Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are demanding security guarantees before they give up their weapons, according to an adviser to their leader. This comes after Azerbaijan declared that it had regained control of the breakaway region. The Karabakh Armenian authorities have accused Azerbaijan of violating a ceasefire agreement, while Azerbaijan’s defense ministry denies these allegations. The conflicting narratives and reports of gunfire highlight the potential for further violence despite the recent deal. Talks are ongoing to reach a final agreement, and the ethnic Armenians are insisting on security guarantees before disarming.
Azerbaijan has agreed to send fuel and humanitarian aid to Karabakh after imposing a de facto blockade for the past nine months. The talks took place between Azerbaijan and representatives of the Republic of Artsakh (as the Karabakh Armenians call themselves) in the city of Yevlakh. Azerbaijan denies accusations of ethnic cleansing and claims to want a smooth reintegration of the region’s ethnic Armenian population. President Ilham Aliyev stated that Armenians would enjoy full rights, but his speech was filled with harsh nationalist rhetoric.
Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has enjoyed de facto independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan’s military operation to regain control of Karabakh has been a long-held dream for President Aliyev. The Karabakh authorities reported at least 200 casualties on their side, while Aliyev acknowledged the deaths of Azerbaijanis as “martyrs” without specifying the number. The defeat is a bitter pill for the separatists and Armenia, which supported the enclave’s autonomy and fought two wars with Azerbaijan.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan acknowledged the suffering endured by Armenians but emphasized the need for peace to guarantee the country’s survival. President Aliyev stated that Armenia’s restraint in not blocking Azerbaijan’s offensive would remove an obstacle to peace. Russia, which has peacekeepers in the region, did not intervene in the Azerbaijani offensive, causing resentment among many Armenians who considered Moscow an ally. The Kremlin believes that the question of who Karabakh belongs to has now been resolved, representing substantial progress towards a peace treaty.
In Yerevan, thousands of protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to protect Karabakh. Many called for the resignation of Prime Minister Pashinyan, who oversaw the defeat in the 2020 war but was re-elected months later. In Karabakh, many ethnic Armenians have fled their homes, seeking refuge with Russian peacekeepers or at the airport in the main city. The situation is dire, with no electricity, empty shops, and people resorting to cooking over fires in courtyards. Rumors and uncertainty are causing chaos among the population.
Overall, the article highlights the ongoing tensions and challenges in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, with ethnic Armenians seeking security guarantees before disarming and Azerbaijan asserting its control. The conflicting narratives, reports of gunfire, and protests demonstrate the fragility of the situation and the urgent need for a lasting peace agreement.
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