Azerbaijan plans reviving the freed territories in Karabakh in 2021.
Azerbaijan Sums Up the 44-Day War
When the Lachin district was returned to Azerbaijan on December 1, the timetable for withdrawing Armenian military forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan was complete. The timetable was outlined in the trilateral statement of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as the prime minister of Armenia overnight on November 9-10.
According to the ministry of defense, Azerbaijan lost 2802 soldiers. The ministry reported that 40 people are still missing in action while the search continues. 60 more casualties are waiting to be identified.
On December 4 at 12:00 local time a one-minute silence was announced on the entire territory of the country to honor those who died during the war.
According to Aliyev’s presidential decree, from now on September 27 (the day when military operations started) will be commemorated in Azerbaijan as Memorial Day to remember those who died in the national war, while November 8 (the day of liberating the town of Shusha) as Victory Day, which will also be an official holiday.
On December 10 a victory parade took place in Baku that included over 3000 military servicemen, up to 150 pieces of military equipment including new military equipment, missile launchers, artillery pieces, air-defense systems, warships and cutters. The parade also included demonstrating some of the trophies, i.e. military equipment captured during the war.
On December 11 the parliament of Azerbaijan adopted the decree of the head of the state on ending martial law and war-time state in the country starting from December 12.
On December 14 Azerbaijan and Armenia conducted prisoner exchange in accordance with the principle “all for all”. On the same day, the Prosecutor General’s office reported the detention of four Azerbaijani soldiers suspected of mutilating the bodies of dead Armenian solders in the course of battles on the territory of Zangilan district, as well as suspected of ruining Armenian gravestones at a cemetery in Khojavend district.
At the same time, on December 11 a group of political party leaders and heads of civil organizations in Azerbaijan as well as representatives of Azerbaijani diaspora turned to international community with a call to secure withdrawal of Russian “peace-keeping” forces from Azerbaijan. They pointed out that the deployment of Russian “peace-keepers” after 44 days of war was done violating international rules as the Russian forces were deployed without UN mandate. Moreover, they called on international community to exclude Russia and France from co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group for brutal violation of their obligation to remain neutral mediators.
Military success resulted in a switch to a softer domestic policy. In fact, on December 7 the Sabail district court of Baku changed the sentence for house arrest for 15 people detained during the army protest in Baku in July 2020. This criminal case features 37 people, with 36 of them arrested and 15 of them being the members of the opposition party, Azerbaijani Popular Front Party.
“The special feature of the 2021 state budget is its focus on recovery works on the freed territories in Karabakh “
Karabakh to be Revived by Contractors from Friendly Countries
In December Azerbaijan started planning recovering infrastructure on the freed territories. On December 21, the government submitted 2021 state budget draft to the parliament of the country. The ministry of finance reported that a special feature of the state budget is its focus on recovery works on the freed territories as well as on creating social, economic, energy, communal, transport infrastructure and ensuring better living conditions and business activities for those citizens that return to their lands. The state budget draft includes 2.2 billion manats (1.1 billion euros) to spend on recovery efforts on the freed territories.
Mikayil Jabbarov, Azerbaijan’s minister of economy reported that relevant institutions within the government of the country have already developed the socio-economic concept of reviving the freed territories of Azerbaijan. According to the minister, the document will be submitted to the top decision-makers after being thoroughly discussed. Based on this concept, legal, financial and economic subsidies will be adopted and implemented.
According to him, some recovery efforts have already been made when it comes to new roads and railways.
However, the authorities announced that some work may also be done by companies from those countries that demonstrated a friendly attitude to Azerbaijan during the war. On December 18 the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed the Council of the Heads of States of the CIS. He reported that the first contract was already signed with the Turkish company and the second one is going to be signed with a company from Italy. Aliyev also called on companies in former CIS countries to be more active in applying for contracts.
Azerbaijan’s Offer of Cooperation with Armenia
In December an attempt was made by the High Representative of the European Union on Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell to arrange a meeting with the heads of MFA of Azerbaijan and Armenia; however, it failed. On December 18 both diplomats were in Brussels, but the leading diplomatic officials of Azerbaijan and Armenia refused to have a meeting. Josep Borrell confirmed that the European Union completely supports the format of OSCE Minsk group and expects co-heads to continue negotiations on comprehensive and consistent conflict resolution.
In December the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev offered cooperation to Armenia. On December 10 Aliyev had a joint press conference with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, with Aliyev stating that a new platform for cooperation should be created in the region.
“All countries in the region participating in ?building? this platform will only win. There is traditional cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, there is cooperation between Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran, as well as between Turkey, Russia and Iran. We can consolidate all these platforms, uniting all of them into one. If the government of Armenia makes the right conclusions after the war, gives up their groundless claims and looks into the future, they can also become a part of this platform. We are open to this. The hostility between the two countries should come to an end, we have to move on and put an end to this feud”, Aliyev said.
December saw further aggravation of relations between Azerbaijan and France, with the reason behind being the resolution on protecting Christian communities in Europe and East and Armenian people adopted by the National Assembly of France on December 3. The resolution followed military developments in Karabakh, with Azerbaijan and Turkey being criticized as a result. Moreover, MPs advised the government of France to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent republic. As a result, on December 4 the French ambassador in Baku Zachary Gross was summoned to the MFA of Azerbaijan where he was handed a note of protest. The same reaction followed similar resolutions adopted by Belgian and Dutch parliaments.