After 44 days, the Republic of Azerbaijan has won the war against Armenia, which began cross-border heavy shelling and bombardments on civil populations and installations.
It is almost 30 years since the negotiations to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict failed. In late September 2020, however, with the successful military operations of the Azerbaijan Armed Forces, Azerbaijan was able to implement the UN Security Council Resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884) through liberating territories under occupation. Azerbaijan’s military advantage induced the Armenian government to come to the negotiation table. On Nov. 10, 2020, a major step was taken toward resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the signing of a trilateral statement by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia.
The agreement comprised the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories within a definite schedule, the return of all refugees, and the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in several parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. The cardinal element of the statement was that there was no word about the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
After the active phase of the operations, when footage was released from the liberated territories, it became apparent that Armenians had vandalized cities during the occupation. Armenian damage in the residential areas was accompanied by the destruction of Azykh and Taghlar caves, “Qara kopek” and “Uzarlik” hill kurgans, the first human settlements in the territories. According to the latest data, 63 out of 67 mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh were destroyed, and four of them had major damage. The city of Aghdam became a ghost town, which was home to 150,000 Azerbaijanis before war. During these years the overall loss to the Azerbaijani economy is estimated at hundreds of billions of US dollars.
After the trilateral statement signed on Nov. 10 and ahead of the handover, some Armenians leaving Kalbajar set their houses on fire. Schools, cultural centers and other civilian objects were also burned; consequently, the public infrastructure is significantly damaged. Similar incidents have been observed in many parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. Recently, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev stated that foreign experts will be invited for up-to-date calculations of the damage resulting from the occupation.
Units of the Azerbaijani Army entered Lachin district on Dec 1. The Lachin district had been under the occupation of Armenian Armed Forces since May 18, 1992.
The speed of the new projects is enabling the rapid development of other infrastructure. The suitability of the region to a plethora of economic activities will orient the capital flow.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 cease-fire agreement was followed by peace negotiations then further conflict. Not a single civilian Armenian was killed during the six-week war. Not a single school, house, hospital or educational center was put under fire from Azerbaijan.
At the same time, villagers from outside of Nagorno-Karabakh — in the Kalbajar, Lachin and Aghdam districts — set fire to their homes and forests, killed their cattle, and cut down trees and power lines before fleeing to Armenia ahead of a deadline that would see territories handed over to Azerbaijan as part of a peace agreement. Residents of those districts in Azerbaijan, which have been controlled by Armenian separatists for decades, began a mass exodus after it was announced that Azerbaijan would regain control.
By the destruction of the settlements, Armenians aimed to prevent Azerbaijanis from a possible return. After the Armenian side’s capitulation, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan would mobilize its economic potential to rebuild and revive Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The situation in the lands liberated from the occupation foreshadows great difficulties. There are currently no living conditions in these places. But we will restore these regions, all our districts, we will take all steps to create a normal life for our citizens,” Aliyev said as he addressed the nation.
“The construction of the Fuzuli-Shusha highway and the Barda-Aghdam railway has already begun. This shows that we plan this work as efficiently as possible and, at the same time, in a short time, so that to organize all these activities without wasting time. Relevant state bodies have already been set up and all this work will be carried out in a coordinated manner.”
“The restoration of destroyed and ruined infrastructure, including the felled trees in Lachin, will also be in the spotlight, water reservoirs will be built. This in itself is one of the factors that will have a great impact on the development of agriculture and building an environmental equilibrium,” he said.
“The overall economic, agricultural and tourism potential of all the liberated districts is great. We must maximize this potential and turn the Karabakh region into one of the most beautiful regions not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the world, and I am sure that we will achieve this.”
Azerbaijan Railways CJSC will be allocated $2.9 million from the state reserve fund for the design and construction of the Barda-Aghdam railway with a length of 45 km. Another major step was taken with the start of construction of the new Fuzuli-Shusha highway. This highway will pass through the Fuzuli, Khojavand and Khojaly districts, starting from the village of Ahmadbayli in the Fuzuli district. It will cover more than 20 settlements in the regions, including Fuzuli and Shusha.
The speed of the new projects is enabling the rapid development of other infrastructure. The suitability of the region to a plethora of economic activities will orient the capital flow. Aliyev said: “Karabakh will be reborn. It will be revived and reinvigorated. It will become a real paradise.”
- Shahin Abdullayev is the Azerbaijan ambassador to Saudi Arabia.