Address of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev to the Azerbaijani people on the anniversary of the Khojali massacre - Baku, February 25, 2003

Dear compatriots!

Today I am addressing to you on the occasion of the Khojali massacre, one of the most brutal terror acts in the history of mankind.

The Khojali tragedy is a bloody page of the Armenian policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Azerbaijani people which has been going on over two hundred years. This policy and hostility has never ended, but continued in different forms.

The territorial claims of the Armenian nationalists 15 years ago resulted in mass deportation of the Azerbaijanis from their homeland, in a number of terror acts and a large-scale war. As a result of this war, thousands of people perished or were wounded, thousands of people became refugees and IDPs. Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts around it were occupied by the Armenian armed forces. Hovewer, the brutal destruction of Khojali on February 26, 1992, was the most tragic of all those events. Together with 366 regiment of the Soviet army, the Armenian armed forces murdered hundreds of people, including women, children, the old with unparalelled ferocity. Because of the brutality and ferocity the crimes committed in Khojali is one of the biggest tragedies in the history.

Committing the Khojali massacre, the Armenian chauvinists wanted to terrify our people. However, the enemies could not achieve their goals. The defenders of Khojali demonstrated bravery and patriotism against the enemies equipped with modern weapons.

When talking about the Khojali genocide, the political and moral responsibility of the then authorities of Azerbaijan must be noted. Despite their responsibility to ensure the security of citizens, they did not do anything to defend the city. Having remained besieged for a long time, the defenders of the city did not receive any help. Instead of informing the world community about the genocide, the authorities remained indifferent to the situation. No action for unveiling the facts about the massacre and its organizers was taken even later. The Khojali genocide was just used for mutual accusations by the then government and opposition.

Since 1994 the govenment and the parliament of Azerbaijan have been pursuing the policy to informing the world community about the Khojali massacre and other crimes committed by the Armenians against the Azerbaijanis. It is our debt before the martyrs of Khojali; at the same time, it is necessary to punish the organizers of that massacre.

The Azerbaijani government is pursuing the policy for the fair solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem and the liberation of our occupied lands. The international law supports our fair claims. Our state economically, politically and morally is very strong today. Azerbaijan is an important factor in the world politics. Stregthening our independence, restoring the territorial integrity will be the best repay for all our heroes, including the martyrs of Khojali.

May all martyrs of Khojali rest in peace!

Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Translated from newspaper \"Azerbaycan\", February 26, 2003