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Representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani government engaged in initial discussions on Thursday concerning the future of the separatist region. Azerbaijan claims full control over Nagorno-Karabakh following a recent military offensive. The talks, held in Yevlakh, primarily centred around the “reintegration” of Nagorno-Karabakh and its local ethnic Armenian population into Azerbaijan, in the context of a long-standing conflict. This information was conveyed by the office of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.
During these discussions, representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh requested assistance with essential supplies like fuel and food. Azerbaijani officials agreed to provide humanitarian aid, including energy for heating kindergartens and schools, as reported by a statement from Aliyev’s office. There were reports of power outages in Stepanakert, the regional capital, prompting some people to resort to campfires for cooking due to a scarcity of food.
Nagorno-Karabakh had experienced months of shortages, including medicine, owing to an Azerbaijani blockade that severed the only road link to Armenia in the southern Caucasus mountains region. The quick surrender by the separatist forces highlighted their vulnerability as a result of the ongoing blockade.
In 2020, a six-week war led to the deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to the region, allowing Azerbaijan to regain control of some territory. However, the recent tensions between Russia and Armenia may have limited the extent of support and assistance that the peacekeeping force can provide.
According to Aliyev’s office, another round of talks is planned for the near future. In the aftermath of a military operation launched by Azerbaijan a couple of days ago, local Armenian self-defence forces had agreed to disarm and disband, leading to Aliyev’s declaration of victory and the assertion that Nagorno-Karabakh was fully restored to Azerbaijani sovereignty.
The conflict has raised concerns about the possibility of a full-scale war reigniting in the region, as both sides have been in a struggle over Nagorno-Karabakh since the end of a separatist war in 1994. The 2020 war resulted in significant casualties and territorial changes.
Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s Prime-Minister, who has previously recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, said his government didn’t take part in negotiating the deal, but “has taken note” of the decision made by the region’s separatist authorities. He again denied any Armenian troops were in the region, even though separatist authorities said they were in Nagorno-Karabakh and would pull out as part of the truce.
The conflict has consistently involved influential regional actors, most notably Russia and Turkey. Russia assumed a mediation role, while Turkey provided substantial support to its historical ally, Azerbaijan. Russia has held a central position as Armenia’s primary economic partner and ally since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Additionally, Russia maintains a military base in Armenia.
However, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan has grown increasingly critical of Moscow’s role, highlighting what he perceives as its failure to safeguard Nagorno-Karabakh. He has argued that Armenia should look to Western countries for security assurances, a shift that has caused some dismay in Moscow.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled a meeting to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh at the request of France, while various world leaders expressed their concerns over the situation, emphasizing the need to respect cease-fire agreements and protect the rights and security of the people in the region.
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