ALETIHAD STAFF (YEREVAN)
Azerbaijan confirmed that a ceasefire to end its military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh had been reached with Armenian separatists, starting from 9am GMT on Wednesday, and that integration talks will take place on Thursday.
The office of President Ilham Aliyev separately confirmed talks with Armenian separatists on the “reintegration” with Azerbaijan on Thursday in the town of Yevlkah.
Meanwhile, the separatists announced that they would cease hostilities, signalling the end of the operation launched just one day earlier by Azerbaijan’s forces.
“Through the mediation of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh, an agreement was reached on the complete cessation of hostilities from 13:00 (0900 GMT) on 20 September, 2023,” the region’s self-proclaimed presidency said in a social media statement.
The statement added that the separatist forces had agreed to disband entirely, and withdraw all heavy military equipment and weaponry from the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The presidency’s announcement also said that all Armenian armed forces would be drawn from the territory controlled by Russian peacekeepers. Armenia has said it has no troops deployed in the breakaway region.
The Russian forces were deployed to the region as part of a ceasefire agreement brokered directly between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020, ending six weeks of fighting.
The presidency’s statement also said that separatists had accepted a proposal from Azerbaijan for discussions about the integration of the disputed region into Azerbaijan.
“Issues raised by the Azerbaijani side on reintegration, ensuring the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh... will be discussed at a meeting between representatives of the local Armenian population and the central authorities of the Republic Azerbaijan,” the statement said.
“They will take place in the city of Yevlakh on September 21.”
Meanwhile, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan said on Wednesday that the ethnic Armenians of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region could theoretically live under Azerbaijani rule, but that dialogue was crucial.
Kostanyan said that Armenia understood that Karabakh’s Armenians were open to talks with Baku. “Armenia had specific security agreements with Russia that were applicable to such situations,” he added.