Speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev at a meeting with soldiers in Fuzuli district during his visit to the South-Eastern region of the country - April 9, 1994

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Dear soldiers and officers!

Today I arrived here to get acquainted with your situation, have a look at trenches, check your combat readiness. It is our common duty to protect our native land. Over last 4-5 months our military units have achieved significant successes. In November when I called on the Azerbaijani people Armenian troops were advancing day after day, our lands had were occupied and it was necessary to stop the offensive of the enemy. Citizens of Azerbaijan, our youth took up the call and rose in defense of the native land. I met here some of them. This is indicative of the capability of our youth to defend their lands. Another indicative is that after my last arrival part of our lands was liberated and the enemy was thrown 40 kilometers back.

I have repeatedly told that Azerbaijan is against war, the war was not started by Azerbaijan. We are for the peaceful end of the war. However, Armenia is ignoring our initiatives and does not keep even its own promise. Therefore, we should not rely on anybody, we have to defend our lands independently, drive off the occupants from our territories. I believe that with the strong help of our army we will liberate our lands.

You witness that after the signature of certain documents the Armenian armed forces did not give up their intentions and took another offensive in the early March, but they were repulsed. You also took part in repulsing the attacks and you destroyed their material, weapons, equipment, as well as, a lot of forces.

You serve here with honour and conscience. Let the deserters hear that the defence of our lands is a sacred duty of every Azerbaijani. If some people fail to realize this, fear, or can`t withstand military service, this means they betray their conscience, father and mother, Fatherland. Each of them will be seriously punished. Let no one think that deserting they will be able to survive.

Every support will be provided to solve the problems of the army which is a part of the people.

Dear soldiers! Our only way is to defend our lands, stand firmly in trenches, repulse all the attacks of the enemy.

Dear soldiers and officers! You are presently in the Azerbaijani land liberated from occupants a few months ago. Thanks to the courage of our army a part of Fizuly was liberated and this became a reality thanks to your great services. The Azerbaijani army could mobilize after last November. Over last period lots have been done for structuring the army, I highly appreciate this and want to express confidence that our soldiers will gain further achievements in defending the native land.

I bow to the martyrs who were killed in fights for defending our lands, and I assure you that heroism and courage of martyrs will never be forgotten, their services will live in the heart of our people forever. They were your companions in arms and fell martyrs for the sake of our lands. Their blood will not remain unavenged. Some of our soldiers were wounded in the fights, now they are being cured. I wish they regain their health, join the army and further display heroism. I believe this will happen.

You defend honour and conscience of your mothers and fathers, your country, your land. I believe that our just struggle will be successful. A day will come when all the Azerbaijani lands will be liberated and all our citizens return to their homes. The position of the Armenian armed forces is in a kilometer`s distance form this place where I am speaking. I am telling you and let the Armenian occupants hear, too: we are for peace, we want to put an end to the war. We want to apply all means for this purpose, achieve ceasefire through negotiations and end the war, but on one condition: the Armenian occupant forces must leave the Azerbaijani lands and guarantee territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We are negotiating on these conditions.

Let the Armenian armed forces know that now the times are different. They will not be able so easily occupy our lands. However, this doesn`t mean that we have achieved everything. We have to do lots. I repeat: our task is to liberate occupied lands and enable the Azerbaijani citizens return their homes.

I trust in your will, I am sure that you will stay firm in these trenches and repulse the enemy attacks.

To achieve this, attention should be paid to army structuring issues, officers should improve their military knowledge, soldiers should master military training in detail. Every soldier, every officer must be ready to fulfill missions with honor and dignity.

The latest achievements of our army showed that we have great possibilities. Meanwhile, the number of deserters in some units has grown. This is intolerable. Every deserter should be hated by the community and must realize that by deserting he betrays his people, nation, country, his father and mother. We will take necessary actions. I suggest young people, who has deserved, think properly. I ask them to rejoin the army. I have ordered relevant authorities to take necessary measures regarding this issue. Your presence here face to face with the Armenian invaders in a short distance should be an example for every Azerbaijani and you are the example. Although you live in hard conditions, you are courageous, brave and steadfast. All the Azerbaijani youth should be like you. Over centuries our people have been bringing up brave and heroic sons who defended Azerbaijan and turned it into an independent country. Thanks to your courage and steadfastness we will liberate our lands and achieve territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Special care should be taken of the family i.e., of soldiers. Compared with Armenia our situation is much better. Living under such hard conditions they are waging war in our lands and occupying our territories. You should think how to prevent this deserting.

I have been told that you are standing firm in the trenches and liberated a vast territory. Nevertheless, considerable part of our lands is still under occupation. And the nearest villages are also under the enemy`s control. We should retake them. Standing firm here in the trenches you must mobilize all strength for repulsing the enemy properly.