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Tuesday July 23 2024

Revitalising Azerbaijan: Rebuilding infrastructure in liberated territories

22 June 2024 08:30 (UTC+04:00)
Revitalising Azerbaijan: Rebuilding infrastructure in liberated territories
Nazrin Abdul
Nazrin Abdul
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Azerbaijan is undertaking substantial efforts in the liberated territories to rebuild and revitalize the economy.

The government has allocated all available resources to establish a modern local economy and implement the Great Return State Program. Key priorities include mine clearance, modern infrastructure development, and economic revitalization.

Supported by abundant local resources, Garabagh has immense potential for developing competitive industries such as mining, construction materials, green energy, and processing. These sectors are expected to drive economic growth alongside agriculture, construction, and services.

As reported by Azernews, Vahid Hajiyev, the special representative of the President of Azerbaijan for Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan districts in the Eastern Zangazur economic region, highlighted these developments at the 29th High-Level Meeting on "Pathway to COP29: Sustainable and Resilient Future" in Zangilan. He emphasized Azerbaijan's commitment to sustainable development in Garabagh and Eastern Zangazur, citing the country's significant strides in combating climate change and pursuing UN Sustainable Development Goals.

"We are currently amidst rapid global changes," noted Hajiyev.

"Despite technological advancements that have improved living standards worldwide, humanity faces challenges such as climate change, social inequality, and environmental issues. Under President Ilham Aliyev's leadership, Azerbaijan is dedicated to overcoming these challenges through sustainable development initiatives. Following the liberation of our territories, comprehensive strategies including the National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development until 2030 and the 'Great Return' State Program have been implemented to rejuvenate Garabagh and Eastern Zangazur. Today, ongoing construction projects span various sectors in these regions."

According to "Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development," such as enhancing public-private sector collaboration, promoting entrepreneurship as a catalyst for economic growth, and expanding non-oil sector financing are central to Azerbaijan's economic strategy. The "State Program on the Great Return to the liberated territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2022‒2026)" program aims to stimulate business and support private entrepreneurship, thereby boosting employment opportunities.

Industry in the Eastern Zangazur and Garabagh economic regions is currently in the early stages of recovery following the 2020 Patriotic War. Efforts are ongoing to clear mines and implement extensive infrastructure projects, with Azerbaijan allocating 10 billion manats from its state budget between 2021 and 2023 for these purposes.

Ensuring complete security remains crucial for facilitating widespread local economic development, albeit requiring time due to objective circumstances. Industrial parks in Aghdam and Jabrayil have been established to promote local industry in our liberated lands, with active involvement from the business community.

Under President Ilham Aliyev's leadership, Azerbaijan has made significant strides in developing its non-oil sector and bolstering export capabilities. The establishment of industrial parks and clusters has created favorable conditions for the production of competitive, export-oriented goods. High-tech enterprises in industrial zones, particularly in polymers, rubber, cables, and aluminum-based products, play a pivotal role in this transformation.

In the recently liberated regions of Garabagh and Eastern Zangazur, extensive efforts are underway to promote economic recovery and integration. Restoration of Garabagh's industrial potential is a key focus, aiming to stimulate economic reintegration and generate employment opportunities. Notably, industrial parks in Agdam and the "Araz Valley Economic Zone" in Jabrayil district have been set up, providing conducive environments for entrepreneurial ventures and business activities.

These designated zones aim to revitalize business activities by offering entrepreneurs access to various concessions. Residents benefit from state-funded pre-built infrastructure and are granted exemptions from property tax, land tax, income, or profit tax for a decade after registration. Additionally, VAT exemptions apply during the importation of machinery, and customs duties are waived for ten years.

Recent amendments to the Tax Code, effective from January 1 of this year, introduce further incentives for entrepreneurs operating in liberated territories. These include subsidies for social insurance fees, additional vacation days for local professionals, monthly salary supplements, one-time allowances, simplified work permit procedures, and exemptions from labor migration quotas for foreign specialists.

Moreover, entrepreneurs engaged in production activities in liberated territories will receive financial assistance equivalent to 20 percent of their monthly utility service payments for a decade, further encouraging sustainable business growth and development in these vital regions.

One such ambitious project is the reconstruction of the Horadiz-Aghband railway line. During his visit to Zangilan, President Ilham Aliyev announced the commencement of this strategic railway project, which will connect Azerbaijan's main territory to Nakhchivan through the Zangazur corridor. This railway line, initiated by President Aliyev three years ago, holds significant strategic and economic importance for Azerbaijan, forming a crucial element of the Zangazur corridor.

Currently, Azerbaijan Railways operates trains up to Hekari station along the 110.4 km railway line. Construction progress includes 9 stations, a landmark 771-meter bridge spanning 23 spans—the longest in Azerbaijan's railway history—a pioneering closed railway tunnel built during Azerbaijan's independence, and around 500 other engineering structures.

Upon completion, this railway infrastructure will extend into Turkiye via Nakhchivan, effectively creating a second railway network linking Azerbaijan directly with Turkiye. Notably, Azerbaijan oversaw the successful launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in 2017, marking the first historic railway connection between Azerbaijan and Turkiye.

The ongoing construction of this second railway network holds immense strategic significance, bolstering trade and tourism ties between Turkiye and Azerbaijan. Moreover, fostering new partnerships and ensuring operational efficiency is vital for enhancing security and stability in the South Caucasus region.

In addition to the railway project, significant progress is also underway on the Horadiz-Jabrayil-Zangilan-Aghband highway, starting from Ahmadbeyli village in Fuzuli. This modern highway will feature a 6-lane, 80-kilometer section with 3 entrances and exits, and a 43.8-kilometer stretch with 4 lanes and 2 entrances and exits.

The road bed widths will accommodate traffic needs, with detailed provisions including 3 car tunnels totaling 6,015 meters, 2 viaducts, 23 bridges, 8 overpasses, 50 underpasses, and numerous water transfer structures. Additionally, plans include 60 backup crossings for water and communication lines.

These infrastructure developments underscore Azerbaijan's commitment to regional connectivity, economic growth, and enhancing living standards for its citizens. In addition, Azerbaijan's determination in the political arena and its foresight in both domestic and foreign policy make it a significant advantage in the face of forces that have a strong influence in the region and beyond. Azerbaijan can successfully advance in politics as well as in the economic field. Because until today, its reaching this peak is only a successful result of a robust political course.

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