World News – AU – Azerbaijan reclaims Nagorno-Karabakh in full


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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) – Azerbaijan on Tuesday completed the recapture of the territory of the Armenian Armed Forces after peace for more than a quarter of a century, ending six weeks of violent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hailed the restoration of control of the territories as a « historic victory » and a demonstration of his nation’s « indomitable spirit ». ”

« We all lived with a dream and now we have fulfilled it, » said Aliyev in an address to the nation. “We have won a victory on the battlefield and in the political arena, and this victory opens a new era for our country. It will be an era of development, security, and progress. « 

Nagorno-Karabakh is in Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces supported by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994. This conflict left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but also large parts of the surrounding country in Armenian hands.

In 44 days of fierce fighting that began on Sept.. began. 27, Azerbaijani military commanded Armenian forces and moved deep into Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing Armenia to accept a Russia-brokered peace agreement that went into effect in November. 10. The agreement provided for the return of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan and called on Armenia to surrender all regions outside the separatist region.

The Lachin region, which lies between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, was the last of the three areas on the edge of Nagorno-Karabakh to be surrendered by Armenian forces on Tuesday.

Russia posted almost 2 for at least five years. 000 peacekeepers to oversee the peace accord and assist refugee return. Russian forces will also ensure safe transit between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia through the Lachin region.

« We have restored historical truth, » said Aliyev. “The Azerbaijani people will do everything to rebuild the destroyed cities and villages. From now on we will live as great and proud people. ”

He said 94 Azerbaijani civilians were killed and more than 400 injured in the recent fighting, but he again failed to expose his country’s military losses.

The Armenian Health Minister said last month that at least 2. 425 Armenian soldiers on duty were killed and many of them have not yet been identified.

Turkey, which has strongly supported its ally Azerbaijan, has increased its clout in the region. On Tuesday, Russian and Turkish military officials signed documents establishing a joint surveillance center to ensure compliance with the peace agreement.

The peace agreement was celebrated as a victory in Azerbaijan, but sparked mass protests in Armenia. Thousands took to the streets of the capital, Yerevan, to demand the overthrow of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. On Tuesday, several hundred demonstrators gathered again in Yerevan and repeated the demand.

After the hostilities ended, Russian peacekeepers supported the return of refugees from recent fighting. The Russian military said that over 25. 000 people from Armenia have returned to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia and Azerbaijan remain embroiled in difficult POW exchanges and exchange allegations of mistreatment.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed the hope on Tuesday that « objective difficulties » that are hindering the exchange of prisoners can be resolved quickly.

Aliyev argued that « there is no longer a Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, » saying that Azerbaijan will consider all Nagorno-Karabakh residents to be its citizens and ensure their well-being and improve the region’s infrastructure.

When the Armenian armed forces ceded control of the Aghdam and Kalbajar regions after the peace agreement, some Azerbaijani residents who fled them more than a quarter of a century ago also began to return to the areas.

Gurban Hasanov, 56, who had to flee Lachin with his family 26 years ago, said he was longing to return.

« I and my whole family dream of returning to our home village, » he told The Associated Press. “I have no words to explain how much we want to come back. I am a teacher and I want to teach geography to children. « 

Hasanov said he recently videotaped his village with the house intact – one of only a dozen that survived.

Before the territorial surrender, some ethnic Armenians set fire to their houses in a bitter farewell – a gesture that offended Azerbaijanis.

« I hope the Armenians didn’t burn it like they did in the Kalbajar region, » said Hasanov.

Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Artsakh Republic, Russia

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