Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the veterans of war, labour and armed forces connected with the preparations for the 50th anniversary of the victory over the fascism - Presidential Palace, April 7, 1995

Dear veterans!

Veterans of the Great Patriotic War! Our distinguished friends!

50 years have passed since the end of the war. On May 9 the 50th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War will be celebrated. This anniversary will be celebrated worldwide, especially in the countries, which contributed to the victory. So shall we. Therefore, necessary measures are taken.

A state commission has been established in order to carry out all the measures for the celebration. The state commission, which includes high officials and war veterans, is chaired by Fuad Guliyev, acting Prime Minister. Just a month is left till the 50th anniversary of the victory. Thus, I wanted to meet you and counsel with you.

Of course, the state commission learns and takes into consideration your views. I think that we have never invited so many veterans. I want to talk with you. First, let me welcome you, express my respect to you, the veterans of the Great Patriotic War.

The Azerbaijani people has highly appreciated you, your activity and service in the past 50 years. Your heroism in the war has been reflected in our history. You are very lucky that you contributed to the victory 50 years ago, served your country in the recent 50 years and are taking part in the 50th anniversary of the victory.

I congratulate you on the victory. Each 50 years after the victory was a big stage for our people. Our people has gone through a lot of difficulties and finally gained its independence. Now Azerbaijan is an independent state.

You are lucky because 50 years ago you fought for the present day of Azerbaijan. Now, after 50 years you see Azerbaijan independent. It is a big happiness. I congratulate you on this occasion, wish you the best. I express my respect to everyone who contributed to the victory in the Great Patriotic War.

I want us to talk frankly. We need to discuss several issues, including the preparation for the 50th anniversary of the victory. It is your anniversary. We need to take into consideration your wishes.

As I said, the state commission is in charge of the preparation. Since I pay a special attention to this issue, I decided to meet you. Some people have different views on the celebration of the victory. I remember that it was not even celebrated in Azerbaijan in 1991 and 1992. However, we celebrated the Day of Victory in Nakhichevan, when I lived there then. The Hero of the Soviet Union Ziya Bunyadov also visited Nakhichevan in order to celebrate the Day of Victory there.

Fuad Guliyev asked me how to name the victory. Because there are different views in the commission. In Russia it is called the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Some claim that it was not the Patriotic War. But what was it then? The members of the commission don`t know how to name it.

What is its reason? There were many attempts to falsify our history. Our history has been falsified since 1920. Especially in 1991-1993 our history was falsified. In 1992 the Day of Victory was not celebrated in Azerbaijan. However, we celebrated it in Nakhichevan.

I learned the reasons why it was not celebrated then. The then authorities declared that it was not a patriotic war and it is not our victory. I even heard how some people claimed that it would have been better if the fascists had occupied our country. There were some ideologists falsifying our history. But it is a big crime.

We must learn from the experience of history. If we admit that our history was falsified or written according to the Marxism-Leninism ideology after 1920, we should not let falsification any more.

Our history was falsified then. Now there are new ideologists. The people, who have never seen the Great Patriotic War, claim that it was not our war. I was surprised when Fuad Gliyev told me about it. Why do you worry for it? The whole world celebrates this victory. So do the countries of CIS. At the summits of CIS in Almaty on December 10, we adopted a decision on the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the victory.

It was our decision. Russia wanted all the heads of the states of CIS to assemble on May 9. Despite some arguments, the agreement was achieved at the end. The heads of the states wanted to participate at the celebration in their own countries. So how to arrange it?

The 50th anniversary of the victory is celebrated in the United Kingdom. I have received an invitation. The Day of Victory will be celebrated in the UK on May 6-7, in France on May 8, as well as in the USA. The heads of the states of all 52 member-countries of the European Council have been invited to the UK and France. So have I.

As you know from media, all the heads of the states of the former coalition will visit Moscow and celebrate the Day of Victory there on May 9. Celebrations in some other centers were also discussed in Almaty. It was discussed how the heads of the states can celebrate it in their countries. It is possible to discuss and solve this problem. However, it is impossible to falsify or rename the victory.

Therefore, I wanted to tell you about my thoughts and to learn yours. Then the commission can hold its position and carry out its activity. There must be awards and aids to the veterans regarding the 50th anniversary of the victory. The commission has prepared its proposals. We`ll look through them. Later the commission will elaborate all the proposals which may be reflected in my decree.

If someone has something to say, he is welcome. Neither you, nor we have too much time. Thus, I have invited you here in order to discuss, to exchange views and to speed up the work to be done.

Fifty years have passed since the end of the war. The Azerbaijani people took part in the war, had great losses. I ask you, let us remember our compatriots, who perished during the 1941-1945 war, with a minute of silence

May they rest in peace.

Conclusive speech

I know that many people here have something to say. But the main proposals were made. I feel that we can work on these proposals. We shall meet again in future. The people, who couldn`t speak today, will have such an opportunity then. If you don`t mind, we can finish this meeting.

I am very satisfied to meet such distinguished people. It is a great event for me. We all have the same thought that the 1941-1945 war was a patriotic war also for Azerbaijan, too. The World War II was the most horrible, the most large-scale war in the history of mankind. It resulted in so many human losses. Then Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union. According to the last researches, 27 million people from the Soviet Union perished in that war. Of course, many people from other countries were murdered as well.

That war was against the fascism and the victory was over the fascism. It was a great victory. No one can erase it from history. The people falsifying our history should learn from history. No one should falsify or change history. No one should ignore those pages of history. Vice versa, we should celebrate this holiday with proudly. Durra khanum said in her speech that she has been told to refuse her medals. The people who said that don`t understand the life or just betray their nation. How can it be that these people who deserved their medals should reject them?

You know that every state has its own orders and medals. After the October revolution in 1917 and establishment of the Soviet regime in Azerbaijan, the orders, medals, and awards of the Tsarist period were prohibited. The people, who had such medals, hid them. Was that right? No. That was unfair. What happened later? The people, who had demonstrated heroism in the Tsarist period, did the same in the Great Patriotic War. Therefore, they could wear their previous orders and medals proudly.

It is true that many things were falsified after the October revolution. As you know, the Kremlin contains many big halls. One of them is the Georgievsk Hall. The orders and medals of different military units are still there and nobody touches them.

The period of 1941-1945 is a bright page of our history. We should remember that period with great respect. We should respect the people, who fought, perished and were wounded in the front then.

It is right that the only contribution of the Azerbaijani people in 1941-1945 wasn`t the soldiers fighting in the front. The Azerbaijani oil was one of the most important factors in achieving the victory. Thus, Hitler`s army attempted to occupy Baku. Had it taken place, the situation might have been different. Seventy five percent of the Soviet oil was produced in Azerbaijan. Our oil workers did their best to produce so much oil.

As you know, the road to the Caucasus was closed then. Hitler`s army was in Mozdok. There was no railway connection then. However, despite the difficulties of that period, the Azerbaijani people produced oil and sent to the front. Not only oil, but weapons were produced in Azerbaijan as well. It is the history of Azerbaijan.

The largest amount of oil in the Azerbaijani history was produced in 1941-1945. Our people - workers, engineers did their best. Can anyone forget it? Can we forget the heroism of Hazi Aslanov and our other brave people? They fought for the Motherland.

Perhaps you have visited the museum in the Mamay Kurgan, Stalingrad. I felt very proud when I saw Hazi Aslanov`s name in the list of the heroes of the Soviet Union there. Or remember Mehdi Huseyn-zade, who demonstrated bravery in Yugoslavia and Italy. Can we forget him?

There were many heroes. I think that the heroes of the Great Patriotic War must be mentioned in the celebration of the anniversary. Mass media must show and write about them. They are the bright pages of our history. We can never forget them.

Our oil workers, the people working in the rear should not be forgotten. You remember that Yusif Mammadaliyev and Ali Guliyev were awarded the State Prize, because they had invented petroleum of high quality. Can we forget them? No, we can`t. Suleyman Vazirov and Rustam Ismailov were named Heroes of Socialist Labour for their service in producing oil and providing the front with oil during the war.

I am not sure if Alish Lambaranski is present here. I invited him (from audience: he is sick). Please deliver my regards to him. Alish Lambaranski was in the front then. When he returned to Baku, he did much in the oil industry. We can remember a lot of people.

How can we say that it was not our victory when remembering the fact that Uzeyir Hajibeyov bought an airplane and sent it to the front on his own finances? What did he do it for? There were some people in Azerbaijan, who sent tanks to the front. The leading labourers, peasants collected their money for buying tanks and planes. Can we forget them? They were our brothers, fathers, grandfathers, citizens, simply Azerbaijanis.

Can we forget the Azerbaijanis, who perished in the war? Oil and agricultural products were produced, the industry worked hard in the rear in difficult conditions. Our poets and composers created patriotic poems and songs inspiring the people. It is our history.

Some people from the previous administration falsify our history erasing everything. They haven`t done anything for Azerbaijan themselves. The people, who was in power for a short period of time committed great crimes in front of the Azerbaijani people. They started to praise the people, who collaborated with Hitler. No one can change history. As Azerbaijanis, we defended our motherland, which was the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan became its part in 1922. Azerbaijan achieved great successes in the Soviet period. It is impossible to forget or erase this period from our history.

Thus, I think that such attempts will be removed. We should not let such attempts in the society. We should name it as it is: the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. We can`t change anything in history. Everyone can carry his orders and medals. It is unfair to leave them after fighting so hard and deserving them. Vice versa, you have to keep and pass them to the next generations.

It was our history. We had many generals during the Tsarist period. The attitude towards them was severe in the Soviet regime. But later they remembered two generals - Mehmandarov and Shikhlinsky, who were declared enemies of people. But we have other generals. For example, Huseyn khan Nakhichevanski, Kelbeli khan Nakhichevanski, Talishinski. Shikhlinski fought for Port-Artur. Should we blame him for defending the Tsarist Russia?

Aliaga Shikhlinski was called "God of artillery" in the Russian army. He is our pride. So are our other heroes - generals, officers, soldiers, who participated in the war of 1941-1945. So is Maharram Ojagverdiyev from Ganja.

We must prepare for the Day of Victory and celebrate it on a high level. Celebrating the Day of Victory, telling young generations about the heroism of the Azerbaijani people will contribute to developing our national army. Our youth should know that we have prominent officers, generals in the Tsarist army. Our youth should know that there were Azerbaijani generals, officers, soldiers who demonstrated heroism in the 1941-1945 war. With their heroism they won fame for Azerbaijan. They should be examples for our young generation. We should use this experience in developing our national army.

The pages of our history are interrelated. We should always respect and appreciate our history.

The commission established according to my decree and chaired by Fuad Guliyev is working on additional privileges, aids, as well as other measures for the veterans of war and labor. Fuad Guliyev briefly informed about it. I think that the commission, which includes also the veterans will submit proposals and I shall issue a special decree on it. We want to help our veterans as much as we can, implement into life measures in order to improve their life.

The issue of the museum was discussed here. Salimov is right in saying that establishment of a museum is no more significant. A museum called Battle Fame of the 18th Army was established in 1974 in a small room near the Square of Fountains. We helped the museum to be enlarged and to enrich its items. The contribution of the Azerbaijani people in the Great Patriotic War was well reflected there.

A year was needed to establish that museum. But it took less to ruin it. I think that the museum should be re-established. You rename it. Anyway, there should be a museum dedicated to the history of the Azerbaijani people both in the front and in the rear in the war of 1941-1945. I think that the veterans are interested in this and will take an active part in the activity of the museum.

The commission can discuss issues about the location of the museum. We can solve it. I remember that Selimov created that museum with great pleasure. It seems that he still has a will for it. There are many people like Selimov, who can establish the museum.

A delegation of 30 from Azerbaijan has been invited to the celebration of the Day of Victory in Moscow. The 30 people have already been determined. I and 5 veterans have been invited to London. We shall determine those 5 people. They will be Ziya Bunyadov, Melik Maharramov and Mezahir Abbasov. I shall determine the rest two people, too.

Other delegation will also be fixed very soon. We should organize these measures in our country. We shall also try to represent Azerbaijan abroad on a high level. We discussed about the ceremonies to be organized in Azerbaijan regarding the Day of Victory. A parade will be held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory. Even though we don`t need it here, we shall organize some other measures.

You remember that on May 9 we used to visit Hazi Aslanov`s grave, Mehdi Huseynzade`s monument, the graves of other people, who perished during that war. We should include these visits in our program. Moreover, there must be a central measure in our republic. If all the veterans wish it, we can organize a big ceremony. It is not hard. We should do it for our veterans.

From audience: The veterans want such a measure to be organized in order to meet you.

Heydar Aliyev: They want to meet each other, too. We can do it. We shall make a final decision about it.

From audience: Mr. President, will May 9 be a working day?

Heydar Aliyev: Fuad Guliyev can note this proposal. Later we`ll discuss it.

From audience: Mr. President, we also propose to grant the people, who worked in the rear in 1941-1945, the status of the participant of the war.

Heydar Aliyev: The commission will discuss it, too.

From audience: Mr. President, there are advertisements about buying orders and medals of the wartime period. It is not right.

From audience: It is not something illegal. Collectioners and organizations give such advertisements. People can buy or keep their medals and orders. We can`t intervene this problem.

From audience: Mr. President, the Zhukov order and medal are considered high awards for the participants of the war. Shall we also be awarded with the Zhukov order and medal?

Heydar Aliyev: This issue was raised at the CIS summit in Almaty on December 10. The Zhukov order and medal were instituted by the Russian Federation. Probably Heroes of the Soviet Union will be awarded with them.

From audience: Mr. President, some privileges are determined for the organization of the funeral of war veterans according to the legislation. However, it is not obeyed properly in some places.

Heydar Aliyev: If there are some cases, the state commission should research them. It can propose what we must do for implementing or improving the legislation.

Do you have something else to day? I congratulate you on the Day of Victory. I wish you the best. Good bye!