Vox-pop: will Azerbaijanis return to their homes in Karabakh?
Return of Azerbaijanis to Karabakh – what will it be like? Comments of a displaced person from Aghdam and two Bakuvians
As a result of the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan regained full control of seven regions (aside from the Lachin corridor), as well as the cities of Shusha and Hadrut which had remained under the control of Armenia for the last 30 years.
The resettlement of internally displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes during the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s is one of the most pressing matters on Azerbaijan’s agenda today.
Emin Aliyev, driver, IDP from Aghdam:
“I was born in Aghdam in 1972, my childhood and school years passed there, my parents’ house is still there, and the second one as well, which my father was building especially for me, but never completed it, and I was not destined to live in it.
In 1993 we settled in Baku. Now I am married, I have two sons, I work as a driver in a large company. My father has already passed away, and my mother and my three brothers also live in Baku.
When the second war began, my other relatives and I put together an aid package for the soldiers, and my cousin took it to the front. He was there on the day of the liberation of Aghdam and was able to see our native lands.
Of course, all this was very joyful and exciting for us. For almost thirty years we have lived in anticipation of this moment and now it has finally come, thanks to our army. When they called me from government agencies and asked if I wanted to return, I said that I do. They also asked what I would like to do there. I haven’t thought about it yet. Whatever work they’ll give, I’ll do it.
The thing is, when we left, it was only one family. Now my brothers and I are all married and have children, there are three families already. So, in theory, the state should build us three houses instead of one.
In general, the state is faced with a difficult task. As far as I understand, they now are trying to figure out who will actually stay there to live and work. For example, my brothers and I are planning to settle there.
However, I’m not sure about my sons. After all, they were born in Baku, grew up here, they have their own lives here. I don’t think they will want to move. I won’t insist, of course, I will let them decide for themselves. Of course, they want to visit the land of their ancestors. So, first, we need to at least take them there”.
Sabina Abbasova, architect:
“Some of my relatives and friends are refugees from Fizuli. Some did not even bother to wait for the liberation of their lands. Although, of course, people are different, each has their own motivation and situation.
Overall, I think there are a lot of people who would like to return.
Another question is how realistic it is. Social housing, a better credit system, and a solid economic plan are needed so that people have a real motivation to move and so that they are not just forced to survive amid the devastation in these long-suffering lands, but live with dignity instead.
The example of other countries shows that the mere presence of a house/apartment and a land plot does not do much. Accordingly, housing, school and municipal authorities alone cannot be enough in Karabakh if we do not want to have ghost towns as a result. I think, first of all, it is worth conducting a socio-economic study and researching population resettlement after the war.
I see how government agencies are looking for interesting proposals and are actively developing various projects. My colleagues and I had an idea that we are slowly starting to develop. This is a large project, based on the principles of an individual approach, and at the same time meeting the request of the current pace of construction.
However, any urban planning strategy in the current situation, when it is necessary to create everything from scratch, will be fraught with many mistakes and shortcomings. Therefore, I would like to join in the planning when the majority of problems are already being addressed”.
Araz Narimanov, physicist:
“I don’t think the current government of Azerbaijan is trying to return people to their homes. Even in Baku, the authorities often take homes away from people, demolishing entire neighborhoods and paying meager compensation and even in Baku, they have failed to create a proper infrastructure. So it is naive to hope that they will suddenly act differently in Karabakh.
Even if the country’s leadership wants to, it is still almost impossible to organize an adequate restoration and resettlement, given that the entire bureaucratic apparatus is deeply mired in bribery and nepotism.
However, I believe (or rather want to believe) that, ideally, if we eradicate nationalism in both countries and solve economic problems and political contradictions, then, despite 30 years of propaganda of enmity, Armenians and Azerbaijanis will learn to live together within the next five years, just like we lived for so many decades before”.
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