V. SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT
Azerbaijan – incurred damages and unseized opportunities
After the restoration of its independence in 1991, the Republic of Azerbaijan experienced a drastic decline in its economic output. The GDP decreased annually 13-20% and in 1994, according to the related data from the International Monetary Fund, GDP with the official exchange rate reached 2.258 billion USD that indicated the fact that the national economy was significantly weakened. The war with Armenia along with the deterioration of trade relations with other former Soviet republics was evidently among the major factors of such economic decline. Hereby, some statistics on the material losses and socio-economic damages caused to Azerbaijan and its occupied territories as a result of the Armenia-Azerbaijan war is provided as follows:
The Azerbaijani state agencies, NGOs and local authorities have kept a very strict quantitative record of the material losses. The overall area of the occupied territories constitutes one fifth of the territories of Azerbaijan or 13. 210 square km - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts. The occupied regions of Azerbaijan have been almost totally destroyed and looted. Great economic damage has been inflicted also to 4 regions of Azerbaijan bordering with Armenia, 4 regions adjacent to the line of contact, and the territories of the administrative regions of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. From the beginning of the war, more than 877 settlements have been burned and destroyed: more than 150 thousand houses and apartments (across 9.1 million square miles) have been destroyed and robbed and around 1 million people were forced to leave their homes, becoming refugees and IDPs. Some 4,366 social and medical establishments, including 690 secondary schools, 855 kindergartens, 4 sanatorium complexes, 490 hospitals and other structures of public health have been damaged and fallen into decay . The infrastructure of all the occupied regions has been destroyed: telephone exchanges for 35 thousand subscribers, 2,500 transformer stations and 15,000 km of electric lines have been looted and stolen. More than 160 bridges (3,834 m), 800 km of roads and 2,300 km of water pipelines, 2 000 gas pipelines and 35 gas distribution stations have also been destroyed . The town of Agdam, for example, had been the richest town in Azerbaijan, with a population of some 40–50,000 people. Along with several villages it was totally destroyed in the fighting, with not a single building left standing.
The agricultural sector suffered even more drastic decline. Azerbaijan’s mix of rich farmland and a wide range of climatic zones create favorable conditions for growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and crops therefore during the Soviet period Azerbaijan had always been one of the major exporters of these agricultural products. The Nagorno-Karabakh region has been the site of about one-third of Azerbaijan’s...