Closing speech by Ilham Aliyev at the meeting in a video format on results of 2020
07 January 2021, 16:45
We have much to do in 2021, both traditional work, which is set out in the public investment program, and the work to be done in the liberated areas. This is what I would like to talk mostly about because our conventional infrastructure projects are almost completed. If we exclude the liberated lands, the level of gasification has reached 96 percent. There is no problem with electricity. I have just brought the Davos Forum report to the attention of the Azerbaijani people, and it says that we are in second place in that respect. Most of the roads have already been built, while the remaining projects are going according to plan. Railway and other infrastructure projects, including irrigation, are proceeding according to plan and are nearing completion. Therefore, our primary focus should be the liberated lands, and the implementation of initial infrastructure projects in this area has already begun. The first project is a highway project to Shusha because the traditional roads to Shusha are not quite convenient for us now. We use these roads accompanied by Russian peacekeeping forces – both the Lachin corridor and through the Girmizi Bazar area. In the future, of course, we will use these roads freely, including the Aghdam-Khankandi-Shusha road. The statement signed on November 10 states that all communications will be opened, so it will not be a problem to use these roads after some time. Today, it is necessary to build a new highway to Shusha, and we have already started doing that. It is a complicated project, the terrain is very challenging, especially now that the weather has set in. However, the Ahmadbayli-Alkhanli-Fuzuli-Shusha road is under construction, and I think it will be completed before the schedule.
Another important project has already been launched. It is the Toganali-Kalbajar road, which also passes through tricky terrain. The altitude is 3,500 meters in some places, so it is not easy to use this road in the winter. Therefore, the construction of the tunnels is planned. Relevant instructions have been issued, and this project is being implemented. At the same time, the order has been given to build a road from Horadiz to Zangilan, then to Gubadli and further to Lachin district. Preparations are underway. I must add that the route from Toganali to Kalbajar will be extended to the Lachin district. Thus, we will create the road and transport infrastructure on both sides – from the north and south to Lachin and Kalbajar districts.
Meanwhile, on my instructions, a site is being sought for the construction of a modern international airport in the Lachin or Kalbajar districts. The terrain is indeed challenging there, as almost the entire territory is mountainous. It is not easy to find the right place there, but research is underway now. I expect an update soon. Thus, a new international airport will be built in either Lachin or Kalbajar. There is little time left for the start of the construction of an international airport in Fuzuli. The order has been issued, and the construction will begin shortly. So the city of Fuzuli, there are no traces of a city there, will have an international airport this year. It is necessary for the development of the Karabakh region because all types of aircraft will be able to land both in Fuzuli and in the Kalbajar-Lachin zone. At the same time, foreigners interested in coming to Shusha will be able to land in Fuzuli and then drive to Shusha. In parallel with the airport's construction, preliminary research should be conducted on the organization of international flights from Fuzuli. An international airport must organize international flights. First of all, our airline AZAL should work hard on this issue to provide an air link to some of our neighboring countries immediately after the airport's opening.
The two international airports will help us restore the Karabakh region, transport cargo, and develop tourism. At the same time, it will be essential for people's comfort after they return there.
Plans related to electricity have been approved. As the minister has also just said, I want to say that both conventional and renewable energy will be widespread there, and the energy system will be fully integrated into our overall energy grid.
Instructions have been issued on railways, and preparations are underway. The construction of the Horadiz-Fuzuli and then the Fuzuli-Shusha railway is also on the agenda. A schedule should be approved. After people return to Shusha, of course, this road will be put into operation. But in any case, the design work is already underway, and funds must be allocated. A railway must be built to ensure easy access to Shusha. This project will be launched this year.
Simultaneously, the Horadiz-Aghband railway, a settlement in Zangilan district near the Armenian border, will be rebuilt because the hated enemy has destroyed this road and made it completely unusable. This road is of particular importance for the opening of the Nakhchivan corridor. At present, specific work is underway to open the Nakhchivan corridor. I do not want to anticipate the events, but this corridor's opening is stipulated in the statement signed on November 10. Therefore, it will open and usher new opportunities in the region. This road will be used by Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Iran. It is of special importance for future multilateral cooperation. We will begin the construction of the Horadiz-Aghband railway in our territory. At the same time, work will be done to restore and modernize the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic railway.
Given that the Armenian railways are owned by Russian railways, in this field, our counterpart is Russia, of course. The Armenian state has nothing to do with the Mehri railway project. We discuss this issue with Russia because "Russian Railways" are the owners of Armenia's railways. Preliminary discussions are positive - so far, so good. Upcoming developments will also be made public.
Irrigation must be accelerated to increase agricultural productivity on the liberated lands. We have already talked about that, so I do not want to repeat anything. The most modern irrigation systems must be arranged, especially since there are abundant water sources.
The power supply has already been talked about here, and all the instructions have been given. The Karabakh region will be an example for the world as a green energy zone.
Establishing borders requires urgent work. Our border with Armenia is hundreds of kilometers long. This border is already under our control. The entire border infrastructure must be organized there. Relevant instructions have been given to the State Border Service. Currently, the State Border Service is guarding the Zangilan-Gubadli border. Troops of the Ministry of Defense serve in the direction of Kalbajar-Lachin. We will return to that matter in the future. In any case, border protection is of particular importance because there are certain revengeful forces in Armenia, and we cannot ignore their statements. But everyone should know that if our border is trespassed, those responsible will be punished, and such provocations will cost such forces dearly.
At the same time, the Republic of Azerbaijan has completely restored its border with the Islamic Republic of Iran. A 132 kilometers long border has been reinstated. When I went to the Khudafarin bridge, I said that this border is the border of friendship. Indeed it is. But a border is a border, and the entire infrastructure must be created. Funds should be allocated for these issues as well.
All instructions on the application of urban planning rules have already been issued. We must continue to invite foreign representatives, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps and delegations visiting Azerbaijan to the liberated territories. For example, an ICESCO delegation is expected to visit Azerbaijan this month. It would be good if some delegation members went to the liberated territories, visited the mosques destroyed by the Armenians and the Armenian leadership, saw those mosques' remains, and informed Muslims of the world more about that. It is not only Muslims but the whole world must know of how the enemy destroyed our historical and religious sites.
Of course, the Karabakh region has excellent tourism potential. Therefore, tourist routes must be designed so that the tourism sector can develop without wasting any time after the return of life to this region. From now on, international tourism exhibitions – which will be restored after the pandemic – should show the Karabakh region's tourism potential, tourist routes and historical sites to showcase this region as a beautiful travel destination for the rest of the world. Given that the Karabakh region has a vibrant, charming, unique nature and historical sites, I am sure it will become one of Azerbaijan's popular travel destinations.
In short, we have great plans. The war ended only two months ago. Yet, notice how much work has already been done. Restoration work has already begun - testimony that our words and actions concur. We said that we would restore these lands soon after they are liberated from occupation. I recently said that we would create a paradise in the Karabakh region, and I keep my word. It is up to all of us to fulfill these words.
Therefore, 2021 should be very significant in this regard. In 2021, the people of Azerbaijan and the whole world will see that our intentions are implemented and our plans come true.
The year has begun, and I wish all of us the best of luck and good health and happiness to the people of Azerbaijan. I wish the former IDPs a speedy return to their native lands. In any case, the Azerbaijani state will do its best to bring that day closer. Unified Azerbaijan will continue to develop successfully and confidently. Thank you.