A view of Aghavno village, June 2022 (photo Lilit Shahverdyan)

BAKU (RFE/RL) — Speaking on national television on Friday, August 12, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again ruled out any status for ethnic Armenians living in Karabakh, saying that they will enjoy the same rights as other citizens of Azerbaijan.

Aliyev also reaffirmed Baku’s right to conduct military operations in Karabakh similar to the one its armed forces conducted in early August along the Lachin corridor with the use of drones, mortars and grenade launchers.

Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said two Armenian soldiers were killed and 19 others were wounded in the August 3 attack by Azerbaijani forces that prompted calls from the international community for de-escalation in the volatile region.

Azerbaijan claimed it had taken retributive action for the killing of an Azerbaijani servicemen by “Armenian terrorists.”

“Armenians living in Karabakh should take the right steps. They must understand that their future depends on their integration into Azerbaijani society. We live in reality. From the geographical, economic and historical points of view, Karabakh is an inseparable part of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev told AzTV, as reported by Azerbaijani news website Haqqin.az.

The Azerbaijani leader claimed that those who talk about some status or independence for Armenians in Karabakh are “the main enemies of the Armenian people.”

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“Because the Armenians living in Karabakh will not have any status, independence or advantages. They will live like all citizens of Azerbaijan. Their rights will be protected the way the rights of Azerbaijani citizens and people living [in Azerbaijan] are protected,” Aliyev said.

In March, Azerbaijan presented Armenia with five elements which it wants to be at the heart of a peace treaty to be signed by the two South Caucasus nations that fought a bloody six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020.

The elements include a mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity. The Armenian government, in principle, agreed to the elements, but said they should be complemented by other issues relating to the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the security of its population.

In the interview to national television, Aliyev also claimed that hundreds of Armenian soldiers were withdrawn from Karabakh after Azerbaijan’s military operation on August 3. He stressed that Azerbaijan wants a full withdrawal of Armenian armed units from Karabakh. ”It is Armenia’s commitment. It is reflected in the act of surrender signed by Armenia on November 10, 2020,” Aliyev claimed.

Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan on August 4, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stressed that there was no serviceman of the Republic of Armenia in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian side, however, does not share the view that the Moscow-brokered ceasefire that provided for the deployment of about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers in the region also stipulates that local Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh should disarm.

In his interview Aliyev also confirmed that the few remaining Armenian residents of the town of Lachin and the villages of Sus and Aghavno situated along the Lachin corridor will leave by the end of the month as a new route for the corridor linking Karabakh with Armenia is due to be put into use.


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