Azerbaijan resumed control of the Aghdam district on Friday 20 November, ceded by the Armenian separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh, under the terms of an agreement to end hostilities under Russian patronage, which ended six weeks of war.
This is the first of three handovers to Azerbaijan of territories controlled by Armenian forces for nearly thirty years and a war in the 1990s that left tens of thousands dead as well as hundreds of thousands displaced. , especially the Azerbaijani population of Agdam.
“In accordance with the trilateral declaration [de fin des hostilités] signed by the President of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Russia, units of the Azerbaijani army entered the Agdam region on November 20 ”, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a short statement.
This November 9 agreement, negotiated by Vladimir Putin, enshrines the Armenian defeat after six weeks of fighting this fall which probably killed thousands. If the self-proclaimed republic of Karabakh loses many territories, it sees its survival assured.
In addition to gains in Nagorno-Karabakh itself, notably Choucha, the second city of the province, Baku takes over the seven Azerbaijani districts which constituted the security glacis of the separatists. Four were brought down by force of arms, and three must be surrendered: Agdam on Friday, Kelbadjar on November 25 and Lachin on November 1is December.
Flight of the Armenians
Some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers are also being deployed to ensure that the belligerents respect the ceasefire. There, the local Armenians did not wait for the arrival of forces from Baku to flee.
In the village of Nor Maragha in the district of Agdam, the inhabitants slaughtered their cattle, harvested their fruits and moved their homes, with the bitter feeling that they had to leave farms and orchards to the hated enemy. In the village of Nor Karmiravan, residents loaded furniture onto their trailers. Some set fire to their houses to leave nothing but ruins for the Azerbaijanis.
In Agdam, a ghost town for nearly thirty years where the separatists had a rear base, Armenian soldiers bulldozed and burned their local headquarters on Thursday, before leaving the area.
At the end of the war in the 1990s, the reverse exodus had taken place, with the entire Azerbaijani population fleeing these regions. Armenia then encouraged their repopulation by Armenians.
Turkey’s role in question
The end of hostilities agreement marks a humiliating defeat for Armenia. He is denounced by the opposition, which accuses the Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian, of being a “Traitor” and demands, so far unsuccessfully, his resignation. The power has denounced a plot to assassinate the head of government. The street demonstrations remained limited to a few thousand people however.
The Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliev, appeared this week, in triumph, in military fatigues and alongside his wife, the vice-president of the country, in certain emblematic places of reconquered territories.
The end of hostilities has been widely welcomed by the international community. France nevertheless called on Moscow to lift certain “Ambiguities” of the text, particularly on the role of Turkey, great support of Azerbaijan and sworn enemy of Armenia.
While Turkey is not mentioned anywhere in the end-of-hostilities agreement, Ankara quickly asserted after its signing that Turkish soldiers would take part in the observation of the ceasefire from a joint coordination center with Russia. in Azerbaijan. The Russian president however assured that no Turkish soldier will be deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Finally, the end-of-fighting agreement does not mention the resumption of negotiations on the status of the separatist region, an issue that has plagued relations in the South Caucasus for decades.