President Ilham Aliyev’s recent visit to the liberated district of Lachin highlighted the large-scale reconstruction of the district post-liberation.
President Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva on August 25 attended the opening of two small hydropower stations as part of the restoration of Lachin’s war-torn power grid. The power stations will help facilitate the return of former internally displaced people to the district.
They later toured the construction site of the Lachin International Airport, which will be the third air harbor in the liberated lands of Azerbaijan, in addition to the international airports in the Fuzuli and Zangilan districts.
The airport is located in Gorchu village, Lachin district, slightly more than 30 and 60 kilometers from Lachin and Kalbajar cities, respectively, and about 70 kilometers from Shusha city. The foundation of the airfield was laid in 2021.
The airport’s runway, spanning 3000 meters in length, is designed to receive all aircraft types, including large cargo planes. In addition, there will be six aircraft parking areas at the facility. Once ready, the airport is expected to give impetus to the region’s socio-economic development and enhance its tourism potential. It will also contribute to the establishment of regional logistical centers.
Later, President Aliyev and First Lady Aliyeva inaugurated a movie studio, a secondary school, and a fish farm, as well as broke ground for a 100-room hotel complex in Lachin.
The state-of-the-art pavilion of the “Hochazfilm” studio is designed as a regional audiovisual center.
The first project of the studio is a feature-documentary film "Governor of Karabakh", which tells about the life and activities of Lachin-born Khosrov Bey Sultanov, the first military minister of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
The project aims to convey the truth about the occupation policy and crimes committed by the Armenian Dashnaks around Karabakh and Zangazur regions of Azerbaijan, as well as the interests of global political powerhouses in the Caucasus.
At the end of their visit on August 26, President Aliyev and First Lady Aliyeva met with the local residents who had recently resettled in Lachin, and the village of Zabukh. President Aliyev made a speech at the “Lachin City Day” celebrations dedicated to the liberation of the Lachin city, exactly one year ago.
“The people have returned here, and life is reviving. Every native of Lachin and every former IDP is proud today. Every Azerbaijani, all Azerbaijani citizens throughout Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijanis of the world live with a sense of tremendous pride because we have shown the strength and determination of the Azerbaijani people to the whole world,” he said.
President Aliyev said building and creating the city of Lachin in just eight months shows the talent and resolve of the people of Azerbaijan, who are the actual owners of these lands.
“Today, the reviving Lachin, the reviving Karabakh, and the reviving East Zangezur show our prowess and demonstrate that we consistently achieve what we want,” he concluded.
Occupation and liberation of Lachin
Lachin, one of the largest districts in Azerbaijan spanning 1,800 square kilometers, was occupied by Armenia's armed forces on May 18, 1992.
As a result of Armenian aggression, 264 people were killed, 65 were taken hostage, and 103 became disabled. Additionally, 18 out of the 24,374 children in the district aged from one to 16 were killed, 225 were wounded, 1,071 children lost one parent, and 31 children lost both parents. Over 65,000 forcibly displaced Azerbaijanis from the Lachin district were accommodated in 59 other cities and districts of Azerbaijan.
During the occupation of Lachin, 217 cultural centers, 142 health facilities, 133 offices and enterprises, 100 secondary schools, preschool institutions, five musical schools, one boarding school, one vocational school, and one communication center were looted and destroyed by Armenia's forces.
Armenia's forces destroyed more than 200 historical monuments of local and 54 monuments of world importance, including the Albanian Agoglan monastery (6th century), the tomb of Malik Azhdar (14th century), a mosque in the village of Garagishlag, and an ancient cemetery in the village of Zabukh.
Lachin History Museum and an old collection of gold, silver and bronze coins were plundered. An exhibit from the Lachin History Museum - a bag made of silver - was reportedly sold for $80,000 at Sotheby's in London.
The Lachin district was the last of the three areas, in addition to Aghdam and Kalbajar, that was returned by Armenia to Azerbaijan as part of its obligations under the tripartite statement signed between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on November 10, 2020. The district came under Azerbaijan’s control on December 1, 2020.
Under the tripartite agreement, a 5 km-wide Lachin corridor, including the city of Lachin and two surrounding villages remained in the temporary monitoring zone of the Russian peacekeepers. These territories were due to return to Azerbaijan’s control after a new highway came into operation, connecting ethnic Armenians settled in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region with Armenia.
The new highway was put into operation in August last year, enabling the restoration of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the city of Lachin officially on August 26, 2022.