BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 19
I am confident that more companies will operate and expand their activities in the territories Azerbaijan liberated as a result of the second Karabakh war, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said during a joint press conference with President of the European Council Charles Michel, Trend reports.
"Destruction in liberated territories has been widely covered in the international media. International media representatives have also visited the liberated territories several times to witness the scale of destruction. In addition, Ambassadors and heads of other diplomatic missions accredited in Azerbaijan have visited the liberated areas several times. The picture has become clear to them. These territories have been razed to the ground. This destruction was not unleashed during the first Karabakh war, but in post-war years. In the period between the two wars, Armenians deliberately destroyed the historical, cultural and religious heritage of the Azerbaijani people in the occupied territories. A big city such as Aghdam no longer exists today. There is not a single safe building left there. There is no such city as Fuzuli, and when we liberated it, we could not find a single building there to hoist our flag. Jabrayil is completely destroyed. Other cities were used by Armenians for illegal settlement, which is a war crime. Such settlement is a well-known fact and has been confirmed by reliable sources.
Therefore, we have a lot of work to do there. We need to clear and rebuild more than 10,000 square kilometers. Hundreds of thousands of mines have been planted there, and 140 people have been killed or injured by landmines since the end of the war on 10 November, including two of our journalists. While driving, they hit a mine that was planted after the second Karabakh war ended, when the Armenians were given two weeks to evacuate the area.
During the second Karabakh war, Armenia committed other war crimes. They fired on our towns and villages with prohibited ammunition, including white phosphorus shells. This is a proven fact. SCUD, Tochka-U and Iskander-M ballistic missiles were used against our cities and villages, and more than 100 civilians were killed as a result of those war crimes. So we are facing a great challenge and a great task related to the demining and reconstruction of liberated territories. We will do it all. All necessary measures have been taken and funds have been allocated.
As for foreign investment, I think there are several areas that may be of interest to foreign investors. First is renewable energy. Liberated areas have a huge potential, and according to our preliminary estimates, the potential for energy production is 5,000 megawatts of solar and 1,000 megawatts of wind energy.
Another potential area for investment is agriculture and the processing of agricultural products. Because the soil is very fertile there, and this can be attractive to foreigners. I think that another area could be tourism, although Armenia has caused great damage to our nature in the occupied territories. I can cite an example. The area of forests in the liberated territories used to be 230,000 hectares. Today, according to satellite observations, forests cover an area of 170,000 hectares. In other words, 60,000 hectares of forests have been destroyed. Our lakes and rivers have been polluted, and we have already appealed to international organizations.
At the same time, legal proceedings have been launched against foreign companies engaged in illegal economic activities in the occupied territories, pollution of our rivers, causing damage to our nature and illegally plundering our natural resources, including gold and other precious metals. So tourism can be an attractive area for foreign investment. Despite all this environmental damage, Karabakh and East Zangazur are the most beautiful regions not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the whole region. I do hope that foreign investors will take into account the favorable investment climate in Azerbaijan. According to the World Bank's Doing Business report, Azerbaijan ranks 28th in the world in terms of business environment, and foreign investments are securely protected in Azerbaijan. I hope that foreign companies seriously consider this issue.
By the way, I can say that a European company has already signed preliminary documents with the Azerbaijani government on the construction of a 200-megawatt solar power plant in liberated areas. This is a good start, and I am confident that more companies will operate and expand their activities in the territories Azerbaijan liberated as a result of the second Karabakh war," the head of state said.