By Orkhan Amashov
After 30 years of total vandalism, mayhem and wanton destruction of epic proportions by Armenia, Karabakh is coming back to life thanks to the uniquely ambitious grand reconstruction, which is, at present, being carried out by the Azerbaijani government. The opening of the Fuzuli International Airport with the participation of the Azerbaijani and Turkish leaders is a momentous development in a chain of vast rebuilding measures put into practice throughout the whole region. In addition to its obvious symbolic significance, the event in question reaffirms Azerbaijan’s zealous commitment to putting Karabakh at the heart of a wider economic map entailing pervasive transport and communication routes.
Symbolism and beyond
The opening of the Fuzuli International Airport is an event the critical significance of which can hardly be overestimated. There are both symbolic and practical dimensions to it. The first thing which springs to one’s mind is the indubitable symbolic reiteration of Azerbaijan’s glorious and just victory in the Second Karabakh War.
In the words of Mikhail Finkel, an Israeli expert in international law and international relations, now we can see with naked eyes that “the masters of the land are back”.
According to former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza, “the visit of Azerbaijan’s closest ally’s leader to Fuzuli shows and underscores the powerful victory of Azerbaijan in last year’s 44-day war, which is the greatest military victory in Azerbaijan’s history and the greatest diplomatic victory”.
In addition, it reaffirms that Azerbaijan has changed, is reunified, and it is ready to construct a new transportation hub in Fuzuli to help the entire region of the South Caucasus reintegrate, he said.
Wanton destruction, ambitious rebuilding
As it is now manifestly obvious to everyone, during the illegal occupation of the Azerbaijani lands, Armenia managed, with a great deal of success, to destroy and plunder the riches of Karabakh.
As Mikhail Finkel put it, nothing was built or created during the occupation. Armenia was driven with the sole purpose of “taking out from Karabakh everything possible”, and when it was clear that they were going to lose the war, they destroyed everything, following the "scorched earth" Nazi policy of Goebbels.
"In the course of the 30 years, Armenia did not bother to create there either an airport or any other normal infrastructure that would integrate this land into the civilised world," the Israeli expert said.
The fact that the project was completed in the shortest possible time, eight months after the relevant presidential decree, is unequivocal proof of Azerbaijan's indefatigable will and its unwavering commitment to rebuilding the region.
What is particularly staggering about the airport, in addition to the expediency with which it was built, according to Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko, who has been in Fuzuli twice since its liberation, "is the application of the highest quality standards within the process". Azerbaijan is not just rebuilding, it is rebuilding in style.
Karabakh: Heart of economic vitality
Azerbaijan understands only too well that the future of Karabakh is not just dependent on the investments from Baku, but also on ensuring the region’s central place in a wide web of interactions between the regional actors. For Karabakh to be economically viable, it is vital to be firmly connected with the rest of the country and with a wider region.
According to Azerbaijani MP Sevil Mikayilova, the airport will serve a wide range of critical functions. It will give a new impetus to the rebuilding process in Karabakh by virtue of its facilitative propensity, as it will add to the expediency of the reconstruction.
"It will also ensure the fundamental basis for the reintegration of the region with the rest of the Azerbaijani economy," the MP said.
Israeli expert Finkel thinks that the wisdom of the policy pursued by Azerbaijan lies in the fact that Baku has been quick to seize the opportunity and implement a series of measures based on the importance of creating connecting arteries.
"Like any artery connecting Karabakh with the world, the Fuzuli International Airport will facilitate visits of politicians, businessmen, investors, public figures, representatives of culture and tourists. People will come to Karabakh, and when they see this beautiful land, they will want to invest money, open enterprises,” he said.
According to Bryza, on the other hand, the airport will facilitate investments into the region boosting the economy.
“It will make it smoother for investments to take place, investments in organised industrial zones stretching from the Caspian Sea all the way to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean”, the former diplomat emphasised.
Turkish presidential chief advisor Yalcin Topcu believes that "the Fuzuli International Airport, one of the most important projects connecting Baku with Shusha, the cultural cradle of the Turkic world, will reconnect Karabakh to Azerbaijan, the region and the whole world with the completion of the Victory Road”.
The opening of the airport reiterates in its own symbolic way the power and might of the unity of the Turkic world the potential of which is yet to trouble its detractors.
According to Topcu, “the world will understand that hostility to the Turks brings defeat, and friendship with the Turks brings victory”.
Erdogan’s visit also shows Turkish-Azerbaijani relations have reached a new high. The relations between the two Turkic nations have always been incredibly close, but the level of the present engagement is unprecedented.
Bryza believes that the current developments are the harbinger of further deepening of ties in various spheres, including “military, technological, but also economic, trade and investment”..
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