Azerbaijan is reviving Aghdam – “Hiroshima of the Caucasus”
By Fuad Muxtar-Aqbabali
Throughout the years of occupation that spanned nearly 30 years, the vile enemy has left downhearted traces in the formerly occupied Azerbaijani territories. Azerbaijan’s once flourishing and developing districts and villages were brutally destroyed and razed to the ground.
As the de-occupied territories are being cleared of landmines, planted willy-nilly across a swathe of land, the scale of damages done to Azerbaijan’s nature, the destruction of residential houses, historical religious and cultural monuments laid bare Armenia’s vandalism.
Totally destroyed, Aghdam, often referred to as the “Hiroshima of the Caucasus”, is now being rebuilt and will welcome its first residents in 2025.
Before the occupation, Aghdam was considered the commercial center of the entire region, where 143,000 people lived in the city with 124 villages. Some 145 historical and cultural monuments were registered in Aghdam and none of them survived the total destruction. All aspects of Armenian vandalism can be seen in the example of Aghdam - once considered the pearl of lowland and mountainous Karabakh.
As far as the eye can see, only the remains of the Juma Mosque can be seen in the vast area among ruined houses and bushes. The enemy kept the remains of the mosque for adjusting artillery fire. Armenians, who are referred to as our neighbors, with whom we shared our bread, who established their own state on the land we were forced to grant to them, committed such destruction in our territories. Rough estimates indicate that the occupation of the district caused damage to the district in the amount of nearly 14bn dollars.
Addressing the October 5 National Urban Forum on the “Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda as engines of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation” in Aghdam, President Ilham Aliyev said.
“Aghdam was, as I said, already destroyed during the years of occupation. It was not destroyed during the first Karabakh war. It was destroyed after almost 30 years, stone by stone. All the buildings have been ruined and dismantled. Stones have been stolen and sold out. You may see the only half-destroyed building was a building of Juma Mosque, but the reason why it was not destroyed along with other mosques which Armenians destroyed in the formerly occupied territories was that they were using the minarets for observation to see the potential movement of Azerbaijani armed forces. But we have video and photo shreds of evidence of desecration of Aghdam Mosque, where Armenians kept pigs and cows in the mosque.”
Foreign journalists who visited the former city of Aghdam and the area left from it call it the Hiroshima of the Caucasus, the Azerbaijani president said, adding that “I think it's worse than Hiroshima as Hiroshima was a nuclear tragedy, an atomic attack. However, a group of vandals and barbarians did not pass there. As far as we are concerned, the city of Aghdam was destroyed after the occupation. Like the city of Fuzuli, it was deliberately and purposefully destroyed”.
When the victorious Azerbaijani army entered the city, not a single building was found to raise the nation’s flag. “This is a war crime. Not only cities but entire villages were destroyed. This is a situation that the world has not seen in recent centuries," the president added.
However, rebuilding Aghdam is a matter of honor to prove to the ill-wishers that not a single town or village, destroyed by the enemy, will be kept in ruins. This determination is outright and obvious with each frequent trip of the president to Karabakh to inaugurate or lay the foundation of another magnificent project.
As the president told a group of Aghdam residents on November 20, 2020, the restoration of the district will occupy a special place in the future restoration plans.
"We will also restore the city of Aghdam. Of course, for this, we have to do all the work in a reasonable way. A master plan will be prepared, specialists will be involved, infrastructure projects will be implemented in a planned manner, and administrative buildings, social facilities, roads, and other necessary works will be done. Citizens will be assisted by the state to return there. Therefore, the restoration of Aghdam District will occupy a special place in our future plans. Because it is a large district in terms of territory, and at the same time, as I said, it is the largest district in terms of population," the president said.
Life is coming back to Aghdam, as in other areas freed from occupation as a result of the glorious victory. After liberation, this city is witnessing great construction, repair and restoration work. President Ilham Aliyev, like in other areas, keeps restoration and reconstruction works in Aghdam under his personal control.
The president visited Aghdam four times during the post-war period. On May 28, 2021 - Independence Day, celebrated as a national holiday in Azerbaijan, Aghdam witnessed historical moments. So, on that historic day, Aghdam’s General Plan was presented to President Ilham Aliyev.
The Master Plan was worked on for some time with the participation of experts. While preparing the document, the historical face of the city and modern challenges were taken into account. Of course, another time could have been chosen for the presentation of the Agdam City Master Plan to the president. However, holding such a significant event on our state holiday, Independence Day has a great symbolic meaning.
Referring to the General Plan presented to the president, we can say that in the near future, a city with modern infrastructure, recreation areas, tourist accommodation facilities, and comfortable residential houses will be built in place of the current ruins and destructions left by Armenians.
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