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Wednesday February 1 2023

Reflecting on memorable 2022 year & looking ahead to 2023

6 January 2023 09:59 (UTC+04:00)
Reflecting on memorable 2022 year & looking ahead to 2023

On the first working day of 2023, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stayed loyal to his years-long tradition, and together with First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva commissioned a Child and Youth Development Center in Baku after a major overhaul and restoration.

This is a very good omen for months to come as both Baku, districts, in particular, the Karabakh economic region will see hundreds of meters of red ribbon to be cut in 2023 with grand projects in the pipeline.

As we end the year, now is the perfect time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and make attempts at our expectations from the new year. In essence, Azerbaijan with its powerful military forces on alert, thriving economy, oil and gas revenue, and promising new green energy projects, to name a few, is advancing confidently to 2023.

The year 2022 turned out successful for Azerbaijan for ambitious brownfield projects in the liberated Karabakh, and 2023 will witness major national milestone mega-buck construction plans ranging from schools to new modern roads, power stations, rebuilding of villages, districts, and towns razed to the ground during Armenia’s 30-year-long scorched earth policy. It is beyond any doubt that challenges are always there and they could be surmountable provided with a clear vision.

In 2022, Azerbaijan has further cemented its historic victory gained on the battlefields in 2020. On a political dimension, Azerbaijan’s diplomatic gains proved to be substantial despite Armenia’s stonewalling to avoid signing a peace deal. However, the unfolding developments button down that Armenia has long ago reached an impasse, and efforts to overcome the cul-de-sac with the backing of international patrons yield no results and has to consent to the terms of the November 10, 2020, peace deal and honor the unaccomplished items, one of them being the Zangazur corridor to unite the exclave Nakhchivan with the mainland Azerbaijan.

In 2022, at the meetings in Prague and Sochi, Armenia officially recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Notwithstanding the fact that Armenia held back the signing of a peace accord for two years now, the latest diplomatic fiasco at the UN in concert with France as well as previous ones was a wake-up call for Yerevan to brace itself for the worst to come and that provoking Baku to military operations would bode ill for it. The disastrous outcome of the France-initiated UN bill on the last day of 2022 laid bare and watered down Armenia's plans and dependence on foreign advocates to breathe down Baku's neck without realizing that it is a pawn in a political game.

Throughout the independence period, one of the major directions of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy was, is, and will definitely be increasing the number of friends worldwide, and the period when Azerbaijan waged a holy war to regain its own lands militarily in 2020 proved the right choice of the foreign policy directions with international support. Azerbaijan garnered international benefits owing to the policies of neutrality, non-alignment, non-interference, and rendering all-out possible support to close and faraway nations, unlike Armenia’s ostrich policies.

Hopes run high for 2023 that Armenia will finally come to terms and go own part of the path to be conducive to the establishment of the long-awaited calm and tranquility in the South Caucasus and as the Azerbaijani president reiterated “we now have all the prerequisites to sign a peace treaty with Armenia, which is possible based on the well-known five principles proposed by Azerbaijan”.

Azerbaijan is determined to further strengthen its own military power as further beefing up the army-building tops both the agenda of the government and the nation. This is particularly pivotal in the wider region provided Armenia’s open-ended provocations, where separatists and opportunists are in vainly rearing their ugly heads for revenge.

Built on its triumphant victory in 2020 when Azerbaijan demonstrated its military power, over the past two years since then, the government has strengthened its military potential thanks to implementing reforms, creating new armed units, and supplying the army with advanced weaponry and equipment.

Several military operations conducted in 2022 once again proved the high combat readiness of the army. Operations Farrukh, Revenge, and the military clashes along Azerbaijan's border with Armenia in September 2022 brought Azerbaijan another brilliant military victory. Consequently, during the border clashes, Azerbaijan has gained a foothold in many strategically advantageous positions.

The year 2022 also saw the liberation of Lachin and the return of the villages of Zabukh and Sus under Baku’s full control, where now extensive construction and restoration works going on to ensure the return of the people of Lachin, the first former displaced persons to their native lands.

The ongoing return of Aghali residents back to their comfy houses in Zangilan District has instilled a sense of confidence that the day is not far away when the whole of Karabakh will embrace all old and new residents.

As the president said in his December 31 speech “life was restored in the village of Aghali. The first project was over, and the natives of Zangilan returned to their homeland. This is a historic accomplishment since in less than two years after the war, actually in just a year and a half, we have ensured the return of the first former displaced persons to their native land and created excellent living conditions for them”.

This once again demonstrates the power of Azerbaijan, its steadfastness, and the dignity of our nation. This shows that our citizens are connected to their ancestral lands. As the saying goes, there’s no place like home. Even the youth, children, and schoolchildren, who have never seen those places, have returned to the native fatherland with great enthusiasm.

The Great Return program is being successfully implemented. There are large-scale construction works going on in a number of cities. First and foremost, large-scale construction is taking place in Shusha. In parallel, hospitals, schools, and residential buildings are under construction in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Zangilan, and Lachin. Master plans of over ten villages and towns have already been approved, and the president personally laid the foundation of several of them.

“The master plans of all the liberated towns and villages have been developed and approved. All of the work will be implemented in line with the master plans. All of our plans are reflected in the Great Return program. I am confident that hundreds of thousands of formerly displaced persons will return to their homeland in the nearest future,” the president said.

In parallel, demining of the liberated territories is underway despite Armenia's malign intention to torpedo and discourage Azerbaijan from providing worthy living conditions before relocating former IDPs back to their hopes. Armenia hoped to delay the process, however, the government has been pursuing a wide-ranging mine-clearance plan to make huge resources on the liberated lands available.

The opening of the international airport in Zangilan, the second in the liberated territories with the third in the pipeline, was another blow to Armenia’s ill-intentioned and vicious plan.

“Large-scale work is underway on opening the Zangazur Corridor, with railways and motor roads being constructed. The Zangazur Corridor will definitely be opened, whether Armenia wants it or not. We demonstrate our firm commitment, and everything is going according to plan. Our demand is reasonable and just. We must and will have a communication line with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan,” the president emphasized.

Azerbaijan’s historical lands with moveable and immovable assets were completely destroyed. The Armenian fascism spared no efforts to plunder and raze to the ground what the natives of these lands built for hundreds of years. Armenia even took great pains to destroy places of worship, including mosques, which are now undergoing substantial restoration and reconstruction.

“I had already mentioned that Armenians completely destroyed 65 of 67 mosques during the occupation. The restoration, in fact, the reconstruction of these mosques, has already begun. The mosques that need repair are being repaired. I should mention that the Heydar Aliyev Foundation plays the leading role in constructing and overhauling our religious monuments. Almost all mosques are restored at the expense of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation,” the Azerbaijani president said.

There were numerous significant developments in the energy sector in 2022. In mid-2022, the Memorandum on Strategic Partnership in the field of Energy was signed between Azerbaijan and the European Union, which is already being implemented. Azerbaijan is increasing its natural gas exports to global markets.

On December 17, Azerbaijan launched another new megaproject, that is, an electricity cable under the Black Sea will allow Azerbaijan to play a more significant role in this sector. Azerbaijan will become the primary supplier of green energy. Karabakh and East Zangazur are being treated as green energy zone.

Azerbaijan's primary renewable energy sources are of great importance to itself and the world.

“I have recently announced that the potential of Azerbaijan’s proven renewable energy sources is 184,000MW. Some 157,000MW of this volume is located in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. This will make our country an indispensable partner in the energy sector,” according to the president.

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