Shusha Today

Ilham Aliyev received Aydin Karimov in a video format on his appointment as Special Representative of President in the Shusha district

27 january 2021, 14:00

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Aydin Karimov on his appointment as Special Representative of the President in Shusha district.

The head of state delivered remarks at the video meeting.

Remarks by the President Ilham Aliyev

– I am appointing you Special Representative of the President in the Shusha district. Great confidence is being placed in you. I am sure that you realize this responsibility and do your best to meet the objectives set before you. The President’s Special Representative institute in the liberated territories was established on my initiative on January 19. The first appointment is to Shusha district. And this is only natural. Shusha has a special place in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people. Shusha is the crown of Karabakh. Shusha is a unique city. The location, nature, air, climate, historical sites, religious sites, the architectural ensemble of Shusha are our national treasure. We must protect Shusha. We have returned to Shusha, and from now on, the people of Azerbaijan will live there forever – just as Shusha has always been an Azerbaijani city. Despite Armenian attempts to falsify this, the whole world recognizes and accepts Shusha as an Azerbaijani city.

The occupation of Shusha was an immense tragedy. Every city and district’s occupation was a great tragedy, but the occupation of Shusha was perhaps the most painful loss for us. Not only because of the strategic location of Shusha, which allowed us control of the entire region, had everything been done properly, but it also would have allowed us to take all necessary measures to defend Shusha even with minimum resources. The loss of Shusha caused a great shock to our people, a moral shock, and we had lived without Shusha for 28 years. However, although the Armenians have destroyed Shusha, it did not yield. It did not lose its dignity even though it was in captivity. It was able to preserve the spirit of Azerbaijan despite attempts to Armenianize it. We have returned to Shusha, and when sharing this great news with the people of Azerbaijan on November 8, I said, “Shusha, you are free!” We have returned to our history. Of course, we will restore Shusha, revive Shusha, and the process of revival has already begun.

Despite all the Armenians’ attempts, they failed to portray Shusha in the world as an Armenian city. Although they have been striving for this for 28 years, illegally invited many foreign visitors to Shusha, composed fables about Shusha and changed its name, no-one believed in that because every visitor to Shusha saw with his own eyes and realized that its architectural ensemble represents the Azerbaijani architectural school. Today they falsify ancient history, write fictitious books, hold symposia and other events. But this is relatively recent history. The founder and creator of Shusha was one of our ancestors, Panahali Khan. Thanks to his activities and efforts, the city of Shusha was founded. Before that, Panahali Khan had built the Bayat fortress, the Shahbulag fortress. It is no coincidence that this city was initially called Panahabad. He gave it his name. After that, given a clean air of Shusha, transparent as glass, this city was called Shusha (glass).

How could they falsify history? It is known that before the occupation, Shusha was always inhabited by the Azerbaijanis. One might say that there was no Armenian population there. Even in the 1920s, when the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region was established on our land, most of the population of Shusha were Azerbaijanis, while at the time of occupation, Azerbaijanis accounted for 98 percent of the population.

Shusha is our historical city, and we have returned to this city. If the Armenians considered this city their own, why didn’t they create anything in 28 years? Why couldn’t they preserve Shusha’s historical sites? All springs have dried up. There was a well in every neighborhood, but all of them are empty now. Okay, if this was your city, why did you drain the wells? All historical sites have been razed to the ground. If this was your city, why did you destroy the sites? If Armenia declared that it had liberated Shusha, then who did it liberate it from? From the civilian population? From Azerbaijanis? Okay, if you thought you had liberated it, why did you destroy the buildings? If this is an Armenian city, why did you raze it to the ground? Not only our mosques were destroyed there but also all the facilities. Only the “Khrushchev-era” apartment blocks built in Soviet times remained, grossly violating the architectural ensemble of Shusha, and this is where they lived.

While in Shusha, I saw this destruction with my own eyes. It was as if a wild tribe swept through the city – the vandals brought Shusha to this state. And then they say that Shusha is an Armenian city. It is another Armenian lie, yet another falsification! Their entire history is built on falsification and mythology. Together with their patrons in various countries, they created fake history for themselves, and this falsification continues to this day.

See what Armenians and their patrons abroad have to say about the liberation of Shusha. They say that Shusha was allegedly handed over to us just like that, without a fight, that the Armenians left Shusha of their own free will. It is a blatant lie! The Shusha operation will forever remain in the souls of the Azerbaijani people. The cherished memory of our brave sons who became martyrs in the battles for Shusha will always live in our hearts. During the liberation of Shusha, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers displayed heroism, professionalism, physical strength and high national spirit. From the direction of Dashalti and other directions, climbing the cliffs, eliminating the invaders, they liberated Shusha. They fought practically with their bare hands – bayonets, knives, light weapons against guns and tanks. During the Shusha operation, they eliminated hundreds of invaders. We know their exact number. No matter how hard the Armenian leadership tries to hide it from their people, they will not succeed. The brave sons of Azerbaijan destroyed hundreds of invaders defending Shusha. How can one claim that Shusha was surrendered to us? Secondly, can anyone hand over such a city to an adversary? We liberated Shusha from the enemy, from enemy captivity at the cost of heroism, life, and our brave sons’ blood. From now on, Shusha will live forever. We will cherish and protect Shusha.

The loss of Shusha on May 8, 1992, was a great tragedy. The PPFA-Musavat tandem is responsible for that tragedy. Everyone should know this, and no-one should ever forget about it. At that time, there was a struggle for power in Azerbaijan. The PFPA-Musavat tandem was striving for power, carried out this provocation to overthrow the then government and surrendered Shusha to the enemy. The then minister of defense of Azerbaijan was an offshoot of the PFPA-Musavat tandem, one of their henchmen. He was the first to sell Shusha. And then he said that he was not to blame. How can that be possible, traitor? He said that if Shusha were surrendered, he would put a bullet in his head. He has yet to fire a shot into his traitorous forehead. The PFPA-Musavat tandem succeeded in its dirty intentions. Due to Shusha and Lachin district’s occupation a few days later, the then government was ousted and, as a result of a military coup, the PFPA-Musavat duo came to power. After that, they forgot about Shusha, actually gave it to the Armenians and then committed another act of betrayal – in April 1993, they surrendered Kalbajar to the enemy. They left innocent and unarmed people there alone, could not save and protect them. What did they do after that? They deserted and fled. The commander-in-chief was a deserter, the secretary of state and the parliament speaker were also deserters. Others escaped too, one to Kalaki, another one abroad. If the commander-in-chief flees during the war, then this is desertion. There is no other name for that. Everyone should know this and not forget.

I have said this before, but I want to say again: our scientists and experts should make sure that our history concurs with reality. We should not hide our history. We don’t need fake history. How many times did we come across a false narrative in Soviet times? Our heroes were presented as enemies and our people’s bloodthirsty enemies as heroes. Twenty-six Baku Commissars, this Armenian-Bolshevik bandit detachment, was presented as a hero group, whereas the patriots who confronted them were labeled enemies. We have seen this. Our generation knows everything about fake history. Someone wants to create phony history again now. Once again, someone wants to wash away the guilt of certain deserters, traitors and cowards. We cannot allow this. Everyone should know those who sold the lands and those who freed them from the occupation.

Corresponding instructions have been issued in connection with the protection of Shusha. Azerbaijani servicemen are guarding Shusha and control the adjacent heights. A commandant’s office has been set up in Shusha, and an institute of civil administration is being established now. I want to repeat that great confidence has been placed in you because Shusha occupies a special place in Azerbaijan’s history. The restoration and revival of Shusha is our common cause. Of course, all the work should be carried out in a planned manner. It is necessary to preserve the historical appearance of Shusha. No buildings alien to Shusha should be allowed. I recently sent a large group of specialists to Shusha. You were also among them and familiarized yourself with the situation. For several days, this group stayed in Shusha, inspected everything, analyzed and reported to me. The restoration of Shusha will be based on that assessment.

Simultaneously, of course, we will broadly discuss the life of Shusha after the restoration. I have already declared this city the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. After the restoration, life in Shusha should liven up. After the people’s return, Shusha should have a thriving cultural life. Domestic and numerous international events – festivals, competitions, tours – should be held there. In other words, Shusha will be worthy of the title of the cultural capital of Azerbaijan and, I am sure, of the region.

It is no coincidence that the heads of the two delegations I received recently spoke about special attention to Shusha. During the meeting, the ICESCO secretary-general noted that they would propose to declare Shusha the capital of Islamic culture. This step makes us very happy. I must also say that so far, this honorary title has been awarded to Azerbaijan’s two cities – Baku and Nakhchivan. I remember that ICESCO makes such a decision several years in advance, and only a few years later, the city is awarded this honorary title. There is a sequence. Therefore, the fact that such a statement was made in Baku causes special joy. At the same time, during a recent meeting with a delegation of the Turkic Council, the Turkic Council secretary-general also put forward a proposal to elect Shusha as the cultural capital of the Turkic world. It is a sign of interest and love towards our historical city in the Turkic and Muslim world. It is no coincidence. Therefore, of course, we will take steps related to Shusha’s future life. I have already said that two events should be held in Shusha this year. We must resume the “Khary Bulbul” festival and the Vagif Poetry Days. The Vagif mausoleum restoration should start, and we should try to restore the mausoleum this year. Vagif poetry days will be held in front of the mausoleum.

Of course, the enemy has plundered, devastated and destroyed Shusha. My heart aches to see this bitter picture. But we are implementing all infrastructure projects and will soon restore Shusha. As you know, by my order, a road is under construction to facilitate travel to Shusha. Fuzuli airport is under construction and should be commissioned by the end of this year. After that, international flights should be organized. Presentations and exhibitions related to Shusha should already be held in various countries. Develop this program jointly with the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Culture. It is necessary to hold presentations around the world related to the history of Shusha, the occupation period and today’s restoration work. Both our public and the international community should be informed about the restoration work’s progress.

As far as the infrastructure projects are concerned, Shusha has been a backward city from the point of view of infrastructure. The enemy did not create anything there, did not construct a single building. They have built several villas for ourselves. One of the villas belongs to the junta leader, while another is said to belong to a wealthy and corrupt official represented in the Armenian leadership. For 28 years, the loathsome enemy did not build anything else there. The roads are in terrible shape, buildings are run down, and there are garbage and dirty kiosks all over the place. They tore everything to shreds and only exploited the city. And yet, they claimed Shusha was an Armenian city and tried to change its name. Therefore, the implementation of infrastructure projects is, of course, a priority issue. In parallel, urban planning work should be carried out appropriately. Prior to this appointment, you worked in the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture. You have the experience, and I am sure you will lead this work.

A special program is being developed to restore our historical and religious sites. Relevant instructions have been given. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation is actively involved in this work, and so are the Ministry of Culture and other relevant agencies. The housing stock has been inspected. Most of it is useless. During the occupation, a maximum of 2,000-3,000 people lived in Shusha. No matter how hard they tried, the Armenians could not populate Shusha. Simultaneously, by bringing Armenians there from abroad, they committed a war crime. All these actions were propaganda. Most of those who lived there were military personnel and their aides. The inspection of the housing stock must be carried out in more detail – the initial assessment has been completed – after that, restoration work will commence.

We must, and we will transform Shusha into one of the world’s most splendid cities. I gave my word, and I intend to keep it. I said before that we would never allow for creating a second Armenian state on Azerbaijani soil, and we did not. I said that the flag of Azerbaijan would fly in Shusha, and it happened. I said that our victory would be incomplete without Shusha. At that time, during the war, I could not reveal more because of the warfare’s secrecy. From the first days of the war, we knew our goal and successfully advanced towards Shusha. If experts pay attention to the war, they will see what our strategic goal was. Having overcome the fortifications Armenia had created, we entered our occupied lands from the south, liberated them and launched a counteroffensive in various directions.

As a result, parts of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Hadrut, and Khojavand districts, the Murovdag mountain range, a part of Kalbajar district, the southern part of Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin districts and the city of Shusha were liberated. Our goal was Karabakh’s crown jewel – Shusha, and on November 8, Azerbaijan’s flag was raised in Shusha. After that, the enemy fell to its knees, surrendered and threw in the towel. We returned the Kalbajar, Lachin and Aghdam districts without a single shot. Shusha was our goal, and Shusha became our victory. The day of the liberation of Shusha was declared Victory Day.

This war once again demonstrated the Azerbaijani people’s unbending spirit and showed that I delivered on everything promised. It was no coincidence that I said I knew what to do, how to do it and when. I gave the Azerbaijani people a hint, albeit a small one, that everything would be fine. We would achieve what we want – everything in due time. During the war, I spoke about Shusha only once, and that was in answer to a reporter’s question as to when Shusha would be liberated. Of course, we could not talk about it. I said that our victory would be incomplete without Shusha, but I had no doubts that we would free our dear and native Shusha from Armenian occupation and raise the flag of Azerbaijan there. At that time, I said that Azerbaijan’s flag would be raised in Shusha. And today, I say that all of us, our people, will revive Shusha!

I want to say again that you have a huge responsibility. I am sure that you will realize this responsibility and play an active role in the revival of Shusha. You probably also know and do not doubt that the restoration of Shusha will always be in my spotlight, and Shusha will restore its historical appearance soon. I wish you success.

Special Representative of the President in Shusha district Aydin Karimov said:

– Dear Mr. President, I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for the confidence placed in me. After the liberation of Shusha from the occupation, thanks to the heroism of our victorious army under your command, in your historic speech, you proclaimed the slogan “Shusha, we will reinvigorate you!” Participation in creative work under this slogan is a great honor and, at the same time, a great responsibility for me. I want to assure you that I will do my best for the timely execution of the tasks and your instructions on the systematic reconstruction of Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, the restoration of its rich historical and cultural heritage, and for the life of citizens in a comfortable and accessible modern city environment. Thank you again, Mr. President.