Azerbaijan celebrates Aghdam City Day
November 20 is celebrated as Aghdam City Day in Azerbaijan, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the district from the Armenian occupation in 2020.
The district of Aghdam has been returned to Azerbaijan after 27 years of Armenia's occupation.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry announced that on November 20, 2020, the Azerbaijani army entered the district upon the tripartite agreement signed between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on November 10. The trilateral ceasefire statement obliged Armenia to withdraw its forces from Aghdam and return it to Azerbaijan by November 20.
"The liberation of the Aghdam district is a historic event. Aghdam is the largest of the occupied districts in terms of population," President Ilham Aliyev said, adding "Before the occupation, 143,000 people lived in the Aghdam district. At present, the population [including IDPs] of the Aghdam district is 204,000 people. Seventy-three percent of the district remained under occupation."
Armenia's forces occupied a significant part of Aghdam, including the city and 89 villages, which comprised about 73 percent of the district's territory, on July 23, 1993. The occupied areas were razed to the ground transforming the district into a ghost town. A small number of villages in the Aghdam district remained under Azerbaijan's control following Armenia's occupation. About six thousand residents of the district have been killed and 126,000 have been forcibly displaced in the wake of Armenia's attack.
Aghdam, located 362 kilometers west of the capital Baku, was one of the major centers of heavy, light, and food industries, as well as agriculture of Azerbaijan until it lost a larger part of its territory to the Armenian invasion. Plants and factories in the district churned out equipment for aerospace and communication industries; canned, bakery, and dairy products; carpets, construction materials, and many more. The city was home to the first bread museum in the USSR and the second of its kind in the world. The museum was ruined by Armenia's troops during 27 years of the occupation.
An airport, a music technical school and a drama theatre operated in Aghdam prior to the district's fall. Thirty-eight collective and state farms, 24 construction-installation as well 12 industrial enterprises, 74 schools, 105 healthcare facilities, 271 culture houses, and 99 clubs ceased their activities with the partial occupation of the district.
Shortly after the war, the Azerbaijani government launched a large-scale reconstruction project in Aghdam. Restoration efforts come as part of the ongoing massive reconstruction campaign in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Aghdam will reportedly regain its original view and see its residents back after the reconstruction.
As part of the reconstruction campaign, the government of Azerbaijan launched construction of the Aghdam Industrial Park in August 2022, on a territory measuring 190 hectares (470 acres). Twelve enterprises have already been granted residency status at the park. The priority areas of the park are the production of construction materials, packaging of agricultural products, canned fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, production and processing of feed and fertilizers, as well as refrigeration, storage, and other services. Residents are expected to invest a total of nearly $35 million in the park.