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First Azerbaijani IDPs to return to Zangilan ‘in spring’

3 February 2022
The reconstructed Aghali. Photo: Ruslan Asgarov/Wikimedia Commons.

The first group of Azerbaijanis displaced during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War will return this spring, President Ilham Aliyev has announced.

Speaking during a youth forum on Wednesday, the president said that residents would return to the newly reconstructed village of Aghali, in the Zangilan District, in the spring and the summer.

‘In less than two years, the return will begin’, Aliyev said, adding that the project had ‘great symbolic meaning’. 

Ahgali came under Armenian control in October 1993 during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. Azerbaijani forces took control of the village 27 years later, in October 2020, during the second war.

During the first war, almost the entire population of Zangilan District, who were overwhelmingly ethnic Azeris, were expelled. Satellite imagery shows that the village of Aghali was almost entirely levelled following the war.

The ‘Smart Village’ pilot project in Aghali was opened by Aliyev in April  2021, during a visit to Zangilan District.

The Azerbaijani authorities have said the project includes constructing 200 detached houses, industry, alternative energy, and implementing social services and ‘smart agriculture.

Construction was carried out by Turkish, Chinese, Italian, and Israeli companies.

The 10 November 2020 ceasefire agreement that brought an end to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War handed control of parts of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Republic and the seven surrounding districts to Azerbaijan.

[Read on OC Media: Azerbaijan's children of war]

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