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President Erdogan to Attend Karabakh Region’s First New Airport Opening Ceremony

By Nargiz Mammadli October 2, 2021

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be the first foreign leader to arrive in the Fuzuli International Airport in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region / Courtesy

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend the opening of the Fuzuli International Airport in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said.

In an interview with the Turkish Haber Global TV channel on Tuesday, Kalin commented on Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in the Karabakh region last year, highlighting Turkey’s political and moral support in this victory and Azerbaijan’s post-war reconstruction campaign.

“The reconstruction process of Karabakh, which has now been liberated, continues. One year has passed; you would really be proud if you see the results achieved in one year,” Kalin said.

“Now, the construction of the airport in Fuzuli is all but finished. It will be launched soon. Our president will also participate in the opening ceremony,” he added.

Armenia captured Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli district during the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s. Last year, Azerbaijani forces liberated Fuzuli from nearly 30-year-long illegal occupation and discovered catastrophic results of the Armenian vandalism. Not a single whole building remained in the city of Fuzuli, only fragments of walls.

Currently, the district is being revived as part of the Azerbaijani government’s large-scale campaign to restore the territories liberated from Armenian occupation. 

In January 2021, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev broke ground for the Fuzuli International Airport. The facility is constructed jointly by Azerbaijani and Turkish companies. President Aliyev said the new air harbor would serve as an “air gate to Karabakh.” 

Earlier this year, Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) installed the ground-based VOR/DME navigation system to transmit radio call signals from the airport. The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, known as EUROCONTROL, has registered and approved the radio signs transmitted via the system.

The airport’s runway, spanning 3,000 meters in length and 60 meters in width, has already received the first passenger and cargo flight on September 5 and welcomed the first overseas travelers on September 27.

The full-swing operation of the airport is expected sometime in early 2022. The Fuzuli International Airport will be the first all-inclusive civil aviation infrastructure to come online in the liberated Azerbaijani lands.

Two more airports will be located in the districts of Zangilan and Lachin.

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.

Meanwhile, President Erdogan’s upcoming visit to Karabakh will be his second trip to the region this year. In June, he arrived in Fuzuli and then headed for the city of Shusha, where he signed a strategic cooperation document, titled “Shusha Declaration”, with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. The Turkish president will be the first foreign leader to set foot at the Fuzuli International Airport.