The Azerbaijani government has allocated additional state funds towards rebuilding territories liberated from Armenian occupation in 2020.
According to the updated draft law on the 2022 state budget of Azerbaijan, nearly 2.7 billion Azerbaijani manats or $1.6 billion will be invested in reconstruction projects, as well as completing ongoing projects this year. The amount is 21.4 percent or 470 million manats or $276 million more than the previously approved financial package.
In the meantime, the allocated funds will also be used for completing the ongoing 18 projects and building 5 new highways in the liberated Karabakh and East Zangazur regions.
The amendments to the state budget allocate an additional 1.45 billion manats or $853 million for financing infrastructure projects in the liberated territories, as well as transport and communication projects in other regions of the country. The state budget expenditures for construction and urban planning were set at 5.97 billion manats or $3.5 billion.
The Azerbaijani government launched major infrastructure projects in the Karabakh and East Zangazur regions shortly after they were liberated from Armenian occupation during a 44-day war in 2020.
Over the decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan had been locked in an armed conflict over the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan. The war ended in a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 3,890 went missing, and one million others were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict took a violent turn when Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the 44 days of the war, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from a nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with the signing of a tripartite statement by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
Since 2020, dozens of projects have been completed, while many others are in the pipeline.
The State Agency of Automobile Roads of Azerbaijan (AAYDA) has rolled out 13 projects for laying a total of 725 kilometers of new roads and highways, as well as restoring the existing routes in the liberated lands.
In November 2021, President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the “Victory Road” stretching from Fuzuli District to the city of Shusha on a 101-kilometre route. In the same year, President Aliyev launched the renovated 28.5-kilometre highway leading to the strategic Sugovushan settlement and Talish village in the district of Tartar.
AAYYDA is currently building and restoring the Barda-Aghdam, Fuzuli-Hadrut, Ahmadbayli-Fuzuli-Shusha, Fuzuli-Aghdam, Gubadli-Eyvazli, Toghanali-Kalbajar-Istisu, Horadiz-Jabrayil-Zangilan-Aghband highways, most of which are expected to come online this year. The Horadiz-Jabrayil-Zangilan-Aghband highway forms an integral part of the multimodal Zangazur corridor.
New airports are scheduled to come on line in the liberated Azerbaijani lands by 2024. The Fuzuli International Airport dubbed the “air gate to Karabakh”, was the first to come online in October 2021. The top-notch air harbour was built by the Azerbaijani and Turkish companies in eight months. The airport, which was recognized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), has already received numerous domestic and international flights, including the aircraft carrying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for attending the airfield's inauguration in 2021.
This autumn, the second top-notch airport in the Zangilan district is expected to become operational. The Zangilan International Airport will be the first air harbour in the East Zangazur region of the country. The ground was broken for the airfield’s construction in April 2021. Since then, almost 80 percent of the infrastructure project has been completed. The construction of the facility is scheduled for completion in September of this year. The civil aviation infrastructure in the liberated lands will expand its reach even more with the third airport that will come online in the Lachin district in 2024.
Azerbaijani authorities opted for the most modern expertise and concepts in rebuilding the war-torn areas. A “smart village” based on three main components of the concept of smart rural development, including smart public administration, smart infrastructure and services, as well as a smart economy and business environment, is being built in the Aghali village of Zangilan District.
The village is home to 150 two-story and three-story eco-friendly residential buildings, as well as a kindergarten, a school, a medical centre, a hydroelectric power plant, and more. Five key components of development are being applied in Aghali: housing, production, social services, smart agriculture, and alternative energy. The “smart agriculture” concept in the Aghali village is expected to foster innovation within Azerbaijan’s agriculture sector. The village will have 600 hectares of the sown area with top-notch irrigation and cultivation techniques deployed. A public farm in Aghali will allow the residents to breed 850 heads of cattle. Private companies are expected to launch a combined factory complex for producing world-renowned mozzarella cheese in the village.