Faced with the threat of ethnic cleansing, Nagorno-Karabakh’s 120,000 Armenians are already fleeing the region.

“Our people do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan. 99.9% want to leave our historical lands,” said David Babayan, adviser to the president of the self-proclaimed Artsakh Republic.

Some 120,000 Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have already begun to leave the region after Azerbaijan’s offensive, a self-proclaimed government official in Artsakh Republic, which administers the region, confirmed.

“Our people do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan. 99.9% want to leave our historical lands,” David Babayan, adviser to President Samvel Shahramanian, told Reuters.

Armenians began inhabiting the region at least as early as the 2nd century BC.These people have occupied the territory for thousands of years, with an exodus of 120,000 people.

“The fate of our poor people will go down in history as a shame and disgrace to the Armenian people and the entire civilized world. Those responsible for our fate will one day answer for their sins before God,” Babayan added.

Moscow peacekeepers have already taken 311 people to Armenia, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

This weekend, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave a speech to the nation in which he warned that Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians were “at risk of ethnic cleansing.”

“If adequate conditions are not created for Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to live in their homes and there are no effective safeguards against ethnic cleansing, there is an increasing chance that Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians will see deportation from their homeland as the only way to save their lives and their identity,” Pashinian was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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Azerbaijan, for its part, guarantees that it wants to integrate Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians into the country, promising to treat them as “equal citizens”.

“I would like to reiterate that Azerbaijan is committed to the reintegration of the Armenian people of the Karabakh region into Azerbaijan as equal citizens,” said Foreign Minister Zeyhun Bairamov at the UN General Assembly in New York. “The Constitution, the national law of Azerbaijan and the international commitments we have made are the solid foundation for this goal.”

On Tuesday, September 19, Azerbaijan launched what it called an “anti-terrorist operation” against the Nagorno-Karabakh region, home to 120,000 Armenians.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry demanded a “total and unconditional” withdrawal of Armenian troops from the region, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, which it considers “the only way to guarantee peace and stability in the region.”

The operation was launched after six Azeris – four police officers and two civilians – were killed when landmines exploded in an area of ​​Baku-controlled territory.

The attack has already caused more than 200 deaths and at least 400 injuries, according to a recent report by the Artsakh Republic’s human rights ombudsman.

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Nagorno-Karabakh has long been a center of tension between Armenians and Azeris. In modern times, the region has always been occupied by Armenians. However, along with the Soviet Union, administration of the territory was entrusted to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

As the Soviet Union disintegrated, the situation became more and more unstable. The first Nagorno-Karabakh war in the early 1990s gave a favorable outcome to the Armenians, with most of the region under their control.

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In total, 16% of the territory internationally recognized as Azerbaijan came under Armenian control, but was not integrated into the territory of Armenia: the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh was born later, which included the Nagorno-Karabakh region and some other territories. West and South, and received no official recognition from any country.

Apart from occasional local disputes, the Current status It remained unchanged till September 2020. As the world faced an epidemic, Azerbaijan launched an attack on Artsakh, triggering the start of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Unlike the first conflict, the outcome favored the Azeris. In addition to the victory on the ground, the Ilham Aliyev-led country scored a major victory at the negotiating table.

Under the terms of a cease-fire agreement signed on November 9, 2020 and brokered by Vladimir Putin, Armenians were forced to cede control of several districts: Akhtam in the east and Kalpajar and Lachin in the west. With the loss of the latter, a feared outcome: the Artsakh region was separated from Armenia and completely surrounded by Azerbaijani troops.

However, the agreement gave Armenians some hope by establishing a corridor, the Lachin Corridor, under the control of Russian peacekeeping forces, ensuring the continuity of freight traffic between Armenia and Artsakh. But it didn’t last long.

In December 2022, Azerbaijani environmentalists blocked the corridor, protesting illegal mineral exploration in the region, in flagrant violation of an agreement signed two years earlier, at the behest of Baku. For a few months, humanitarian aid still entered Artsakh, but in April, Azeris completely blocked the road; Armenians in the region no longer have access to essential goods such as food, electricity or natural gas.

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