For Azerbaijan 2022 will be the ‘Year of Shusha’: What does it mean?

In his handle to the Azerbaijani folks on the event of 31 December 2021 – the day that’s celebrated in Azerbaijan because the Solidarity Day of World Azerbaijanis together with the New Year, President Ilham Aliyev declared 2022 because the “Year of Shusha”. Shusha is a hill city situated within the Karabakh area of Azerbaijan and holds a important place within the historical past and tradition of the nation, writes Vasif Huseynov.

2022 marks the 270th anniversary of the muse of this metropolis which was laid down in 1752 on the instruction of Panah Ali Khan, then the governor of Karabakh, who needed to construct it as a fortress to stave off the assaults by his rivals. This explicit space was chosen resulting from its geographic location on the 1300-1600 m. altitude surrounded by stiff cliffs which made it inaccessible for enemy assaults.

From the early years of its institution till 1992, Shusha steadily prospered and advanced to turn into a cultural capital of the broader area. Often referred to as the “Conservatory of the Caucasus”, town gave beginning to many well-known artists, musicians and poets. For instance, Uzeyir Hajibeyov, the founding father of Azerbaijan’s composed classical music and opera, and the primary composer of an opera within the Islamic world, was born and grew up in Shusha.

The metropolis was the birthplace of Azerbaijan’s well-known tenor Bulbul, a nineteenth century Azerbaijani poetess Khurshid Banu Natavan. Molla Panah Vagif, Azerbaijan’s 18th century poet who based the reasonable pattern in Azerbaijani poetry was born and lived in Shusha for his complete life. The metropolis’s contributions to Azerbaijan’s tradition flourished within the twentieth century with the beginning of famend conductor Niyazi and well-known singers Seyid and Khan Shushinski.


The metropolis has been one of many facilities of the carpet-weaving business in Azerbaijan and used to export the domestically produced carpets to world markets within the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1867, Shusha’s carpet-weavers took half and gained awards in a world present in Paris.

The metropolis was dwelling to 549 historic buildings, paved streets with a complete size of 1203 meters, 17 springs, 17 mosques, 6 caravanserais, 3 tombs, 2 madrassas, 2 castles and fortress partitions.

Throughout its historical past, town was predominantly settled by Azerbaijanis and, in 1989, was dwelling to twenty,579 folks whose 1,377 have been ethnic Armenians. In the course of the full-scale warfare Armenia waged in opposition to Azerbaijan within the early Nineties, town fell below former’s management on May 8, 1992. As a results of the occupation of Shusha, 480 civilians have been killed, 600 wounded, 22,000 displaced. Nothing is understood concerning the destiny of 68 who have been taken hostage by Armenians.


The occupation put an finish to the rise of the Shusha metropolis and made it topic to relentless cultural genocide, as Armenians, in an try and erase the imprints of Azerbaijanis, destroyed or misappropriated the cultural icons of town. According to the official studies, 279 spiritual, historic and cultural monuments have been destroyed on this interval which lasted till the 44 Day Karabakh War (a.ok.a. Second Karabakh War) of the late 2020.

Meanwhile, Armenia made little investments to rebuild town, though they insistingly claimed that Shusha was at all times a part of the Armenian tradition and historical past. As a distinguished British knowledgeable Thomas de Wall concluded upon his go to to Shusha in early 2000s, Armenians handled town as a warfare trophy to loot or a spot the place to wish moderately than to speculate and reside.

After 28 years of unlawful occupation, on November 8, 2020, in a transfer decisive for the Second Karabakh War, Armed Forces of Azerbaijan liberated Shusha from the Armenian management. This opened a brand new chapter within the historical past of town as Azerbaijan launched an in depth reconstruction plan to rebuild town together with all different newly liberated territories.

In May 2021, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed an order declaring town of Shusha as Azerbaijan’s cultural capital. This resolution was made with a view to restore town’s historic look, to carry its former glory to it and to reunite it with the historically wealthy cultural life, in addition to to put it up for sale within the worldwide enviornment as a pearl of centuries-old wealthy tradition, structure, and concrete planning of Azerbaijan, in accordance with the presidential order.

Celebrating the historic and cultural significance of town for your complete Turkic world, the International Organization of Turkic Culture, TURKSOY, referred to as the UNESCO of the Turkic World, nominated Shusha because the “Cultural Capital of the Turkic World” in 2023.

Immediately after the liberation of town of Shusha, Azerbaijan began the development of a brand new, greater than 100 kilometers lengthy, highway to town that was accomplished in lower than a 12 months. In Fuzuli, a newly liberated Karabakh city near Shusha, a world airport was shortly constructed with a view to facilitate the entry to the area from overseas and as such to spice up its tourism potential.

Azerbaijan allotted AZN 2.2bn (€1.1bn) for the reconstruction within the liberated territories in 2021. These funds have been primarily earmarked for the restoration of infrastructure (electrical energy, fuel, water, communications, roads, training, well being, and many others.), in addition to cultural and historic monuments. The similar quantity of funds from the state funds was allotted for this goal in 2022.

Azerbaijan can also be making an attempt to attract worldwide funds to the reconstruction of the area which had been dwelling to greater than 700,000 Azerbaijanis earlier than the occupation and its subsequent destruction. International help is important to allow swift rehabilitation of those territories and set up needed residing situations for the return of hundreds of IDPs after as much as 30 years of compelled displacement.

Declaring 2022 because the “Year of Shusha”, Azerbaijan clearly designated its precedence for the upcoming 12 months: The folks of Azerbaijan are decided to rebuild the destroyed cities and villages and convey again life to the previously occupied territories. The folks of Azerbaijan are decided to make Shusha once more the cultural middle of the Caucasus.

About the writer: Dr. Vasif Huseynov is a senior advisor on the Center of Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center) in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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