By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - Armenia will be held accountable in international courts for the crimes it committed on Azerbaijani lands, President Ilham Aliyev said on his visit to the liberated territories this week.
Dressed in military uniforms, Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva -- who is also the country’s vice president -- on Monday visited the Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts to monitor the area freed after three decades of Armenian occupation.
Aliyev noted that all buildings have been destroyed and looted in the area, adding that the goal of Armenian forces was that Azerbaijanis should never live there again.
"We will live here! We will live forever! We will restore all these buildings, all of them. Notice what is left of them. Has any international organization raised this issue in 30 years? Has any monitoring been carried out here? The whole world will see now what they have done to the city of Jabrayil."
"They did not leave behind a single safe building," he said, adding that besides a military unit Armenians built for themselves, all other infrastructure, houses, buildings, schools, and public facilities have been destroyed.
"They will be held accountable for this. They will answer in international courts," he said.
Aliyev underlined that international organizations and experts will come to visit the area, and all damage will be assessed.
"The damage caused to us over 30 years will be calculated. The enemy who is destroying Kalbajar these days, cutting down forests, setting buildings and schools on fire will be held to account," he said.
Noting that "they [Armenian forces] have no conscience, no shame, no morality whatsoever," the president stressed that Azerbaijan will draw a "master plan" for restoration work.
"Relevant instructions have been given. A master plan will be developed for each city. All office buildings, public buildings, schools, and medical centers will be established here. All infrastructure will be put in place. Streets, parks, and alleys will be built. Victory monuments will be erected in all cities and life will return here."
He went on to say that the people of Azerbaijan will "live, build, and create" in those lands again, noting that today's history "will never be erased".
"These destroyed houses are witnesses to Armenian savagery. Azerbaijani people used to live in these houses. The hated enemy came here and drove them out of their lands, destroyed their buildings, appropriated, and plundered their property. The enemy is a thief, an immoral, and dishonest enemy," he said.
- New Fuzuli-Shusha highway
During his visit, Aliyev attended the groundbreaking ceremony of a road project from the Fuzuli district to the Shusha city, both recently liberated from the occupation of Armenian forces.
The construction of the road, which began with the settlement of Alkhanli, has already started upon the instruction of the president.
Calling it a "historic" and "a very significant day" in the life of Azerbaijan, Aliyev said: "The foundation of the Fuzuli-Shusha highway is being laid today."
He also congratulated all people of Azerbaijan on this occasion, noting that the road is very important because it leads Azerbaijan to Shusha, "the crown of Karabakh".
That became the first project to be implemented in the liberated lands, Aliyev recalled.
"This road will be very comfortable and broad. This road will allow us the opportunity to get to Shusha and back quite comfortably," he said.
- Azerbaijani flag in city of Fuzuli
The first couple then moved to the city of Fuzuli, where Aliyev hoisted the tri-color Azerbaijani flag.
"The Azerbaijani flag has been raised in Fuzuli. We have returned to Fuzuli. But it hurts to see the destroyed villages and the city of Fuzuli along the road. Look what these savages have done to our city!" he said.
Aliyev compared the Armenian forces with a "savage tribe" which had passed through the lands and destroyed everything there.
"They wanted to destroy and plunder everything, to erase our cultural, historical, and religious heritage, but they could not achieve what they wanted. Because we had to come back, we had to return. We have come back, we have returned," he added.
The Azerbaijani leader also said the destroyed city of Fuzuli is "a living witness to Armenian fascism".
"The whole world must see this and not remain silent, as it has been silent and indifferent for 30 years. That indifference actually reinforced Armenian occupation."
Recalling that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces liberated over 300 villages and settlements, Aliyev said: "The enemy's back was broken, the enemy knelt down and was forced to surrender on Nov. 10 by signing an act of capitulation precisely due to our strength. We forced the enemy to do so, we showed the enemy where it belongs, we showed the greatness of the Azerbaijani people."
- Clashes, peace deal
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
Before the second Karabakh War, about 20% of Azerbaijan's territory -- including Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring regions -- has been under Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 and the Armenian army continued its attacks on civilian and Azerbaijani forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements for 44 days.
On Nov. 10, the two countries signed a Russia-brokered agreement to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
Turkey welcomed the truce as a "great victory" for Azerbaijan.