Kalbajar return on schedule, process of post-war underway

"Khudavang albanian monastery" by Niyaz from Baku is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By | Rachel Brooks

November 24, 2020 

Above, an Albanian monastery in Kalbajar district. CC By 2.0. 

Following the protocols and processes outlined in the Russian-mitigated ceasefire, the Armenian forces will soon withdraw from the Kalbajar district. On November 24, Agence France-Press reported that Armenian military convoys were seen to have crossed the Kalbajar district as they prepared their hand-over to the Azerbaijani republic. Vehicles of the International Committee of the Red Cross were also at the scene.

As has been the common practice, the Associated Press reported that former residents of Kalbajar burned their homes in the wake of the full Armenian removal from the region. 

Meanwhile, displaced Azerbaijani celebrated the return to the Kalbajar district. One family, speaking with Meydan TV, noted that they would be returning to the Kalbajar district in the same car that they left in all those years ago.

 

Kalbajar’s return to the republic is part of the de-occupation process that marks the end of a 30-year occupation in the Karabakh territory, a mountain island district of western Azerbaijan that borders Armenia. 

The liberation of Kalbajar follows on the heels of other Azerbaijani cities and districts returned to Azerbaijan’s control in the way of the six-week war of 2020. Of these, most notable is the Aghdam district, which was considered the seat of Azerbaijani culture before the conflict, as Shusha is located in this region. Footage of rural villages, such as Abdal and Gulabli, have appeared in the Azerbaijani press since the liberation of Aghdam. The original footage appeared via Trend News Agency. Trend News Agency obtained the footage of the post-conflict war zone from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense. 

The Russian-mitigated ceasefire sparked intense controversy among those native to the region, as well as the foreign powers looking onward. Armenia’s government descended into chaos following the Russian-mitigated ceasefire and triggered the alarm of France. France has historic ties to Armenia and ethnic Armenians and is a chair holding member of the OSCE Minsk Group. 

France and Turkey, a non-chair member of the Minsk Group, have recently been engaged in political provocations and clashes over the contrast of French secular policy and Islamic civic policy. As Turkish and Russian forces appeared in the region, on either side of the line, securing the transfer of de-facto control from Armenia to the U.N. charter authorized control of Azerbaijan, foreign powers looked on in disdain.

Likewise, the foreign press circulated a painful narrative regarding the departure of Armenians from the illegally occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign Policy called the departure of ethnic Armenians from the region a “bitter peace” and quoted them as saying that losing the Karabakh was “everything.” The lasting ripple of rage and pain is felt through the region as Armenians, who were sponsored by the government to live in the occupied territory, must return to Armenia in political turmoil. 

The facts of Russia’s mitigation, seen as a taking of matters into one’s own hands, marked an embittered reevaluation of the Minsk Group. The Minsk Group consists of three chair members, the United States, Russia, and France. Non-chair permanent members include Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Turkey. Armenia and Azerbaijan are likewise members of the group, which focuses on the issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts. See the OSCE Minsk Group for more. 

The diaspora of both Armenia and Azerbaijan likewise questioned whether this was a foreign occupation of the region that would end with Russian control of the Karabakh. 

However, Azerbaijan appears to retain the legitimate control of the region and is an active and equal participant in the normalization process. Today, Azerbaijan and Russia’s governments held a phone conference, in which they discussed the terms and provisionary implementation of the Russian-mitigated ceasefire. This is citing Trend News. The two heads of state discussed the distribution of humanitarian aid to both Armenian and Azerbaijani people left in the wake of the brutal aftermath. 

In the wake of political unrest and the aftermath of the war, Azerbaijan has collected both data reports and has begun initiating media cooperation for the post-war effort. 

On November 24, AzerNews reported that Azerbaijan has publicly disclosed data regarding the destroyed structures of the Fuzuli district. The damages in the Fuzuli district were caused by shelling by Armenian forces. The data determines 47 buildings of Jabrayil in Fuzuli were severely damaged, but not destroyed. Of these 47, 41 were private residential properties. This number has been added to the estimated 325 structures damaged or destroyed in the Fuzuli district. 

The rebuilding process is expected to be a massive undertaking, as the Azerbaijani republic has sweeping plans for revitalizing the infrastructure of the post-conflict zone.