President Ilham Aliyev attended on Tuesday the groundbreaking ceremonies for several infrastructure projects in the liberated Aghdam region.
Aliyev’s visit harbingered the next phase of the reconstruction of war-torn Aghdam after the 44-day Second Karabakh War in 2020.
Caspian News highlights the key takeaways from the president’s visit:
Aliyev laid the foundation stone for the Digital Management Center and Training-Education Complex owned by Azerishig OJSC. The center will meet the electricity needs of the city's multi-purpose infrastructure, according to the president’s official website.
He also attended the groundbreaking ceremony and laid the foundation stone for the Aghdam Mugham Center. The musical-cultural center will preserve and promote the heritage of Mugham, the traditional Azerbaijani genre of vocal and instrumental arts that have influenced music throughout the Caspian and Middle East regions.
President Aliyev also broke the ground for the 2nd and 3rd residential quarters to be built in Aghdam. A total of 2,507 apartments, comprising 139 one-room, 860 two-room, 1,069 three-room, and 439 four-room sets.
Further, he laid the foundation stone for an administrative building in Aghdam. The building will house the district statistical office, the district department of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the local department of the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport, the district culture office, the social services hub DOST Center, the headquarters of the special representative office of the Azerbaijani President and other offices.
President Aliyev also toured the construction site of the Barda-Aghdam railway. Construction of the 47.1-kilometer single-track railroad is expected to complete in 2023. Aghdam city railway and bus terminal complex will also be put into operation, which will help handle 1,000 and up to 1,500 passengers per day, respectively.
Aghdam, located 362 kilometers west of the capital Baku, was the center of the district with the same name and one of the major cities of heavy, light, and food industries, as well as agriculture in Azerbaijan until the district lost a large part of its territory to the Armenian invasion.
Armenian forces occupied a significant part of the Aghdam district, including the city of Aghdam and 89 villages, in the 1990s during the First Karabakh (Garabagh) War. About 6,000 residents of the district have been killed and 126,000 forcibly displaced in the wake of Armenia’s attack. Only 10 villages of the district remained under Azerbaijan’s control.
Aghdam has been dubbed the “Hiroshima of Caucasus” by local and international media due to the scale of the destruction in the city. International analysts labeled Aghdam as the largest “home depot on the planet” as Armenians plundered and ransacked the district’s properties to use as building supplies. The city has also suffered a “mine terror” by the Armenian forces.
The occupation of Aghdam ended in 2020 following the 44-day bloody war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Hostilities between the two countries began after Armenia's forces deployed in the once-occupied lands of Azerbaijan shelled the Azerbaijani military positions and civilian settlements.
Azerbaijani military took immediate counter-attack measures and successfully pushed back the offensive. As a result, the Azerbaijani army 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, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan. Aghdam was the first Azerbaijani district that was liberated in post-war non-combat conditions set by the document.
Shortly after the war, the Azerbaijani government launched a large-scale reconstruction project in Aghdam. Restoration efforts come as part of the ongoing massive reconstruction campaign in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Aghdam will reportedly regain its original view and see its residents back after the reconstruction.
As part of the reconstruction campaign, the government of Azerbaijan launched construction of the Aghdam Industrial Park in August 2022, on an area measuring 190 hectares (470 acres). Twelve enterprises have already been granted residency status at the park. The priority areas of the park are the production of construction materials, packaging of agricultural products, canned fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, production and processing of feed and fertilizers, as well as refrigeration, storage, and other services. Residents are expected to invest a total of nearly $35 million in the park.
In October 2022, during his previous visit to Aghdam, President Aliyev laid the foundation stones for the villages of Khidirli, Kangarli, and Sarijali villages, as well as the first residential quarter, a hotel, and the internal road and communication network.