President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been
interviewed by CNN-Türk television.
presents the interview.
Mr. President Ilham Aliyev, welcome to CNN-Türk. Thank
you for giving this interview on such historic days for Azerbaijan.
Without further ado, let me immediately move on to the questions.
First of all, what is the latest situation in the operations? Are
they going as planned? What territory has been liberated from
-Everything is going according to plan. The Azerbaijani army is
restoring the territorial integrity of the country these days. The
operation continues successfully. One city and many villages have
already been liberated from the occupation. This once again proves
that the Azerbaijani people will never put up with the occupation.
We have repeatedly said this: Karabakh is our historical and
ancestral land! Unfortunately, the negotiations held for a long
time did not lead to any results. Therefore, of course, Azerbaijan
had to restore its territorial integrity on its own and is doing
As you know, on 27 September the Armenian armed forces launched
a new offensive against us. Many of our cities and villages are
being shelled. Today the death toll among our civilians is about 30
people. The Armenian armed forces are shelling our cities and
villages, about a thousand houses have been destroyed or seriously
damaged. But everything is going according to plan, and I hope that
the tasks before us will be fulfilled.
-Mr. President, I would like to return to the processes
in the zone of operations again. As we know, the Armenian army
began shelling Azerbaijani cities outside the conflict zone with
ballistic missiles. In particular, it is targeting settlements in
the second largest city of Azerbaijan, Ganja, a power plant in
Mingachevir with ballistic missiles. What do you think was the
-In my opinion, this is a sign of helplessness of the Armenian
army and the crimes of the military-political leadership of Armenia
because violence against civilians, the shelling of settlements and
the destruction of peaceful cities with ballistic missiles is
considered a war crime. This indicates that Armenia cannot resist
us on the battlefield. Losing the battle and in an effort to stop
us, and in order to harm the civilian population as much as
possible, it resorts to such heinous acts. As you noted, Ganja and
Mingachevir are cities that are far from the war zone. At the same
time, our cities located near the front zone are bombarded every
day. The nearest district is Tartar. From one to two thousand
shells are dropped on the city of Tartar every day. The main
purpose of this is violence against civilians. This once again
demonstrates the fascist essence of Armenia, the fascist essence of
its regime. But this does not frighten the Azerbaijani people and
has no impact whatsoever. Our citizens living in these regions, in
these cities and villages stand firmly. They say: long live the
Motherland, may our lands be liberated from occupation as soon as
possible. They will remain in these places to the end and will
provide our army with moral support.
-If Armenia continues shelling civilian settlements,
will there be any change in your current position?
-No, there should be no change in our position. We are not
fighting against the Armenian people. I have already spoken about
this many times. We are waging a fair fight. We want to restore our
territorial integrity, we are doing this and we have achieved
success in this matter and in this direction. Azerbaijan has never
fought against the civilian population and against civilians. The
other day I said that we have no problems with the Armenian people.
Thousands of Armenians live in Azerbaijan, and they are our
citizens. The Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh today are also
our citizens. All our goals are military. We have every right to
destroy military targets because they have caused great damage to
our army and cities. Therefore, our duty is to destroy them and
ensure the safety of our population.
-Armenia's bombardment of civilian settlements with
ballistic missiles is essentially a war crime, an act contrary to
the Geneva Convention. In this context, do you plan to put forward
any initiatives regarding war crimes before the UN? Do you collect
evidence of these crimes on the ground?
-We certainly do. All of their war crimes are already being
recorded. Unfortunately, the international community did not react
to the war crimes that were committed against Azerbaijan and our
people earlier. The Khojaly massacre is an act of genocide that
took place in front of the whole world. However, the then
military-political leadership of Armenia was not held accountable
for this. The destruction of our cities and villages, the
appearance of more than a million internally displaced persons –
the international community did not take any action in this regard.
Therefore, this issue has not been resolved for many years because
no distinction is made between the occupier and the victim of the
occupation. And the shelling of our cities and villages by the
Armenian armed forces with ballistic missiles today is a war crime.
The leadership of Armenia, of course, must and will bear
responsibility for this.
-So far you have received several calls for a ceasefire.
You have personally answered them. But looking at the 30-year
history of the conflict, do you think that these calls will produce
-I believe that these calls should not be just calls for a
ceasefire. We have repeatedly said that sanctions should have been
applied to the occupying state of Armenia. If sanctions had been
applied in due time, then, perhaps, this issue would have been
resolved long ago. Very serious pressure should have been put on
Armenia – not in word but in deed. Unfortunately, this did not
happen. Therefore, this process dragged on for 30 years.
Negotiations that have been fruitless for 30 years are already
losing their point. In addition, recently, the military-political
leadership of Armenia, both with aggressive actions and aggressive
statements, disrupted the process of negotiations. In other words,
it dealt a crushing blow to the talks. To say that 'Karabakh is
Armenia' essentially means an end to the negotiations because the
essence of the negotiations is that the occupied lands should be
gradually and on a step-by-step basis returned to Azerbaijan. This
is enshrined in the fundamental principles. To say that 'Karabakh
is Armenia' actually means an end to this process. There were other
similar statements. After that, in July, Armenia attacked
Azerbaijan in the direction of the state border, killing many
soldiers and one civilian. Therefore, the restoration of the
ceasefire must be ensured on certain conditions. First of all, we
should be given a schedule for the withdrawal of the Armenian armed
forces from the occupied lands. We have already communicated our
position on this issue to the Minsk Group. I hope that our calls
and proposals will not remain unanswered.
-I think that speaking about the Minsk Group of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, France should
be mentioned separately. What can you say in connection with
France's position on this issue?
-I have already spoken about this several times. We have always
perceived the Minsk Group as a group, and this is still the case
today. We believed that the co-chair countries of this group should
remain neutral, not support any of the parties, because otherwise
their mediation mission would be called into question. Until recent
events, they managed to maintain neutrality to a certain extent. We
know that the Armenian lobby is strong in these countries. It can
and does influence the governments of these countries. We see today
that the Armenians living in various countries are conducting an
organized black propaganda campaign against Azerbaijan.
Unfortunately, some countries have recently demonstrated a
lop-sided position. There were cases of support for one of the
parties. This is unacceptable. We have expressed our position on
this matter. If mediators want to remain mediators and continue to
deal with this issue, then they should be more responsible and not
take sides. They should try to take actions intended to resolve
this issue so that the conflict is resolved as soon as possible, so
that the ceasefire can then be restored and a lasting peace can be
-Why did you say that French President Emmanuel Macron
-You also know that there have been accusations against us.
Official statements said that Azerbaijan and Turkey had allegedly
transferred members of terrorist groups to the region even though
there is no evidence of that. Ten days have passed since those
statements. So far, we have not been presented with any evidence.
This is injustice to us. These statements were made on the basis of
false information. This was said either on the basis of unverified
and unconfirmed information or on purpose. It is hard to say. In
any case, each country must defend itself. Naturally, we are
responding to injustice against us. We cannot but react to this.
There was another statement – 'Azerbaijan wants to conquer
Nagorno-Karabakh'. This statement is also completely contrary to
international laws because Nagorno-Karabakh is our land. How can a
country conquer its own land? Such statements completely contradict
the mandate of the Minsk Group. We just want the internally
displaced persons who have been expelled from their native lands
for about 30 years to return to their homes so that the territorial
integrity of Azerbaijan is ensured. The territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan is as important as the territorial integrity of other
-Speaking of black propaganda, since the start of the
counter-offensive, a black propaganda campaign against Azerbaijan
has been carried out on social media. What can you say about this?
What facts do you have in this regard?
-You know, black propaganda against us has been going on for
many years. There are several reasons for this. One of them is that
Azerbaijan is pursuing an independent policy on a global scale. The
interests of the Azerbaijani people are at the center of our
policy. We have not been, do not want to be and will not become an
instrument in the hands of other countries. The development of
today's Azerbaijan, the development achieved in all directions
testifies that Azerbaijan is on the right path. Look at the
successes we have achieved in international relations. Azerbaijan
is recognized as a responsible and reliable country on a global
scale now. We currently chair the second-largest international
organization after the United Nations – the Non-Aligned Movement.
We were able to achieve this with the support of 120 countries.
Today Azerbaijan is a political, geographic and energy bridge
between Europe and Asia. In other words, we have achieved all these
successes also thanks to an independent policy. Some countries did
not like this, some countries tried to look down on Azerbaijan but
our resolute position did not allow them to do this. Therefore, one
of the reasons for the pressure exerted on us is precisely the fact
that we are pursuing an independent policy, we are going our own
way, we are not acting on anyone's order and we are not bowing to
anyone. There are other reasons as well. This is a long story, it
may well be the topic of a separate interview. As soon as these
events occurred, those who regularly conducted black propaganda
against us, non-governmental organizations, circles, media
representatives of some countries immediately took action to
tarnish the image of Azerbaijan, slander us, invent utter lies
about us in order to form a false opinion and a wrong idea about
Of course, by fighting against these accusations on our own, we
have achieved some success. But our possibilities are also limited.
Our voice often falls on deaf ears. We are not provided with an
international platform. International media structures are more on
the side of Armenia and spread false information about the
conflict. Therefore, taking this opportunity, I want to thank the
representatives of the media of brotherly Turkey for the fact that
these days they are communicating the truth about this war to the
whole world, transmitting information live – the destroyed cities,
dropped missiles, the city of Ganja, the city of Mingachevir, the
city of Tartar. In other words, this information, transmitted
mostly by Turkish media, serves to form a fair opinion about the
-Mr. President, a few days before the start of the
operation, you made an appeal to the leaders attending the UN
General Assembly in New York, the United States. You appealed to
the whole world. In your speech, you said that some terrorist
groups were being sent to Armenia, and you drew attention to this
issue. You emphasized, in particular, the need to pay attention to
this issue. Three days after this statement, Armenia launched an
offensive against Azerbaijan. What intelligence does Azerbaijan
have on this issue today?
-In that speech, I also said that Armenia is preparing for a new
war, we have information about this and Armenia must be stopped. As
for the existence of camps of terrorist organizations in Armenia,
we had these data before.
-What are these terrorist groups?
-First of all, there were camps of PKK terrorist groups in the
Azerbaijani lands occupied by Armenia. We have new intelligence
information – some of it has already been published in the media.
There are already documents and audio information about their
negotiations and contacts. This question did not raise any doubts
in us because Armenia is a terrorist country. During the first
Karabakh war, dozens of terrorist acts were committed against us –
in the metro, buses, ships. I believe that the world should
recognize the Armenian terror as a disgusting fact known in the
world. The man who committed the terrorist act in the French
airport in the 1980s was subsequently handed over to Armenia, then
released and declared a hero. Therefore, terrorists from various
countries flock to Armenia these days. According to our
information, Armenians and representatives of other nationalities
from the Middle East flock to Armenia to participate in the unjust
war against Azerbaijan.
-I would like to return to the topic of the OSCE Minsk
Group. Russia is one of its co-chairs. What are your expectations
from Russia in the region?
-Russia as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group also carries out a
mediation mission, of course. We have no problem with this. At the
same time, Russia is the only country among the three co-chair
countries that is our neighbor. Naturally, we have long-term
historical relations with Russia. At present, Russia is developing
ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is a very important
fact. Therefore, there are no problems either in the bilateral
format or within the Minsk Group. During these events, Russia's
position has been responsible.
-Mr. President, what is Iran's position on this
-Iranian officials have supported Azerbaijan's just cause. A few
days ago, Iranian officials said that the occupation must be
stopped, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored
and our IDPs must return to their native lands. This is a fair
-Have you had any contact with US President Donald Trump
in this process? Do you consider the presence of the United States
in it important?
-America is also a co-chair of the Minsk Group. Together with
two other co-chairs, they participate in these affairs. I had no
contact with the President of America. However, high-ranking US
officials have naturally expressed their opinion on this issue and
in connection with these events. At the same time, the
distinguished Donald Trump also made a statement on this matter. I
believe that his statement was complete and logical. Our bilateral
ties with America are developing successfully. In many areas, we
act as partners. Naturally, America as a superpower expresses its
position on this issue. We are satisfied with their position as
-In July, Armenia attacked the city of Tovuz. Now, in
the course of this operation, it strikes at civilian sites and
settlements again. You have already said that Armenia is doing this
in order to drag Azerbaijan into a provocation. Apart from being
drawn into a provocation, does the shelling of these settlements,
in particular the city of Tovuz, the Mingachevir power plant and
other similar targets, pose a threat to energy security in the
region? Can this be viewed as a transformation of energy
infrastructure into a target? In particular, I mean the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the TANAP project. What is your
take on that?
-This, of course, is also one of Armenia's goals. They did not
even conceal this, and the statements of the Armenian leadership
before these events indicated that they intended to strike at our
strategic energy infrastructure – pipelines, as well as the
Sangachal oil and gas terminal, one of the largest oil and gas
terminals in the world. In fact, one of the reasons for the Tovuz
events was precisely this – to occupy new Azerbaijani lands, then
strengthen their positions at the negotiating table and, at the
same time, either approach our strategic energy communications or
take them under control and then dictate their will to us. This is
always part of the plans of the Armenian state. They don't conceal
that. The strike on the Mingachevir power plant is also an integral
part of this plan because it is the largest plant not only in
Azerbaijan but also throughout the entire South Caucasus. Even
though we have built many stations in recent years, the Mingachevir
station today is our largest station providing electricity to a
significant part of the country. If it failed, then certain
problems could have arisen in relation to energy issues, of course.
Today Azerbaijan exports crude oil, natural gas and electricity. We
export our surplus electricity. These actions were aimed at our
economic potential and once again showed the whole world the
criminal essence of Armenia and the Armenian regime.
-Mr. Aliyev, how big is the Azerbaijani population of
-Today there is not a single Azerbaijani in Nagorno-Karabakh.
They have all been expelled from there. The entire Azerbaijani
population was expelled both from the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh
and from seven districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh – in Soviet
times, Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region. In Soviet times,
in the late 1980s, Azerbaijanis constituted 25 percent of the
population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijanis accounted for 98
percent of the population of the city of Shusha. Shusha is our
ancient historical city. At the first stage, all Azerbaijanis were
expelled from Shusha, then from Khankandi, other cities and
villages, and after that from seven districts adjacent to
Nagorno-Karabakh. Today, there is no Azerbaijani population in
Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent occupied districts. We will now
go back there. We already started going back four years ago. But
after the end of this confrontation, we will, of course, return to
-You said that Azerbaijanis were expelled from the
occupied Karabakh lands. But at present, a large Armenian
population also lives in other Azerbaijani lands. What can you say
in this regard?
-This is natural because there are representatives of many
nationalities living in Azerbaijan. They live like one family.
Azerbaijan is known as a multicultural country worldwide. This is
acknowledged by the United Nations, as well as other international
organizations operating in the humanitarian field. Azerbaijan is
the land of tolerance, ethnic and religious tolerance. Thousands of
Armenians live in our country today and they are our citizens. They
also live normally, like all other nationalities. Of course, I am
sure that after the end of this war and conflict, the Armenians
living in Nagorno-Karabakh today will live with us. Azerbaijan is a
multinational country. This has been the case throughout history. I
think this is our great advantage.
Representatives of other nationalities do not live in Armenia.
Armenia is one of a handful of countries in the world where 99
percent of the population is Armenian. All other nationalities were
expelled from there. First of all, the Azerbaijanis were expelled,
then the rest. Armenia is a mono-ethnic state, and this once again
proves that it is a racist country. Representatives of no other
nationality can live there. They are either unable to withstand the
torment and leave or they are expelled by force.
-Dear President, I have a few more questions left, let
me ask them. If we come back to the topic related to the theater of
operations, has there been a difference after the inclusion of
unmanned aerial vehicles and armed unmanned aerial vehicles in the
arsenal of the Azerbaijani army?
-There is a big difference. Armed unmanned aerial vehicles made
in Turkey are a type of weapon created on the basis of the latest
and modern technologies, only a few countries in the world have
such capabilities. This is a manifestation of the technological,
economic and intellectual potential of Turkey. Of course, the
possession of such opportunities facilitates our work and saves the
lives of our citizens, soldiers, because without them we would have
to strike at tanks, cannons and other Armenian equipment from the
ground. And this could lead to great human losses. These vehicles
give us a great advantage in keeping human losses low. At the same
time, they are technologically advanced.
-By the way, speaking of air defense systems, the
Armenian side has, in particular, such modern air defense systems
as S-300 which it had acquired from Russia. The Azerbaijani army
also has defense systems, but not these weapons. Do you think this
creates a double standard?
-No, we have anti-aircraft guns for S-300 which we bought from
Russia. We have purchased a large amount of weapons from Russia.
There are no restrictions in that area. Therefore, I cannot speak
of double standards. The only difference is that we buy them and
they are very expensive systems. Armenia often receives them free
of charge – either as a gift or as a loan. But this loan remains on
paper and is never repaid. Naturally, if this expensive armament
had not been provided to Armenia free of charge, then Armenia's
possession of it could not even be a subject of discussion and the
conflict would have been settled long ago. The free armament has
instilled confidence in them that they would be able to hold these
lands under occupation forever. The difference is this. We have the
opportunity to acquire weapons from Russia. We buy weapons from
other countries as well. There are no restrictions on this issue.
There are some countries that have imposed an embargo on the sale
of weapons to us but this does not create any particular problems
for us because the arms market is now more diversified and its
geography is expanding. I recently said that the Turkish defense
industry is developing so rapidly today that, I hope our equipment
with Turkish weapons will rise to an even higher level in the
-I would like to touch upon the issue that has drawn our
attention here. Wherever we were, in Baku or cities in the conflict
zone, in Tartar, we saw the flags of Turkey everywhere next to the
flags of Azerbaijan. What would you like to say about
-In fact, it has always been this way, because Turkey is not
only an ally and the closest country for us. Turkey is a fraternal
country for us, just like Azerbaijan is for Turkey. The flag of
Turkey is a native flag for us, as native as the flag of
Azerbaijan. But, of course, this conflict, the clear position of
Turkey during these battles, the statements of Mr. President, my
brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the support provided to Azerbaijan,
the words that 'Azerbaijan is not alone' in people's letters coming
from Turkey have, of course, further increased the love of Turkey.
You are also witnessing that the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan are
waving together in all our regions. At the same time, the flags of
Turkey and Azerbaijan are waving together in Turkey today. The
video footage shown to me is also very touching and we are glad
that our Turkish brothers there decorate cars and buildings with
the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan. In other words, it is a symbol
of true brotherhood and solidarity. There is no other country that
would support Azerbaijan like Turkey. There is no country in the
world that would support Turkey the way Azerbaijan does. This is
our great asset.
-My last question, dear President. If the prime minister
of Armenia Pashinyan were in front of you instead of me now, what
would you tell him?
-Basically I have nothing to say to him. We have met many times.
Two years ago, in our first contacts after he came to power, I
think we had a very good conversation. I had hopes that he, as the
new prime minister, would introduce amendments and changes to
Armenia's aggressive policy and understand that as long as this
conflict remains unresolved, peace will not come to this region. As
a person who came to power as a result of a coup and made big
promises, he will not be able to fulfill them if the relations
between Azerbaijan and Armenia are not normalized. And then there
is no need to talk about the economic development of Armenia. I was
hoping that he understood this and the first messages from Armenia
were very positive. We showed restraint, taking into account their
request, and strengthened the ceasefire. It is possible to say that
the ceasefire was rigorously observed in the last two years. The
Minsk Group co-chairs also noted this in their statements. But what
happened next? We realized that he deceived us. I think that this
is a very wrong path in politics. You can't lie. Our words do not
differ from our deeds. But the words given to us turned out to be a
lie. His words that 'Karabakh is Armenia, full stop' actually put
an end to the negotiations. After that, there were other
provocative statements, including such that Azerbaijan should
negotiate with Nagorno-Karabakh, i.e. the so-called
'Nagorno-Karabakh republic'. This was a blow to the format of the
negotiations. Not only we but also the Minsk Group opposed this.
Then in July, they carried out a military provocation in Tovuz, in
August they sent a sabotage group and last month they already
carried out a large-scale offensive. Therefore, I have said
everything to him. Addressing the Armenian people, I want to say
that they should hold their government accountable, demand that it
stop the fire, end the occupation, not send their children to war,
do not send them to Azerbaijan because the so-called 'army of the
Nagorno-Karabakh republic' consists of citizens of Armenia by 90
percent. In other words, there is no such thing as the 'army of
Nagorno-Karabakh'. Why should a person born in Armenia fight
against us on Azerbaijani soil? Therefore, I want to tell the
Armenian people that the Armenians live in peace today and will
continue to live in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani state is doing
everything possible for their normal life. I want to tell the
Armenian leadership: the sooner you leave the occupied lands, the
better it will be for you.
-Dear President, on these historic days when the
fighting continues, you have expressed very important thoughts.
Once again, on behalf of the CNN Türk TV channel, I express my deep
gratitude to you.
-I also thank you and CNN Türk TV channel, which broadcasts
wonderful reports every day. Interesting live discussions with
renowned people are organized in your studios. I express my
gratitude to your channel for the unequivocal support of
Azerbaijan. Let me also thank all representatives of the Turkish
media for being with us on these difficult days.
-Thank you very much, thank you again!
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