The issue of Western Azerbaijan in the speeches of National Leader Heydar Aliyev

In 1918, the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan was 114 thousand km2. Now our territory is 86 thousand km2. See how much land has gone out of our control. Throughout the centuries, the concept of Motherland has reflected the dignity, identity, and honor of our people. The people fought with their life to protect the sanctity of their land. Our great-grandfathers protected every inch of the Motherland as a symbol of honor and did not even hesitate to sacrifice their lives and children in its path. Unfortunately, we forgot these traditions. This can no longer be tolerated. Therefore, I suggest that we should reclaim our rights not to Nagorno-Karabakh, but to all the lands given to Armenia from the territory of Azerbaijan since 1920. It should be determined by what decisions and by whom these lands were given. We should no longer stand against Armenia in a defensive position, but in an offensive position and, as the deputies said here, we should fight for the return of those lands. Now we have to fight and I am ready for this fight. If the deputies agree, our session should call Armenia an aggressor state. We must accept a special resolution about this and announce it to the whole world. They asked who gave those lands? I propose the clarification. At the same time, I can confirm that from July 14, 1969 (I understood, why they asked me that question), when I was in charge of Azerbaijan, until December 1982, not even an inch of land was given to Armenia. I consider myself very happy for being able to prevent the land claims of Armenians at that time.

Speech at the first session of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 05.02.1991

If we have to examine the historical facts, then I must remind that the current territory of Armenia was once the lands of Azerbaijan. At one time these territories belonged to Azerbaijan, but in 1918-1920 they were transferred to Armenia. In short, if we look back to history, we will see that Armenia has a lot to return to Azerbaijan. But I have to clarify that we do not lay eyes on the territory of Armenia and its existing borders, we do not have territorial claims. At the same time, we cannot agree on giving even one meter of our own territory.

Speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Great Britain, 23.02.1994

Mustafa Bey Topchubashov was one of the most prominent personalities of Azerbaijan in the 20th century. He was born in the city of Iravan, in the ancient land of Azerbaijan, graduated from Kyiv University, and then came to Baku and started working here.

Speech at the solemn evening dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of the outstanding scientist and surgeon Mustafa Bey Topchubashov, 14.10.1995

In 1988, after the Armenians forcibly removed our compatriots- the Azerbaijanis from Armenia, they were given a name by the locals: Yerazis. This name was given as a pejorative. Who gave this name? Despicable people like Vazirov, people in his inner circle, despicable people like Mutallibov and people in his inner circle. Regardless of where he was born, an Azerbaijani is an honorable person everywhere. Wether one was born in Kalbajar, Lachin, Zangezur, or Goycha district, or was born in Borchali, Baku, Mashtaga – it doesn’t matter, they are all one nation, Azerbaijanis. Those who divide our nation into classes and disintegrate the communities are the biggest traitors to the people of Azerbaijan and our nation. It is the greatest crime to have a negative attitude towards the people who were forcibly displaced from their homes, to people who were forced out of Armenia, or to give them a negative name, to treat them with such arrogance, and I call it indecency, lack of morals, and lack of education. I always thought so. As the President of Azerbaijan, I have stated this many times, and I am also declaring today that we Azerbaijanis, the people of Azerbaijan, have not set our eyes on other nation’s land. Although in the past, some of the lands of Azerbaijan have been transferred to other countries as a result of various events, including some of the lands that are now within the borders of Armenia, have been the historical lands of Azerbaijan: Goycha district, Zangezur district, and others.

The speech at the meeting with the representatives of Kalbajar’s residents on the 3rd anniversary of the occupation of Kalbajar by the Armenian armed forces, 01.04.1996

Our people are still mourning for the loss of lands. Even now, when we say Goycha, Zangezur our people’s hearts break, people live with the dream of those lands. But at the same time, we will never give to anyone an inch of our territory within the borders recognized by international organizations when the Republic of Azerbaijan gained state independence.

The speech at the ceremonial meeting on the occasion of the National holiday – Republic Day, 26.05.1996

As you know, in the past the territory of Azerbaijan was exceeding its current borders, the Goycha District, which is now in the hands of Armenia, or the Khanate of Iravan, Vedibasar, Zangibasar districts which are adjacent to Ighdir, were all part of Azerbaijan. Most of your great-grandfathers were from there. If you ask the people living in Ighdir where their roots are from, four or five out of ten people will say that they are either from Zangibasar, Vedibasar, Iravan, Borchali, Ganja, or Nakhchivan.

The speech after listening to Ighdir representatives and getting acquainted with their letter, 21.06.1996


Zangilan is a beautiful district of Azerbaijan, it is a part of the ancient Zangezur region and it is an ancient land of Azerbaijan.

The speech at the meeting with representatives of Zangilan district community, 29.12.1996

It is known that the people who created the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic agreed to give a part of the Azerbaijani lands, including Iravan to Armenia. The telegram of the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, Fatali Khan Khoyski from Tbilisi to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hasan Hajinsky is in our archives…

It is known that in December 1920, when the Soviet power was established in Armenia, on behalf of the Azerbaijani government Zangezur and Nakhchivan districts were declared to be transferred to Armenia… Unfortunately, on certain occasions some parts of Nakhchivan was transferred under the control of Armenians, but Nakhchivan had mostly preserved its territorial integrity. If the Azerbaijani lands separating Nakhchivan from Azerbaijan – Zangezur district – had not been transferred to Armenia, perhaps the autonomy of Nakhchivan would not have been necessary at all, Azerbaijan would be a country with a single territory. However, the transfer of Azerbaijani lands- Zangezur region, including its Mehri and Gafan districts- to Armenia in 1920, is a very serious case in the history of Azerbaijan.

The speech at the meeting of the Constitutional Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 14.01.1998

The area now called Armenia, actually Western Azerbaijan – Iravan district, Goycha district, Zangibasar district, Zangezur district – all these were the lands where Muslims and Azerbaijanis lived. Unfortunately, Muslims were expelled from these areas, and now there is not a single Muslim in those areas. This is the result of the policy of Armenian nationalism, Armenian extremism, Armenian chauvinism. If we are talking about Islamic civilization in the Caucasus, we must tell the truth.

The speech at international symposium on “Islamic civilization in the Caucasus”, 10.12.1998

In 1918–1919, the transfer of the Iravan khanate and the city of Iravan to Armenia is indicated in the letter of the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, Fatali Khan Khoyski. This process continued after the establishment of Soviet power. As a result, Zangezur district was also given to Armenia, although this was the ancient Azerbaijani land. This process resulted in separation of  Nakhchivan from the main territory of Azerbaijan.

… We need to create a very strong concept and basis to preserve the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan not only in the present time, but also for future generations. We need to create such a basis that no force will ever be able to occupy any part of Azerbaijan’s lands.

The speech at the meeting of the state commission on the 75th anniversary of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, 09.02.1999

The region of Armenia adjacent to Georgia, as well as Zangezur region were inhabited by Azerbaijanis. For example, Sisian, Gorus, Gafan districts – how they are called now in Armenia, were all part of Zangezur region. Most of the people living there were Azerbaijanis. But for some reason, autonomy was not given to Azerbaijanis at that time neither there nor elsewhere.

The conversation at the meeting with our compatriot living abroad, well-known singer Yagub Zurufcu, 28.07.1999

Nakhchivan was isolated from most of Azerbaijan from a territorial point of view. During the demarcation of the 1920s, Zangezur was given to Armenia, as a result of which Nakhchivan was separated from the mainland of Azerbaijan.

The speech at the meeting dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Nakhchivan Republic, 12.10.1999

Azerbaijanis had been living in Zangezur for a long time. At one time, the majority of the population of Zangezur were Azerbaijanis. However, when the Soviet Union was formed and the borders of the republics were drawn, Zangezur became a part of Armenia. Azerbaijanis gradually moved from there. There lived more Azerbaijanis in Mehri region up to 1988, 1989, and 1990 than Armenians.

The speech at the meeting at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, 15.02.2000

The deportation and genocide policy of Armenians directed against Azerbaijanis was skillfully disguised under the pretext of internationalism during the years of Soviet rule. With the help of Soviet Russia, Zangezur and a number of other Azerbaijani lands were declared Armenian territory. Armenians succeeded in mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from their historical lands in 1948–1953 at the state level – by the decision of the leadership of the USSR, which pursued a discriminatory policy against the Turkish-Muslim republics.

The appeal to the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of March 31 – Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis, 29.03.2000

Unfortunately, in 1920, the Soviet government divided the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in such a way that it gave the Zangezur district, connecting Nakhchivan with Azerbaijan, to Armenia. It is the land of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanis lived there, but it was given to Armenia. Therefore, Nakhchivan is separated from the mainland of Azerbaijan.

The opening speech while receiving the veterans of the Republic of Türkiye in the Presidential Palace, 15.08.2000

It is natural that all the territory of Azerbaijan are its historical lands. Even a large part of the current Armenia’s territory belongs to Azerbaijan. Zangezur is entirely Azerbaijani land. At one time, most of the people who lived there were Azerbaijanis. But after the establishment of the Soviet power, when the borders of the republics in the Soviet Union were demarcated in 1920, a part of Azerbaijan’s land was given to Armenia.

The conversation with the delegation led by Turkish State Minister Abdulhaluk Mehmet Çay, 23.08.2000

Azerbaijan’s rights were infringed in the past and Mehri district of Zangezur, which is the historical Azerbaijani land, was given to Armenia. From territorial point of view, this isolated Nakhchivan from Azerbaijan. During the Soviet times, we did not feel it so much. Because all countries were united. Now, especially after the start of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, this has made the situation even more tense.

The conversation with a group of residents of Nehram village, Babek district, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, 28.02.2001

However, it is known that in the 20th century, when the Soviet power was established, when the borders of this region were determined, a part of Azerbaijan’s land was given to Armenia. Including Zangezur and Mehri district, which now separates Nakhchivan from most of Azerbaijan. This is a historical injustice. We remember it today with a heavy heart.

The speech at the opening ceremony of the Nakhchivan Olympic Sports Complex, 15.06.2002

When these borders were determined in 1920, Azerbaijan had no one in Moscow?” Power was in the hands of Armenians. The lands of Azerbaijan – Zangezur, especially its Mehri part was cut off and given to Armenia so that Armenia would have a border with Iran. This is completely artificial.

The meeting with the founders of the Baku Press Club on the occasion of the National Press Day, 22.07.2002

Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Zangezur region, other parts of Azerbaijan – all these were one whole territory, they were the territory of Azerbaijan. However, in order to realize their insidious intentions, the forces hostile to the people of Azerbaijan were making negotiations about the territory of Nakhchivan, and were trying to separate it from Azerbaijan. Finally, in 1921, as a result of the Kars Treaty and then the Moscow Treaty – those treaties were signed by the Republic of Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia and Armenia – it was proved that Nakhchivan was the territory of Azerbaijan. Due to its isolation from the mainland of Azerbaijan, it was given the autonomy status.

The speech at the opening ceremony of the new building of the representative office of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in Baku, 11.10.2002