President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said on Wednesday that by illegally opening a checkpoint at the blockaded Lachin Corridor his government has “fully restored” Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
Speaking from occupied Sushi and delivering a message marking the centennial of the birth of his father, the great dictator Haydar Aliyev, Ilham Aliyev boasted that his government’s violation of international norms and practices, including the very document that carries his signature—the November 9, 2020 agreement—has yielded the fulfillment of his father’s will.
“Just like we fulfilled the will of the Great Leader, liberated our native lands, and restored our territorial integrity. We established a border checkpoint on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border on April 23, raised the Azerbaijani flag there, and fully restored our territorial integrity. Our civilian mission will continue as well, and we will honorably fulfill the mission of restoring this beautiful land,” Aliyev said in video message.
“Today, Karabakh is reviving, Zangezur is reviving, and we are building and creating in our native lands. We will successfully carry out the mission of restoring Karabakh and Zangezur,” said Aliyev, adding that already several villages and towns are under development in the disputed areas that he refers to as “Zangezur.”
Calling Azerbaijan’s army “one the strongest in the world,” Aliyev announced in his nationally televised address that the defense budget of his country will increase.
“In the matter of army building, we have always worked in a systemic way and we continue this work. After the second Karabakh war, we did not stop, on the contrary, we are moving forward. Additions will be introduced in this year’s state budget; a considerable part of additional spending will again be earmarked for defense purposes. Why? Because we must always be ready. The threats are increasing, the danger is increasing, and we must be able to overcome any threat,” Aliyev said.
“The Azerbaijani army is among the strongest armies in the world both in terms of weapons and combat readiness. Our army fought, showed its strength not in a [military] parade, but on the battlefield. This is our army. Army building is being ensured at a proper level today as well, it will be ensured from now on as well,” Aliyev emphasized.
More than $3.1 billion, or 16 percent of Azerbaijan’s state budget, is allocated for defense and national security spending.