Speech of the President of the Azerbaijani Republic Heydar Aliyev at Youth Square of Baku, in front of the Twin Gates - 21 March 1997

Dear compatriots, sisters, brothers! 

Dear residents of Baku! 

I congratulate you on the occasion of our national holiday, Novruz and wish you good health, happiness and successes in life.

Novruz is celebrated more ceremonially in the independent Republic of Azerbaijan year by year; as our ancient and favorite holiday it occupies an important place in the social and political life of our country, inspires people and makes them happy and joyous. Novruz is a pleasant holiday for each Azerbaijani, for each citizen. This holiday remains in the hearts and emotions of each citizen of our country. Therefore, everyone is fond of this holiday. Everyone celebrates this holiday with joy and love. Novruz has become a national holiday across the country.

On these days of holiday our people deeply realize the historic value of the independence of Azerbaijan, national freedom for each person. Consequently, now this holiday is a symbol of independence and national freedom. This holiday is a symbol of our liberty and independence, peaceful and socio-political stability, it is the symbol of legal, democratic, secular and civic state building in the country.

This holiday is a symbol of freedom, a symbol of high respect and care for human rights in the country. This Novruz celebrations show that the state independence of Azerbaijan has already become an irreversible factor and it strengthens and develops day by day. This holiday, festivities held with love in every corner, in the remotest corners of Azerbaijan show that we have achieved internal socio-political stability, that people have been rescued from those hard, painful days, internal conflicts, battles, shootings, hostility and confrontations. People live in peace they are happy. The feeling of joy, optimism and hope for future is growing day by day.

Remember how it was in those years, months and days three or four years ago. Remember Novruz holidays of those years. Did we have friendship, kindness, mutual understanding as we have today? No, we didn`t. Then people lived in sorrow and grief, treated one another with suspicion, were afraid of one another. Separate criminal groups, gangs resorted to force by breaking the law, violating the principles of morality, offended people and violated their rights. Undoubtedly, then Novruz couldn`t be a national holiday, a holiday which brought happiness and enthusiasm. That`s why, the celebrations of this year are the practical result of stabilization of the socio-political situation in the life of the country, maintenance of stability and peace in society on a regular basis. This makes us happy and I see that it also gladdens you.

For several days the Azerbaijani TV has been broadcasting the celebrations of the holiday held in various cities, settlements, villages and venues of our republic. As you look at people, you see smiles and laughter on their faces, when you listen to them, you realize the extent of the changes in our life!

No doubt that all these are the result of the activities committed for strengthening the state independence, for conducting the state-building processes and protecting the rights of the nation and individuals. These are the results of growing national and civic solidarity among our people at home. Every citizen, every person has a role in the present celebrations.

The solidarity among the people, their rapprochement depends on the wishes, opinions and activities of people. For this reason, on this sacred Novruz holiday I thank all our citizens who made efforts for stabilizing the socio-political situation, for creating comfort for the people and for strengthening the state independence of Azerbaijan.

Undoubtedly, this is not a limit. But at the same time, it shows that despite all the internal and external challenges, our people can live more comfortably and calmly, in peace, be kind to each other and enjoy high level of friendship. I am confident that thanks to these achievements, we all shall move forward together, raise the national flag of independent Azerbaijan, turn Azerbaijan into a more powerful country and provide better living conditions for each Azerbaijani citizen.

Today we came together for Novruz holiday celebrations in this beautiful venue of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. At the same time, we all know that today in every corner of Azerbaijan people hold celebrations. Novruz holiday makes people happy, bring them together and builds solidarity among them. On this , happy day we do not forget the wounds inflicted on our people and on the country over the recent years.

We have painful wounds. As a result of the Armenian military aggression against Azerbaijan, our territories are under occupation. Over one million of our compatriots have been driven out of their native lands and live in tents in critical conditions. Brave sons of Azerbaijan sacrificed their lives and fell dead defending of our lands. We shall never forget their heroism, martyrdom. On this Novruz holiday, we celebrate the holiday and simultaneously recall them and pray for them. May they rest in peace!

Our displaced sisters and brothers live in tents in very difficult conditions. We do our best to improve their social and living conditions. At the same time, one of the highest moral values of our people is that they are never bent, their wills never break, they are tolerant. Today Novruz is celebrated also in those tents, tent camps and people rejoice there. They celebrate their sacred holiday in high spirit. That`s why, today I send special holiday greetings to our displaced citizens on behalf of you, of all the Azerbaijani nation, and congratulate them on the occasion of Novruz . I assure them that all of them and all our people will leave these hard days behind.

I am sure and believe that we shall leave behind all these hard days. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be restored and our occupied lands will be liberated. Our displaced citizens will return homes, to their native lands. Azerbaijan will exist as a state and will develop within its borders. We shall witness that day. That day is not far, we just should endure.

Our nation is tolerant. Our nation has always been tolerant and has endured hardships, losses, troubles and various misfortunes by having a long and glorious road, demonstrating examples of heroism, and demonstrating to the world its national identity. At the same time, the moral values of our nation have always helped them in difficulties. In these years we had a big test. I am confident that we shall stand this test too.

We have our national army to protect us and is on our guard. The heroic sons, soldiers of the independent Azerbaijan are on guard of our territories in order to prevent the aggression of the Armenian armed forces. Today I heartily congratulate them on the occasion of Novruz holiday and wish them good health and strength. And I am sure that they will hence demonstrate heroic examples for the protection of the borders and territories of Azerbaijan.

We are looking forward to the future. All we live with a sense of optimism because it is just cause of the Azerbaijani people. We demand justice and truth. We have never been and will never be unjust. This justice that demands the restoration of our territorial integrity, of Azerbaijan which is a member of the world community, its internationally recognized borders must be restored and protected. The world community must hear our voice and support it.

The Summit of OSCE in Lisbon defended the right cause of Azerbaijan except Armenia. The principles for peaceful settlement of the conflict were determined. On the basis of those principles we hold negotiations and will continue them. I am confident that as a result of these negotiations we shall achieve the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The experience of the recent years and the way we have passed are grounds for it.

As you know, in May 1994 a ceasefire was achieved in the Armenian-Azerbaijani military conflict. Battles ceased. It is already two years and ten months that there is no fire, no bloodshed and martyrs. We try to restore the rights of our country by holding negotiations for achieving and tranquility, and I am sure that shall achieve them.

Today - on our sacred Novruz holiday - I once more declare to the world that the Republic of Azerbaijan will further maintain the ceasefire regime. We do not want and will not allow the renewal of military operations and battles again. We shall observe the ceasefire regime and achieve peaceful liberation of our lands and restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I hope to achieve it because we have already proved to the world that Azerbaijan and its nation are for peace. We establish and want to establish mutually beneficial, friendly relations with all the countries and nations in the world. We want to establish peace in our region, in the Caucasus. We want to live in peace with Russia, Iran, Turkey, Georgia and with our other neighbors. And we shall further try to establish peace and security.

We have established mutually beneficial relations with all the countries, Azerbaijan benefits from these relations. These relations defend the rights of Azerbaijan in the international arena and help it to occupy a worthy place in the world community. All these are strategic directions of our policy. We shall move further in this direction. At the same time, we shall never allow our lands to remain under occupation. We shall never reconcile the occupation of an inch of our land to be occupied. Our occupied territories must be liberated. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. We shall achieve it at all costs. We shall further develop the independent Republic of Azerbaijan.

There is a holiday mood today in our country, we enjoy pleasant friendly relations, there is smile and joy on the faces of people, it shows that we shall overcome all the difficulties we are facing. We shall further try to provide peace and security in the country. I am confident that we shall achieve it.

I once more congratulate you and wish you, each family, each Azerbaijani citizen luck, happiness, long life and success. I wish you, our country, our people peace and security.

Thank you, be happy! Happy holiday! Thank you.