Title: Ethnic Armenian Official Demands Security Guarantees before Surrendering Arms, as Talks Resume after Azerbaijan’s Reclamation of Karabakh
Date: September 21, 2023
GORIS, Armenia – An adviser to the ethnic Armenian leader of Nagorno-Karabakh has stated that security guarantees are necessary before ethnic Armenians in the breakaway region can give up their weapons. This comes a day after Azerbaijan declared that it had regained control of the disputed territory.
Amidst allegations of ceasefire violations and reports of gunfire in Karabakh’s main city, the conflicting narratives from both sides emphasize the potential for further bloodshed. While Azerbaijan’s defense ministry labeled the accusations of ceasefire violations as “completely false,” sources in Karabakh reported hearing heavy gunfire on Thursday morning.
David Babayan, an adviser to Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leader, Samvel Shahramanyan, stated that talks were still ongoing and a final agreement was yet to be reached. When questioned about surrendering weapons, Babayan emphasized the need for security guarantees to prevent potential destruction and genocide. He further added, “A whole host of questions still needs to be resolved.”
In an attempt to address some of these concerns, Azerbaijan has agreed to send fuel and humanitarian aid to Karabakh. The talks, held in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh, involved representatives from Azerbaijan and the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, as the Karabakh Armenians refer to themselves.
Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim nation, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and expressed its desire for a smooth “reintegration” of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian Christian population. President Ilham Aliyev, in a televised address, assured that Armenians would enjoy their educational, cultural, and religious rights.
The conflict in Karabakh has its roots in the war that erupted in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Restoring control over the region has long been a goal for Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev. Earlier this week, Azerbaijan launched a swift military operation that breached Karabakh Armenian lines, resulting in casualties on both sides.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan acknowledged the suffering endured by Armenians but stressed the urgent need for peace to ensure the country’s survival. President Aliyev also remarked that Armenia’s restraint in not attempting to impede Azerbaijan’s offensive would facilitate peace between the two neighboring countries.
However, Russia’s apparent lack of action in preventing the Azerbaijani offensive has caused resentment among many Armenians. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow believed the question of Karabakh’s sovereignty had been settled, indicating a significant step towards a peace treaty.
In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, protests erupted with demonstrators expressing their disillusionment with the government’s failure to protect Karabakh. Some called for the resignation of Prime Minister Pashinyan, who oversaw Armenia’s defeat to Azerbaijan in the 2020 war.
As the situation remains tense, many ethnic Armenians in Karabakh have fled their homes, seeking shelter with Russian peacekeepers. Reports indicate that Stepanakert, the capital of Karabakh, is experiencing power outages and food shortages, forcing people to cook food over fires in courtyards.
The uncertainty surrounding the future has left residents in a state of “chaos and bewilderment.” Amidst ongoing negotiations and conflicting narratives, the focus remains on securing an agreement that ensures stability and peace for the people of Karabakh.
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