Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War - May 9, 2000

Ladies and gentlemen!

Today we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. The World War II was the most terrible war in the history of mankind. Many peoples of Europe, the peoples of the former Soviet Union, including the Azerbaijani people struggled against the fascism. The war was severe and it did great harm and injured many countries, many peoples, including the Azerbaijani people. The war against the fascism ended with the victory of the progressive forces.

Perhaps during centuries-old history of the mankind there was not a war similar to the World War II. As I mentioned, almost all the European countries, the Soviet Union and the United States of America all together stood up against the fascism. At that time the Soviet Union closely cooperated with the USA, England and with all the patriotic forces struggling against the fascism. The coalition of all these countries and their joint struggle show how terrible the fascism was for the mankind. But 55 years later we must emphasize once and once more that the struggle against the fascism, its annihilation saved the mankind from great tragedies not only in this century but also in future.

Fascism was a grave danger to all people. It appeared in the 20s and 30s, and within a short period of time it started a war to implement its reactionary ideology in order to rule the world. The Soviet Union has a special role in the annihilation and winning a victory over the fascism.

Today, with feelings of pleasure we mention the great importance of the USSR, USA and Great Britain against the danger of fascism. After occupying a greater part of Europe the troops of Hitler directed all their force against the USSR.

It's clear that the battles in this front were the expression of their ambitions to advance not only towards Europe, the Eastern Europe but also towards Asia. That's why the strongest opposition against the fascism and the most terrible and bloodiest battles in the World War II took place in the territories of the Soviet Union.

We remember that, a greater part of the USSR -Byelorussia, Ukraine was occupied and Hitler's army was advancing on the Caucasus, they were endeavoring to capture Stalingrad. Of course, all these were done for the purpose of occupying the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, the Central Asia, Siberia and other countries of Asia. It's true that while talking about the great services of the then coalition, at the same time we must mention the heroism of the Soviet Army, the Soviet people and other nations who were parts of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan also performed its great services in the Great Patriotic War. The brave Azerbaijani sons fought, sacrificed their lives and fell in the battles. Six hundred thousand people from Azerbaijan went to the front and fought in the battles. About half of them didn't return home, sacrificed their lives for winning the victory over the fascism. The worthy Azerbaijani sons performed great heroism in these battles. Today the 55 years have passed since the victory and the veterans bear medals, orders and decorations on their breasts, which affirm my words.

In those years the Azerbaijani people rose to their feet. Half of the Azerbaijanis fought and displayed valour in the front, another half worked day and night in the rear for gaining victory. The brave Azerbaijani sons displayed heroism and were awarded with the medals and orders of the Soviet Union. Among them there were people who had merits in the victory and they returned home, but some displayed heroism and fell in battles.

Today we have assembled by the memorial to the Azerbaijani general twice Hero of the Soviet Union Hazi Aslanov. Hazi Aslanov is the most prominent representative of the Azerbaijani people who fought heroically in the Great Patriotic War. He fell in these battles, but paid his last honours to the motherland and demonstrated high moral qualities of the Azerbaijani people to the world. He fought, and then he was awarded to the Hero of the Soviet Union and was promoted to the rank of general, and then fell as a hero. Today by the memorial of the brave Azerbaijani son Hazi Aslanov we commemorate all the heroes, brave sons and girls of the Azerbaijani people who sacrificed their lives. Our ceremony today is the symbol of our respect in memory of all the people killed in the World War II, the Great Patriotic War. It's very gladdening that we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the victory together with the war veterans. Some of them are here, some have got together in other parts of Baku by the memorials to the people killed in the Great Patriotic War. Today meetings are held in all the cities, regions and streets of Azerbaijan to commemorate the brave Azerbaijani sons killed in the Great Patriotic War.

But at the same time today is a holiday, a holiday of the victory won on the 9th of May in 1945. We remember that day. The veterans remember how valuable and dear that day is to all the peoples of the world and to us. We were waiting for that day in those years. We were waiting for that day suffering all hardship, passing through hard times, and that day came on the 9th of May in 1945. I remember how glad the people were on that day. We don't forget this date for 55 years, we are proud of this day and celebrate it every year.

I congratulate all the Azerbaijani people on the occasion of this holiday. I congratulate the veterans, both who fought in the front and who worked selflessly in the rear to gain victory.

Firstly, citizens of Azerbaijan fought, struggled against the fascism and performed heroism in the World War II, in the Great Patriotic War. Secondly, Azerbaijan was the most important part of the Soviet Union for gaining victory. Because, Azerbaijan accounted for over 70 percent of oil produced in the Soviet Union. If there hadn't been the Azerbaijani oil it would have been very difficult to win a victory. Experts and historians also agree with it.

It is not accidental that to occupy the Caucasus and Baku was in the first place in Hitler's plan. In 1942-1943 Hitler's army with all its might tried to occupy the Caspian seashore in the south, the Caucasus and especially Baku. Our courageous army, the Soviet Army averted this.

In those years the Azerbaijani oilmen worked in the oil fields selflessly day and night producing oil and sending it to the front while the northern part of the country was absolutely isolated. As the railway was closed, oil used to be sent to the front through the Central Asia by different means.

We have some newsreels: even when there were not tankers, selfless people devised different things: they filled barrels with petrol and tied them to the ships which took them to the other shore. We have these photos and newsreels in our archives.

But Azerbaijan was producing not only oil but also weapons. It means that all the Azerbaijani people paid their tribute to victory both in the front and in the rear. And today we celebrate this victory with pride and we have moral rights to do this.

It is the past of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is facing great difficulties today. Azerbaijan was at war with Armenia when it gained its independence. In 1987 Armenia committed aggression against the Azerbaijani territories, claimed to the Nagorno-Karabakh and the war broke out. The Azerbaijani people had to join the war to defend its territories. There were bloody battles. The brave Azerbaijani sons defended Azerbaijani territories, sacrificed their lives and fell dead in these battles. But because of different reasons 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory has been occupied by the Armenian armed forces. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated.

It will pass. The occupied territories of Azerbaijan will be liberated, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be restored, and independent Azerbaijan will be the master of its whole territory. But our hearts bleed for our losses.

Up to now we can't forget our compatriots killed in the war of 1941-1945. Therefore, we commemorate them today. And our sons, martyrs killed in the war broken out in 1987-1988 are eternal bloody wounds in our hearts. There we see Hazi Aslanov's grave on the right, and the Martyrs' Avenue on the left. These are graves of the Azerbaijani sons who sacrificed their lives on the 20th of January in 1990 when the Soviet troops intruded into Baku. Here are the graves of the Azerbaijani sons who fought to defend the Azerbaijani lands and displayed courage, the Martyrs' Avenue, the eternal flame and the huge monument in memory of martyrs. Thus, this high and nice part of Baku keeps great reminiscences in its memory. There is a certain symbolic connection here. Our sons were killed in 1941-1945, they are commemorated here, and after some years, our sons were again killed, and their graves are in front of us.

I bow my head respectfully to the memories of the Azerbaijani sons fallen dead in the Great Patriotic War and pray for them once more, again and again. I bow to the memory of the Azerbaijani sons fallen dead heroically defending the Azerbaijani lands from the Armenian aggressors, and I am sure that their martyrdom is a symbol of their faithfulness to their people and nation. Of course, their heroism will be appreciated more when the Azerbaijani lands are liberated and its territorial integrity is restored.

Today is holiday. Our people celebrate this holiday with great pride. Because, the Azerbaijani people performed great services in winning this victory. Our veterans, the veterans of Great Patriotic War and the veterans of the World War II take an active part in public and political life of Azerbaijan, render their services and share their experience with younger generation and take an active part in their patriotic education. Dear veterans, I thank you for all these. I assure you that the Azerbaijani people and independent Azerbaijan will never forget your services. Today you are a great example of heroism for everyone, for the young, for the future generations. Your services in our society are of great value. I express my cordial thanks to you.

I congratulate you, the Azerbaijani people and the Azerbaijani citizens on the occasion of 55th anniversary of the victory over the fascism. I wish our people, nation and all our citizens happiness. I wish our people successes in taking an active part in the state building of independent Azerbaijan and establishing this independent state. You can be sure that the Azerbaijani government will always defend our independence, sovereignty and freedom of our people and the Azerbaijani people will achieve new progress by following the way of democracy and independence.

A Happy Holiday!

I wish everyone good health, happiness and long life. Good bye.

(The speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev was listened attentively and applauded.)

Then President Heydar Aliyev met the family and kins of Major-General Hazi Aslanov twice Hero of the Soviet Union, and congratulated them on the occasion of the 9th of May-the Day of Victory.

Then President Heydar Aliyev answered the questions of the reporters.

Journalist: Mr. President, some newspapers say that minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov doesn't come to work, as you reproached him on May 3rd, he is going to resign.

Heydar Aliyev: Where and how did I reproach him on the 3rd of May?

Journalist: Mr. President, it is said in the press.

Heydar Aliyev: The press says he doesn't come to work? Isn't Ramil Usubov here? Ramil Usubov, come here. When did I reproach you?

Ramil Usubov: Mr. President, I am not aware of this.

Heydar Aliyev: Where do they get this information then?

Ramil Usubov: I don't know.

Heydar Aliyev: I have also heard, some papers say that Heydar Aliyev will dismiss Ramil Usubov.

You know, I have a profound respect for the journalists. I have told several times and I want to mention once again today. I wish our journalists to be professional, honest and frank. Of course, the main direction of their activity is to find out the truth, reveal shortcomings and criticize. In every society the press helps government with its work.

Not long ago I said that if 5 percent of the criticism is true it should be accepted. One should accept true sides of the criticism and correct mistakes, and if 95 percent is not true don't pay attention. Unfortunately, most newspapers and journalists are in opposition-they have gone astray. They consider that in this way they prove themselves better in society. Perhaps some people like it, and some dislike. Some journalists win reputation on that account.. But it is temporary account.

Journalism is a very honourable profession. You know that I issued a special decree on the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the national press in Azerbaijan. The founder of our national press Hasan bey Zardabi is a real idol for us. Of course, there were many shortcomings, difficulties and injustice in the society. Hasan bey Zardabi wrote about them in his first articles.

I say this in general. There may be mistakes and they can be forgiven. But you know, it's worrying that some journalists are specialized at spreading rumours and telling fibs. Perhaps, they try to commit sabotage against the government in this way. I can also say that sometimes they succeed in doing this.

Today they write that somebody is dismissed, another day they write that somebody will be arrested and so on. I wouldn't say that our officials are weak in will but some of them think that this information might be true and worry about it. They go to different people and try to find out if it's true. I say frankly, it affects the work of these people. Perhaps some journalists want to damage our government in this way. Firstly, they should know that it is of no use, and when I dismissed the Attorney-Generals, some newspapers wrote: "Heydar Aliyev made a surprising decision. But it's Heydar Aliyev's character, his way of doing things." There is some truth in it. If I plan to dismiss someone, nobody knows about it. But if newspapers write that someone will be dismissed, on the contrary, his status gets better. It means that I won't dismiss him. If this man has any shortcomings in his work, I will forgive him, not to follow this way because of the articles written in newspapers.

As regards Ramil Usubov, he was appointed minister of Internal Affairs in 1994. As you remember, it was a very hard time. We had very hard times in the past, we struggled against crime, prevented coup d'état. We found the wanted criminals in different countries. As a result of the activity of the ministry of Internal Affairs only last year about 500 criminals were arrested and sentenced to punishment. How can I treat these people badly?

General Ramil Usubov is a very valuable man and works well. Generally, I am satisfied with the work of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. I can reproach the police and can not be pleased with its work. Some people even swear at the police because of their personal views. But we should love the police. If there are no police, no one can live in peace.

You see now we have social and political stability in the country. You live peacefully, you are young and you go for a walk in the evenings. Some people go to cafes, restaurants and others to discos to dance and etc. Be fair, but we didn't have all these four-five years ago, people even couldn't go out. Certainly, as a result of our policy and activity we have stability in the country. The police have a great role in it.

Some policemen do people injustice and treat them not fairly. I always speak openly, sometimes the policemen abuse their powers, some take bribes, and I don't deny this. But, generally, the police deserve respect and we should respect them. If they are not here, we can't live in the city. Maybe I can, I have my special security, but you can't.

Taking the occasion, I talked about the police. But I say once more, I trusted Ramil Usubov and still trust. I hope that he will justify my trust with his work. As long as I am here Ramil Usubov will be here too. And you may trust me.

Question: Mr. President, it's your birthday on the 10th of May. We all congratulate you. What do you wish yourself and what present would you like to get?

Answer: Thank you for the congratulation. What I wish myself? I wish myself to be able to serve the Azerbaijani people, my country as I have done it till now. I believe that I will do it. Some people doubt my health. You see, I had a serious operation. Let's compete in running, wrestling if you want -all is OK.. As to my experience, it improves day after day. I think Azerbaijan has newly come out of the difficult situation. It has many problems. I think I have to settle them. When I settle them, maybe one day I shall pass the work to others and have a rest. But I don't have a rest. As you see, I work day and night. There was not a Sunday that I didn't come to work.

It is my birthday on the 10th of May, indeed. I wish to serve my people and settle the difficult problems of Azerbaijan.

Question: Mr. President, we congratulate you once more. President of Chechnya Aslan Mashadov noted in his interview that he considers you the greatest statesman in the Caucasus. He said that if Heydar Aliyev and Eduard Shevardnadze contributed to the solution of this conflict, he would be very glad.

Mr. President, will you give a help? Because, the Chechens are expecting help from these two political leaders.

Answer: Of course, I appreciate this wish as their faith to my person. I have had several meetings with Aslan Mashadov. He was here. When I celebrated my 75th anniversary, all the presidents of the Caucasian republics came to Azerbaijan. They have a profound respect for me. Don't take it as immodesty, but Heydar Aliyev is appreciated greatly not only in the Caucasus and in the former USSR, but also in other countries.

I am ready to do my best to ensure peace in Chechnya. Because, I am always a supporter of peace, I want the establishment of peace. But you know, the situation is very complicated there. But however complicated the situation is we mustn't lose hope. I will do all my best for peace there.

Do you have any questions?

I wish you good health. In your person I wish all journalists, even those who oppose me and libel, good health. I wish our journalists to be more honest. Good bye.