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Azerbaijan Channels More Funds to Restore Liberated Lands

By Nargiz Mammadli June 1, 2023

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The Zangilan International Airport / Trend News Agency

Azerbaijan has increased the financial allocations from the state budget to expedite the reconstruction process in the territories liberated from Armenian occupation in 2020.

According to the updates to the 2023 state budget, the state funds destined for the ongoing and new reconstruction projects in the liberated Karabakh and East Zangazur regions will be increased by 2.26 billion Azerbaijani Manat (AZN), or $1.3 billion.

The increase will put the overall appropriate budget allocations in 2023 at AZN 5.26 billion, or $3.1 billion, according to the country’s finance ministry.

In 2022, AZN 4.315 billion, or $2.5 billion, was invested in the revival of the liberated lands. In 2021, the total financial allocations for this purpose stood at AZN 2.178 billion ($1.28 billion).

The Azerbaijani government launched major infrastructure projects in Karabakh and East Zangazur shortly after the regions were liberated from Armenian occupation during a 44-day war in 2020.

Over the decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan had been locked in an armed conflict over the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan. The war ended in a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 3,890 went missing, and one million were expelled from these lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Armenia.

On September 27, 2020, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict took a violent turn when Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the 44 days of the war, the Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from a nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with the signing of a tripartite statement by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

Since 2020, dozens of projects have been completed, while many others are in the pipeline.

The State Agency of Azerbaijan Automobile Roads (AAYDA) has rolled out at least 13 projects for laying a total of 725 kilometers of new roads and highways, as well as restoring the existing routes in the liberated lands.

In November 2021, President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the “Victory Road” stretching from Fuzuli District to the city of Shusha – a 101-kilometre route. In the same year, President Aliyev launched the renovated 28.5-kilometre highway leading to the strategic Sugovushan settlement and Talysh village in the district of Tartar.

Two new airports came online in the liberated Azerbaijani lands in 2021 and 2022. The Fuzuli International Airport, dubbed the “air gate to Karabakh”, was the first to come online in October 2021.

Built by Azerbaijani and Turkish companies in eight months, the airport has received numerous domestic and international flights, including the aircraft carrying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for attending the airfield's inauguration in 2021.

The airport is recognized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In October 2022, the second airport in the liberated lands – Zangilan International Airport – was put into operation as the first of its kind in the East Zangazur region of the country.

The civil aviation infrastructure in the liberated lands will expand further with the third airport set to start operations in Lachin district in 2024.

The Azerbaijani authorities kick-started the “Great Return” program for relocating the former IDPs to their homes in the liberated territories. Hundreds of people were resettled in Agali village of Zangilan district, in Talysh village of Tartar district, and in the city of Lachin, during 2022 and 2023.