Ilham Aliyev received Masim Mammadov over his appointment as Special Representative of President in Lachin district

28 March 2023, 14:00
Ilham Aliyev received Masim Mammadov over his appointment as Special Representative of President in Lachin district

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received Masim Mammadov on his appointment as Special Representative of the President in the Lachin district, part of the East Zangezur economic region.

The head of state delivered remarks at the meeting.

Remarks by President Ilham Aliyev

- You are being appointed as special representative of the President in the Lachin district. Significant trust is being placed in you, and I am sure you will live up to this trust.

Lachin district is one of the largest districts in our country, and the district has tremendous potential. Of course, former IDPs who will return to the Lachin district should live comfortably in Lachin, and the state of Azerbaijan will make sure this is the case.

Lachin district was under occupation for 28 years, and during this period, almost the entire infrastructure of the district was destroyed by Armenia. Enormous damage was caused to the environment. In general, due to the illegal exploitation of our forest fund, the Armenians destroyed, cut, looted, and sold 60,000 hectares of our forests. A large part of that comprises the forests of the Lachin district.

During the occupation, Armenians conducted a policy of illegal settlement in Lachin. Armenians were brought to the city of Lachin and several villages from foreign countries and settled there. This is considered a war crime according to all international conventions. Unfortunately, the Armenian state has not been brought to justice for this war crime.

Lachin district was occupied a few days after the occupation of Shusha. It was a great tragedy for our country and the people of Lachin, and it was yet another act of betrayal on the part of the PFPA-Musavat treacherous duo. The PFPA-Musavat duo aspired to power, tried to seize it by all means, and the transfer and sale of land to Armenia was an opportunity for them to achieve their ugly goal. This is how they evaluated it – they believed that if the people of Azerbaijan were exposed to significant suffering, this would provide them with additional opportunities. Unfortunately, this is what happened. The occupation of Shusha and then Lachin caused a severe political crisis in Azerbaijan. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the PFPA-Musavat treacherous duo seized power illegally one month after the occupation of Lachin, opening the way for even greater tragedies. Less than a year later, in April 1993, Kalbadjar was occupied. Thus a geographical connection was established between the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region and the territory of Armenia. This, of course, was the key contributor to the defeat in the First Karabakh War.

We regained Lachin both on the battlefield and by political means. During the Second Karabakh War, the liberation of the Lachin district from occupation was one of the priority tasks. We actually liberated the southern part of the Lachin district by fighting on the battlefield. Gulabird and several other villages were liberated on the battlefield, and we accessed the Lachin-Khankendi road. This operation, as well as the liberation of Shusha from the Armenian invaders, actually led to the capitulation of the Armenian state. The Armenian leadership, which once said, “Karabakh is Armenia,” was forced to accept its defeat and sign an act of capitulation on November 10, 2020. The other part of the Lachin district, the more significant part, was liberated politically. This is our great and historic victory.

I must emphasize that during the many years of negotiations, the mediators always showed a unique approach to the Lachin district. On the whole, Armenia considered the Lachin district’s return to Azerbaijan unacceptable. They did not intend to vacate other districts either. It has become apparent to everyone two and a half years after the war. International mediators, the former Minsk Group of the OSCE, tried to solidify this occupation by conducting negotiations. Everything has become clear now – France's unfair and prejudiced attitude towards Azerbaijan is not accidental. They tried to cover it up to some extent during the occupation. They simply wanted to misguide us. But notice the ugly acts that have been committed against us in the two and a half years since the war, the Second Karabakh War. Pay attention to the baseless accusations that have been made against us. In other words, all this is obvious, including a series of resolutions adopted by the European Parliament against Azerbaijan, which are still the products of the pro-Armenian, corrupt anti-Azerbaijani group, and French deputies are playing the leading part here. Of course, we felt this during the occupation too, but not to such an evident extent. We could not even imagine that countries could be so hypocritical and deceitful. They can look into your eyes and say one thing but do the exact opposite behind your back.

So the whole world could see everything again over the past two and a half years. At the same time, the anti-Azerbaijani forces could see our unbending resolve. No one can influence our resolve, and no one can speak to us in the language of ultimatums. We proved this to Armenia in the Second Karabakh War, and we also proved it to Armenia's patrons during the two and a half-years after the war. We defeated them and showed the world again that we can and will achieve what we want.

Therefore, the history of the Lachin district should undoubtedly serve as a lesson in many cases. From now on, ensuring the security of Lachin district and returning the displaced people there as soon as possible are priority tasks for us. All engineering and fortification work in the Lachin district along the border with Armenia has almost been completed. Roads that never existed there have been built. One hundred kilometers of local roads in the Lachin and Kalbadjar districts and the roads leading to military positions have been built. So we have acquired favorable positions in the direction of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, reinforcing ourselves in these positions, and will remain in these positions. Of course, other steps and measures are being taken for the security of the Lachin district. These measures will allow our returning compatriots the opportunity to live there comfortably and safely.

Although the district came under our control when the Second Karabakh War ended, the city of Lachin was not in our hands. There were objective reasons for that. Because the road from Armenia to Karabakh passed through the center of the city of Lachin. As a result of many hours of phone conversations with the President of Russia on November 9, 2020, we managed to incorporate the return of the city of Lachin to Azerbaijan as a precondition. For this purpose, the construction of an alternative road was included in the final statement at my insistence and a deadline was indicated. However, it was indicated in somewhat vague terms that discussions on this issue would be held within three years. But as soon as the Second Karabakh War ended, I immediately ordered that the route and all technical parameters of the new road be determined. We quickly started this work and finished it in a year and a half. So a new road bypassing the city of Lachin was built, and the road was ready for operation at the beginning of August last year, or on August 2. We sent a message to the command of the Russian peacekeeping forces that they should move their posts from the current route to a new one, and by August 5, we should be able to enter the city of Lachin, the villages of Zabukh and Sus. Representatives of Karabakh Armenians who were in contact with our representatives then asked us to give them some time. They said that they would resolve those issues by August 25 and evict the illegally settled Armenians from the city of Lachin and the villages of Zabukh and Sus. Thus the issue would be resolved seamlessly. I didn't mind that. After all, 20 days don’t make that much of a difference. So all Armenians illegally settled in the city of Lachin, and the villages of Zabukh and Sus were removed by August 25. On August 26, we returned to the villages of Zabukh, Sus and the city of Lachin. After that, I visited the city of Lachin, raised the Azerbaijani flag in the city’s center and declared that we would live in our native land forever.

Immediately after that, the instruction was issued to start the process of rebuilding the city of Lachin without wasting any time. It has been more than two years since the restoration of the Lachin district started. Much work has been done. As you know, an international airport is being built in the Lachin district. There has never been an airport in that region before, and we faced tremendous difficulties in finding a location for the airport. Because it was not possible to find a flat place for the construction of a runway there. We are building an international airport in mountainous areas, surrounded by mountains. We cut through mountains and carried out extensive ground disturbance work. The airport will probably be put into operation at the end of next year or the beginning of 2025.

The process of rebuilding the Kalbadjar-Lachin road has started. I drove from Kalbadjar to Lachin, and although the distance was not that great, the road was challenging and dangerous. It is almost impossible to use the current road. People who lived in those regions during the Soviet era might remember that the road was tough. In many cases, it was a winding, perilous road. This is why we are rebuilding this road. Many tunnels will be built. In general, most of our tunnels are located in Kalbadjar and Lachin districts, and the length of the tunnel passing under Mount Murov will be about 12 kilometers. So we are opening a road from Goygol district to Eastern Zangezur. At the same time, the construction of the Gubadli-Lachin road is in full swing.

So as soon as the war ended, work on the reconstruction of the Lachin district started. But the reconstruction of the city of Lachin has been underway since August 26 of last year. I want to inform you and the people of Azerbaijan that about 500 private houses are being built in the city of Lachin, and the houses destroyed by the Armenians are being rebuilt as part of the first phase. Eight high-rise residential buildings are being rebuilt or overhauled. More than 30 public buildings are under construction. Let us finish all this work by the end of this year. This will only be the first phase. The number of these houses shows that thousands will live in Lachin by the end of this year. The people of Lachin will return to their homeland this year.

At the same time, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation will build a mosque in the city of Lachin. I laid the mosque’s foundation while I was in Lachin, and our religious temple will be built in a beautiful location shortly.

In parallel with this, we have started completely rebuilding the villages of Zabukh and Sus. More than 1,000 people will be settled in the village of Zabukh and more than 300 in the village of Sus. The Armenians living abroad built a village and houses in Zabukh, and they did that together with the Armenian state, which committed that crime. Our military personnel is now based in those houses. However, a completely new village is being built for the residents of Zabukh village.

I must also state that I have approved the master plan of the Gulabird and Gorchu villages. In the first stage, 2,400 people will be settled in the village of Gulabird and 1,300 in Gorchu village. So taking into account all these figures, everyone can see that we will settle about 10,000 people, perhaps even more former displaced people, in the Lachin district soon – this year and in 2024.

I should also note that the entire infrastructure of the city of Lachin is being rebuilt – water lines, sewage lines, electricity lines, roads, and all internal roads of the city of Lachin are being rebuilt. The length of internal roads is more than 50 kilometers. The architectural style of the city of Lachin is also pleasing to the eye. So it will become one of the most beautiful cities in Azerbaijan and the world. It will be a paradise since Lachin has a very charming nature, forests, mountains and rivers. So we are doing this work, which is just a part of the major work. We are now carrying out large-scale construction work on all the liberated lands. We are doing it and will continue doing this at our own expense.

As my special representative, you should start work immediately. It would be best if you took charge of all these activities. Infrastructure projects are, of course, being implemented by central executive bodies. At the same time, you should make additional proposals regarding the future development of the Lachin district, the creation of jobs and comfortable living standards for local residents because we are trying to work in parallel in all our liberated regions. Therefore, three to four villages will be built in each district in the first stage. At the same time, cities also need to be built. However, if we are talking about the Lachin district, the names of all the villages to be established in the Lachin district at the first stage have been confirmed. In the first stage, we will concentrate on the residents of several villages in some places. Because this would be more convenient for the people and, at the same time, from the point of view of logistics. As a whole, villages were located far from each other in mountainous regions of Karabakh and East Zangezur and other districts, which could have been more convenient for people. This is how the traditional placement of villages was done in the past. Of course, every village on our liberated lands will be restored – now and in the future, but the state of Azerbaijan sees its responsibility in gathering the residents of nearby villages into one place and creating good conditions for them. We will build urban-type villages, and I have approved the master plans of all the villages to be built. At the same time, the external appearance of the villages has been confirmed. Let me say again that they will be beautiful – both from comfort and architecture perspectives.

Of course, environmental protection should be a top priority in the Lachin district from now on. We will return the formerly displaced people, we will create infrastructure, and there will be jobs. Great opportunities will be created. However, as my representative and every former IDP who will return to our lands, you should know that we must protect the environment. Because in some parts of our country, significant damage is being caused to the environment. Illegal work is carried out, lands are occupied, trees are cut down, houses are built instead, and facilities unrelated to agriculture are built. So you, as my representative and all our citizens, should know that there are rules and regulations. No one can do anything on their own. Whatever the rules say, whatever the laws require, everyone must follow. There should be no encroachment of land, destruction of forests and other unpleasant situations. There should be zero tolerance for such situations. I am sure all former IDPs who return to their ancestral lands will live accordingly. State bodies should help them and exercise control so that everything is settled and regulated according to the law.

We will create a large energy capacity using the water resources of the Lachin and Kalbadjar districts. The construction of hydropower plants is going fast in Lachin, Kalbadjar, Zangilan and several other districts. We are receiving more than 50 megawatts of energy. The first station was built in the village of Gulabird, and this project has been implemented. Overall, the goal has been set that the hydropower plants in the liberated areas should provide a capacity of 200 megawatts by the end of this year and reach 500 megawatts in the future. Lachin and Kalbadjar districts have immense wind energy potential.

So all this work will be done. Let me say again that the state is doing its job. After this appointment, my special representatives will work in most of the liberated districts. One hasn’t been appointed for the Kalbadjar district yet, but this will also be done. At the same time, a new governance method should and is already being applied to these territories. In the future, this new governance model should be applied to all other parts of our country. So this is both major construction work and a new governance method. I am sure this will significantly contribute to the comprehensive development of the liberated areas and our country. So these are my instructions, and you should justify my trust.

x x x

Special Representative of the President in Lachin district Masim Mammadov said: Esteemed Mr. President, let me express my gratitude for the high confidence placed in me. Visiting the liberated territories and seeing the incredible devastation caused by Armenian barbarians, one cannot help but be deeply shaken as an Azerbaijani. Nevertheless, I witnessed the extensive construction work underway in that region, and I also saw that there was great determination. Under your leadership, the people of Azerbaijan are determined to restore these territories quickly, move there and develop them again.

I will spare no effort and strength to carry out all the tasks set before me with determination and on time. It is a great honor for me to serve the state of Azerbaijan and you, Mr. President, honestly and diligently. Thank you.

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