President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan presided over a military parade in occupied Stepanakert on Wednesday, the first time in over 30 years that such an event has taken place in the capital of Artsakh.
With Artsakh’s iconic Parliament Building in its background, Azerbaijani armed forces units marched along the street during the military parade and onto Revival Square, so named after Armenia’s victory over Azerbaijan in the 1990s.
The parade was organized to mark Azerbaijan’s “victory” over Armenians during the 2020 44-Day War.
Aliyev, dressed in military gear, waived at the servicemen, sometime raising his fist in victory.
The Azerbaijani leader used the occasion to chide Armenia, once again, using the term “enemy” to refer to Armenians, with whom he claims he wants to establish peace.
“There is no separatism in Azerbaijan any more,” declared Aliyev.
“Today Azerbaijan controls its entire territory and that was made possible by the heroes standing in this square, the tens of thousands of Azerbaijani soldiers,” added Aliyev.
He said that Armenia did not heed his warnings, and thus forced Azerbaijan to attack Artsakh in September, which resulted in the forcible displacement of Artsakh Armenians and Azerbaijan’s essential takeover of Artsakh.
After the 2020 war, the operations carried out by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, especially the Paroukh operation, were succinct messages to Armenia, Aliyev said referring to the March, 2022 capture of the heights in Askeran overlooking Stepanakert.
“If they [Armenia] listened to me, the ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in September would not have been necessary,” Aliyev said.
The Azerbaijani leader also discussed the decades-long mediation efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs — France, the U.S. and Russia.
“The mediators were essentially attempting to freeze the situation. They were under the impression that the people of Azerbaijan would come to terms with that reality. But, I would declare from different platforms that if the mediation efforts did not yield results, we would liberate our ancestral lands through the use of force and based on international laws,” Aliyev declared.
This was Aliyev’s second visit to Stepanakert since Armenians were driven out of Artsakh. He officially visited the capital city last month and toured the building that once served as the headquarters of the Artsakh government, and was captured on video stepping on the Artsakh flag.
Aliyev did not miss the opportunity then to again threaten military action against Armenia, while insisting on the immediate signing of a peace treaty.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey sent a congratulatory note to Aliyev.
“We will continue to be by your side,” Erdogan said. “We will achieve stable peace and prosperity in the South Caucasus. Together we will plan and take all steps toward stability, as we have done until today.”