Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, at the meeting held in " N" military unit in Nakhchivan - June 17, 2002

Dear soldiers, officers, generals, hero sons of the Azerbaijani Army!

I welcome you from the button of my heart. I convey my kindest wishes to you. I declare my constant love to the Azerbaijani soldier, army of independent Azerbaijan. Once more I express you my highest feelings here - in the military settlement, created for a short time, in Nakhchivan, being one of the most beautiful regions of Azerbaijan, on this sacred ground located among grey, but at the same time majestic rocks, mountains.

The Azerbaijan army is one of the most valuable properties of our state independence. Last year, we noted the 10-th anniversary of Azerbaijan`s state independence. Now, we experience the 11th year. In these years, Azerbaijan has passed big historical way, stood many tests. But it has cherished its state independence, freedom, sovereignty as the apple of its eye. It is one of the most important successes of our nation, the Azerbaijani people. In these years, we have established our national state - legal, democratic, secular state in Azerbaijan. We have established all institutes of our state. Laws, decisions and decrees, which are necessary for realization of activity by our state, for management of our country, have been adopted. Today Azerbaijan, as the independent state, like all advanced states of the world, possesses the mechanism, the laws necessary for the government.

We have formed a legal state. It means that our state is ruled on the basis of the law. We have formed a democratic state. It means that democratic principles have been established everywhere in Azerbaijan. It means that people are absolutely free. Freedom is given to all people. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom thought - all these have been provided.

Azerbaijan is a secular state. Then together with historical, national, moral values, Azerbaijan also drive advantage from universal values and, being enriched with them, goes on the way of progress to reach our country at the level of the developed states of the world.

The biggest support of the Azerbaijan state is the Armed forces of Azerbaijan, all the military structures entering into Armed forces of Azerbaijan. And the first is the Azerbaijan army among them. One of the most valuable results of the state independence of Azerbaijan is formation, organization of Azerbaijan`s national army and its preparation according to modern requirements. If this or that state aspires to strengthen the statehood, it should possess strong army. Today we, with feeling of boundless pride, can tell that the strong national army has been formed in Azerbaijan for a very short term from historical point of view. The part of this army is deployed here, in Nakhchivan, being an integral part of Azerbaijan. One of the units located in Nakhchivan, is your military unit and today we are holding a meeting with you.

I know that creation of military station here for a short time, providing the protection of Azerbaijan`s borders by the large military unit is hard work. It is very difficult, hard. But we have coped with it. The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan and the military unit of the Azerbaijan army deployed in Nakhchivan, the leadership of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic have together established this fine military station.

Having arrived here, I got acquainted with only negligible part of military techniques, weapon and ammunition being at your command. It has pleased me. It pleases that the military unit has a necessary quantity of military techniques, the weapon and ammunition. And still I am glad that we have officers, experts, soldiers who are capable to use these techniques, these weapons and to strike blow to the enemy with their help.

The army service demands extremely big selflessness, torment. Each young man of our country, each young man, being the representative of the Azerbaijani people, our nation, should fulfill this honorable duty, should serve in army by all means. The young man served in army and subsequently got demobilized, is considered the most valuable person in our society, and in all spheres of our life. In some cases, getting acquainted with personnel information of the candidates presented to separate posts, as studying where they studied, worked before, first of all, I pay attention whether they have served in the armed forces or not.

I want that you and all our youth to be aware of this too. The young man, who has been in military service and executed his civic duty, is the most respected man in our state, in the state headed by me. From the personnel point of view, when 2-3 persons are presented to me, I prefer to the one who has been in military service, performed the civic duty. It is more valuable for me than all others. It is my character. I say it to you. But it is not only character, it is the character caused by statehood.

The young people do military service here. There is also the sun here - very hot sun, there are also mountains, sometimes sun beams, being reflected behind those mountains, it becomes heater. But tops of these mountains are covered by snow, you see, it gives a cool. Here there is a fine climate. The service here, naturally, cannot make big difficulty for the person.

Taking an opportunity of today`s meeting with you, I say these ideas not only for you, but also for all young men of Azerbaijan. I say it for the Azerbaijani soldiers, the Azerbaijani army. I saw here fine dining room, barracks, medical aid station which have been constructed for a short time. Then, all conditions for military service have been provided here. I repeat, I express my gratitude to all, in particular, to the leadership of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and to Vasif Talibov, the chairman of the Supreme Mejlis, for creation of this military station in a short time.

On an example of this small town, created for two years, it is possible to imagine how much the Azerbaijani army has developed for a short time and in what condition it is. There are some people or groups of people and even various political organizations in Azerbaijan which show negative attitude to the state, nation, people, they criticize authority. The criticism does not worry us, because I criticize as well. I think, we should be criticized too. Because neither we, nor the others cannot fulfill everything completely. The healthy criticism helps to us. But some people do not criticize, but just spread lie, hearings, figments, slanders. It is possible to slander separate persons. Although, it is immorality. It is possible to calumniate, to lie, all these are immorality. But you live in this country, you live in conditions of the political stability created by this state, and not only you live, but also you possess high well-being, however, not having information about anything, you supposedly say that the Azerbaijani army is weak, there is a lot of shortages in army, and we need the strong Azerbaijan army. Today I would like to ask these people once again whether something is known to them, even for one percent about the Azerbaijani army, its present condition? No, they do not want to know. In fact, in this case it, probably, will be more difficult to tell these lies. Perhaps, in this case if they have conscience, it will force them to refuse to lie. No, they wish to know nothing but slander our army. I repeat, it is possible to slander someone, but to slander the army providing defensive power of the independent Azerbaijan state, being one of its basic support, is a crime. Answering to it, I declare today, Azerbaijan has the strong, powerful army corresponding modern requirements.

But it is not the last extent yet. We should strengthen our army even more. We should equip it with modern weapon even more. The officer corps of our army should raise the professionalism. Other works should also be carried out. I constantly put these obligations before the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, I put them before Defense Minister, general-colonel Safar Abiyev and I demand from him. And today I demand that these obligations, which I put before you, to be consistently carried out. But today, I highly estimate our army, its level, its fighting capacity and I approve the activity by the leadership of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, personally general-colonel Safar Abiyev.

My words concern all parts of the Azerbaijani army. Declaring today about it, I protect our army, I protect our generals, I protect our officers. But at the same time, I think that they will be inspired from my words even more, will work with even greater confidence, will eliminate lacks available in their work and will be worthy of my estimation, an estimation of the President, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

I noted that each state should possess strong army for providing the statehood. It is especially necessary for us. Because, as you know, in due time, the Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of the Azerbaijan lands, and more than one million our compatriots were expelled from the occupied lands and now they live in tents.

In May, 1994, we achieved cease-fire and joined in process of peace settlement. Since then, we have actively been participating in this process. That is, first of all it is necessary for us and we try to use opportunities of all international organizations, the largest states of the world. We closely cooperate and we will cooperate henceforth with the Minsk Group of OSCE - the Minsk group headed by Russia, the United States America and France. I hope that we will settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict by peace. The occupied lands will be released, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be ensured, and our compatriots, expelled from the native lands, will come back to their homes. But, conducting these peace talks, we should strengthen constantly our military potential, defensive potential, strengthen our army. If our army is stronger, we will achieve greater successes in negotiations. I believe that our army will become stronger every day as it has become stronger till now.

But each soldier, each officer, each general in army should know that he devotes himself to the military profession. And the military profession consists of protection of the Native land. And it is necessary to possess force for protection of the Native land, and if someone will encroach on your ground, the Native land – you must be able to give him worthy repulse, to strike a crushing blow. I believe that becoming stronger, the Azerbaijani army will reach such level, that at the necessary moment will strike a crushing blow to any aggressor which encroach on the Azerbaijan grounds, and will achieve a victory. All of you, in case of need, should be ready to such order by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and to execute the given order with honor.

Duties before the military units, deployed in Nakhchivan, differ from the others. If the Azerbaijani army in the Garabagh region protects our grounds being face to face with the Armenian army after the announcement of cease-fire, if the Armenian army is on the occupied grounds of Azerbaijan, here, in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan has the border with Armenia in the extent of 260 kilometers. This border is protected by you, the units of the Azerbaijan army here.

The frontier group in Azerbaijan performs a special duty. They protect borders with neighbor, friend Iran and Turkey, they should be protected too. Naturally, both these countries are friend countries to us. We cooperate with them. But the international terrorism, transportation of drugs, traffic in arms, contraband and other similar facts worry us like Iran and Turkey. Therefore, our Nakhchivan boundary group should engage seriously in these issues.

Now the international terrorism is the most dangerous factor for the entire world and mankind. Monstrous act of terrorism, accomplished on September 11 of the last year in the United States of America, has caused our indignation. The Azerbaijan state without delay declared that it was in one alliance, in one coalition with the United States America in struggle against the international terrorism. Since then, we carry out our obligations. We help the forces of NATO that they can go to Afghanistan to prevent the processes going in this region and we will help them in the future as well.

But struggle against the international terrorism has not come to the end. Struggle proceeds, and in Armenia`s territory there were various terrorist groupings in due time. According to some information, they continue their activity on the occupied lands, anyway, are engaged in transportation of narcotic substances and every possible similar illegal actions. Data on it are available. Therefore, here a part of Armed forces of Azerbaijan should protect the border in the extent of 260 kilometers and on any point of the border should give worthy repulse to those who will encroach on our grounds at every moment.

Now by mediation of the Minsk group the negotiations are underway on achievement of the peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A month ago, representatives of the presidents have met in Prague. In the near future, meetings of presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are possible too. All these are necessary for the peace settlement of the question. Today I once again declare: As the President of Azerbaijan, I will also use henceforth all opportunities for the peace resolution of the conflict. My purpose is establishment of the peace and to lead out of Azerbaijan from this situation. Therefore, the Azerbaijani army should become stronger, become very powerful every day. I consider that military units, deployed in the territory of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, decently perform their duties assigned to them. Here, I am pleased that there are enough business ties between the command of military unit and the leadership of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. I was informed that barracks here and some other buildings have been constructed only due to the internal opportunities of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, that is, due to its own expenses. I consider that these business ties established in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, care of authorities, the state bodies for the army should be used as an example in other regions as well.

Once again I congratulate you on the successes reached by you. I wish successes to this small town. I suppose that when I visit to Nakhchivan after a while, I will see this military station even more spacious and arranged well. All these are necessary for the soldiers, our fighters, our sons serving in forces. Our sons should fulfill the military service in army as honorary duty. But all we together should create conditions at a level of modern army for them for performance of this duty. Thank to God, such conditions have been created here.

Once again I congratulate you. I am very glad for the meeting with you. I wish the Azerbaijan soldiers, the Azerbaijan army all new and new successes.

Thank you.