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19.07.2013 09:55

Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the official military parade on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Armed Forces

- Dear soldiers, officers and generals!

Dear servicemen!

Distinguished guests!

I congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on the Day of the Armed Forces and wish the entire personnel of the Armed Forces continued success!

Today's military parade is dedicated to the 95th anniversary of our army. In today's parade the Azerbaijani state will demonstrate its military power.

Army construction is the most important issue and the biggest priority for us. This must be the case for any country, because every country has to protect itself. This issue is of particular importance for countries that are in a state of war.

Azerbaijan is in a state of war. The war is not over yet, only its first phase is. Our army should be prepared to restore the territorial integrity of our country at any time and in any way. The Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has remained unresolved for many years. This injustice has been ongoing over the years. The lands of our country recognized by the international community are under occupation. The Azerbaijanis have been exposed to a policy of ethnic cleansing.

Our people have been subjected to the Khojaly genocide. All international organizations protect the position of Azerbaijan. All influential international organizations have adopted resolutions and decisions on the matter. But Armenia flouts international law and the occupation is ongoing. Unfortunately, the negotiations are not bearing fruit. Under such circumstances, of course, there is a great need for army building.

Nagorno-Karabakh is historical and native Azerbaijani land. Our people have lived and created on these lands for centuries. Nagorno-Karabakh is still part of Azerbaijan, and the international community recognizes and supports the territorial integrity of our country. The present-day Armenia was also created on historically Azerbaijani lands. The Erivan khanate, the Goycha and Zangezur Mahals are our historical lands. The Azerbaijani state and the people of Azerbaijan will never tolerate a second Armenian state on the territory of Azerbaijan. We will seek to reach a speedy resolution to the matter. The settlement of the issue, of course, lies in the political plane. The negotiations are still ongoing. However, our strong army and the enhancing capacity are strengthening our position. Our position is based on historical justice. I want to say again that Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani land and will remain as such! Our position is supported by international law. There are four UN Security Council resolutions demanding an unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from the occupied lands.

Our position is supported by a strong army. To this end, we have paid serious attention to army building in recent years. Our army is growing. This is an ongoing process. I often visit military units, examine the situation and see that the combat capability of our army is growing. We have a standing army. The professionalism of our army is growing. As is the case with the rest of society, the patriotic spirit in the army is also at a high level. The vast majority of those serving in the army are young people. I am very pleased that the Azerbaijani youth is educated in the spirit of patriotism. Those who serve in the army are attached to their country and people. They love their country. These factors further reinforce our army. At the same time, there has been tremendous progress in terms of the technical equipment of our army in recent years. Over the past few years we have purchased the most modern hardware, weapons and ammunition. In today's parade we will see some of the hardware purchased in recent years and produced in Azerbaijan.

Only a small portion of the available hardware will be shown.

In recent years, Azerbaijan has spent huge resources on military ends. For comparison, I can say that in 2003 our military budget was $163 million. Last year the figure reached $3.6 billion and this year $3.7 billion. This in itself shows that the construction of the army is a priority issue. The biggest expense item of our budget is the army. And this is natural. In recent years we have purchased the most sophisticated hardware. In the 21st century, wars will be fought more on the basis of technology and knowledge. This is a requirement of the time. The weaponry Azerbaijan has purchased in recent years is modern. These weapons are precision-guided and have a huge devastating force. In recent years we have purchased about a hundred combat and transport helicopters, dozens of combat aircraft, the most advanced anti-aircraft installations. These armored vehicles, modern tanks and artillery units can destroy any enemy target. This process continues.

Military spending will prevail in our overall budget in the coming years too. For comparison, I can say that the overall budget of the impoverished Armenia is around $2 billion. In other words, our military budget alone is almost twice as high as all of Armenias expenses.

Strong Azerbaijan can speak with weak Armenia in any language. We simply prefer the path of negotiation in order to preserve stability in the region. Azerbaijan is a stabilizing country in the region. Azerbaijan is a country that enjoys a high reputation in the region. No initiative or project can be implemented in the region without the consent of Azerbaijan.

Therefore, in order to protect stability and resolve the issue peacefully, we are still giving preference to the negotiated settlement.

But it is no secret that Azerbaijan is getting stronger by the day, while Armenia is weakening by the day. Our economic strength has increased beyond comparison. We are significantly superior to the enemy in every direction, in some areas by more than 10 times, and this gap will continue to deepen because we have a clear and open future and development prospects. Azerbaijan is the fastest growing country in the world. From the point of view of economic development, there is no other country in the world that has evolved as fast as Azerbaijan for the past 10 years. These factors, I repeat - the historical factors, the norms of international law, political factors, our economic and military power - will have their say in the settlement, a fair settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. The flag of Azerbaijan will fly in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied lands, in Khankandi and Shusha.

At the same time, we are paying great attention to local production. Over the past eight years local military production has developed in Azerbaijan. We have many plants manufacturing military products of 750 denominations. We produce all kinds of ammo. Pistols, rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, mortars, bombs, armored vehicles, sniper rifles, drones - all this is produced in Azerbaijan. We have major plans on enhancing local production in the future. We already have a very strong military industry. Azerbaijani products are demonstrated in exhibitions worldwide. At the same time, our export opportunities are growing. This suggests that it is possible to meet any objective as long as there is a strong will and sound policies. We buy the most advanced military hardware abroad, but at the same time we are strengthening and should further enhance domestic production.

We are also successfully resolving the issues of social protection of servicemen. Yesterday I attended the opening of a new building of the military hospital. Two days ago the salaries of military personnel were increased. We are already addressing the housing problems of the servicemen who have impeccably served in the army for 20 years. Soldiers of this category are provided with free apartments by the state. About 200 apartments have already been granted, and in the coming years this process will become even more widespread. So the social and housing problems of servicemen are being resolved as well.

I want to say again that the state of Azerbaijan attaches great importance to army building. This is our main task, and this process will go even faster in the coming years.

Our strength is in our unity. Azerbaijan as an independent state has managed to achieve great heights and enjoys a great reputation in the world. We have become a member of the most influential organization in the world - the UN Security Council, and are defending our position in this organization. Azerbaijan has become a very reliable partner not only in the region but also globally. All of our foreign policy initiatives are aimed at peace, calm and international cooperation.

At the same time, there is domestic stability in Azerbaijan. And this is also a major factor for development. In Azerbaijan, there is a unity of the people and government. All our initiatives are supported by the people of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has done a lot in terms of economic development. International financial institutions appreciate our efforts in this area. Even in the years of crisis, which still continues in the world, Azerbaijan and its economy develop.

All sectors of our economy are developing. In five months of this year, our non-oil sector grew by 11 per cent, while the overall economy by almost 5 per cent. Azerbaijan is addressing the problems of unemployment and poverty and implementing major infrastructure projects. This includes the restoration of all military camps. We have set the goal: every single military unit, military camp and military base should be renovated in the next two years. Instructions have been issued, funds allocated and this process is well under way. So we are successfully and confidently doing our work in all directions. The well-being of our people is improving, the authority of the country is growing, the economy and industry are developing, and Azerbaijan is moving forward very fast.

Azerbaijan, which has been independent for a little more than 20 years, has proven that it can live as a free and independent country and defend its choice. We have a strong political will, a strong economy and a strong army. The army protects the state, our choice and our independent policy. And the people have to take care of and protect the army.

I always say that a strong state should have a strong army. I believe that Azerbaijan has become one of the strong states in a short time. Now we are implementing big projects, investing a lot in the country and beyond. I want to say again that we enjoy great reputation in the international arena. Of course, the Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies not only of the region but also globally in terms of the military capability, combat effectiveness and equipment. I am sure that as Azerbaijan strengthens, so does our army. Our army is capable of resolving any problem. As Commander-in-Chief, I will continue to support the construction and development of the army.

I am sure that Azerbaijan will successfully meet all its objectives. Today, we can say there is not a single outstanding issue apart from the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh. In all areas there is development, specific policies, programs and excellent results. I am confident that we will achieve what we want in the settlement of the conflict, restore historical justice and return to our native lands! There is no other way! The development of history, the course of history, the processes taking place in the world, the strengthening Azerbaijan and the weakening and impoverished Armenia - all this is reality. These realities have been created by us by our policies and by our will. We will continue to isolate Armenia from all international and regional projects. We will continue to strengthen Azerbaijan. Our strong state will have a say in resolving the conflict, and the Azerbaijani army, I repeat, will fulfill the order of the Commander-in-Chief.

Glory to the Azerbaijani army!

Long live Azerbaijan!

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