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Political triumph of Ilham Alyiev: military parade in Khankendi as a symbol of full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty

photo: president.az
12 November 2023

On the 8th of November the Azerbaijani Republic officially celebrated the third anniversary of the Victory in the Patriotic War. The events definitely culminated in the military parade in Khankendi which was received by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Alyiev. The final stop was made in the project Miatsum of Armenian nationalists that caused infinite victims, sufferings and genocide of the peaceful Azerbaijani population one of the most terrible, tragic and sanguinary pages in the history of modern Azerbaijan related to Karabakh. As Ilham Alyiev stated firmly, in the newly open chapter of Azerbaijani history there is no more place for separatism, it is over and done with.

Road to Victory

On the 8th of November national flags waving in the streets, avenues and squares, on the balconies of buildings in the cities and villages of Azerbaijan, as well as Khari-Bulbul (symbol of victory of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces) on numerous billboards, monitors and banners spoke for themselves: the country celebrates a great holiday Victory Day. In Baku a victory march was held during which military units and cadets of military schools passed along the central streets and squares of the Azerbaijani capital accompanied by a military band. Similar events were also held in the cities of Ganja, Barda, Fizuli, Lachin and in the Zangelan district.

More than 30 years ago Azerbaijan that had just embarked on a path of an independent and sovereign country faced an armed aggression and had to confront neighboring Armenia with which it had co-existed peacefully as part of the Soviet Union. In the last years of the USSRs existence Erevan supported by the world Armenian diaspora began to foment separatist sentiments in the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region, part of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. It should be stressed that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia led by Karen Demirchyan pandered to dissemination and growth of such feelings. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union Erevan launched full-scale combat operations against Azerbaijan in a bid to annex Nagorno-Karabakh and adjoining territories. During the tragic events of the first Karabakh war that lasted from 1992 to 1994 Azerbaijan lost 20% of its native territory which was for long decades occupied by the Armenian Armed Forces.

At that time a young Azerbaijani state merely had no proper army. Besides, the armed struggle for power and instability that began in the first years of Azerbaijani independence delivered a heavy blow to the statehood. Socio-political chaos, anarchy, acts of violence led to the aggravation of the national and civil confrontation and complete failure of the then authorities.

In such a situation the Azerbaijani people demanded the return to power of Heydar Alyiev. On June 15, 1993 he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan and from July 24 he became to exercise the powers of Azerbaijans President by decree of the Milly Mejlis. On October 1993 Heydar Alyiev was elected President of Azerbaijan after a national vote and vigorously began to tackle the most urgent problems.

In the first place power vacuum was removed, with direct help from the people destructive forces that became active in various parts of the republic were disabled, a civil war was prevented. Criminal elements that encroached upon the statehood, independence, territorial integrity of Azerbaijan were isolated from the society.

In May 1994 a ceasefire agreement was reached in the Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

All subsequent years Baku counted on peaceful resolution of the conflict believing that this issue should be settled on the basis of norms and principles of international law. All leading international organizations adopted fair resolutions with relation to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Four resolutions of the UN Security Council, resolutions of the UN General Assembly, resolutions of the Non-Aligned Movement, resolutions of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, resolutions of the European Parliament, resolutions and decrees of other international organization expressly recognized Nagorno-Karabakh an inalienable part of Azerbaijan.

This notwithstanding, after about 30 years of negotiations with the Armenian side in a number of formats and diplomatic efforts applied this failed to bring any practical results.

On October 15, 2003 Azerbaijan reached a new level of its development. Coming to power after a convincing victory at the elections President Ilham Alyiev continued the course of the national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Alyiev to build a strong and effective state. Owing to the strategic goal-setting, persistent and hard work under the guidance of Ilham Alyiev Azerbaijan seriously enhanced its financial and economic indicators and achieved significant and tangible results. It built strong, diversified economy, created a competent and stable political system that adequately corresponds to the current realities. Based on a powerful economic foundation, Azerbaijan commenced to build modern armed forces, made extensive purchases of the most advanced military equipment, prepared command personnel and officers and, by 2020 formed one the best armed forces in the world prepared to accomplish any missions, including the most challenging ones.

The Second Karabakh War that lasted just 44 days proved to be an outstanding military success of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces which under the guidance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Alyiev launched a counter-offensive operation code-named «Iron fist», defeated the enemy and compelled Armenia to capitulation. Ilham Alyiev fulfilled the dream of several generations of Azerbaijanis about the restoration of the territorial integrity. On September 20, 2023 in the course of the anti-terrorist operation Azerbaijan fully restored national sovereignty. The separatist regime in Karabakh dissolved itself and ceased existence.

Keynote speech in Khankendi

On the 8th of November main attention of the Azerbaijani and world public was focused on the Azerbaijani city of Khankendi where a military parade was held to honor the third anniversary of the victory in the patriotic war.

The parade was attended by the President of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Alyiev, First Lady Mehriban Alyieva and their son Heydar Alyiev.

Ilham Alyiev made a big keynote speech to the parade participants. «Twenty years ago, when I started my work as President, I told my dear people that we should be ready to liberate our lands by means of war. At that time, there were still some hopes for peace talks», Azerbaijans President emphasized. «However, over the years, these hopes faded away. Armenia did not want to leave our lands of its own accord. The mediators who were involved in resolving the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict actually tried to freeze the situation. They believed that the people of Azerbaijan would come to terms with this situation. However, the people of Azerbaijan were never going to accept this situation. I have stated many times from different platforms that we will not accept this situation, we will not allow for a second Armenian state to be created on Azerbaijani lands, and if the negotiations end without results, we will use force to liberate our native lands from the invaders on the battlefield on the basis of international law. The 44-day Patriotic War showed this once again».

It is worth noting, Azerbaijans President said, that «the cessation of the 44-day war on November 10, 2020 allowed us to the opportunity to return Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts to us without firing a single shot. This was a part of the act of capitulation signed by Armenia and also our demand. Armenia was forced to fulfill this demand. Because they saw the strength of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan on the battlefield and the political determination of the leadership of Azerbaijan. The liberation of the Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar districts without a single shot being fired saved the lives of thousands of our young people. We would have liberated those districts on the battlefield anyway. However, the number of our martyrs could have been higher».

«After the Second Karabakh War, we further accelerated the process of army building without stopping for a single day and did not conceal that», Ilham Alyiev said. «We immediately moved to all the important locations in the Garabagh region. At the same time, we took control of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, which was under occupation for many years. We gradually improved our positions on the border and, as a result of various measures, gained the most favorable positions on most of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Why did we do that? Because we knew that revanchist forces were raising their head again in Armenia. We knew that the foreign forces standing behind Armenia and inciting them to act against us would give them provocative signals again», Alyiev added.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan stressed again the measures taken in the field of defense and security: « army building was considered the top priority. Material and technical provision, the supply of weapons and ammunition, the improvement of the armys fighting capacity and, above all, the education of our youth in the spirit of patriotism these are the main factors leading Azerbaijan to Victory. No matter how many weapons and ammunition you may have, no matter how many modern military technologies you may use, it is soldiers and officers who achieve victory with their weapons. They put their chest forward, they are ready to die, and we have shown that. In the most difficult and unfavorable geographical conditions, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers showed unparalleled heroism and bravery by breaking through six lines of defense, passing over more than a million land mines and destroying the enemy positions located on the hills. The memory of our dear martyrs will live in our hearts forever. We showed the whole world the strength, determination and indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people. In other words, we were waiting for this day while making preparations. During these 20 years, I never doubted that this day would come and a military parade under the Azerbaijani flag would be held in the city of Khankandi».

In conclusion Ilham Alyiev said to the parade participants: «We don't need a new war. We have achieved what we wanted, we have restored international law, we have restored historical justice, we have restored our national dignity, and we have shown the enemy where it belongs. The enemy has knelt before us, and today I am here addressing the Victorious Armed Forces. So, we have fulfilled all the tasks, but at the same time, from now on, the army building will be one of the priority issues for us. Let everyone know this and let no one forget it!».

After Ilham Alyievs speech a ceremonial march by the parade crews of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan was held. First Deputy of the Minister of Defense, Chief of the General Staff Colonel-General Karim Velyiev was in command of the parade. Represented at the parade, in particular, were Special Forces, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th army corps, a separate combined arms army. Along with the army units special operation detachment Gartal of the State Security Service, Yarasa special forces unit of the Foreign Intelligence Service, a special forces unit from the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as we as units from the State Border Service and the National Guard of the Security Service of President of Azerbaijani Republic also took part in the parade.

Top priority construction projects in all areas

The Second Karabakh War allowed Azerbaijan to return under its control more than 300 populated points, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fizuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Shusha, Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin. On the liberated territories two new economic regions were created: Karabakh and East-Zangezur. The first region amalgamated the city of Khankendi, Aghjabadi, Aghdam, Barda, Fizuli, Khojaly, Khojavend, Shusha and Terter districts. The East-Zangezur economic region included Jabrayil, Kalbajar, Gubadli, Lachin and Zangilan districts. To restore the liberated territories a special state program Great Return is being implemented. As of today, the general plan was already approved for eight cities and 92 villages.

In January 2021 a Karabakh Revival Fund was set up in accordance with the decree by the President of Azerbaijan. It renders financial assistance and provides investments for restoration of the liberated areas, as well as takes steps to transform these lands into a prosperous and economically stable region. In 2021 the total volume of financial allocations for these purposes amounted 2.178 manats (1.28 bn dollars). 4.315 bn manats (2.5 bn dollars) were invested into the revival of the liberated territories in 2022. Earlier Azerbaijans President Ilham Alyiev had said that before the end of the current year about 12 bn manats (more than 7 bn dollars) will be allocated for the restoration of Karabakh and East Zangezur. In 2024 the Azerbaijani Government will allot 4 bn manats (2.5 bn dollars) to develop modern infrastructure in the region.

During 30 years practically all towns and villages of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia were totally destroyed and turned into ghosts. Besides, these huge territories hide mortal danger to the builders because in the occupation years Armenians turned them into extensive minefields. Consequently, this impedes and delays the process of restoration. These and other difficulties notwithstanding, as early as upon completion of the 44-day war large-scale construction work was undertaken in Karabakh and East Zangezur. A lot was done in the past three years. Among certain achievements it is worth noting modern airports in Fizuli and Zangilan. Now one more airport is being built in Lachin and is due to open in 2024.

In the liberated territories important infrastructure facilities are commissioned, populated points destroyed by the Armenian occupants are rebuilt. All this is happening with personal participation of President Ilham Alyiev and First Lady Mehriban Alyieva. As of today, foundation has been laid in more than 30 villages. 

Azerbaijani authorities intend to turn Karabakh and East Zangezur into a highly developed and advanced region.  Destroyed towns and villages are rebuilt here by most advanced standards, including the concepts of smart city and smart village. One of such pilot projects has already been implemented in the village of Agali of the Zangilan region. All in all, 200 individual residential houses were built here for about 1200 people who are going to live there.

Motor roads, railways, bridges and tunnels are built in Karabakh and East Zangezur at an accelerated tempo. Along with the restoration of the main roads that had already existed in the Soviet period but were destroyed by the Armenians in the past three decades absolutely new routes are built. According to the data of the State Agency of Azerbaijans Automobile Roads, under the first state program of Great Return more than 20 road projects are to be completed in the liberated territories; total length of the roads laid will be 2,300 km.

Large-scale work is also underway in this region to restore energy infrastructure, power transmission lines are laid and new energy facilities are built. Within a relative short period of time the Azerenerji state energy company has done a tremendous job in this area, given the fact that the utility specialists had to work under difficult conditions because of mine danger. By today, 12 substations had been built and commissioned in the region. Besides, 700 km of 330 kV and 110 kV power transmission lines had been laid. Azerbaijan already supplies energy to all recently liberated territories of Karabakh, including the city of Khankendi. The latter started to receive Azerbaijani electricity just four days after the anti-terrorist operation had been completed.

Karabakh and East Zangezur have a rich energy potential. The share of these regions is 25% of Azerbaijans internal water resources. During the three years small hydropower was given a powerful impetus here. As of today, 26 hydroelectric power plants were built and another nine are under construction. Total capacity of the already commissioned plants in the liberated territories is 170 MW and by the end of the current year this figure will reach 270 MW. In the two or three years to come the total capacity of power plants in this region is to be increased to 500 MW.

Besides rich water resources, Karabakh and East Zangezur have a great potential of solar and wind energy exceeding 2,000 MW. The Azerbaijani authorities declared these territories the «zone of green energy». It is here exactly that Azerbaijans renewable energy center will be located with renewables being one of the priorities in the development of the non-oil sector of economy.

Due to its good prospects the sphere of renewable energy sources (RES) in the liberated territories is expected to provide a great flow of foreign investments into Azerbaijani economy. At this stage concrete understandings have already been reached with a number of leading international energy companies on implementation of projects in the sphere of green energy. Among them are utilities from the U.K, China, Saudi Arabia. UAE and other countries.

Besides RES, other promising areas for private investors in the liberated lands are the agrarian sector, industrial parks and other endeavors. Azerbaijani authorities created in Karabakh and East Zangezur favorable conditions for investors thanks to which the economic attractiveness of this region is growing, like the number of companies opening business here or planning to do so. According to the data of Azerbaijans Ministry of Economy, as of today more than 1500 companies, including 500 foreign ones, submitted applications for participation in the projects implemented in the region.

Great Return has begun

An important and integral part of the Great Return program is resettlement to the liberated territories of the Azerbaijanis whom the war had for many years deprived of their native land. For them to return modern residential areas, schools, hospitals and other social sphere facilities are being built in the region along with the road, transport and energy infrastructure.

It is possible to say that life in the region is gradually restored and the Great Return has already begun. The very first resettlers were the inhabitants of the above-mentioned first smart village in Azerbaijan Agali in Zangilan. The keys to their own apartments were also received by the first residents of Lachin and Fizuli whose numbers already exceed one thousand families. Residential areas, schools, hospitals are quickly built in Shusha, Aghdam, Jarbrayil, Zangilan and other parts of Karabakh. As was reported, 10,270 families are to be moved to Karabakh and East Zangezur under the Great Return program by 2026, 34,500 families by 2027. 34.5 thousand apartments and individual residential houses will be built in the region by 2027.

Besides, 197 pre-school and general education institutions will be built and repaired in the liberated territories by 2026 and by 2027 the first branch of a higher educational establishment will begin functioning in the region  and seven branches of the DOST centers will be opened. By 2027 the authorities also plan to launch a mortgage system in the region and to form the first tourist infrastructure.

Conclusions

The year soon to be over has become really pivotal for Azerbaijans latest history. It is worth noting that 2023 is not an ordinary year. It is the 100th birth anniversary of the national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Alyiev. It is the 20th anniversary of Ilham Alyievs coming to power. It is the year of full restoration of Azerbaijans sovereignty. The country has closed the issue of Karabakh return for good. It so happened that the most effective solution for that was a military force specifically. Military and economic might of Azerbaijan was built up under the guidance of Ilham Alyiev who obviously proved to be an outstanding politician and military strategist of modern times.

November 8 will forever be written down in the national history of Azerbaijan with the letters of gold as Victory Day, as a national holiday epitomizing strength, cohesion and unity of the entire Azerbaijani nation and giving a tribute to the memory of those who won this Victory giving their lives as a sacrifice. President Alyiev made it clear that from now on any forces putting forward territorial claims against Azerbaijan and encroaching on its sovereignty will have to deal with effective and strong armed forces capable of repulsing any external threats.

Undoubtedly, Erevan will pay close attention to these words. It is also beyond doubt that Armenian political circles understand clearly that Armenia has no better alternative than peace with Azerbaijan. Signing of the peace treaty between Baku and Erevan on the basis of five principles put forward by Ilham Alyiev will have a positive effect on the stability in the entire Southern Caucasus. Besides, normalization of relations with Baku will bring Erevan tangible economic dividends and will allow it to get out of the long-term transport isolation which only hinders Armenian economy.

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Reports

Political triumph of Ilham Alyiev: military parade in Khankendi as a symbol of full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty

photo: president.az
12 2023

On the 8th of November the Azerbaijani Republic officially celebrated the third anniversary of the Victory in the Patriotic War. The events definitely culminated in the military parade in Khankendi which was received by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Alyiev. The final stop was made in the project Miatsum of Armenian nationalists that caused infinite victims, sufferings and genocide of the peaceful Azerbaijani population one of the most terrible, tragic and sanguinary pages in the history of modern Azerbaijan related to Karabakh. As Ilham Alyiev stated firmly, in the newly open chapter of Azerbaijani history there is no more place for separatism, it is over and done with.

Road to Victory

On the 8th of November national flags waving in the streets, avenues and squares, on the balconies of buildings in the cities and villages of Azerbaijan, as well as Khari-Bulbul (symbol of victory of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces) on numerous billboards, monitors and banners spoke for themselves: the country celebrates a great holiday Victory Day. In Baku a victory march was held during which military units and cadets of military schools passed along the central streets and squares of the Azerbaijani capital accompanied by a military band. Similar events were also held in the cities of Ganja, Barda, Fizuli, Lachin and in the Zangelan district.

More than 30 years ago Azerbaijan that had just embarked on a path of an independent and sovereign country faced an armed aggression and had to confront neighboring Armenia with which it had co-existed peacefully as part of the Soviet Union. In the last years of the USSRs existence Erevan supported by the world Armenian diaspora began to foment separatist sentiments in the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region, part of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. It should be stressed that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia led by Karen Demirchyan pandered to dissemination and growth of such feelings. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union Erevan launched full-scale combat operations against Azerbaijan in a bid to annex Nagorno-Karabakh and adjoining territories. During the tragic events of the first Karabakh war that lasted from 1992 to 1994 Azerbaijan lost 20% of its native territory which was for long decades occupied by the Armenian Armed Forces.

At that time a young Azerbaijani state merely had no proper army. Besides, the armed struggle for power and instability that began in the first years of Azerbaijani independence delivered a heavy blow to the statehood. Socio-political chaos, anarchy, acts of violence led to the aggravation of the national and civil confrontation and complete failure of the then authorities.

In such a situation the Azerbaijani people demanded the return to power of Heydar Alyiev. On June 15, 1993 he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan and from July 24 he became to exercise the powers of Azerbaijans President by decree of the Milly Mejlis. On October 1993 Heydar Alyiev was elected President of Azerbaijan after a national vote and vigorously began to tackle the most urgent problems.

In the first place power vacuum was removed, with direct help from the people destructive forces that became active in various parts of the republic were disabled, a civil war was prevented. Criminal elements that encroached upon the statehood, independence, territorial integrity of Azerbaijan were isolated from the society.

In May 1994 a ceasefire agreement was reached in the Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

All subsequent years Baku counted on peaceful resolution of the conflict believing that this issue should be settled on the basis of norms and principles of international law. All leading international organizations adopted fair resolutions with relation to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Four resolutions of the UN Security Council, resolutions of the UN General Assembly, resolutions of the Non-Aligned Movement, resolutions of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, resolutions of the European Parliament, resolutions and decrees of other international organization expressly recognized Nagorno-Karabakh an inalienable part of Azerbaijan.

This notwithstanding, after about 30 years of negotiations with the Armenian side in a number of formats and diplomatic efforts applied this failed to bring any practical results.

On October 15, 2003 Azerbaijan reached a new level of its development. Coming to power after a convincing victory at the elections President Ilham Alyiev continued the course of the national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Alyiev to build a strong and effective state. Owing to the strategic goal-setting, persistent and hard work under the guidance of Ilham Alyiev Azerbaijan seriously enhanced its financial and economic indicators and achieved significant and tangible results. It built strong, diversified economy, created a competent and stable political system that adequately corresponds to the current realities. Based on a powerful economic foundation, Azerbaijan commenced to build modern armed forces, made extensive purchases of the most advanced military equipment, prepared command personnel and officers and, by 2020 formed one the best armed forces in the world prepared to accomplish any missions, including the most challenging ones.

The Second Karabakh War that lasted just 44 days proved to be an outstanding military success of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces which under the guidance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Alyiev launched a counter-offensive operation code-named «Iron fist», defeated the enemy and compelled Armenia to capitulation. Ilham Alyiev fulfilled the dream of several generations of Azerbaijanis about the restoration of the territorial integrity. On September 20, 2023 in the course of the anti-terrorist operation Azerbaijan fully restored national sovereignty. The separatist regime in Karabakh dissolved itself and ceased existence.

Keynote speech in Khankendi

On the 8th of November main attention of the Azerbaijani and world public was focused on the Azerbaijani city of Khankendi where a military parade was held to honor the third anniversary of the victory in the patriotic war.

The parade was attended by the President of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Alyiev, First Lady Mehriban Alyieva and their son Heydar Alyiev.

Ilham Alyiev made a big keynote speech to the parade participants. «Twenty years ago, when I started my work as President, I told my dear people that we should be ready to liberate our lands by means of war. At that time, there were still some hopes for peace talks», Azerbaijans President emphasized. «However, over the years, these hopes faded away. Armenia did not want to leave our lands of its own accord. The mediators who were involved in resolving the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict actually tried to freeze the situation. They believed that the people of Azerbaijan would come to terms with this situation. However, the people of Azerbaijan were never going to accept this situation. I have stated many times from different platforms that we will not accept this situation, we will not allow for a second Armenian state to be created on Azerbaijani lands, and if the negotiations end without results, we will use force to liberate our native lands from the invaders on the battlefield on the basis of international law. The 44-day Patriotic War showed this once again».

It is worth noting, Azerbaijans President said, that «the cessation of the 44-day war on November 10, 2020 allowed us to the opportunity to return Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts to us without firing a single shot. This was a part of the act of capitulation signed by Armenia and also our demand. Armenia was forced to fulfill this demand. Because they saw the strength of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan on the battlefield and the political determination of the leadership of Azerbaijan. The liberation of the Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar districts without a single shot being fired saved the lives of thousands of our young people. We would have liberated those districts on the battlefield anyway. However, the number of our martyrs could have been higher».

«After the Second Karabakh War, we further accelerated the process of army building without stopping for a single day and did not conceal that», Ilham Alyiev said. «We immediately moved to all the important locations in the Garabagh region. At the same time, we took control of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, which was under occupation for many years. We gradually improved our positions on the border and, as a result of various measures, gained the most favorable positions on most of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Why did we do that? Because we knew that revanchist forces were raising their head again in Armenia. We knew that the foreign forces standing behind Armenia and inciting them to act against us would give them provocative signals again», Alyiev added.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan stressed again the measures taken in the field of defense and security: « army building was considered the top priority. Material and technical provision, the supply of weapons and ammunition, the improvement of the armys fighting capacity and, above all, the education of our youth in the spirit of patriotism these are the main factors leading Azerbaijan to Victory. No matter how many weapons and ammunition you may have, no matter how many modern military technologies you may use, it is soldiers and officers who achieve victory with their weapons. They put their chest forward, they are ready to die, and we have shown that. In the most difficult and unfavorable geographical conditions, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers showed unparalleled heroism and bravery by breaking through six lines of defense, passing over more than a million land mines and destroying the enemy positions located on the hills. The memory of our dear martyrs will live in our hearts forever. We showed the whole world the strength, determination and indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people. In other words, we were waiting for this day while making preparations. During these 20 years, I never doubted that this day would come and a military parade under the Azerbaijani flag would be held in the city of Khankandi».

In conclusion Ilham Alyiev said to the parade participants: «We don't need a new war. We have achieved what we wanted, we have restored international law, we have restored historical justice, we have restored our national dignity, and we have shown the enemy where it belongs. The enemy has knelt before us, and today I am here addressing the Victorious Armed Forces. So, we have fulfilled all the tasks, but at the same time, from now on, the army building will be one of the priority issues for us. Let everyone know this and let no one forget it!».

After Ilham Alyievs speech a ceremonial march by the parade crews of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan was held. First Deputy of the Minister of Defense, Chief of the General Staff Colonel-General Karim Velyiev was in command of the parade. Represented at the parade, in particular, were Special Forces, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th army corps, a separate combined arms army. Along with the army units special operation detachment Gartal of the State Security Service, Yarasa special forces unit of the Foreign Intelligence Service, a special forces unit from the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as we as units from the State Border Service and the National Guard of the Security Service of President of Azerbaijani Republic also took part in the parade.

Top priority construction projects in all areas

The Second Karabakh War allowed Azerbaijan to return under its control more than 300 populated points, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fizuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Shusha, Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin. On the liberated territories two new economic regions were created: Karabakh and East-Zangezur. The first region amalgamated the city of Khankendi, Aghjabadi, Aghdam, Barda, Fizuli, Khojaly, Khojavend, Shusha and Terter districts. The East-Zangezur economic region included Jabrayil, Kalbajar, Gubadli, Lachin and Zangilan districts. To restore the liberated territories a special state program Great Return is being implemented. As of today, the general plan was already approved for eight cities and 92 villages.

In January 2021 a Karabakh Revival Fund was set up in accordance with the decree by the President of Azerbaijan. It renders financial assistance and provides investments for restoration of the liberated areas, as well as takes steps to transform these lands into a prosperous and economically stable region. In 2021 the total volume of financial allocations for these purposes amounted 2.178 manats (1.28 bn dollars). 4.315 bn manats (2.5 bn dollars) were invested into the revival of the liberated territories in 2022. Earlier Azerbaijans President Ilham Alyiev had said that before the end of the current year about 12 bn manats (more than 7 bn dollars) will be allocated for the restoration of Karabakh and East Zangezur. In 2024 the Azerbaijani Government will allot 4 bn manats (2.5 bn dollars) to develop modern infrastructure in the region.

During 30 years practically all towns and villages of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia were totally destroyed and turned into ghosts. Besides, these huge territories hide mortal danger to the builders because in the occupation years Armenians turned them into extensive minefields. Consequently, this impedes and delays the process of restoration. These and other difficulties notwithstanding, as early as upon completion of the 44-day war large-scale construction work was undertaken in Karabakh and East Zangezur. A lot was done in the past three years. Among certain achievements it is worth noting modern airports in Fizuli and Zangilan. Now one more airport is being built in Lachin and is due to open in 2024.

In the liberated territories important infrastructure facilities are commissioned, populated points destroyed by the Armenian occupants are rebuilt. All this is happening with personal participation of President Ilham Alyiev and First Lady Mehriban Alyieva. As of today, foundation has been laid in more than 30 villages. 

Azerbaijani authorities intend to turn Karabakh and East Zangezur into a highly developed and advanced region.  Destroyed towns and villages are rebuilt here by most advanced standards, including the concepts of smart city and smart village. One of such pilot projects has already been implemented in the village of Agali of the Zangilan region. All in all, 200 individual residential houses were built here for about 1200 people who are going to live there.

Motor roads, railways, bridges and tunnels are built in Karabakh and East Zangezur at an accelerated tempo. Along with the restoration of the main roads that had already existed in the Soviet period but were destroyed by the Armenians in the past three decades absolutely new routes are built. According to the data of the State Agency of Azerbaijans Automobile Roads, under the first state program of Great Return more than 20 road projects are to be completed in the liberated territories; total length of the roads laid will be 2,300 km.

Large-scale work is also underway in this region to restore energy infrastructure, power transmission lines are laid and new energy facilities are built. Within a relative short period of time the Azerenerji state energy company has done a tremendous job in this area, given the fact that the utility specialists had to work under difficult conditions because of mine danger. By today, 12 substations had been built and commissioned in the region. Besides, 700 km of 330 kV and 110 kV power transmission lines had been laid. Azerbaijan already supplies energy to all recently liberated territories of Karabakh, including the city of Khankendi. The latter started to receive Azerbaijani electricity just four days after the anti-terrorist operation had been completed.

Karabakh and East Zangezur have a rich energy potential. The share of these regions is 25% of Azerbaijans internal water resources. During the three years small hydropower was given a powerful impetus here. As of today, 26 hydroelectric power plants were built and another nine are under construction. Total capacity of the already commissioned plants in the liberated territories is 170 MW and by the end of the current year this figure will reach 270 MW. In the two or three years to come the total capacity of power plants in this region is to be increased to 500 MW.

Besides rich water resources, Karabakh and East Zangezur have a great potential of solar and wind energy exceeding 2,000 MW. The Azerbaijani authorities declared these territories the «zone of green energy». It is here exactly that Azerbaijans renewable energy center will be located with renewables being one of the priorities in the development of the non-oil sector of economy.

Due to its good prospects the sphere of renewable energy sources (RES) in the liberated territories is expected to provide a great flow of foreign investments into Azerbaijani economy. At this stage concrete understandings have already been reached with a number of leading international energy companies on implementation of projects in the sphere of green energy. Among them are utilities from the U.K, China, Saudi Arabia. UAE and other countries.

Besides RES, other promising areas for private investors in the liberated lands are the agrarian sector, industrial parks and other endeavors. Azerbaijani authorities created in Karabakh and East Zangezur favorable conditions for investors thanks to which the economic attractiveness of this region is growing, like the number of companies opening business here or planning to do so. According to the data of Azerbaijans Ministry of Economy, as of today more than 1500 companies, including 500 foreign ones, submitted applications for participation in the projects implemented in the region.

Great Return has begun

An important and integral part of the Great Return program is resettlement to the liberated territories of the Azerbaijanis whom the war had for many years deprived of their native land. For them to return modern residential areas, schools, hospitals and other social sphere facilities are being built in the region along with the road, transport and energy infrastructure.

It is possible to say that life in the region is gradually restored and the Great Return has already begun. The very first resettlers were the inhabitants of the above-mentioned first smart village in Azerbaijan Agali in Zangilan. The keys to their own apartments were also received by the first residents of Lachin and Fizuli whose numbers already exceed one thousand families. Residential areas, schools, hospitals are quickly built in Shusha, Aghdam, Jarbrayil, Zangilan and other parts of Karabakh. As was reported, 10,270 families are to be moved to Karabakh and East Zangezur under the Great Return program by 2026, 34,500 families by 2027. 34.5 thousand apartments and individual residential houses will be built in the region by 2027.

Besides, 197 pre-school and general education institutions will be built and repaired in the liberated territories by 2026 and by 2027 the first branch of a higher educational establishment will begin functioning in the region  and seven branches of the DOST centers will be opened. By 2027 the authorities also plan to launch a mortgage system in the region and to form the first tourist infrastructure.

Conclusions

The year soon to be over has become really pivotal for Azerbaijans latest history. It is worth noting that 2023 is not an ordinary year. It is the 100th birth anniversary of the national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Alyiev. It is the 20th anniversary of Ilham Alyievs coming to power. It is the year of full restoration of Azerbaijans sovereignty. The country has closed the issue of Karabakh return for good. It so happened that the most effective solution for that was a military force specifically. Military and economic might of Azerbaijan was built up under the guidance of Ilham Alyiev who obviously proved to be an outstanding politician and military strategist of modern times.

November 8 will forever be written down in the national history of Azerbaijan with the letters of gold as Victory Day, as a national holiday epitomizing strength, cohesion and unity of the entire Azerbaijani nation and giving a tribute to the memory of those who won this Victory giving their lives as a sacrifice. President Alyiev made it clear that from now on any forces putting forward territorial claims against Azerbaijan and encroaching on its sovereignty will have to deal with effective and strong armed forces capable of repulsing any external threats.

Undoubtedly, Erevan will pay close attention to these words. It is also beyond doubt that Armenian political circles understand clearly that Armenia has no better alternative than peace with Azerbaijan. Signing of the peace treaty between Baku and Erevan on the basis of five principles put forward by Ilham Alyiev will have a positive effect on the stability in the entire Southern Caucasus. Besides, normalization of relations with Baku will bring Erevan tangible economic dividends and will allow it to get out of the long-term transport isolation which only hinders Armenian economy.