The military parade held on November 8 in the Azerbaijani city of Khankendi completely put an end to the Karabakh issue. I was once again convinced of this during my visits to Shusha, Lachin, and the Azerbaijani-Armenia conventional border. I’d like to share the results of my observations:
1. Stability prevails in the region. Perhaps, the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan is currently experiencing the most calm and stable days of the post-war period. The security and air defense of the region is fully ensured. State institutions operating in the restored territories have grown in numbers, and their maintenance has been strengthened.
2. After Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev raised the flag of Azerbaijan in Karabakh, the number of observation points of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh, as well as the number of their military vehicles and technical means, has been reduced by at least two times. In two days, I observed the movement of two UAZ vehicles belonging to Russian peacekeepers.
3. Currently, the Russian peacekeeping contingent is not carrying out control, inspection and escort on the territory of Azerbaijan. The number of vehicles in Russian control points has also decreased significantly. A small number of unused armored vehicles and non-armored vehicles (trucks) are concentrated in two locations.
4. Russian peacekeepers do not interfere in anything in Karabakh and the Lachin road and enjoy normal relations with Azerbaijani military personnel. I can say with confidence that the Russian peacekeepers are counting down the day they will leave Karabakh.
5. I did not observe the joint patrolling of Russian and Azerbaijani servicemen. However, I received information about the joint patrolling of Azerbaijani and Russian military personnel in the direction of Aghdara.
6. For the first time, I drove along the road commissioned this year and considered to be an alternative road to the Lachin road. This road is currently being paved with additional asphalt. Only the Azerbaijani police are on duty at the entrance to the villages located on the alternative road, formerly inhabited by Armenians. A small number of Armenians likely remained in these villages. At the same time, our policemen protect houses and property left by Armenians.
7. The Russia-escorted transportation of manpower, weapons and ammunition from Armenia to the territory of Azerbaijan has already become a thing of the past. Azerbaijan secures the reliable protection of its borders with Armenia. Brave Azerbaijani border guards are well-equipped with weapons and vehicles.
8. Favorable conditions have opened up for the implementation of major military and civil infrastructure projects on the territory of Lachin district, which is included in the Eastern Zangezur economic region. Armenia’s revanchist maneuvers have been completely thwarted and separatism on the territory of Azerbaijan has been eradicated. The myths about “great Armenia” and the “status of Karabakh” have been destroyed.
9. The successful anti-terror measures opened up conditions for both the restoration of the liberated Azerbaijani territories and the implementation of the “Great Return” program in a completely safe manner.
10. The fact that Azerbaijan fully restored its sovereignty in just one day by regaining the control of Khankendi, Khojaly, Khojavend, Aghdara, Asgaran and Sarsang increased the confidence in the Supreme Commander-in-Chief among military personnel and civilians living in these territories. From the worker to the boss, from the soldier to the high-ranking officer, everyone prays for mercy to our martyrs, they express gratitude to our victorious Commander-in-Chief and his heroic soldiers. This factor will further strengthen Azerbaijan's position on a global scale.
I cannot forget what a worker in the yard of the guest house we stayed in said: “I’m from Lachin and working for Baku Improvement Service LLC. I’m restoring my house. I’m also receiving a salary of 900 manats, and next month my family will return to Lachin. I’m working for a salary in the restoration of my own house. My house will be more beautiful than before. The state exempts the residents relocated to Lachin from utility costs for 3 years. What more should Mr. President do? May Allah bless our President!”
Probably, the worker from Lachin was not highly educated, but he could explain simple truths concisely and consistently. I had conversations with other residents, military personnel, border guards, policemen, and customs officers about our victory and our return. It was the first time that none of our citizens asked the following questions:
- Why didn’t our army enter Khankendi?
- Isn’t our mission unfinished?
- Why are we building an alternative road for Armenians in Lachin?
- Why didn’t we strike the Khojaly airport during the Patriotic War?
- Why does the Russian peacekeeping contingent continue being dominant in our territories?
Currently, the people of Azerbaijan are experiencing the happiest days of their lives. Having forgotten the pains of the last 30-35 years, we witnessed the transformation of Azerbaijan into a victorious country and Armenia into a land of deserters. Therefore, we should realize the value of our great Victory, should not forget our heroic martyrs and our victorious soldiers and should unite as an “Iron Fist” for our Motherland and Flag. In such a case, no one will be able to prevent our dreams from becoming a reality, including the return of our citizens forcibly expelled from Western Azerbaijan to their native lands. The slogan “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” has already come true thanks to our Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Now it is time to unite more closely around our President to realize the return to Western Azerbaijan. I do not doubt that the day will come when we will celebrate our holidays in our historical lands.
Adalat Verdiyev is an Azerbaijan military expert.