Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists announce ceasefire and start of negotiations

The Azerbaijani authorities announced on Wednesday September 20 a ceasefire and the opening of negotiations for the reintegration of the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh

Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists announce ceasefire and start of negotiations

The Azerbaijani authorities announced on Wednesday September 20 a ceasefire and the opening of negotiations for the reintegration of the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian separatists, for their part, announced that they will lay down their arms and confirmed the ceasefire and the opening of negotiations, which will take place on Thursday in the Azerbaijani town of Yevlakh.

“An agreement was reached on the withdrawal of the remaining units and servicemen of the armed forces of Armenia (...) and on the dissolution and complete disarmament of the armed formations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army,” he said. declared the presidency separatist. The agreement was to be effective from 1:00 p.m. local time (11:00 a.m. Paris time).

Earlier in the morning, explosions were still ringing out in Nagorno-Karabakh. On Tuesday, the Azerbaijani army launched a military operation in this secessionist region, mainly populated by Armenians, which Baku and Yerevan have disputed for decades.

The clashes reportedly left at least “32 dead” and “more than 200 injured,” according to Anahit Manassian, official in charge of human rights protection for the Armenian authorities. These figures could not be independently verified.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev had made it a condition that the separatists “lay down their arms” with a view to a ceasefire. “The civilian population and infrastructure are not targeted, only legitimate military targets are destroyed,” Mr. Aliyev assured US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a telephone interview on Tuesday.

According to images posted on social networks, numerous debris and destroyed vehicles littered certain streets of the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert (Armenian name) or Khankendi (Azerbaijani name). On Tuesday, the city had already come under “intensive shooting”, according to the representation of the separatists in Armenia, on Facebook.

Pope's call to silence the guns

“There is no need to leave at the moment, we ask you to respect the safety rules and stay in the basements and bomb shelters,” the town hall asked the residents of Stepanakert, in a press release, Wednesday morning.

For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense, in charge of a peace mission since the last war in 2020, announced on Telegram that it had evacuated “more than 2,000 civilians” from the “most dangerous” areas in the region, “including 1,049 children.”

The Armenian separatist authorities also organized an emergency meeting of the Security Council of the secessionist region on Wednesday. During this meeting, the separatists deplored an “insufficient response from the international community (…)”, according to a statement published on X (formerly Twitter) by the ministry of foreign affairs of the secessionist authorities.

An operation launched after the death of six Azerbaijanis

The military operation was triggered after the death of four police officers and two Azerbaijani civilians in a mine explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh on the night of Monday to Tuesday. Baku had accused a group of Armenian separatist “saboteurs” of having committed these acts of “terrorism”.

It occurs in a context of renewed tensions between the two countries around the fate of the enclave. At the beginning of August, Armenia called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council in the face of the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the region. The Lachin corridor, the only land link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, was first blocked by Azerbaijanis posing as environmental demonstrators, before Baku established a road blockade on July 11. entrance to this road citing security reasons.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region with an Armenian majority located in Azerbaijan, was the scene of two wars in the early 1990s, then in the fall of 2020. It is one of the most mined areas in the former USSR . Explosions regularly cause casualties there.