President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu.
AZERTAC reports that welcoming the delegation, President Ilham Aliyev said:
– Dear Mr. Minister.
Dear members of the delegation.
I am glad to welcome you to Azerbaijan. Sergei Kuzhugetovich, we met three months ago, when you visited us in connection with the Army Games. Today we will discuss issues related to the implementation of the trilateral statement signed by the Presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia. In our opinion, provisions of the statement are being implemented successfully, and this once again demonstrates the readiness of both the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides to put an end to the long-term conflict and come to a political settlement.
Last time I told you about our position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. You visited us at the end of August. Then, in July and August, there were two attempts of military provocation, armed provocation against Azerbaijan. One was committed at the border in Tovuz district and the other in August. The first one was committed in July, while in August there was an attempt on the part of a sabotage group of the Armenian armed forces to penetrate through the contact line. The head of this group was detained and his testimony showed precisely the intention to arrange an armed provocation. This policy was continued and ended with the fact that our settlements were once again attacked by Armenian armed forces at the end of September. So we had to give them a worthy response. We all know very well what happened afterwards.
After 44 days of armed confrontation and hostilities, a document was signed, which I consider to be a very important political document. It essentially put an end to the many years of confrontation. I would like to express my gratitude to you, as well as the leadership of Russia, President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for his active personal participation in the preparation and adoption of this important political document.
Unfortunately, during the hostilities, the Armenian side flagrantly violated all norms of warfare, as well as humanitarian norms. Our cities and villages were bombarded on a daily basis. As a result, 94 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, including children and women, more than 400 were injured and over 3,000 houses either fell into disrepair or were completely destroyed. Cities located near the war zone were subjected to shelling, mortar and artillery shelling almost on a daily basis, but there were also ballistic missile attacks on the cities of Ganja, Mingachevir, Barda and other cities. Those were targeted attacks aimed at killing the civilian population. We have documented all these war crimes, the use of ballistic missiles, cluster munitions and phosphorus munitions, and corresponding instructions have been given in connection with further legal actions to be taken by the Azerbaijani side.
Armenia has extensively used foreign mercenaries. We have numerous photo and video documents. We have passports of foreign citizens, in particular, citizens of France, the USA, Lebanon, Canada, Georgia and other countries. Some of these people are of Armenian origin, some are not. This, however, does not change the essence of the issue because the participation of foreign mercenaries on the part of Armenia, of course, is unacceptable.
Despite all this, the result of hostilities is known to everyone. The Azerbaijani Army has achieved a brilliant military victory, and we moved on to the plane of political settlement. Yesterday the Azerbaijani Army entered the city of Aghdam, the rest of the occupied Aghdam district. So provisions of the statement are being fulfilled.
We also welcome the deployment of the peacekeeping mission of the Russian Federation, which works in working contact with our bodies and, as far as we know, with the Armenian side. I believe that this is an important factor in stabilizing the situation, and there have been no serious violations of the ceasefire since the signing of the statement. And I am sure there won’t be any.
We also welcome the active course of negotiations between the Russian Federation and Turkey on the establishment of a ceasefire monitoring center in Azerbaijan. We consider this a very important element in strengthening stability and security in this region. We are also grateful to the Turkish leadership and personally to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his participation in creating the prerequisites for the cessation of hostilities. The fact that both Russia and Turkey are two friendly countries for us – our two neighbors will participate in measures to observe the ceasefire and to exercise control over it – also speaks volumes of the strengthening of the format of interaction between our two neighboring countries, and also within the framework of regional cooperation. I do hope that the current ceasefire and our further plans to normalize relations with Armenia, if perceived positively by the Armenian side, can create a new situation in the region, a situation of cooperation, a situation of strengthening stability and security. Everyone will benefit from this – the peoples inhabiting our region, our neighbors and the whole world will be more secure.
Greetings again. I am very glad that you are visiting us with a large delegation. We have an extensive agenda today. So welcome again.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said: Thank you, dear Mr. President. First of all, I am grateful that you found the time to meet with us, to discuss some of the urgent issues and mostly issues that have become relevant. Time flies fast. Not so much time has passed since the adoption of the plan by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, since the adoption of what I believe is a historic statement, but the peacekeeping contingent, the peacekeeping forces have already taken up the positions that were determined, i.e. the 23 posts were taken under control in the direction of the highway in order to ensure the security of the line of contact. The return of refugees has begun. All the work that has been done to date is bearing fruit, of course.
As you have said, the ceasefire has been observed during all this time, perhaps with the exception of some rare and what we consider minor exchanges, and I am confident that this will continue to be the case.