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As reported earlier, on March 16, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva visited the city of Shusha.
President Ilham Aliyev said:
- We left Azykh and came to Shusha yesterday. The roads are still in a poor condition, almost non-existent. We came here along the Victory road. For the time being it is unpaved because the weather is cold and it is impossible to lay asphalt. It was muddy and there was a heavy fog. That is why we made it from Azykh to Shusha in 1 hour and 45 minutes. We stayed in Shusha overnight. We left at 9 a.m. and are going to attend several events. The weather is clear, but there are still clouds above the city.
We last came here in January. We returned the busts of Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibayli and Bulbul to Shusha. It is a great pleasure to return to Shusha today. On the left, there are snowy and foggy mountains of Shusha.
Restoration of Vagif's mausoleum will begin soon. The former appearance of the mausoleum will be restored. Restoration work will begin today.
Relevant instructions have already been given to restore the mosques. Preliminary studies have begun and the project will be presented in the near future.
Shusha is beautiful in every season.
We will also restore the springs. For 30 years, Armenians dried up all our springs. Notice what the city is like now, what the enemy has done to Shusha.
We are approaching Vagif's mausoleum. Work has already begun. I have viewed the project. Here are the photos. National leader Heydar Aliyev attended both the opening and Vagif Poetry Day. We are restoring history. This project will be implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation at its own expense, with the taste typical of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and under the supervision of Mehriban khanum.
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva visited the museum complex of Mollah Panah Vagif in Shusha.
Assistant to the President Anar Alakbarov briefed the President and the First Lady on the project to restore the complex. This project will be implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. During the project, special attention will be paid to the restoration of the mausoleum. When the Armenians occupied Shusha in 1992, they also violently destroyed this monument.
President Ilham Aliyev: I have found these photos in the archive. Vagif Poetry Days were held in the summer of 1982. National leader Heydar Aliyev is in front of the mausoleum in the summer of 1982. People also took part in this event here. Last time I was here, I noticed this place and asked to find pictures of what happened here in the archives, and this picture has been found. You see, Vagif's image was on this wall. The hated enemy dismantled it and the marble. This was a tombstone. Armenian vandals demolished it too. We will restore it. I found a few more photos of the National leader visiting Shusha at the time, and I am also there. This picture was taken on Jidir Duzu. I showed it once, in front of the Natavan spring. There is another picture here and I have to show it too. There was also a bust of Vagif here. Last time I was in Shusha, I showed that the Armenians had dismantled the bust and built a shop. Here it is. The bust of Vagif and the National leader looking at it. We will restore this bust as well.
The President, the First Lady and Leyla Aliyeva then reviewed the remains of Panahali khan's palace. This building is located in the historical center of Shusha and was the residency of Panahali khan, the founder of the Karabakh khanate. Armenian vandals also destroyed this historic building during the occupation.
President Ilham Aliyev: This was the palace of Panahali khan. Panahali khan, who built and established Shusha, built a palace for himself here. Notice what the Armenians have done to this palace. It was a historical site. The despicable enemy came here, seized our lands, expelled our people, destroyed our historical sites, demolished, vandalized and barbarized everything around them.
Let all international organizations come and see this. Let the circles defending and supporting the Armenians, those who always support them, come and see what these savages have done.
The liberated lands are a witness to Armenian atrocities. There has never been such an atrocity in the history of the world. They came here, lived on someone else's land and then took the opportunity to drive out the locals, kill them, burn them and commit genocide. Then they also took advantage of the hospitality of the people who embraced them, accepted them, allowed them to live here. And this is how they repaid for the hospitality - brought our historical sites to this condition. Savagery! That is exactly what I mean when I say that a savage tribe had passed through these places.
Then President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva arrived at the future site of Molla Panah Vagif’s bust.
The project to restore the bust of Mollah Panah Vagif will also be implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
President Ilham Aliyev: This is the pedestal of the bust. The Armenians have destroyed it but we will restore it.
During the occupation, Armenian vandals also destroyed the 19th century Caravanserai historical and architectural complex located in the central square of Shusha.
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva visited the Caravanserai historical and architectural complex.
The head of state was informed about the work to be done here.
One of the buildings subjected to Armenian savagery is the building of the Shusha State Art Gallery.
The gallery was established in 1982 and operated until the occupation in 1992.
President Ilham Aliyev: This was an art gallery of Shusha. The Azerbaijani government organized a gallery here. During the occupation, the enemy used it for its own needs. It will now be completely rebuilt and operate as an art gallery again.
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva then viewed the repairs to be carried out at the “Garabagh” Hotel. The hotel was built in the early 1980s. The building has fallen into disrepair due to neglect. Thanks to the work to be done here, the hotel will be brought up to a modern level and all amenities will be created for the comfort of visitors to Shusha.
The President and the First Lady were informed about the work done to restore historical and religious sites in Shusha.
President Ilham Aliyev: The rooms of the hotel will be like this. During the occupation, the hotel was almost destroyed and only one floor was used. It was in a deplorable state. Now it has been quickly prepared as a show room. All rooms of the hotel will be in this style.
We have got acquainted with the ongoing reconstruction work at the Karabakh Hotel. During the occupation, the hotel practically did not operate. Only one or two floors did. This hotel was also built during the Soviet era at the expense of Azerbaijan and was named Garabagh. Then the contemptible enemy changed the name of the hotel to “Shushi palace”. There is no city called Shushi, it has never been and never will be the case.
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva also visited the Shusha Carpet Museum. This museum, established to study and preserve the traditions of Karabakh carpet weaving, was also severely damaged during the occupation.
The President, the First Lady and Leyla Aliyeva also viewed the building where the Park Hotel will be located in Shusha. After the reconstruction, the hotel will accommodate guests, offering modern-level service.
President Ilham Aliyev: This was a former sanatorium building. During the occupation, it was used as a small hotel, but in a very primitive way. The conditions were pretty embarrassing. It is now being restored. This is also a show room; the rooms of the hotel will be like this. The hotel will be commissioned this year.
Special Representative of the President in Shusha Aydin Karimov reported to the President on the projects to be implemented.
President Ilham Aliyev gave instructions on the work to be done in Shusha.
President Ilham Aliyev: We have also visited the Shusha sanatorium. Many buildings there were destroyed by Armenians. But it will be possible to use some buildings. There are also plans to create small hotels here. We must take into account that there will be a huge influx of tourists to Shusha, so there should be five-, four- and three-star hotels here.
This is a beautiful view of the city and the mountains around it. But we see again that the Armenians did not build a single building here. They may have built this one, an ugly looking edifice. However, they used the buildings built by Azerbaijan in Soviet times and settled in the houses of Azerbaijanis. All these houses are Soviet-era houses, Khrushchev-era houses. They have long used up their service life. We now need to pay attention to the condition of these buildings.
About 2,000 people lived in Shusha during the occupation, most of them servicemen and their families. Therefore, most of these buildings are empty. Look, is there a single decent building around?
The Armenians try to present Shusha as an Armenian city. However, it was Panahali khan who laid the foundation of Shusha and Azerbaijanis have always lived here. If it was an Armenian city, why didn't they look after it? It is barbaric to bring a city with the landscape and nature of Shusha to this condition. They have destroyed the homes of Azerbaijanis and believed that this occupation would last forever. We have put an end to the occupation.
I have said that Shusha will become not only one of the most gorgeous cities in Azerbaijan, but also in the world, and we will achieve this – 100 percent. This is the ruined building of the Realniy School. Notice what the Armenians have done to it. According to my information, there was a boarding school on the left. It is also demolished, only a part of the facade remains.
We are departing Shusha, but we do not want to leave again. Shusha attracts people so much that those who come here do not want to leave. But we must return to Baku. We will stop on the way at Dashalti village. We will also look at the village. Then we will head for Baku.
First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva: The weather is sunny and clear, the sky is blue.
President Ilham Aliyev: We are saying “so long” to Shusha. The Azerbaijani flag is waving at the entrance to Shusha and will fly high forever. Down below is the Lachin corridor. The weather favors us again. The sun shines down our path. This is the building of the Shusha substation. This building was constructed in a short time and will provide Shusha with sustainable energy. Last time we came to Shusha in January, the air was clear and the sun greeted us as we approached Shusha.
The rocks of Shusha look beautiful from here as well. We are on the path of truth and ours is the cause of truth. Nature also greets us because this is Azerbaijan’s nature.
This is Dashalti village. We will also get acquainted with Dashalti village.
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva arrived at Dashalti village of Shusha district.
Aydin Karimov: This is the Great Kirs Mountain. One of Shusha's water sources comes from its foothills.
First Lady: Is this considered New Dashalti?
Aydin Karimov: Yes.
First Lady: And that is Old Dashalti.
President Ilham Aliyev: Our servicemen came from there.
This is a beautiful view of Dashalti village both on the right and on the left. Dashalti village was also liberated from the occupiers. Our victorious army rose from Dashalti, crossed the steep cliffs and entered Shusha. Ahead of us is Great Kirs Mountain. The beautiful nature of Azerbaijan is right before us. Whichever way you look, there is beauty and greenery. This is the land of Azerbaijan, the land of Karabakh. From now on, the people of Azerbaijan will live here forever.
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The village of Dashalti, occupied by Armenian invaders in 1992 was also subjected to all-round terror. President Ilham Aliyev gave instructions on restoring the village.
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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva have lit the holiday bonfire on Jidir Duzu, Shusha.
The head of state then delivered remarks.
-Dear sisters and brothers, I warmly congratulate all of you on the occasion of Novruz Holiday and wish all the people of Azerbaijan strong health and happiness!
This year we are celebrating Novruz in Shusha, in Jidir Duzu. This is a historic event. Every year since 2004, when congratulating the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of Novruz, I was saying that we would return to our native lands. I was saying that we would restore the territorial integrity of our country. I was saying that we would celebrate Novruz in Karabakh after the liberation of our lands, and this day has arrived. Today we are celebrating Novruz in our ancient city Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. This is a historic event. This is great happiness. Allah heard the prayers of the Azerbaijani people. Every year, on the eve of Novruz, we probably all thought and said to each other that next year we would celebrate Novruz in Karabakh Inshallah, that we would celebrate Novruz in Shusha next year, and this day has come. After 28 years, we have returned to Shusha. We are celebrating Novruz in Jidir Duzu. We have restored historical justice.
On 8 November, when announcing the great news of the liberation of Shusha to the people of Azerbaijan, I said, “Shusha, you are free!” Today, we are celebrating our national holiday Novruz in free Shusha. Shusha was held in captivity for 28 years. For 28 years, it was ravaged and devastated by the nefarious enemy. The historical appearance of Shusha was obliterated. The enemy wanted to Armenianize Shusha. They tried to erase the heritage of the Azerbaijani people in Shusha. But they failed. Shusha may have been destroyed; the loathsome enemy may have ruined our historical sites in Shusha. However, Shusha did not give in. Shusha did not break. It preserved its dignity, protected the national spirit of Azerbaijan, and today, while in Shusha, we are witnessing this once again. Shusha was able to preserve the spirit of the Azerbaijani people and awaited our return. We had to come and we did. But we had to gather strength to come here. We had to prepare to come here. Preparations had to be and were made in all directions. We had to ensure the development of our country. We had to ensure the unity of our people. That was not an easy task for a country and nation that has emerged from civil war. The processes in the country after the civil war united our people around a common idea, a common cause – the liberation of our lands. We managed to secure this national unity and national solidarity. If it were not for this, the victory would not have happened.
We had to communicate the truth about the Karabakh conflict to the world at the international level, and we managed to do so. We have been active in international organizations and ensured the adoption of important decisions that reflect our interests, the truth, and international law and are based on it. That was the legal basis of our victory, the legal basis for the restoration of justice. We had to gather economic strength and we did. Perhaps no other country in the world has developed as fast as Azerbaijan in recent years. We had to gather military strength, and this direction was a priority. It is no coincidence that during my presidency, military spending has always been at the forefront. I was saying that we had to continue to increase our military spending. We must prepare for war; we did. I told the whole world openly that if the enemy did not vacate our lands of its own free will, we would expel them. And that is precisely what happened.
We have built a strong army. We have created a professional army. We have created a heroic army. Our servicemen deserve the highest praise. We had martyrs during the war. May Allah have mercy on all our martyrs. May Allah grant patience to their families. We liberated Shusha by shedding blood. There were fierce battles for Shusha. The remains of the invaders were scattered along the Lachin corridor. Hundreds, perhaps a thousand invaders, were killed in the battles for Shusha. Our servicemen came to Shusha with light weapons, climbing steep rocks, crossing ravines and hills, Khojavand forests and paths. We fought with light weapons, pistols and bayonets. Cannons and tanks were used against us here. But the enemy saw our strength, saw our will, saw our national spirit, and was defeated. The liberation of Shusha is a special event in the Patriotic War. Shusha was our goal and we were moving towards it. Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces’ securing all the liberated lands before Shusha also conditioned its successful liberation. Jabrayil district, Sugovushan, Hadrut, most of Khojavand district, Zangilan, Fuzuli, Gubadli districts, the southern part of Lachin district, Kalbajar mountains, Murov mountain and then Shusha. During the war, more than 300 villages and towns were liberated. The enemy was brought to its knees, surrendered and signed an act of capitulation on 10 November.
I said in the first days of the war that the enemy should give us a timetable that the leader of the enemy state should provide us with a timeframe of when they would vacate our lands, and we would have stopped the war. I kept my word again – as soon as we were given a date, as soon as the act of capitulation was signed, the war stopped, and we returned to Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts without firing a single shot or any casualties. Thus, we have restored our territorial integrity. I repeat – we had to prepare. Shusha was waiting for us. But we had to solve this problem once and for all.
In recent years, I have repeatedly said in statements and interviews that we do not need an incomplete solution. The people of Azerbaijan probably understand very well what this means. I said that everything should be done in its time. I know what, when and how to do. For me, there has never been a task more ultimate than the liberation of lands. I have dedicated my entire presidency to this. This goal, this objective, was behind every decision – whether this step will bring us closer to victory or not. I said that each of us must bring victory closer every day. My speeches are available. They are part of history. Every day, each one of us must bring victory closer. We were bringing it closer, preparing, and then we came, defeated and crushed the enemy. We are standing here now. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Victorious Army, I am standing on the land of ancient Azerbaijan and no one can drive us out of here.
Shusha is our ancient city. No matter how hard the Armenian propaganda, fake scientists, fraudulent politicians and international circles may try, it is all in vain. There is history. Panahali Khan laid the foundation of Shusha, built Shusha. We freed Shusha from captivity and returned it to our people, to our state. Shusha is an ancient Azerbaijani city, and this has always been the case. Hard as the hated enemy tried in the last 28 years, it failed to change the Azerbaijani spirit and appearance of Shusha. True, houses have been knocked down, historical sites have been destroyed, mosques have been demolished, several ugly buildings have been built.
As a matter of fact, there was no construction here. About 2,000 Armenians lived in the Khrushchev-era apartment blocks left over from the Soviet era, most of whom were servicemen and their families. If it was an Armenian city, why didn't Armenians come and live here? Because Armenians have no history here. If it is an Armenian city, why did they bring it to such a deplorable state? Why did they plunder Shusha? Why didn’t they restore it in 28 years? Where are their benefactors? They were saying that philanthropists did this and that, that they gave money here and there. They organized marathons every year, raising tens of millions of dollars. It is now clear that the money disappeared in the pockets of the former leadership. I have visited the liberated lands many times, but the extreme poverty I see here is probably nonexistent elsewhere in the world. But what did they do after all? It was all a lie, a lie, just as they falsified history and reality. Their networks operate in various capitals around the world, transmitting false information. Then there is a discussion around this false information and attempts to purport that as reality.
We will restore Shusha. We will definitely restore it. Restoration work has already begun. Today, while in Shusha, I am getting acquainted with the implementation of tasks I have already given. We will restore not only Shusha but also all the liberated lands. Construction work has begun and infrastructure projects have been launched. Damage is being calculated. Master plans of cities are being prepared. First of all, the master plan of Aghdam city and Aghdam district as a whole is being prepared, and a draft of it has been submitted to me. In line with my instructions, work on it is currently underway and the master plan will be approved soon. After that, restoration work will begin on all liberated lands. Armenians have destroyed our lands for 30 years. But we will restore these lands, because we are the rightful owners of these lands – the people of Azerbaijan.
While in Shusha, one realizes the greatness of the Azerbaijani people. We did not come to terms with the defeat in the first Karabakh war. We did not even punish the hated leaders of the PFPA-Musavat duo - the punishment they deserved for that betrayal and treachery. They do deserve every punishment. We never reconciled with this situation, and I have repeatedly said that the Azerbaijani people would never reconcile with this situation. Targeted policies were pursued in the political, economic, military and moral spheres to educate the young generation. And this young generation grew up and sacrificed their lives for the land. A young generation grew up and has retaken our lands from the enemy at the cost of their lives. Representatives of all generations took part in the war and showed heroism. Still, everyone should know that the primary mission was fulfilled by young people who grew up during my presidency, the young people who were children in 2003. We are in their debt, and we are indebted to all the people of Azerbaijan. All our people brought this Victory closer, and all the factors came together to determine the outcome of this war.
The second Karabakh war is being studied today in the military schools of the world's leading countries. We waged the battle of the 21st century and destroyed the enemy. There is no Armenian army anymore. We have destroyed it. Today, while celebrating Novruz in Jidir Duzu, I proudly say: “Shusha, you are free!”, “Shusha is Azerbaijan!” and “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”