Mines are the biggest obstacle for restoration work in Azerbaijan’s territories liberated from Armenian occupation [in the 2020 Second Karabakh War], Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, AzVision.az reports on Sept.27.
According to Bayramov, the primary tasks of Azerbaijan at present are the complete restoration of the liberated territories in a short time and the return of citizens to their native lands.
"This work is complicated by one problem – an extremely high number of mines in the liberated territories. Armenia refused to provide maps of minefields for eight months [after the end of the Second Karabakh War], claiming that they don’t exist,” he noted. “Eight months later, maps of minefields for three districts [Aghdam, Fuzuli and Zangilan] were transferred to Azerbaijan, according to which totally about 200,000 antipersonnel and anti-tank mines were planted in the districts. Maps of minefields in other liberated lands haven’t yet been provided.”
Despite this, a lot has been done in the liberated territories in less than a year, the minister also said.
"In eight months, an international airport was built in Fuzuli, the first flights were carried out. At present, roads are being built in 13 directions, and power lines are being laid. The general plan of Aghdam has been approved, and work on it has already begun,” he further noted.
“Projects to create "smart villages" are being implemented in a number of settlements. Azerbaijan is aimed at accelerating restoration work. We cooperate in this area with fraternal and friendly countries, including companies from Turkey," added Bayramov.
Following over a month of military action to liberate its territories from Armenian occupation from late Sept. to early Nov. 2020, Azerbaijan has pushed Armenia to sign the surrender document. A joint statement on the matter was made by the Azerbaijani president, Armenia's PM, and the president of Russia.
A complete ceasefire and a cessation of all hostilities in the zone of the Karabakh conflict were introduced on Nov. 10, 2020.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, the Armenian Armed Forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.