By Abdul Kerimkhanov
July 23 is a black day in Azerbaijan's history. Occupation of Aghdam region of Azerbaijan by Armenian Armed Forces continues for already 26 years.
Aghdam region was one of the largest administrative divisions in Karabakh. Geographically, it is located in Flat Karabakh, outside the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan. Before the occupation, as many as 153,000 people lived in the area. The center of this densely populated area was the city of Aghdam, whose entire population was Azerbaijanis.
Armenians captured 846.8 square km, that is 77.4 percent of the Agdam region, the total area of which is 1,094 square km, including one city and 80 villages. As many as 26 of the 38 collective farms, 105 of the 129 health care institutions, 74 of the 108 schools, 199 of the 271 cultural centers, 24 construction departments, 67 offices of enterprises, 14 of the 17 mosques fell under occupation. The capture of Aghdam region caused damage to Azerbaijan in the amount of $13.1 billion.
About 6,000 of Aghdam citizens were killed during the battles with the enemy, of which 16 are National Heroes. As a result of the occupation, 143,000 people became persons internally displaced from their homeland.
Following the occupation of the Aghdam region and based on the report of the former OSCE Minsk Group Chairman Mario Rafaelli, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 853, condemning the occupation of Aghdam, calling for the withdrawal of the Armenian occupation troops and the return of refugees to their places of residence.
According to Rafaelli's report, the immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territories forcibly captured by them is the most important factor for advancing peace negotiations. However, due to the non-constructive Armenian position, the non-observance of this fundamental requirement remains the main cause of the unresolved conflict to this day.
The seizure of several villages of the Aghdam region by Armenian troops was accompanied by extreme cruelty and gross violation of the norms of the Geneva Convention.
A significant part of the many historical monuments located in the Aghdam region was destroyed, artificially altered in appearance, and illegal archaeological excavations were carried out there.
The ruins of the Aghdam city destroyed by Armenians is the only thing left from the once dynamic regional center of Flat Karabakh. The central mosque in Aghdam, which always proudly towered over the entire city, is now watching the lifeless horizon of empty ruins and burnt trees. Restoration of life in the city is possible only after the liberation of the Azerbaijani lands.
The occupation of Azerbaijani territories did not lead to the desired political results for Armenia. The status quo in those lands is one of the main reasons why Armenia is plunging into self-isolation and a systemic socio-economic and demographic crisis.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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