There were plenty of Azeri commentators and officials who criticized Armenian President Serge Sarkisian’s speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly last week, but I did not come across any Armenian commentators or government leaders who attacked Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s ugly speech on Sept. 20.
The Azeri President’s lengthy remarks were full of lies and distortions. Let’s try to set the record straight on some of them…
The first line of Aliyev’s speech starts with a usual exaggeration and untruth, stating that “Armenia occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory of Nagorno-Karabagh and seven other regions of the country.” The truth is that Armenia does not occupy any Azeri territory. Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) was never a part of independent Azerbaijan. It was an autonomous Armenian-inhabited region gifted to Azerbaijan by Soviet dictator Stalin in 1923. The Armenian population of Artsakh finally liberated themselves after decades of brutal Azeri occupation. Furthermore, the Azeri claim that Armenia occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijan is false, as the region liberated by Armenians is around 15 percent, not 20.
President Aliyev then proceeds to state: “Nagorno-Karabagh is an ancient and historical part of Azerbaijan.” This is a complete lie as Azerbaijan did not exist historically as a state. It was created in 1918 with the help of the Turkish army.
Aliyev’s next big lie is that there are one million Azeri “refugees and internally displaced persons” as a result of Armenian military action. First of all, it is not one million, but several hundred thousand, just like there were several hundred thousand Armenian refugees as a result of Azeri pogroms and ethnic cleansing. If there were a large number of Azeri refugees 25 years later still living in muddy camps, this is the fault only of the Azeri government, which earns billions of petrodollars annually and does not spend any of these funds to resettle these refugees in comfortable homes. Furthermore, as we have seen in recent European publications, Azeri leaders, particularly the Aliyev family and its cronies, have stolen billions of dollars from the state oil revenues to pay for their lavish life-styles or bribe officials around the world to cover up their persistent violations of human rights. Yet, the President of Azerbaijan is not ashamed to proclaim that his country has “absolute transparency, zero tolerance to corruption and bribery.”
Aliyev then repeats the biggest lie about the so-called “Khojaly genocide” of 600 Azerbaijanis by Armenian troops during the Artsakh war. There are various versions of what exactly took place in Khojaly during that conflict, including Azeri soldiers blocking the escape routes of their own population who were then trapped and became war casualties. But even if there were a shred of evidence that 600 Azeris died during that conflict, which would be unfortunate, Azerbaijan shamelessly denies the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey starting in 1915, and yet has no qualms of perpetuating the lie that the deaths of 600 Azeris were a genocide.
President Aliyev continues his series of lies, claiming that Armenia was the one that attacked Azerbaijan in April 2016. The whole world knows that Azerbaijan was the initiator of that attack. Exposing his own lie, he warns that Azerbaijan will attack again.
Aliyev then boasts that Azerbaijan in 2011 was elected as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with 155 countries voting in favor. What President Aliyev neglects to mention is that most of these votes were secured by lavish gifts to UN Ambassadors, as we had exposed in my weekly column in 2011.
The President of Azerbaijan shamelessly proclaims from the UN podium that the “development of democracy and human rights protection are among the top priorities of our government. All fundamental freedoms are fully provided in Azerbaijan, including freedom of expression, media freedom, freedom of Assembly, religious freedom.” Everyone knows that Azerbaijan is a dictatorship with corrupt leaders, and that its jails are full of human rights activists and independent journalists.
Aliyev then goes on to announce that “representatives of all ethnic groups and religions live in Azerbaijan in peace and harmony.” Besides Armenians, who were victims of ethnic cleansing and are potential victims of a new Azeri Genocide in Artsakh, there are many other minorities in the country who are routinely discriminated against and jailed. Calling Azerbaijan a democracy and “one of the world’s most recognized centers of multiculturalism,” is an outrageous statement!
The string of lies, distortions, and exaggerations is so long in President Aliyev’s UN speech that one needs to write an entire book to expose all of his falsehoods.