successes of the Azerbaijani army in recent years are before our eyes. Everyone sees and knows them. The main thing is that as a result of fighting in the country, the morale and patriotism have increased.
In the meantime, Turkey misses no opportunity to sound unwavering commitment to Azerbaijan’s independence and territorial integrity. Turkey will support Azerbaijan, no matter how Azerbaijan decides to resolve the Karabakh problem, the Turkish foreign minister said.
The Turkish minister reminded that Armenia was avoiding compromise options and denounced the recent “elections” in Karabakh as illegal that were not recognized by the international community. “As in all issues, we are close to fraternal Azerbaijan in the Karabakh issue.”
The Turkish foreign minister stressed that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and Armenia should come to a peaceful solution to the problem instead of provocations.