Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has laid the foundation stone of the “Araz Valley Economic Zone” Industrial Park, marking the start of the construction of the first industrial park in the country’s East Zangazur economic region.
The country’s authorities have granted 200 hectares (494 acres) of lands in the Soltanli village of the Jabrayil district for the park’s construction.
Once completed, the industrial park will comprise agricultural processing, industrial, social, and technical zones. A logistics and trade center, warehouse complexes, wholesale and retail facilities, a truck park, customs point, filling stations, car, and other equipment repair points will also operate in the park. The resident enterprises will have the necessary conditions to produce construction materials, pack agricultural products, as well as manufacture and process canned fruits and vegetables, and wine, meat, silk, and others.
The industrial park’s employees will reside in a container campus designed for 150 people. The campus, to be located within the social zone, will also house the park’s management office buildings, administrative buildings, residential buildings, as well as service facilities for residents, construction engineers, and workers; a medical center, a sports field, and other infrastructure.
Vugar Bayramov, an economic expert and member of the Azerbaijani parliament, says the creation of an industrial park in Jabrayil will give an impetus to unlock the region’s vast industrial potential.
“This creates new opportunities for the production of industrial products. On the other hand, a regional transport and logistics network will be formed in the East Zangazur economic region in the very near future. Logistics opportunities will be further strengthened in the context of integration into the Zangazur corridor and the restoration of transport and communication routes with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic,” Bayramli wrote on his Facebook page.
“This means new transit and export potential,” he added, referring to the multimodal transport corridor that will connect mainland Azerbaijan with its inseparable part of Nakhchivan and further with Turkey.
Jabrayil, where the industrial park is being constructed, remained under Armenia’s occupation for nearly three decades since its occupation during the First Karabakh (Garabagh) War in the early 1990s. Armenians have destroyed and looted the whole district during the occupation years.
After its liberation in 2020, the Jabrayil district has formed a part of the East Zangazur economic region established in the eastern parts of Zangazur in Azerbaijan under a presidential decree. Along with Jabrayil, the East Zangazur economic region includes the Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin, and Kalbajar districts, which were also liberated from Armenia’s decades-long illegal occupation in the 44-day war last year.
The new economic region should facilitate the reintegration of these liberated districts into Azerbaijan’s economy with the effective use of their natural resources, economic potential, and vast tourism opportunities.
Jabrayil is rich in minerals such as sand, gravel, sawn stone, brick clay, cement raw materials, gypsum, and limestone. Before the occupation, the district’s economy was centered primarily on viticulture, tobacco-growing, cattle-breeding, and grain-growing. Poultry and cocoon farms, carpet weaving workshops, grape processing facilities, bakery, and centers for repairing agricultural machinery had also operated in Jabrayil.
Azerbaijan’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region fell under Armenia’s occupation in the early 1990s during a bloody war that lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994. As a result, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy carried out by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between the two countries spiraled after Armenia’s forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10 by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.