People who are still in Nagorno-Karabakh should contact the International Committee of the Red Cross, he said. On the other hand, the Azerbaijani leadership, as it had for several days, stressed that there is no reason to flee and that people will be integrated into life in accordance with the country’s laws. Unlike Armenia, the South Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan is an authoritarian country without media freedom or a democratically elected leadership. The country is criticized internationally for human rights violations.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stressed at an event on Monday that the country has long been characterized by a society with multiple ethnicities and sects. “We live like a family,” he said, according to Azerbaijani media. “Now is the time to establish peace in the Caucasus. Our agenda is peace, cooperation and mutual benefit in the region,” he said in the capital Baku. Aliyev had previously announced the settlement of thousands of Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In contrast, the Armenian government accuses Azerbaijani authorities of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh. Karabakh Armenians feared persecution and violence. In a military offensive last week, Azerbaijan recaptured the region that has been contested for decades. The leadership of the internationally unrecognized Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) surrendered and sealed its self-dissolution on January 1, 2024.
There were casualties on the Armenian side “following shelling by the Azerbaijani armed forces,” the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said on the Telegram online service on Monday. The ministry initially did not provide any further information on the number of victims. Baku has denied the allegations. According to the ministry, this incident happened near Kut village in the east of the country. Accordingly, the vehicle was carrying food for Armenian border guards.
The United Nations announced that a UN mission had assessed the situation in the area on Sunday. The team found no damage to civilian public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and housing as well as cultural and religious buildings. However, shops were apparently closed without exception.
Representatives of the former self-proclaimed republic Nagorno-Karabakh said they would remain in the region following the Azerbaijani military offensive to monitor rescue efforts for victims of the conflict. Its leader, Samvel Shahramyanyan, said on Monday that he would remain in Stepanakert “with a group of official representatives” “until the search and rescue operations for the remaining fallen and missing are completed.”
Azerbaijan launched a large-scale military offensive in the region on 19 September. Just a day later, pro-Armenian fighters there announced surrender. However, the majority of ethnic Armenians still live there. Nearly all of the area’s former 120,000 Armenian residents have now fled to Armenia, fearing reprisals from Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, Iran warned of “geopolitical” realignment in the Caucasus – while also recognizing Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the region. “We are against changing international borders and geopolitical changes in the Caucasus region,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Monday, referring to Baku’s “Zangesur Corridor” project on the border with Iran.
Azerbaijan has long sought to link its territory through a corridor with the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, which borders Armenia, Turkey and Iran. The connection would cut off Iran’s access to Armenia. Kanani’s comments came during a visit by Armenian National Security Council head Armen Grigoryan, who has been in Tehran since Sunday. Armenia and Iran have traditionally maintained close relations, especially at the economic level. On the other hand, relations between Baku and Tehran are considered delicate as Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan is a close ally of Iran’s rival Turkey. Azerbaijan also buys weapons from Iran’s arch enemy Israel.