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Ethnic Armenians face no threat in Nagorno-Karabakh, says Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, promising reintegration and citizenship

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In Nagorno-Karabakh, hostilities with Azerbaijan have put the lives of local ethnic Armenians at risk. Some are evacuating with their children, while others stay, uncertain of the conflict's outcome and its potential impact on civilians due to longstanding ethnic tensions.

On September 20, Radio Liberty wrote that Azerbaijani forces reportedly targeted a convoy of Russian peacekeepers attempting to evacuate children from Nagorno-Karabakh. Preliminary reports suggest eight peacekeepers may have been killed, though confirmation is pending from both sides. The Nagorno-Karabakh Ombudsman's office also reports casualties among civilians, with over 200 people killed and more than 400 wounded in the Azerbaijani attack, launched on September 19.

At the same time, Azerbaijan continues to claim that its forces did not target the civilian population, and if there are dead, they are accidental victims of the “counter-terrorist operation,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizada told The Insider. He stressed that Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh should not be afraid of ethnic cleansing and deportation. They won't face harm, Hajizadeh emphasizes, adding there's no need for them to leave the region. However, they will be expected to “reintegrate” into Azerbaijani society as Azerbaijani citizens.

On Azerbaijan's guarantees towards the civilian population in Karabakh, primarily ethnic Armenians

The exact wording of the question can be found here.

“For the last three years, since the end of the 44-Day War, Azerbaijan has on numerous occasions stated its readiness to provide safety, security, and all the rights under Azerbaijani legislation and constitution to all ethnicities, including Armenians. We have also stated that Azerbaijan considers ethnic Armenians living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as part of Azerbaijani society and is always ready to protect their rights and security in line with the national legislation.

Question 1

My first question concerns Azerbaijan's plan and guarantees for the civilian population in Karabakh, most importantly ethnic Armenians, including unarmed men – not only women – and military personnel who have laid down arms and want to live in peace, without showing resistance to the Azerbaijani army. Is it possible to save their lives and ensure their safety? Can Azerbaijan guarantee it? If so, what steps can you take to make it happen?

Question 2

What about common people in Armenia? There is no easy conversation between the two nations in Karabakh. What about common people in Karabakh now? For example, if I am a common Armenian woman who is afraid of Azerbaijani troops. I doubt they will act like gentlemen. I know all about the history of our two nations. I read newspapers, maybe some propaganda too. And I'm scared. I want to hear a clear signal from Azerbaijan, from Baku to Azerbaijani troops. That they can’t rape. They can’t be strongmen. They must save common people and keep them safe. Maybe I’d like to see the police before the troops. Do you see what I mean? I’m scared for my life. Can you send a clear and strong signal for the whole world to hear, to Azerbaijan troops and common people in Karabakh? That you don't want to cause trouble for common people when Azerbaijan troops crack down on the Karabakh state.

Question 3

What is the status of the humanitarian corridor for those who want to leave Karabakh? Is it possible now or not? Because we are getting controversial signals. And I don't know who is right and who isn’t.

Question 4

How do you assess the Armenian government's commitment to avoiding escalation? I understand [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan issued a statement to this effect yesterday. I’m speaking about his statement about not escalating the conflict. Are you on the same page with him on this?

A view of a damaged apartment building and cars after the start of a military operation by Azerbaijani armed forces in the ethnic Armenian town of Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh, September 19, 2023.
A view of a damaged apartment building and cars after the start of a military operation by Azerbaijani armed forces in the ethnic Armenian town of Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh, September 19, 2023.
Siranush Sargsyan / PAN Photo via REUTERS

Over the last two days, we carried out counter-terrorist measures against the illegal Armenian armed forces that had remained stationed in Azerbaijan in violation of the trilateral statement of November 10th, 2020, after the end of the war, which enshrines in Article 4 that the Armenian armed forces should withdraw in parallel with the deployment of the Russian peacekeeping forces, but which has not been fulfilled. The last few days saw military provocations and actions against Azerbaijani troops and civilians that claimed six lives: four military personnel and two civilians, killed as a result of Armenian troops’ sabotage and reconnaissance operation, which led to military escalation.

In turn, Azerbaijan took anti-terrorism measures against those local armed forces. As you've heard today, the puppet regime agreed to disband, disarm, and withdraw all of the armed forces located in the territory of Azerbaijan. It has also agreed to hold a meeting on the 21st of September to discuss all of these issues and the process of the local Armenian population’s reintegration into Azerbaijani society in line with Azerbaijan’s constitution and legislation. As always, Azerbaijan declares the willingness of its government to provide all rights and security to Armenians who disarmed voluntarily.

Question 1

My first question concerns Azerbaijan's plan and guarantees for the civilian population in Karabakh, most importantly ethnic Armenians, including unarmed men – not only women – and military personnel who have laid down arms and want to live in peace, without showing resistance to the Azerbaijani army. Is it possible to save their lives and ensure their safety? Can Azerbaijan guarantee it? If so, what steps can you take to make it happen?

Question 2

What about common people in Armenia? There is no easy conversation between the two nations in Karabakh. What about common people in Karabakh now? For example, if I am a common Armenian woman who is afraid of Azerbaijani troops. I doubt they will act like gentlemen. I know all about the history of our two nations. I read newspapers, maybe some propaganda too. And I'm scared. I want to hear a clear signal from Azerbaijan, from Baku to Azerbaijani troops. That they can’t rape. They can’t be strongmen. They must save common people and keep them safe. Maybe I’d like to see the police before the troops. Do you see what I mean? I’m scared for my life. Can you send a clear and strong signal for the whole world to hear, to Azerbaijan troops and common people in Karabakh? That you don't want to cause trouble for common people when Azerbaijan troops crack down on the Karabakh state.

Question 3

What is the status of the humanitarian corridor for those who want to leave Karabakh? Is it possible now or not? Because we are getting controversial signals. And I don't know who is right and who isn’t.

Question 4

How do you assess the Armenian government's commitment to avoiding escalation? I understand [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan issued a statement to this effect yesterday. I’m speaking about his statement about not escalating the conflict. Are you on the same page with him on this?

“We are ready to include them in our society as Azerbaijani citizens.”

However, when it comes to elements of the separatist regime who have committed crimes against humanity and taken other actions against the civilian population of Azerbaijan in the last 30 years, there will be additional measures against them. Azerbaijan has already provided a wanted list of individuals responsible for crimes against humanity and massacres of Azerbaijanis.”

On possible violence and rape committed by Azerbaijan's military personnel

The exact wording of the question can be found here.

“When taking counter-terrorism measures in the last two days, we openly declared that were are not targeting the civilian population living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, and we've called on them to stay at home, away from the areas of combat activity and the locations of military outposts. That is very important. We made a public announcement. We also sent online messages to the local population that none of our measures were targeting the civilian population. And this was the case in the actual military operation.

As the Armenian side has declared, there were very minor losses among the civilian population. We cannot verify those claims, but despite the large scale of our counterterrorism measures, almost no civilians were targeted. There were no civilian casualties, despite the scale of the anti-terrorism measures. And we'd assured the population that they would not be targeted. And we'd assured that Azerbaijan is ready to provide security and safety.

Question 1

My first question concerns Azerbaijan's plan and guarantees for the civilian population in Karabakh, most importantly ethnic Armenians, including unarmed men – not only women – and military personnel who have laid down arms and want to live in peace, without showing resistance to the Azerbaijani army. Is it possible to save their lives and ensure their safety? Can Azerbaijan guarantee it? If so, what steps can you take to make it happen?

Question 2

What about common people in Armenia? There is no easy conversation between the two nations in Karabakh. What about common people in Karabakh now? For example, if I am a common Armenian woman who is afraid of Azerbaijani troops. I doubt they will act like gentlemen. I know all about the history of our two nations. I read newspapers, maybe some propaganda too. And I'm scared. I want to hear a clear signal from Azerbaijan, from Baku to Azerbaijani troops. That they can’t rape. They can’t be strongmen. They must save common people and keep them safe. Maybe I’d like to see the police before the troops. Do you see what I mean? I’m scared for my life. Can you send a clear and strong signal for the whole world to hear, to Azerbaijan troops and common people in Karabakh? That you don't want to cause trouble for common people when Azerbaijan troops crack down on the Karabakh state.

Question 3

What is the status of the humanitarian corridor for those who want to leave Karabakh? Is it possible now or not? Because we are getting controversial signals. And I don't know who is right and who isn’t.

Question 4

How do you assess the Armenian government's commitment to avoiding escalation? I understand [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan issued a statement to this effect yesterday. I’m speaking about his statement about not escalating the conflict. Are you on the same page with him on this?

September 19, 2023, Stepanakert
September 19, 2023, Stepanakert
Siranush Sargsyan / PAN Photo via Reuters

Azerbaijan has used very high-precision weapons for this operation and these measures. Almost no civilian facilities were hit. We do understand the history between our nations. But when we look back at the large-scale 44-Day War, we can see that civilian casualties from the Azerbaijani side were much higher than the civilian casualties of the Armenian side. That means that Azerbaijan has never targeted the civilian population.”

On the humanitarian corridor and its safety

The exact wording of the question can be found here.

“We do fully understand these concerns, but Azerbaijani military personnel who took major roads under control as a result of these anti-terrorism measures have assured that there will be no targeting of civilians. And if certain people want to leave their places of residence, of course, humanitarian corridor measures could be discussed and it could probably be one of the agenda items at the 21st September meeting in the Azerbaijani town of Yevlakh. But we are assuring the Armenian population living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan that Azerbaijan is ready to nourish them, to include them in our society as Azerbaijani citizens. And we are not calling on them to leave the region where they live.”

On Pashinyan's statement about Armenia's efforts to avoid escalation

The exact wording of the question can be found here.

“For the last three years, since the end of the 44-Day War, Armenian leadership has been prone to military and political provocations, including some misleading, very inconsistent statements about Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We hope the anti-terrorism measures taken by Azerbaijan will result in the disarmament and withdrawal of all Armenian troops from the territories of Azerbaijan, thus laying the groundwork for a better future for Azerbaijan and Armenia and ensuring progress in the peace process between the two countries. The absence of military escalation from the Armenian side in these two days is a positive sign, but we hope that Armenia will also refrain from voicing statements and taking action against Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and will recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan in word and deed.

We hope that the measures taken by Azerbaijan will bring peace and progress to the region.”

Question 1

My first question concerns Azerbaijan's plan and guarantees for the civilian population in Karabakh, most importantly ethnic Armenians, including unarmed men – not only women – and military personnel who have laid down arms and want to live in peace, without showing resistance to the Azerbaijani army. Is it possible to save their lives and ensure their safety? Can Azerbaijan guarantee it? If so, what steps can you take to make it happen?

Question 2

What about common people in Armenia? There is no easy conversation between the two nations in Karabakh. What about common people in Karabakh now? For example, if I am a common Armenian woman who is afraid of Azerbaijani troops. I doubt they will act like gentlemen. I know all about the history of our two nations. I read newspapers, maybe some propaganda too. And I'm scared. I want to hear a clear signal from Azerbaijan, from Baku to Azerbaijani troops. That they can’t rape. They can’t be strongmen. They must save common people and keep them safe. Maybe I’d like to see the police before the troops. Do you see what I mean? I’m scared for my life. Can you send a clear and strong signal for the whole world to hear, to Azerbaijan troops and common people in Karabakh? That you don't want to cause trouble for common people when Azerbaijan troops crack down on the Karabakh state.

Question 3

What is the status of the humanitarian corridor for those who want to leave Karabakh? Is it possible now or not? Because we are getting controversial signals. And I don't know who is right and who isn’t.

Question 4

How do you assess the Armenian government's commitment to avoiding escalation? I understand [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan issued a statement to this effect yesterday. I’m speaking about his statement about not escalating the conflict. Are you on the same page with him on this?

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