Azerbaijan claims victory after Karabakh separatists surrender - GulfToday

Azerbaijan claims victory after Karabakh separatists surrender


Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a televised address to the nation in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Azerbaijan will hold peace talks with Armenian separatists on Thursday, after a swift military victory in the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared victory over the mountainous region on Wednesday, saying his "iron fist" had consigned the idea of a separatist Armenian Karabakh to history after a lightening 24-hour military operation.

The meeting in the city of Yevlakh, more than 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of the capital Baku, comes as the UN Security Council holds an emergency session on the fighting which broke out this week.

Baku claimed it had regained control over the mountainous territory for the first time in decades, just 24 hours after launching its deadly military operation.

Armenian separatists agreed to lay down their arms in the face of clashes that they said killed 200 people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow's peacekeepers would mediate the talks.

"I hope that we can reach de-escalation and transfer a solution to this problem onto a peaceful course," he told China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The UN Security Council meeting will take place Thursday afternoon.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the mountainous region.

Russian peacekeepers help ethnic Armenians to leave a truck at a camp near Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday. AP

The years of conflict have been marked by abuses on both sides, and there are concerns of a fresh refugee crisis as Karabakh's Armenian population fears being forced out.

The collapse of separatist resistance represents a major victory for Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in his quest to bring the Armenian-majority region back under Baku's control.

Aliyev said this week's events "will have a positive impact on the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia".

His foreign policy adviser Hikmet Hajiyev promised safe passage for the separatists who surrendered and said Baku sought the "peaceful reintegration" of Karabakh Armenians.

A separatist official said more than 10,000 people had been evacuated from Armenian communities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The EU and United States had been mediating talks between Baku and Yerevan in recent months in a bid to secure a lasting peace.


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