Nagorno-Karabakh: questions about the future of Armenians in the enclave that Baku wants to retake
This Thursday, September 21, in Yevlakh, Azerbaijan, talks are being held on the concrete future of the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, the day after the ceasefire and the laying down of arms by Armenian separatists, overwhelmed by the rapid offensive of the Azerbaijani army. There are many grey areas and questions.
Nagorno-Karabakh: Russian soldiers guard the evacuation of Armenians from the enclave disputed by Azerbaijan, September 21, 2023. VIA REUTERS - RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
By: RFI Follow
With our special envoy in Goris, Anissa El Jabri
Very few echoes are coming from Nagorno-Karabakh, where the internet and calls are just beginning to return on Thursday morning. But it is still impossible to verify anything from an independent source, as the area is off-limits. Russian peacekeepers assured Wednesday, September 20 at the end of the day, that "the ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists is for the moment respected".
For their part, separatist leaders warn: "More than 10,000 people are evacuated from their original habitats" to other areas of this region, said the ombudsman for rights for Nagorno-Karabakh, Ghegham Stepanian. These people have "no adequate food, medicines or basic hygiene products", he added, denouncing a "disaster".
On Thursday, talks on Nagorno-Karabakh opened in Yevlakh, Azerbaijan, with representatives of the Russian peace contingent, who were already supposed to be the guarantors of the November 2020 peace agreement, as mediators; This agreement has been shattered since the blockade of the enclave and this blitzkrieg. Baku claims sovereignty over this territory and intends to present "plans for coexistence with the Armenians living there".
What will unfold in the coming hours is crucial. The disarmament of separatist forces is announced, officials said they had consented to it on Wednesday. When and how will this be organized? Can these men be guaranteed a departure from the enclave? Where will they go? For the moment, not a word, not an indication on this subject.
The images of thousands of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh arriving in a few hours at the airport of Stepanakert – which also serves as a military base for Russia – show that many want to leave for Armenia.
Here, in any case, no one seems to have the slightest doubt: the risk of exodus is very high. The Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh is estimated at 120,000.
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