Rebuilt “Park of Friendship” and Memorial in memory of the victims of the Khojaly genocide opened in Sarajevo

Reconstructed “Park of Friendship” and memorial in the memory of victims of Khojaly genocide were opened in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, 24 February.

Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Leyla Aliyeva attended the ceremony.

First, Leyla Aliyeva met with member of Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic and his daughter Yasmina Izetbegovic.

Gratitude was expressed in the meeting for the opening of “Park of Friendship” in Sarajevo, stressing the event will contribute to the enhancement of relations between the two nations. In the meeting, which discussed the future cooperation, the importance of the humanitarian projects performed by Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was emphasized.

Then, “Park of Friendship” was opened. Officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina, public-political figures, cultural workers, representatives of public were present in the opening.

Located on the bank of Dobrinja River, this park has become one of the nicest rest sites in Sarajevo. Started in last November, the reconstruction works covered nearly one hectare. Modern and original architectural design has been used in the Park, verdures set up, different pavilions set for residents to have rest.

Baku and Sarajevo were declared twin towns in 1972, the first period of national leader Heydar Aliyev’s leadership in Azerbaijan.

The major reason of setting this beautiful park in Sarajevo is that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the center of Europe. Also, war in the Balkans ended in 1995 just in the territory of the Park.

Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, initiator of the Justice for Khojaly campaign Leyla Aliyeva attended the opening ceremony of the memorial complex in the memory of victims of the genocide committed in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly in February 1992 and war of 1992-1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Created by sculptor Natig Aliyev, the monument reflects the images of two sad mothers – elderly and young women. Accomplished in frame of the Justice for Khojaly campaign at the initiative of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, due to financial support of the Republic of Azerbaijan and with the support of Novi Grad Municipality of Sarajevo and Azerbaijani Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this project is an important event serving the propaganda of the truth about the real substance of the Khojaly genocide on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.

Member of Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic talked in the ceremony of relations of the two nations. He said both countries have streets named after the capital towns and this initiative of Mrs Leyla Aliyeva will strengthen the friendly ties. “This monument is the symbol of the hard days of Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina”, said Bakir Izetbegovic, highly valuing the works done by Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He expressed gratitude on behalf of his people to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Minister of Transport and Communication of Bosnia and Herzegovina Damir Hajic talked about the history of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, mentioned merits of great leader Heydar Aliyev in the development of Azerbaijan. He said they have quite comprehensive information about the Khojaly genocide and expressed gratitude to the state and nation of Azerbaijan for this project.

Addressing the ceremony, Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Leyla Aliyeva thanked the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the people of this country who share the grief of the people of Azerbaijan. She informed that 613 civilians were killed as a result of the Khojaly genocide committed by Armenians 20 years ago.

Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva said: “We feel the grief of the events in Khojaly even today. Unfortunately, this also produced a negative effect on other parts of the world. Azerbaijan is geographically located at the junction of Europe and Asia and the crime against humanity was committed at the very border of Europe in the end of the 20th century. 613 civilians were killed during this terrible crime.”

“Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Justice for Khojaly campaign have set the goal to bring the truth about Khojaly to the attention of the world community”, said Leyla Aliyeva. She noted that the campaign covers 50 countries and as a result of its effective activity, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC recognized the events in Khojaly as genocide. Additionally, the Khojaly massacre was recognized as genocide by the parliaments of Mexico and Pakistan.

She said different events are held in all parts of the world where the books, booklets and CDs are prepared on Khojaly within the framework of the campaign.

Mrs Leyla Aliyeva said: “What we do today will never recover the wounds of the Khojaly genocide. What we do today is to remember the terrible date and commemorate the children, women and men who were killed during this terrible crime.”

Then, victims of Srebrenitsa and Khojaly genocide were honored to the minute of silence.

Sarajevo Mayor Aliya Behmen said the cooperative relations between the two countries successfully develop in the economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres. The Mayor highly assessed the initiative of Heydar Aliyev Foundation to build the park and erect the monument.

A.Behmen presented the message of gratitude to Mrs Leyla Aliyeva for the support to the development of relations between Baku and Sarajevo, also for the realization of the project on the construction of the park.

Chairperson of the Bosnia and Herzegovina-Azerbaijan Friendship Association Jenita Ozguner mentioned significant projects have been implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina by Azerbaijan for very short time. “This memorial reflects the history of both countries”, said J.Ozguner, noting Armenians try to falsify history and confuse the world community.   

Chief Mufti of the Islam Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mustafa Tseric presented the award of fight against injustice and the message of gratitude for the help to orphans to Mrs Leyla Aliyeva.

One of the most important elements in the “Park of Friendship” is the construction of the bridge of the same title here. Built at the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and due to financial support of the state of Azerbaijan, the bridge is a huge gift for youth studying at the Dobrinja Educational Complex situated in front of the Park. Via the bridge they can come to the Park to have rest and learn more about the Khojaly genocide. National ornaments of Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been used in the design of the bridge.

The event continued at the Dobrinja Educational Complex.

Mrs Leyla Aliyeva saw the board set here in the memory of the youngest victim of the events of 1992-1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the meeting arranged here Director of the Humanitarian Gymnasium of the Complex Sabina Miskin informed about the educational center and thanked Leyla Aliyeva for visiting the Complex.

Director of the Sports Gymnasium Seyad Shenderovic called the Khojaly genocide a crime against the mankind.

Novi Grad District Mayor Aner Shuman mentioned the firm friendly ties between the two countries.

Delivering a speech at the Complex, Heydar Aliyev Foundation VP Leyla Aliyeva expressed delight that after the tragic stories of the 1990s Sarajevo revived and again became the gem of the Balkans.

Talking about actions and projects of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mrs Leyla Aliyeva said 400 schools have been built in Azerbaijan by the Foundation, significant projects implemented in the fields of culture and health, Thalassemia Centre built, IDEA – International Dialogue for Environmental Action Initiative, which covers the whole world, started. L.Aliyeva stressed one of the key goals of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is to provide much more information to the world on the Khojaly genocide. 

Mrs Leyla Aliyeva said: “Attack of Armenian military units on the town of Khojaly in Daghlig Garabagh region of Azerbaijan on February 26, 1992 left 613 civilians dead. Of them, 106 were women, 63 children and 70 elderly. This massacre will always remain as a trace in the heart of the Azerbaijani people and we will never forget the victims of this horrible genocide.”

Then, Mrs Leyla Aliyeva replied to questions from the youth and representatives of the public.

Giving detailed information on the Khojaly genocide, Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva underlined projects on this tragedy are accomplished by the Foundation, the Justice for Khojaly campaign covers a number of countries, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC has recognized the Khojaly genocide. Speaking of the problems Azerbaijan has faced because of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Daghlig Garabagh conflict, Mrs Leyla Aliyeva informed of her country, its political and economic successes, plans of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, “Baku” magazine, preparation for Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Baku this year.

Pupils of the Educational Complex presented a literary composition.

Participants of the meeting requested Mrs Leyla Aliyeva to express gratitude to President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva on behalf of the mothers who lost their relatives in the Srebrenitsa tragedy for erecting the monument in the park.

As part of these events widely covered by local and foreign mass media, exhibition of photographs dedicated to the Khojaly genocide was arranged at the Dobrinja Educational Complex.

Photograph was taken in the end.