By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has said that the great return to the Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia's occupation in a 44-day war in autumn 2020 has begun.
Aliyev made the remarks during a ceremony to lay the foundation of the International Airport in Zangilan on April 26. First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva accompanied the head of state during the visit to Zangilan.
"The great return has begun. The airport I laid the foundation stone of today shows the strength of our state. The foundation of the new Horadiz-Zangilan highway will be laid a little later. This 4-6-lane road runs parallel to the existing road and ushers ample opportunities. These projects are very important for linking Zangilan with other districts of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. I congratulate the people of Zangilan and all the people of Azerbaijan on this event," the head of state said.
The president added that the airport will be built in Zangilan in the near future and its runway will be 3-km-long.
"The airport will be able to accommodate all types of aircraft, including heavy cargo planes. The construction of a second airport has begun on the liberated lands. The construction of the Fuzuli International Airport is already going well. The runway of Fuzuli Airport will be put into operation this year. So we will be able to receive the first planes in Fuzuli this year.”
The president noted that Zangilan's geographical location and opportunities available in the region allowed the country to turn it into an international transport and logistical centre.
"It is no coincidence that the airport will be built in Zangilan because if you look at the geographical situation, everyone can see that the three international airports to be built in Fuzuli, Zangilan and then in Lachin regions will cover the whole of Karabakh and the eastern Zangazur zone, including Zangilan. A railway and a highway will pass through here and a road to Nakhchivan will be opened. Of course, this airport will play an important role in the future successful socioeconomic development of Zangilan," Aliyev said.
President Ilham Aliyev also laid the foundation of the Zangilan-Horadiz highway.
Speaking about the railway construction in liberated lands, the head of state said that the work had begun.
"Some time ago, I laid the foundation stone of the Horadiz-Aghband railway in Horadiz settlement. This railway will connect the main part of Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic through the Zangazur corridor. In fact, Zangilan region is geographically located in the East Zangazur district, and we will connect East Zangazur with West Zangazur and open a railway to Nakhchivan, as well as a highway," he said.
During the visit to the Armenian-destroyed Minjivan railway station, the president said that it will be rebuilt.
"The railway will be rebuilt now, and so will the station. The process of reconstruction of the railway has begun," he said.
Inaugurating a new military unit in Jabrayil region, the president said that all necessary infrastructure work is under way along the Azerbaijani border with Armenia.
"This border has also been restored and all necessary infrastructure work is under way along the border. All equipment has been mobilized. The length of this border is about 500 kilometers. This border for almost 30 years was in the hands of the occupying forces. We won the patriotic war, fully restored this border, liberated Zangilan and Gubadli districts and a part of Lachin district by fighting…Necessary work is underway in those territories," he said.
The president reminded the recent Armenian provocation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border in Zangilan region and said any further similar attempt will be foiled.
Aliyev warned that the recent military provocation against our border guards in the direction of Zangilan on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border should be the last such attempt.
“We showed restraint and did not respond to this provocation. But this is the last warning. If a similar attempt is made again, the enemy will be destroyed on the spot.”
Aliyev drew attention to the fact that the new military unit opened on the Azerbaijani-Iranian border and described it as a border or friendship.
"A new military unit of the State Border Service is being opened on the Azerbaijani-Iranian border... During the Patriotic war, the Azerbaijani-Iranian border was fully restored. The 132-kilometre occupied border was fully restored. All the necessary fortification and protection work began along the border immediately after the war. The launch of this military unit is clear evidence of that. Necessary work is being done along the entire border – both the Azerbaijani-Iranian and Azerbaijani-Armenian borders. The Azerbaijani-Iranian border is a border of friendship. The protection of this border is also of great importance for the development of Azerbaijani-Iranian relations," Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that the growing volume of cargo via the border indicated the development of Azerbaijani-Iranian relations. He dubbed the nearby Khudafarin Bridge as a symbol of Azerbaijani-Iranian friendship. He underlined a special role of Azerbaijani border guards to liberate the Khudafarin Bridge from occupation on Independence Day – on 18 October 2020.
State Border Service Chief Colonel-General Elchin Guliyev reported to President Aliyev that the military unit had been established on an area of 5,339 square metres.
The head of state underlined that a few months after the war Azerbaijan launched the first smart village project in Zangilan's Aghali village.
"The first village project was already launched in Zangilan today. The foundation stone of Aghali village was laid. This is the first step in a great return. We are already starting this work a few months after the war. Infrastructure work is underway. The reconstruction of Aghali village, the first 'smart village' project, has started. Aghali village, in fact, three villages – Aghali 1, 2 and 3 – were liberated on 28 October. Six months later, the foundation stone of a new village was laid in Aghali, and it will be an exemplary village," Aliyev said.
He added that the technologies to be applied in the village will meet the most modern standards.
"Houses, public buildings and social facilities will be built. Jobs and arable lands have been identified. The nature and natural resources of Zangilan as a whole will allow us the opportunity to turn this district into one of the most advanced regions of Azerbaijan," he said.
Agriculture Minister Inam Karimov informed President Aliyev that the first “smart village” pilot project covers the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Aghali villages of Zangilan region. The project will be implemented mainly on five components - housing, manufacturing, social services, “smart agriculture” and alternative energy.
Karimov said that initially, there are plans to build 200 individual houses in the area using fully insulated and innovative construction materials. In-house engineering communication and heating systems will also be built on the basis of smart technologies. Modern schools, kindergartens, outpatient clinics and e-government centers will be built in these villages and tourism infrastructure created. All residential houses, social facilities, office and public catering buildings, processing and agricultural enterprises will be provided with alternative energy sources. Later specialists from Turkish, Chinese, Italian and Israeli companies familiarized Aliyev with details of the work they will carry out as part of the smart village project in Karabakh.
Speaking to the international specialists involved in the project, President Aliyev said that Azerbaijan will continue inviting companies from friendly companies to work in Karabakh.
"I am glad that today company from Israel, company from Italy, from two friendly countries of Azerbaijan are joining this important project and we have international cooperation. We have companies from Turkey, from China, from Israel, from Italy all friendly countries. This is really a good international cooperation. I am sure it’s only the first step. As a successful implementation of this project, of course, will allow us to use this experience in other destinations of Karabakh, because we need to restore hundreds of villages, settlements and cities. So, I hope to see you, maybe, in Baku at the opening of this villages and also to demonstrate and taste the real Italian mozzarella," Aliyev said.
Then Aliyev laid the foundation of the first "smart village" project covering the 1st, 2nd, 3rd Aghali villagesof Zangilan region. A group of Zangilan residentts also took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.
"Let's lay the foundation stone together now. The great return begins today," Aliyev addressed the residents.
He later added that "the foundation stone of the 'smart village' project in Aghali village was laid by President Ilham Aliyev. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” This is what the capsule says".
As part of the visit, President Aliyev laid the foundation of the Zangilan mosque to be restored by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The president, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva attached a memorial plaque with the words "The foundation of the Zangilan Mosque was laid by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev on 26 April 2021" on the wall of the mosque.
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