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Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan’s Aliyev says operation over – DW – 09/20/2023

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Published 09/20/2023Published September 20, 2023last updated 09/20/2023last updated September 20, 2023

Azerbaijan’s president said in a TV address that the military operation was over, and that separatist fighters had accepted demands that they disarm and depart the region. He also seemd to offer Armenia an olive branch.

Russian soldiers help people in the back of an army truck; military helicopters are in the distanceRussian peacekeepers have been evacuating thousands of civilians from Nagorno-KarabakhImage: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS/IMAGOSkip next section What you need to know

  • Ilham Aliyev declares military intervention over, says Azerbaijan’s sovereignty restored
  • Aliyev also said he valued Armenia not having intervened in the operation, and that this was a good sign for peace talks
  • Azerbaijan’s Defense MInistry had announced a cease-fire earlier in the day, brokered by Russia; Armenia had said it was not involved
  • Russian peacekeepers said they evacuated 2,000 civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh, with crowds seen waiting at the airport
Skip next section Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of firing on border positions

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Armenia’s Ministry of Defense has accused Azerbaijan’s armed forces of firing on some of its army outposts near the town of Sotk, situated around 140 kilometers (80 miles) from Karabakh.

“Azerbaijani army units fired light weapons on the Armenian combat outposts near Sotk”, the Armenian Defense Ministry posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The reports come after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared the end of the military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan has denied the claims. next section US concerned about humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

The White House expressed concern over the humanitarian situation after Azerbaijan declared an end to a military operation in Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We’re obviously still watching very, very closely the worsening humanitarian situation inside Nagorno-Karabakh,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Kirby said the situation “has been exacerbated by the hostilities perpetrated by Azerbaijan” and there were now concerns of a refugee crisis but that reports of a ceasefire were “positive.” next section Macron tells Aliyev to honor cease-fire

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

France’s presidential office said Emmanuel Macron called Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev after the military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

President Macron “condemned Azerbaijan’s decision to use force … at the risk of worsening the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and compromising ongoing efforts to achieve a fair and lasting peace.” 

He “stressed the need to respect” the cease-fire and “to provide guarantees on the rights and security” of people in the region “in line with international law.” 

Macron is in France at present, even amid the UN General Assembly, for the delayed state visit of King Charles III. The original appointment was postponed amid pension reform protests in France. next section Azerbaijan’s Aliyev says sovereignty ‘restored,’ declares end to operation

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev gave a televised address on Wednesday evening, as a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh appeared to hold. 

He said that Armenian-backed separatist forces were withdrawing and that most of their military hardware had been destroyed in a military offensive launched barely 36 hours earlier. 

“Illegal Armenian units have begun the process of withdrawal from their positions. They accepted our terms and began surrendering their arms,” Aliyev said.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a televised address to the nation in Baku, Azerbaijan, September 20, 2023.President Aliyev appeared on television saying Azerbaijan had restored its sovereignty but also trying to reassure citizens in Nagorno-KarabakhImage: Press Service of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Alijew/REUTERS

Aliyev said Azerbaijan had regained full sovereignty in the operation, and he tried to assure residents of Nagorno-Karabakh that he wished to integrate the population and turn the region into a “paradise.” 

He said Azerbaijan had nothing against ethnic Armenians in the region, saying “they are our citizens,” but only against their “criminal” separatist leadership.

Aliyev also said that Baku valued the fact that Armenia had not sought to intervene in the military operation, instead remaining “watchful.” He said this impoved the prospects for peace talks between the two longstanding foes. next section EU’s Charles Michel speaks to Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said that he had spoken to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in a phone call on Wednesday morning.

Michel wrote on social media that he had spoken to Aliyev “to ensure full cease-fire and safe, dignified treatment by Azerbaijan of [Nagorno-]Karabakh Armenians.”

“Their rights and security need to be credibly guaranteed. Access needed for immediate humanitarian assistance,” he added.

Michel was writing while in New York for the ongoing UN General Assembly. next section Azerbaijan intent on ‘peaceful reintegration’ of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Baku said on Wednesday that its aim was to “reintegrate” ethnic Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and to normalize ties with Yerevan.

“Azerbaijan’s agenda is about peaceful reintegration of [Nagorno-]Karabakh Armenians, and Azerbaijan also supports the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” presidential foreign policy advisor Hikmet Hajiyev said.

He also said that Azerbaijani forces would offer “safe passage” to Armenian separatist fighters as part of their agreement to disarm.

“Safe passage to appropriate assembly points will also be provided by the Azerbaijani side,” Hajiyev told journalists. “All the actions on the ground are coordinated with Russian peacekeepers.”

The presidential advisor also argued that there was no need for the UN Security Council to hold a special meeting on the conflict, saying that he believed it would be “counter-effective and detrimental” to the cease-fire. next section Pashinyan says fighting ‘greatly decreased’ after cease-fire announcement

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Wednesday’s cease-fire had appeared to have resulted in a major reduction in hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The latest information I have received from Nagorno-Karabakh is that the intensity of fighting has greatly decreased,” the prime minister said in a statement.

“We hope that the military escalation will not continue,” he added, stressing the importance of ensuring the protection of ethnic Armenians living in the enclave that Azerbaijani forces began to attack on Tuesday.

He also called on Russian peacekeeping forces to ensure the safety of Armenians there. next section Putin calls for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was hopeful for a peaceful solution to the outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to comments made during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that were shown on state television on Wednesday.

“We are in close contact with all the sides of the conflict: with authorities in Yerevan, with [separatist Nagorno-Karabakh] authorities in Stepanakert and in Baku,” Putin said.

“I hope that we can reach de-escalation and transfer a solution to this problem onto a peaceful course,” he added.

It was not clear if the comments were made before or after the announcement of the cease-fire. next section Armenia was not involved in cease-fire, PM Pashinyan says

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday shortly after the announcement of the cease-fire between Azerbaijan and the Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, that his administration had not been involved in its implementation.

“Armenia did not participate in drafting the text of the cease-fire declaration in Nagorno-Karabakh under the mediation of Russian peacekeepers,” Pashinyan said.

He also stressed that Armenia “does not have an army” in the contested region, and had not had any forces there since August 2021.

In a TV address, the prime minister also emphasized the importance of maintaining the cease-fire.

“We hope that military escalation will not continue, because, in the current conditions, it is very important to ensure stability and stop combat actions,” Pashinyan said. next section Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan’s military reach cease-fire

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh said they had agreed to the terms of a cease-fire proposed by Russian peacekeepers. 

It comes after the armed group suffered a series of setbacks at the hands of the Azerbaijani military. 

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry confirmed the cease-fire agreement, saying the Armenian separatists had agreed to “lay down their weapons, abandon combat positions and military posts and completely disarm,” while all weapons and heavy equipment were being handed over to the Azerbaijani army. 

The agreement was expected to come into effect at 1 p.m. local time (0900 UTC) and peace talks between Azerbaijani officials and the separatists are now scheduled to take place on Thursday in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh. next section Russia evacuates over 2,000 civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh

09/20/2023September 20, 2023
Russian peacekeepers evacuate Nagorno-Karabakh civiliansMoscow said that over 2,000 people, including 1,049 children, have been evacuatedImage: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS/IMAGO

Russian peacekeepers said they evacuated more than 2,000 civilians including over 1,000 children from the “most dangerous” areas in Nagorno-Karabakh, a day after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the disputed region.

“The Russian peacekeeping contingent is continuing to evacuate the civilian population of Nagorno-Karabakh from the most dangerous areas,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Armenian Foreign Ministry called on Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh to “take clear and unequivocal steps to stop” the fighting. next section Pope urges all sides to ‘silence their weapons’

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

Pope Francis called for all sides to “silence their weapons” in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

“I address my appeal to all parties involved and to the international community to silence their weapons and make every effort to find peaceful solutions for the good of the people and respect for human dignity,” the 86-year-old head of the Catholic Church told his weekly audience.

Since Azerbaijan began its military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, the US, Russia, the EU and the United Nations have called on the conflicting parties to immediately end hostilities. next section US joint exercise in Armenia to end as planned

09/20/2023September 20, 2023

US soldiers will complete a joint military exercise with Armenian forces in Armenia on Wednesday as planned, and it was not affected by the launch of a major military operation by neighbouring Azerbaijan, a US military spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said there had been no change to the 10-day Eagle Partner 2023 exercise involving 85 US soldiers and 175 Armenians, despite Azerbaijan’s launch of what it called an “anti-terrorist” operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Tuesday.

“We were aware that they were conducting operations but we didn’t assess there to be any risk to our soldiers at the time and so they remained for the duration of the exercise,” the spokesperson said. next section Former official warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Nagorno-Karabakh

09/20/2023September 20, 2023
Damaged cars and buildings after shelling in StepanakertDamage in a residential area after a military strike on Stepanakert in Nagorno-KarabakhImage: Oldhike/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

A former top official in Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian administration said that close to 100 people had been killed and hundreds more injured in the breakaway region after Azerbaijan started what he cast as a “big war.”

“This is a big war  Azerbaijan has started a full operation,” Ruben Vardanyan, former head of the breakaway region’s government, told Reuters from Karabakh.

“They (Baku) are basically saying to us that we need to leave, not stay here, or accept that this is a part of Azerbaijan  — this is basically a typical ethnical cleansing operation and a war with a lot of civilians now being killed,” he said.

Meanwhile, authorities in Stepanakert, the main city of Nagorno-Karabakh, urged residents not to flee. “At this time there is no need to move, we urge you to follow safety rules and stay in basements and bomb shelters,” the mayor’s office said in a statement, pointing to signs of “panic” among locals.

Azerbaijan rejects accusations that its aim is to ethnically cleanse Nagorno-Karabakh and says it will protect the rights of the area’s ethnic Armenian civilians under its own constitution. 

Azerbaijan’s government says it is determined however to remove the breakaway region’s political and military structures. next section UN chief calls for ‘immediate end’ to fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh

09/20/2023September 20, 2023
People in a shelter in Stepanakert, Nagorno-KarabakhFamilies in a shelter during the shelling of Stepanakert in Nagorno-KarabakhImage: Siranush Sargsyan/AP/picture alliance

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “immediate end to the fighting” in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijan has launched a military operation against separatist forces.

“The Secretary-General calls in the strongest terms for an immediate end to the fighting, de-escalation, and stricter observance of the 2020 ceasefire and principles of international humanitarian law,” said Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

France on Tuesday called for the UN Security Council to meet urgently on the crisis, which came just as world leaders gathered in New York for the annual United Nation’s General Assembly.

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