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Azerbaijan is trying to bring Shusha, a resort town in Karabakh that it recently took back, back to life

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - The area around Shusha used to be called the "Switzerland of Azerbaijan" because it had wooded...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - The area around Shusha used to be called the "Switzerland of Azerbaijan" because it had wooded hills and a mild climate. This name belies the fact that ethnic Azerbaijanis and Armenians have fought with each other on and off for more than a century.

A year and a half ago, Azerbaijani forces retook the town from ethnic Armenians who had taken it in 1992 for the Armenian-backed breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing 15,000 Azerbaijanis to leave.

But the Shusha they took back was a shadow of what it used to be. During Soviet times, it was a popular tourist spot. About 4,000 Armenians who lived there and called it Shushi left, leaving behind a town that is mostly still damaged from what happened in 1992.

Still, Azerbaijani construction workers are slowly making the streets more interesting.

The local council building, the police headquarters, and the main post office have all been fixed up. The Govkhar Agha mosque and the Armenian Orthodox Ghazanchetsots Cathedral are both surrounded by scaffolding.

The construction of three hotels in Shusha made it possible for the Azerbaijani government to choose Shusha as the location for the annual Baku Energy Week conference and announce that the Emirati company Masdar would build solar and wind power plants in Azerbaijan that would produce 4 gigawatts of power.

Three supermarkets are now open, and as of this month, five buses a week will connect Shusha to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. These buses will bring both workers and tourists from Shusha.

Elkhan Guliyev, who works for the Azerishiq electricity company, said, "When I got to Shusha, everything was destroyed." "In these eight months, a lot has happened. The water and electricity are back on, and everything has been fixed. There are now a lot of tourists and students here."

He left when he was only 25 years old. Now that he is 56, he has come back to work in construction, but he longs for the day when former residents will be able to go back to their homes.

He has been to look at how his family's old house is falling apart.

"Only the walls are left," he said, pulling at the yellow wallpaper that was coming off.

"I work for a company that helps fix up cities. But Shusha is also beautiful when she looks like this."

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