21 years have passed since the occupation of Aghdam region of the Republic of Azerbaijan by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia.
Aghdam region that played a significant role in the life of Azerbaijan for its economic and scientific potential was invaded by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia on 23 July, 1993.
A number of tangible cultural heritage examples in Aghdam are witnesses of our rich history. The Uzerlik hill monument, the cupola of Qutlu Musa oglu (1314), tombs and stone monuments in Salahli-Kengerli village (XIV century), Xanoglu tomb (XVII), tombs and mosques of XVIII century, Palace of Panahali Khan and his family, the castle of Shahbulaq and other monuments are magnificent pearls of Azerbaijan’s history. Moreover, the archeological explorations carried out since 1950s proves that this region was one of the earliest homeland for ancient people.
Aghdam was a region with developed heavy, light and food industry, as well as agriculture. There were a number of industrial and agricultural centers, including 38 collective farms and state farms, 24 construction–installations and 12 industrial enterprises, as well as 74 schools, 105 health centers, 271 cultural centers, 67 offices, 99 clubs, Musical College named after U.Hajibeyov, Aghdam State Drama Theatre named after A.Hagverdiyev and unique Bread Museum in Aghdam.
However, Aghdam also suffered from Armenia’s insidious, destructive policy of annexation and ethnic cleansing. Aghdam was one of the most affected regions during the war. During last months of 1988, ten thousands of Azerbaijanis living in Armenia, then in Nagorno Karabakh were driven out of their native lands and they became refugee in Aghdam. Not being satisfied with the occupation of the entire Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia continued its aggressive policy in the regions around Nagorno Karabakh. The Armenians began a large-scale aggression operation to occupy Aghdam. The aggression that started from June 11, ended on July 23, 1993 with the capture of Aghdam after heavy battles. After five-years struggle Aghdam has been occupied by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia. As a result of the military aggression Armenia occupied 8467 sq.km of the territory of Aghdam region, i.e 77.4 percent of the total area. The occupied Aghdam city and 89 villages were destroyed on unprecedented brutality and razed to the ground. Over 5 years of bloody battles for the defense of Aghdam 5897 people were killed, 3531 became disabled, 1871 children lost their parents. Thousands of people have become physically disabled, more than 126 thousand (1993) citizens of Aghdam have been displaced from their native land.
The relevant documents adopted by the international community, especially four UN Security Council resolutions, resolution 1416, adopted on 25 January 2005 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, resolution 62/243 “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 March 2008, European Parliament report “The need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus” from 20 May 2010, reaffirmed the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, recognized the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and its surrounding districts and demanded the withdrawal of all occupying Armenian forces from these territories.
It is essential also to recall that, in its resolution 853 adopted on 29 July 1993, the UN Security Council noted with alarm the escalation in armed hostilities and, in particular, the seizure of the district of Aghdam of the Republic of Azerbaijan, expressed once again its grave concern at the displacement of large numbers of civilians in the Republic of Azerbaijan, reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, reaffirmed also the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory, and in this regard, UN Security Council condemned the seizure of the district of Aghdam and of all other recently occupied areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan and demanded the immediate cessation of all hostilities and the immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from the district of Aghdam and all other recently occupied areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
However, this resolution like another relevant international documents remain unimplemented by the Republic of Armenia.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is confident that for the purposes of lasting peace, security and stability in the South Caucasus, there is no alternative other than by concerted efforts of the international community to convince the Republic of Armenia to put an end to the illegal occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to ensure that inalienable rights of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons to return to their places of origin is fully recognized and implemented.