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Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan meets with Armenian separatists

GreenWatch Desk World News 2023-09-21, 4:18pm

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Azerbaijan held consultations with Armenian separatists on Thursday, after the Azerbaijani government had launched a military operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The conflicted flared this week, but came to an abrupt halt after a cease-fire agreement was reached on Wednesday, with fighters agreeing to lay down their arms.

What do we know about the talks?

The talks took place in Yevlakh, over 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of the Azerbaijani capital of Baku.

The dialogue came after the Azerbaijani government announced a cease-fire agreement with the separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been facilitated by Russia.

As a result, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said his country had taken complete control of the Armenian-majority enclave, reports DW.

Vehicles with Russian flags and Russian number plates also arrived for the discussions in Yevlakh.

Azerbaijan has said the talks will focus on the integration of Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliyev has said the "Armenian population of Karabakh are our citizens" and would have "their religious and cultural rights respected."  

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday vowed "wholehearted support" for Azerbaijan after a call with Aliyev, according to the Turkish presidency.
Gunfire reported in Stepankert
Ethnic Armenians said gunfire was heard in Nagorno-Karabakh's main city, Stepanakert, amid the talks. They said Azerbaijan had violated the cease-fire.
Azerbaijan denied the allegations and said disinformation was being spread. 
The Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday that Russian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh evacuated 5,000 Karabakh Armenians from dangerous areas of the enclave.  
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Aliyev on a call Thursday, the Kremlin. During the discussion, Putin called on the Azerbaijani leader to guarantee the security of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, with Aliyev apologizing for the death of Russian servicemen over the past few days of fighting. 
UN Security Council to convene amid humanitarian concerns
Later on Thursday, the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh. The US, which is a permanent member of body, has expressed concerns about the humanitarian situation in the region following Azerbaijan's assault. 
European Council President Charles Michel called on Azerbaijan to guarantee the safety of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh in a phone call on Wednesday, German news agency DPA reported. The EU official had emphasized the humanitarian needs of people in the enclave. 

Armenian Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that "ethnic cleansing" was going on in Nagorno-Karabakh, calling it a "crime against humanity."  He said that "civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh are trapped and they do not have a way to evacuate since Azerbaijan continues to block the only lifeline connecting with Armenia."

Armenians angered by cease-fire
Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought two wars over the Nagorno-Karabakh since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nagorno-Karabakh separatists claim there have been "at least 200 killed and more than 400 wounded" since Azerbaijan started its assault on Tuesday. Azerbaijan said it was engaged in an "anti-terrorist" operation.

Armenians have denounced the cease-fire and called for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to step down. Pashinyan, meanwhile, has said he did not have anything to do with the truce that was made between the Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan. 

Pashinyan said Thursday that the way to peace is "not easy," but it must still be pursued. He said Armenia needed to be "free of conflict," but did not mention Nagorno-Karabakh during his speech.