By Rachel Avraham
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev recently signed an order to reconstruct the Shusha Radio and Television Broadcast Station. According to the Azerbaijani media, the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport was allocated 200,000 manat (Azerbaijani money) for the design and construction of the Shusha Radio and Television Broadcasting Station.
This is a monumental event, as during my visit to Shusha last summer, I saw the remains of what used to be the offices of Shusha’s local newspaper, which the Armenians had destroyed. Alongside destroying the local bank, local government offices, numerous mosques and the palace of an Azerbaijani national poet, they also saw to it that the Azerbaijani language media was repressed in the city during their close to 30 year occupation of the city. However, with President Aliyev’s recent order, this is slated to change, and the local Shusha Azerbaijani language media is set to be revised.
It is very telling why the Armenians sought to destroy the local Azerbaijani media outlets during their close to 30-year occupation of Karabakh. Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once stated, “In America, the president reigns for four years and journalism governs forever and ever.” Journalists are the ones who speak out about Azerbaijan’s history, politics, and culture. They are the voice of the people, whom the Armenians sought to ethnically cleanse from their lands. For this reason, one of the first things that must be rebuilt in Shusha is the local news business.
According to various media reports, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko stated that the Azerbaijani people are determined to rebuild Shusha, their cultural capitol city and for them the reconstruction of Shusha’s media industry is only the beginning: “It is sad to see a destroyed Shusha. Everything is in ruins. But the destruction can be restored if there is an appropriate attitude and fighting spirit., which the Azerbaijani people are overwhelmed with.”
The desire to rebuild Shusha and all the liberated areas are so strong among Azerbaijanis, regardless of their religious affiliation. The Mountain Jewish community is participating in marches to commemorate Victory Day, where they wave both Azerbaijani and Israeli flags. According to Rabbi Zamir Isayev, “Victory march of Baku Mountain Jewish community began in front of the monument of national hero martyr Alber Agarunov. Next stop – Alley of Martyrs.”
In a recent Facebook post, Azerbaijani journalist Anastasia Lavrina of CBC TV claimed that Rafael Nectalov, editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper The Bukharian Times, stated: “The emotions with which Azerbaijanis celebrated the victory in New York on November 8, 2020 can be compared to the celebration of Victory Day in 1945.” For the Azerbaijani people, reclaiming their homeland was that significant. Lavrina, who is of Russian background, added on her Facebook page: “Azerbaijan is my homeland, my land and I am proud of the resilience and courage of our shekhids.”
On September 20, 2020 in response to a large-scale Armenian provocation, the Azerbaijani people decided to reclaim their ancestral lands in the Karabakh region, which belongs to Azerbaijan according to international law and four UN Security Council resolutions. The 44-day war put an end to nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation. On November 8, the Azerbaijani military managed to obtain control of Shusha, the Azerbaijani cultural capital city.
A few days later, Baku and Yereven signed a peace statement under Russian mediation, thus bringing the war to an abrupt end. The peace statement compelled Armenia to return Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin to Azerbaijan. Prior to that statement, the Azerbaijani military had liberated 300 villages and cities in the Karabakh region. The Armenians were permitted to hold onto the remaining areas under the cease-fire agreement. However, for the Azerbaijani people, the heart and soul of their nation rests in Shusha and the fact that the city is getting rebuilt is a major source of national pride.