Opening Ceremony of the Azerbaijan National Urban Forum

The Azerbaijan National Urban Forum on the “Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda as engines of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation” has got underway in Aghdam in partnership with the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT), the State Committee on Urban Planning and Architecture of Azerbaijan and with the organizational support of the ADA University on October 5.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the Forum’s opening ceremony. Welcoming Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Maimunah Mohd Sharif and other guests, President Ilham Aliyev delivered a speech at the forum which representatives of more than 40 countries attended and expressed his pleasure for organizing the Azerbaijan National Urban Forum in the location where Aghdam city was once situated. Noting nothing was left of the city that used to be full of life and was destroyed during the occupation, the head of state expressed his gratitude to the guests from different countries for coming there to see what has happened to the biggest city in the Karabakh region, which Aghdam used to be and to see what Azerbaijan is doing and what is planning to do in the coming years to return former IDPs to their homeland.

President Ilham Aliyev stated that Aghdam was not destroyed during the first Karabakh war, rather it was demolished stone by stone in the later years of occupation, all the buildings have been ruined and dismantled, stones have been stolen and sold out. Stating that the only half-destroyed building was the building of Juma Mosque, the head of state informed the guests that whatever they see in Aghdam they can see in every single village, in other parts of the Karabakh area as well.  

President Ilham Aliyev expressed that now we are facing new but very pleasant challenges to rebuild Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur, to return people, and to create for former refugees and IDPs living in any region of Azerbaijan much better conditions.

Informing about the establishment of the first village in the Zangilan region and the return of the first IDPs this May, and the opening of a school in Zangilan this September the head of state asserted that we have concentrated and mobilized all our potential to return the former IDPs to their homes in liberated Aghdam. Large-scale infrastructure projects are underway. President Ilham Aliyev stated, “You have seen Fuzuli International Airport, which was built in 8 months. This month we plan to inaugurate Zangilan International Airport and, in 2025, International Airport in Lachin. The railroad from Barda to Aghdam will be operational next year. Yesterday I laid down the foundation of the new railway station. Thousands of kilometers of highways and thousands of kilometers of village roads are being constructed now. According to the investment plan, which has already been approved in the liberated territories of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur, there will be 33 tunnels with a total length of more than 50 kilometers. There will be 84 bridges with a length of 12 km. These are only part of what we are now doing. We fully restored the electric supply to all the liberated areas. Hopefully, soon, in Jabrayil, we will start the construction of the solar power plant with a capacity of 230 megawatts. In general, we have evaluated the potential of renewable energy in liberated territories, and preliminary analysis shows it is almost 10.000 megawatts. We have already inaugurated several hydropower stations, and the total hydropower capacity will be more than 500 megawatts, and the rest will be solar and wind energy.”

Underlining the involvement of leading international companies in the preparation and approval of all General plans of the cities, President Ilham Aliyev emphasized: “So, we have already started here in Aghdam several housing projects. I was here yesterday for the groundbreaking ceremony of three villages, Khidirli, Kangarli, and Sarijali. Maximum in two years several thousand people will live in these villages. In the city of Aghdam, we are already building a school for almost one thousand children, which will be ready maybe this year, maybe next year, a hospital, and several housing projects. And this is only in Aghdam. At the same time, it is more or less happening in Fuzuli, Gubadli, and Zangilan. We are planning to restore the city of Lachin, where we returned just two months ago, by the end of next year. Because, as I said, there was an illegal settlement there. So, not all the buildings have been demolished. We have already sent a group of specialists there. So, we will rebuild Karabakh and Zangezur.”

Later Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Maimunah Mohd Sharif welcomed President Ilham Aliyev and the guests, expressed her gratitude for being invited to participate in the first Azerbaijan National Urban Forum held in Aghdam and congratulated the head of state on his determination and dedication to rebuilding the cities liberated from occupation. The forum continued its work with sessions.