In November the war to liberate the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remained the main topic on the agenda of the country’s domestic and foreign policies.
Mutual Compliments and Reprimands by the President and the Opposition
The opposition expressed its full support of the army’s actions on the frontline since the first day of the country’s military operations and kept its promise to put domestic political fight on hold. After recapturing the town of Shusha, the head of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli, who is the president’s uncompromising opponent, expressed his greetings on the splendid victory.
Aliyev himself, addressing the nation on November10, expressed his satisfaction with the actions of the opposition during the period of military operations.
On November 16 the Sabail court of Baku changed the sentence for 21 people arrested on the charges of organizing disorders in Baku overnight from July 14 to July 15, with 12 activists of the Popular Front Party including three members of the party’s board having their arrest changed to home detention.
However, in his second address to the nation on November 25, dedicated to the deployment of Azerbaijani military forces in Kalbajar District, Ilham Aliyev expressed severe criticism for the opposition and accused it of losing in the first Karabakh war in 1992-1994. He stated that the lands were lost due to the domestic political fight led at the time by the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, which resulted in incompetent people coming to power.
The opposition, in its turn, criticized the president’s agreement to have Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the conflict zone. On November 12 the National Council made a statement saying that “it limits the country’s sovereignty, does not take into account the interests of Azerbaijani people and is itself the occupation of Azerbaijani lands in Upper Karabakh for an indefinite period”. The National Council also noted that the sudden return of Russian forces, which were withdrawn from Azerbaijan with great difficulties in 1992, means limiting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in Karabakh.
Azerbaijan Started Work on Recaptured Territories
In November the military agenda also happened to influence the country’s economic processes. In fact, after recapturing the town of Shusha, Azerbaijan launched the construction of a new road to the town, with the president of the country Ilham Aliyev giving an order for the initial financing of the project with 50 million manats ($30 million).The new Fizuli-Shusha highway will pass through the recaptured Fizuli, Khojavend and Khojaly districts. The motorway will include over 20 localities including Fizuli and Shusha.
Azerbaijan’s Minister for Agriculture Inam Kerimov told journalists that the future development of agriculture on the liberated territories is already being planned.
“Recapturing hundreds of thousands of hectares of land as well as strategically important water reservoirs will positively impact on the development of agriculture. These fertile lands have a huge potential for the development of vine-growing, grain-growing, cotton growing, and livestock breeding. Agriculture’s sustainable development will be implemented based on the correct usage of this potential, as well as on the expanding recycling industry”, he said.
Economists also started to analyze the prospects for the liberated territories. In fact, Rovsen Agayev, a well-known economist in Azerbaijan, referring to his information sources, stated that Kalbajar and Zangilan have a big potential for mining precious metals. According to him, there are high expectations regarding the tourism potential in Kalbajar and Lachin districts. “There are unique opportunities for medical tourism. The same concerns historical tourism and recreation. It can be said with full confidence that tourism income in this region may exceed tourism income of the entire country of Azerbaijan – a minimum of $1,5 bn”, Agayev believes.
Moreover, when talking about the potential of the agrarian sector, the economist noted that the total surface of agricultural lands in 7 districts makes up 535 000 ha. According to him, Agdam, Fizuli and Jabrayil in general are suitable for growing agricultural crops. The total area of farmlands in these three regions makes up 290 000 ha, with approximately two-thirds of these lands being croplands and the rest of lands being pasture areas and hayfields.
Trilateral Agreement Put an End to the War
In November Azerbaijan’s main development was the end of the war for liberating the occupied territories. Overnight, on November 9-10, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin, as well as Armenia’s president Nikol Pashinyan signed the agreement on ending military operations on the terms of Azerbaijan. The main condition of Ilham Aliyev was the timetable for withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin signed the agreement during a video conference, while Nikol Pashinyan chose to sign this document separately, without the presence of the above-mentioned country leaders and without video cameras.
According to the official information released by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense the territories that had been occupied for 30 years, were liberated in 44 days. Following its military operations, Azerbaijan recaptured 286 villages, 4 colonies and 5 towns that are district centers (Gadzut, Fizuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli). Moreover, the recaptured territories included strategic positions in Aghdara (Martakert in Armenian), in Murovdag well as several strategic positions in Zangilan region. Azerbaijan completely restored its state borders with Iran along the Aras river. According to the trilateral agreement Armenian military forces were withdrawn from Aghdam district (on November 20), Kaljabar district (November 25) and Lachin district (December 1).
According to the statement, Russian peacekeepers (1960 people), 90 armoured vehicles and over 300 of other equipment were deployed in the region. The peacekeepers are going to be present in the region for 5 years. If there is no word against the presence of the peacekeepers up to 6 months before the deadline, the deadline will automatically be prolonged for another 5 years. Moreover, the parties agreed upon opening all communications in the region. One of the points of the agreement provides for the functioning of a monitoring center on cease-fire, with Russian and Turkish military forces involved.
“Overnight, on November 9-10, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin, as well as Armenia’s president Nikol Pashinyan signed the agreement on ending military operations on the terms of Azerbaijan”
France declared being unsatisfied with the trilateral statement (France is one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group along with the USA and Russia) and claimed that this agreement strengthens the role of Turkey in the region and affects Armenia. The position of France was followed by an immediate response of Azerbaijan. Hikmet Hajiyev, the assistant of the president of Azerbaijan, has accused France of attempting to start a new conflict in the region.
On November 25, the Senate of France adopted a recommending resolution for the government that suggested recognizing “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” and demanding Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from the region. In response Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan (the country’s parliament) made a statement on November 26 that recommended the government to address the OSCE top management with a demand to remove France from the list of OSCE Minsk group co-heads and review its economic and political relations with France.
Azerbaijanis are celebrating the victory in the streets.