Azerbaijan’s unwavering commitment to regional peace, cooperation


By Vugar Khalilov

The historic city of Shusha in Azerbaijan, like other liberated regions of the country, is undergoing an extensive reconstruction process to restore normal life in the city and regain its past glory after a long-lasting devastating occupation by Armenia.

Azerbaijan organizes massive political, humanitarian and cultural events in addition to large-scale reconstruction to draw international attention to the destruction and humanitarian tragedy perpetrated by Armenia in the former occupied lands of Azerbaijan, as well as to inform the world about its reconstruction and the consolidation of peace. effort in the region.

The city of Shusha has hosted many major international events and witnessed a number of historic events since its liberation from Armenia’s 30-year occupation in 2020.

Forum Choucha

An international conference entitled “South Caucasus: Development and Cooperation”, organized by the Center for the Analysis of International Relations and ADA University in Shusha on April 28, was one of the most recent major events to highlight the efforts of Azerbaijan’s peacebuilding with the international community.

Experts, researchers and media representatives from about 50 foreign think tanks representing more than 20 countries participated in the forum to discuss the peace agenda formed by Azerbaijan to normalize relations with Armenia as the basis for the development of relations between the countries of the South Caucasus in the post-conflict period. period, the opening of communications, the progress, security and prosperity of the region.

The delimitation of borders, as well as the signing of a peace treaty that recognizes territorial integrity and sovereignty, are major concerns on the agenda of the region.

The question of establishing communications follows because integration is impossible without it. All of these responsibilities are necessary for Azerbaijan and Armenia to maintain lasting peace and mutual understanding, and thus for peace in the entire South Caucasus.

Any additional considerations should be made within these core functions. This is what Azerbaijan tried to convey to the participants of the Shusha forum.

From the first minutes it was evident that Azerbaijan intended to have a substantial dialogue with representatives of major international think tanks and the media, and the easiest method to demonstrate what will be said is to familiarize participants with the current situation. Thus, the mere mention of the danger of mines left by the Armenian occupation is insufficient to grasp the magnitude of the situation.

Initially, forum participants landed at Fuzuli Karabakh International Airport, which was built in less than a year, making it the fastest major project in the liberated territories. This airport alone illustrates the enormous potential of Azerbaijan and its commitment to quickly restore its liberated regions. This modern and elegant airport is located on the territory of total destruction and is a symbol of the future rebirth and prosperity of the liberated lands.

After familiarizing themselves with the airport, the delegation observed the demining operation in the Fuzuli area before heading to Shusha via the Victory Road, which was also launched as part of the major reconstruction that began in the liberated lands after the 44-day war with Armenia. .

All of this has served as a visual aid in preparation for the upcoming debates on the danger of mines, which will take place on 29 April.

The organization of discussions in Shusha allows foreign experts who are involved in the region to better consider the realities, to see first-hand the consequences of the urbicide, ecocide and cultural genocide of the Armenian occupiers, and to get detailed information on post-conflict changes, restoration works, and projects.

Infrastructure projects in the liberated lands of Azerbaijan, especially in Shusha, are discussed at round tables. One of the key issues was the achievement of definitive peace, the unblocking of communications and the possibilities of regional integration.

In his opening address to the forum, the President’s special representative to Shusha, Aydin Karimov, said that Shusha had hosted a number of major events over the past year and that these events contribute significantly to the development regional future and long-term peace.

Presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev stressed the importance of Shusha for Azerbaijan, noting that the government there is working on large-scale infrastructure projects.

He said that the region is currently excessively fragmented, so there is a need to build more connections and more contacts between people. Azerbaijan, for its part, is ready for this process, and it is now up to Armenia to follow suit.

Hajiyev said Azerbaijan has taken the first steps to launch the peace process and continues to work for peace. He pointed out that Azerbaijan has established a new reality in the region with the liberation of Karabakh from occupation.

The presidential aide pointed out that the Azerbaijani army did not use artillery or heavy weapons during the 44-day war to liberate Shusha, and the battle ended with victory for Azerbaijan after the liberation of the city. Hajiyev stressed the importance of resolving the issue of delimitation and demarcation of Azerbaijani-Armenian borders.

Assistant to the First Vice President of Azerbaijan Elchin Amirbayov stressed that Baku is ready to work both in existing formats and on all new platforms to establish peace in the South Caucasus and called on other countries to influence the acceleration of the peace process.

Addressing the event, the President’s special representative in Karabakh, Emin Huseynov, pointed out that Armenia still refuses to provide Azerbaijan with maps of mined areas. Huseynov said that the accuracy of mine maps provided by Armenia is 25% and that mines always end human lives in the liberated lands. He noted that since the end of the war, more than 150 people, including youths, civilians and members of the media, have been killed by landmines.

Since 1992, nearly 35,000 people have been killed or disabled by landmines, according to Huseynov. He said the mine problem in Azerbaijan must be solved and Armenia’s distribution of accurate mine maps will establish long-term mutual trust between the two nations.

Huseynov also drew participants’ attention that the Karabakh conflict is over and that Baku is giving Armenia a chance to join the regional integration process before it is too late.

Strategy to inform the international community

In addition, participants discussed post-war construction and restoration in the liberated lands. The panel discussed how Azerbaijan should implement major infrastructure projects that will help rebuild the Karabakh region and its future prosperity. They also discussed ensuring lasting peace in the region, eliminating traditional rivalries and other issues.

It was noted that Azerbaijan has created a new reality in the region after the 44-day war in 2020, and this reality demonstrates its importance in maintaining regional stability and economic development.

The Shusha forum, according to Daniel Pommier Vincelli, a researcher at the University of Rome La Sapienza, is a very important event, with the participation of representatives from various countries studying the history and geopolitical situation of the South Caucasus.

“Today we talk about peace and development in the post-conflict period at this forum, we share our views. This forum in Shusha is an important message from Azerbaijan to the international community,” said- he declared.

In addition, the panel discussed post-conflict regional cooperation and international relations in the region, as well as current and future opportunities in this regard. It was noted that Azerbaijan and Armenia should work together to eradicate inter-ethnic tensions and bring peace to the region.

Azerbaijan is increasingly sensitizing the rest of the world to new realities. Despite the fact that representatives of some nations continue to try to paint a misleading picture of the conflict and its repercussions, the world has recognized the new realities of the region, as President Ilham Aliyev has previously stated. The recent UN event in Shusha, as well as the countless trips by international delegations, diplomats, specialists and the media to the liberated regions, testify to this.

The current conference is another step towards fully legitimizing Azerbaijan’s victory in the minds of the international community. Baku pursues its program without rushing anywhere, smashing Armenia’s goals as they emerge.

The information strategy of the international community on the acts of Armenia was well chosen. Hundreds of international journalists, scholars, diplomats and public figures have documented what the Armenians did in the Azerbaijani regions they occupied for more than three decades. Major events, such as the Shusha forum, which attracted representatives from dozens of countries, were well planned in this direction.

On April 29, discussions on the threat of mines and issues relating to the return of displaced persons take place at the ADA University in Baku within the framework of the forum.

Context of the event

The Shusha Forum is a logical follow-up to the international conference “New Vision for the South Caucasus: Post-Conflict Development and Cooperation” held on April 13, 2021, at ADA University.

President Ilham Aliyev also attended the international conference and gave important messages on post-conflict reality.

At this conference, the participants proposed to hold an international forum in Karabakh, which was welcomed by Aliyev. The current Shusha Forum should be evaluated in terms of the implementation of this proposal.

The main objective of the Shusha International Forum is to contribute to the development of relations between the countries of the South Caucasus in the post-conflict period.

The forum discusses issues such as unblocking regional lines of communication, regional security and prosperity goals, all of which are based on Azerbaijan’s peace program for normalizing relations with Armenia.

The Shusha International Forum is an opportunity for foreign experts representing the world’s leading think tanks, who have a keen interest in the region, to see the realities, learn about urbicide, cultural genocide and ecosystem, to assess the humanitarian aspects of the mine problem.

At the same time, it will provide detailed information about Azerbaijan’s restoration and construction works and plans in the liberated territories.

Nefarious techniques, such as portraying Shusha as an Armenian city over the years, have failed due to Shusha’s status as a primary venue for events by the UN and other influential organizations.

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