The head of state toured Tugh village and talked to members of the general public.
President Ilham Aliyev: Welcome to Tugh village!
Residents: Thank you very much!
President Ilham Aliyev: Look what they have done to it.
Resident: Yes, this building was constructed in 1961.
President Ilham Aliyev: Was this a culture center?
Resident: Yes, it was owned by Agha bey Malikaslanov.
Another resident: A beautiful asphalt road has been built. This work is truly admirable. It looks as if we have come to another village in such a short time.
President Ilham Aliyev: This is still temporary. Major work will be begin now. But you see the houses. All the houses are in a dilapidated condition.
Resident: Our house was set on fire. It is over there. The houses of all the Azerbaijanis were set on fire.
President Ilham Aliyev: Did this use to be a school?
Resident: Yes, it was a school, next to the kindergarten.
Another resident: Mr. President, I went to this school. This is also my grandfather’s house. This yard is my grandfather’s. I went to school from here. This is also the house of Sadig bey. This is the house of Mahmud bey Malikaslanov.
President Ilham Aliyev: Which one? This one?
Resident: Yes, this house. The Armenians did not knock it down. They lived in it.
Another resident: Mr. President, this school was built in 1885.
President Ilham Aliyev: I know. It is an old school.
Resident: By your order, we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the school in 2010. The school was destroyed by the Armenians during the occupation. You mentioned earlier that the springs have dried up here. Look, this spring has dried up.
President Ilham Aliyev: Everything is been dried up.
Residents: Yes, there was a spring here which has been dried up.
President Ilham Aliyev: Was there a spring here too?
Residents: The spring above has been dried up. What kind of a life did they live? Let them look at this now – not only Armenians, but also those defending them should be ashamed.
President Ilham Aliyev: This is exactly what I am saying. This place has a special climate. You come here and there is no sound. When I first came, we were looking around – the birds singing, flowers, silence. This place is like paradise.
Resident: Mr. President, you are paying special attention to monuments. In one part of Khojavand, there is the grave of Shepherd Garaja, who is mentioned in the “Dada Gorgud” saga. There is Mount Garachugh. In the saga, when talking about Salur Gazan, a Garachugh lion is mentioned. This grave is in this area, in Nargiztapa. We preserved it. We did not give it to them back then.
President Ilham Aliyev: It is with us.
Resident: It was preserved by the great leader on 10 April 1994. It was a very special day.
President Ilham Aliyev: I know. We were here.
Female resident: Mr. President, this place must be preserved as an ancient heritage site.
President Ilham Aliyev: In general, the concept of restoration of Tugh is being developed separately. It will be submitted later.
They have destroyed all this. These must have been the houses of the Azerbaijanis.
Residents: They were the houses of Azerbaijanis. All the destroyed houses belong to Azerbaijanis. Mr. President, this house below was my teacher’s house. He was a teacher who fought in the Soviet-German war, joined the guerrillas and even received a letter from the President of France thanking him.
President Ilham Aliyev: Is the school below? Was it built afterwards?
Resident: After the great leader came to power in 1969, the most modern schools and culture centers were built in all Azerbaijani settlements of former Nagorno-Karabakh. Before that, the schools were in a very bad condition.
Another resident: Excuse me, Mr. President. I am a poet and you have given me the title of an Honored Journalist of Azerbaijan. The last verse of a poem I have recently written goes like this:
Our eyes are filled with happiness now,
Victory has made these moments possible.
Our applause is for you.
Azerbaijanis are praying for you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. Let’s have a picture taken.
Resident: Mr. President, the upper house over there is newly built.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes.
Resident: Everything adjacent to it is marked with crosses. It does not match the old stones. Can you see that?
President Ilham Aliyev: The same is true about the church in Hunarli village, former Chakuri village. They “decorated” the entrance with new stones, and all are fake.
Residents: They have been doing this throughout history. But it is not too difficult to prove this. There are pictures.
President Ilham Aliyev: We will bring scientists and international experts here.
Resident: Thank you. Lahij has been beautifully restored. It has been restored like a museum.
President Ilham Aliyev: Basgal village is also an ancient village. I gave instructions and a special order was signed. It will be preserved as a historical and cultural site. Tugh is also a place of that level, i.e. it is ancient and important in terms of history.
Residents: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Resident: You can see a tree in that cemetery, and one of the first authors of “Garabaghnama”, Mirmehdi Khazani, is buried under that tree.
President Ilham Aliyev: Is there a cemetery there?
Resident: Yes. It is an Azerbaijani cemetery. Mr. President, we were there about two months ago. There is nothing left of our ancestral graves. They have removed all the stones and we could hardly find anything. Thank Allah, the grave of Mirmehdi Khazani is still there.
Another resident: Mr. President, there are some valuable springs in this region of the Caucasus.
President Ilham Aliyev: Some production facilities will probably be established here later – clean water production. All these historic buildings will be preserved. A road is being built. There is also an airport.
Resident: Beautiful roads are being built.
President Ilham Aliyev: Tourist attractions and sanatoria will be established here. It will be a place like paradise. They will see that when the land is in the hands of the owner, it will be turned into a paradise.
Resident: Many people will come here. This is no ordinary village. There are many prominent people who were born here. Before the occupation, the population of Tugh was 4,800. Let me tell you that many of them went abroad. The people here were very educated.
President Ilham Aliyev: They were educated people. It was a cultural center. It was no ordinary village. I am aware of its history.
Resident: The mulberry here is called the Shakh Mulberry. This mulberry has a very rare therapeutic effect.
President Ilham Aliyev: In general, this region has a special natural beauty and purity. For example, you have probably seen that I was given two honeycombs in Kalbajar. It has a natural floral scent. There is a rare natural blessing to it, so to speak. The same is true about the water and air.
Resident: We are proud that our President has such encyclopedic knowledge. We are proud that you speak to foreign journalists in their own language better than themselves. When the late Heydar Aliyev spoke, may Allah rest his soul in peace, my mother would watch him all day. She would say that he was very educated and handsome. Your speeches, your posture and your heroic countenance give hope to the nation and keep it alive.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, goodbye, and we will see each other more often here. There will be many events, many opening ceremonies. So we will see each other.
Residents: Inshallah, thank you and always be there for us. May Allah grant you good health! Thank you very much!