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A Look Back at Remarkable Events of 2021 in Azerbaijan

By Mushvig Mehdiyev January 15, 2022


President Ilham Aliyev (R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan sign the Shusha Declaration in the city of Shusha, Azerbaijan, June 15, 2021 / President.Az

Azerbaijan marked 2021 with several remarkable events across politics, economy, culture and sports. Most importantly, last year ushered in the beginning of revival process in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region after decades of illegal Armenian occupation and destruction. Here is a look at some of the most important events of the last year.

January 4: Azerbaijani chess grandmaster Teimour Radjabov won the prestigious Airthings Masters tournament of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour featuring the elite chess players of the world.

January 11: Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held the first post-war meeting upon the initiative of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The summit ended in the signing of a trilateral statement for the unblocking of all economic and transportation links in the region.

January 30: the Joint Turkish-Russian Monitoring Center was launched in the Aghdam district in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region. The center’s main task is monitoring the adherence to the ceasefire in the region.

May 12-13: Shusha city of Azerbaijan hosted the grandiose Kharybulbul Music Festival, a cultural extravaganza that marked the return of Azerbaijan’s multicultural traditions to the city after its nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation.

May 29: the “November 8” metro station came online in the capital Baku honoring Azerbaijan’s victory in the 44-day war with Armenia in the Karabakh region in 2020.

June 15: presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey signed the strategic Shusha Declaration in the city of Shusha. The document addresses coordinated and joint Turkish-Azerbaijani activities in the event of a threat or aggression by a third state or states against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of the internationally recognized borders, or security of each country.

July 23 – August 8: Forty-four Azerbaijani athletes attended the 2020 Summer Olympics in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo. Male and female contestants from the country won a total of 7 medals, including 3 silver and 4 bronze prizes.

August 24 – September 5: Paralympic athletes from Azerbaijan took the stage in the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo. Fifteen out of 36 sportsmen and sportswomen claimed 14 gold, 1 silver, and 4 bronze medals showing the most prolific result in the Paralympic sports history of Azerbaijan and ranking 10 in the overall medal standings.

August 30: the “Vagif Poetry Days”, a cultural event honoring the great Azerbaijani poet and public figure Molla Panah Vagif, started in Shusha. President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the Vagif Mausoleum after a major overhaul on the first day of the festival. The mausoleum was destroyed and looted by Armenians during the occupation of Shusha for 28 years since 1992.

October 26: the Fuzuli International Airport, the first top-notch air harbor in the liberated Azerbaijani lands, was launched at a ceremony attended by President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish and Azerbaijani companies completed the construction of the airport in eight months. The airport was recognized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

November 7: President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the all-new “Victory Road” highway leading from the Fuzuli district to the city of Shusha in the Karabakh region on a 101-kilometer route.

November 8: the first anniversary of the liberation of the Azerbaijan lands from almost thirty-year-long illegal Armenian occupation, known as “Victory Day”, was solemnly celebrated. The Azerbaijani forces liberated the strategic Shusha city in the Karabakh region on this day in 2020, which was seen as the pinnacle of the Azerbaijani army’s 44-day counter-offensive operations, codenamed “Iron Fist”, against the Armenian occupants. Azerbaijan liberated more than 300 settlements, including five major cities that had been under Armenian occupation since the early 1990s. The war ended after a tripartite statement was signed on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Armenia returned three more districts to Azerbaijan’s control as part of its obligations under the agreement.

November 26: President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in the Sochi city of Russia upon the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The joint statement signed during the meeting confirmed the aspirations of Azerbaijan and Armenia for unblocking regional transport communications and creating mechanisms for border delimitation and demarcation.

December 10: the Qarabağ FK football club of Azerbaijan has made it through to the UEFA Conference League play-offs. This was the best ever result clinched by an Azerbaijani team in a competition organized by UEFA. The play-off rival of Qarabağ FK is Marseille from France.

December 14: President Aliyev and PM Pashinyan were hosted by President of the European Council, Charles Michel in Brussels on the sidelines of the Eastern Partnership Summit. Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on building transport communications through Armenia’s territory that would restore direct connection between Azerbaijan's mainland and its exclave of Nakhchivan.

December 15: the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders came together in an informal meeting upon the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels. Some analysts explained the meeting with Macron’s desire to strengthen the relationships with both Baku and Yerevan following the war in 2020, which has radically changed the geopolitical realities in the region.