Sunday, December 3, 2023

Azerbaijan’s presidential envoy says people that fled Nagorno-Karabakh can return

The residents of Nagorno-Karabakh who fled the region following a counterterrorism operation by Baku can return to their homes, Elchin Amirbekov, an Azerbaijani presidential envoy for special assignments, has said in an interview with Radio J.

“The fact is that they made the decision to leave their homes on their own and voluntarily. We regret that. I will say once again that these people, of course, retain the right to return to their homes if they want to,” he stated.

Amirbekov added that Baku had told civilians at the start of its counterterrorism operation that they were not the target of the military measures. He expressed the opinion that the exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh residents happened because they weren’t certain about their safety after supporters of the region’s independence refused to put up armed resistance to Azerbaijan and surrendered their weapons.

“We have done everything to convince them not to leave their homes. For a week now, we have provided them with everything they need in terms of humanitarian aid, and power supply has been restored. Radio and television announcements urged people against panicking.”

Tensions reignited in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19. Baku announced it was starting “local anti-terrorist measures” and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the region. Yerevan said there were no Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and described the situation as “an act of large-scale aggression”. On September 20, an agreement was reached to halt hostilities. Representatives of Azerbaijan and the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh held a meeting in the Azerbaijani town of Yevlakh on September 21 to discuss the issues of the region’s reintegration into Azerbaijan.

The president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Samvel Shahramanyan signed a decree on September 28 to dissolve the unrecognized state from January 1, 2024. Its people have been urged to consider the terms of reintegration in Azerbaijan, which were offered by Baku, and stay put if they choose to do so. According to the Armenian government, the country has received 100,520 refugees that fled Nagorno-Karabakh, compared with that region’s recent population count of about 120,000.

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