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12/25/2020 Azerbaijan (International Christian Concern) – According to the public details shared by Azerbaijan, their 2021 budget includes a 20.5% increase on defense and security spending. This increase follows their invasion, which was supported by Turkey, into Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). Azerbaijan’s budget for 2021 also allocates $1.3 billion to reconstruct so-called Nagorno-Karabakh. This includes funds supposedly intended to repair damaged cultural sites. But as UNESCO noted earlier, Azerbaijan is blocking their access to Nagorno-Karabakh to access the status of these sites.

Azerbaijan’s budget planning gives an indication of their priorities for the upcoming year, and this information shows two important aspects for consideration. The defense portion of the budget hints that Azerbaijan does not consider itself finished in Nagorno-Karabakh. Indeed, many Armenians have previously expressed fear that Azerbaijan will continue their military aggression. The reconstruction portion of the budget shows that Azerbaijan is paying attention to crafting their own narrative about what they are doing in Nagorno-Karabakh. Something which should be of concern is Azerbaijan’s insistence that their Turkic Islamic history was here before Christianity, a narrative historically disproven but also supported by Azerbaijan’s destruction of Christian monuments. It is by stripping the Christian identity and history of Nagorno-Karabakh that Azerbaijan attempts to justify their actions and human rights abuses.

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