By Ulkar Natiqqizi /Eurasianet/ – The Azerbaijani government is pushing forward with an ambitious plan to reconstruct the territories that it recently won from Armenia, many of which have been virtually leveled since Azerbaijan lost control of them in the 1990s.
President Ilham Aliyev highlighted the reconstruction plans during a November 16 tour of some of the territories along with his wife and first vice president, Mehriban Aliyeva.
“A new master plan will be drawn up. Relevant instructions have been given. A master plan will be developed for each city. All office buildings, public buildings, schools and medical centers will be established here. All infrastructure will be put in place. Streets, parks and alleys will be built. Victory monuments will be erected in all the cities and life will return here,” Aliyev said during a visit to Jabrayil.
The government has not said how much it intends to spend on all of this. Independent economists have estimated the costs in the tens of billions of dollars; Azerbaijan’s annual state budget is currently about $15 billion.
Economist Togrul Valiyev told Eurasianet that fully reconstructing the newly retaken territories would likely take ten years and cost 25 billion manats (about $15 billion).
“There is basically no infrastructure left in Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, and Gubadly,” four of the seven regions that Azerbaijan regained control of, Valiyev said. “It’s going to cost about as much as Azerbaijan spends in a year” on its entire budget, he said.
Azerbaijan will also likely try to attract private financing for the reconstruction. “Many entrepreneurs, natives of these regions, will probably want to invest in the reconstruction of industrial and commercial enterprises in their villages and towns and may even offer some donations,” said Avaz Hasanov, the head of the NGO Humanitarian Research Public Union, in an interview with news website Caucasian Knot.
So far the government has only given small hints of the cost of reconstruction.
During his visit to Jabrayil, Aliyev announced that a new road would be built from Fuzuli, on the far eastern end of the newly retaken territories, to Shusha, the key Azerbaijani city in the region. Following the visit he announced that the government was allocating 50 million manats ($29 million) for the 101.5-kilometer road linking Ahmadbeyli (in territory that Azerbaijan had already controlled) through Fuzuli to Shusha.
Read the full story on Eurasianet