Azerbaijan on Tuesday began the gradual return of its people to territories retaken from Armenian forces during a 2020 war over the long-occupied Karabakh region, in what Baku calls "The Great Return."
Almost 60 people moved back to areas they fled in 1993, when Armenian separatists broke away from Baku, triggering a conflict that claimed around 30,000 lives.
Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis fled at the time.
"Fifty-eight people returned to the district of Zangilan," recaptured by Baku in October 2020, a special presidential representative in the region Vahid Hajiyev, told reporters.
Zangilan's entire ethnic Azerbaijani population of more than 30,000 people fled the area in 1993.
"At this stage, a total of 41 families will return to a newly built village (in Zangilan) over the next five days," Hajiyev said.
The returnees marked the first step in what authorities billed the "Great Return," an ambitious plan to repopulate Karabakh with its former Azerbaijani population.
The oil-rich country has vowed to spend billions of petrodollars on the region's reconstruction.
It allocated $1.3 billion in last year's budget for infrastructure projects such as new roads, bridges and airports in the region.
But a large-scale return of refugees remains a distant prospect, given the scale of devastation and danger of landmines.
In the autumn of 2020, Azerbaijan and Armenia, arch-foe Caucasus neighbors, went to war for a second time for control of Karabakh.
Six weeks of fighting, in which more than 6,500 were killed, ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire agreement.
Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades and Russia deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce.
The European Union is mediating the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process, which involves peace talks, border delimitation and the reopening of transport links.
Being the main backer of Azerbaijan during the conflict, Turkey now supports reconciliation between regional actors, encouraging regional cooperation in the South Caucasus region.