Emmanuel Dunand Agence France-Presse A minivan abandoned by Armenians fleeing in Nagorno-Karabakh
An entire territory emptied of its population: after Azerbaijan's military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh -Karabakh at the end of 30 years of conflict and the departure of almost all the Armenians who lived there, Baku is preparing to take control of the enclave.
« Reintegration »
“Reintegration is carried out on the basis of the Constitution, laws and international obligations of the Republic of Azerbaijan and within the framework of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” the Presidency proclaimed on October 3 in a press release presenting its objective of reinstating sovereignty over the region.
The presidency claims to guarantee “equal rights and freedom and security for all, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or linguistic affiliation” and promises opportunities for “the use of the Armenian language”.
But in reality, almost all of the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have left the region since the government of the self-proclaimed republic announced its dissolution on January 1. In the localities previously taken over by Baku in 2020, almost no Armenian residents remained or returned.
Additionally, Azerbaijan promised “a great return” to the estimated 750,000 Azerbaijanis who fled the region, its adjacent territories and Armenia following Armenian victory in the First Karabakh War in the 1990s .
Disarming 30 years of war
Nagorno-Karabakh separatists have opposed Baku for more than three decades, notably during two wars between 1988 and 1994 and in the fall of 2020. The international community has never recognized the self-proclaimed republic.
After the September 24 surrender of the separatists, the bulk of the fighting stopped, but scattered incidents took place. Baku also mentions a risk of guerrilla actions in certain sectors.
But de facto, Azerbaijan controls the region, even if its army has not yet entered the major cities.
“There are [no more] illegal Armenian armed forces in combat outposts. Likewise, many bases, military bases, are already liberated,” Colonel Anar Eyvazov, spokesperson for the Azerbaijani army, told Agence France-Presse.
Azerbaijan indicates that “disarmament is complete.” An arsenal of more than 2,000 rifles and 22 armored vehicles was, among other things, seized, according to a provisional report.
The main threat, however, remains that of the mines present in the region, and no mine clearance plan has been implemented. for the moment been announced.
Estimates vary greatly, due to lack of precise mapping: Azerbaijan reporting “millions” of these mines, while other sources mention at least 100,000.
Finally, few doubts remain on the departure of the Russian interposition force – a contingent of 2,000 soldiers deployed since 2020 between the belligerents – which will be “the subject of discussions with Baku”, according to the Kremlin.
The Armenians left behind their property, their homes, but also the means of production: factories, fields, livestock.
To whom will return -they ? “Property issues will be regulated in accordance with the law,” explains the Azerbaijani presidency, without detailing.
Baku plans to bring “social and material infrastructure to the level of the rest of the country” and to circulate its currency.
The enclave will be connected to national services. Baku's water, electricity and telecommunications companies were among the first to settle in the territory.