By Ruslan Rehimov
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AA) - Azerbaijan's Lachin region has been handed over to its real owners, the Azerbaijani people, following 28 years of occupation by Armenian forces.
According to a Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement, the Armenian forces and Armenian population, who were settled later, have left Lachin as of Dec. 1, and the Azerbaijani army has since settled in the region.
On Nov. 10, the two countries signed a Russia-brokered agreement to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
The truce decision is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing as the agreement specified.
The passage zone, called the "Lachin corridor", which is the only road between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, will be under the control of Russian soldiers on temporary duty in the region for five years.
The region of Lachin, which is located on the Armenian border, became one of the first targets of the Armenian forces during the war in the 1990s, due to the strategic importance of the "Lachin corridor."
As a result of airstrikes and clashes in Lachin, many houses and villages were destroyed, the city was plundered and a total of 264 people were martyred.
Armenian forces occupied Lachin, obtaining a direct link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and thanks to the road, they occupied the entire Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding provinces.
For years, the Lachin corridor became the "lifeblood" for the so-called Armenian administration of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians used the road for both military reinforcement and infrastructure and commercial needs.
Armenians sent the products obtained from agricultural activities in the occupied regions to Armenia through the Lachin Corridor, and from there, electrical energy and weapons had been provided to Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Yerevan administration followed an official policy to change the demographic structure of Lachin. During the occupation period, thousands of Armenians were brought from different regions of Armenia and settled in villages abandoned by Azerbaijanis in Lachin.
Before the occupation, over 65,000 Azerbaijanis lived in Lachin and there was no Armenian population.
Armenians set houses, public buildings and forest areas on fire while leaving Lachin as they did in Kalbajar, which they had previously abandoned.
When Lachin was under occupation, the Azerbaijanis ran for their lives from the region without taking their belongings, however, the illegally placed Armenian population took all their belongings and left the area safely.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements several times.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the Armenian occupation.
* Writing by Seda Sevencan