Azerbaijan is observing Sept. 27 as a Day of Remembrance to mark the start of last year’s conflict that ended with Baku regaining swaths of territory occupied by Armenia for nearly three decades.
“The second Karabakh war is part of our glorious history. This victory will go down in history forever. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces restored our territorial integrity by crushing the enemy in just 44 days,” Ilham Aliyev said.
“We waged war in the interests of justice. We waged war for our dignity … (and) national pride. We waged a holy war.”
A minute of silence was observed in Azerbaijan at 12 p.m. (0800GMT) for the soldiers killed in battle.
“Today, we bow our heads again in memory of our heroic martyrs who died in the second Karabakh war and ask Allah to rest their souls in peace. They will forever remain in our hearts,” the president said.
Aliyev hailed Baku’s “complete victory” over Armenian forces, whom he accused of engaging in “cowardly attacks and bloody crimes” against civilians.
He said Azerbaijan refused to give in after the defeat in the first Karabakh conflict in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“We regained our strength, mobilized all our forces, strengthened our army, invigorated our economy … and honorably fulfilled our historic mission,” he said.
“We have expelled the enemy from our lands and restored justice and international law. We have restored our national dignity.”
He condemned Armenia for its “heinous acts” against Azerbaijani civilians.
“More than 100 civilians fell victim to Armenian fascism. Our towns and villages were under constant fire. Armenia used banned weapons, white phosphorus bombs and ballistic missiles. But nothing could stop us,” he said.
Aliyev lauded Azerbaijanis for their “tremendous determination, resolve and courage,” emphasizing that the nation stood firm “in the face of death” to support their armed forces.
“The death of innocent people, the destruction of our cities and villages did not break the resolve of the Azerbaijani people,” he asserted.