By Euronews with AP
Azerbaijan regained control of its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in a deadly two-day military offensive. On Thursday, it held initial talks with representatives of its ethnic Armenian population to discuss reintegration.
Speaking to the United Nations Security Council, Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s determination to guarantee Nagorno-Karabakh residents “all rights and freedoms” in line with the country’s constitution and international human rights obligations, including safeguards for ethnic minorities.
He said the talks with Nagorno-Karabakh in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh will continue.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, who called for the emergency meeting of the Security Council along with France, accused Azerbaijan of an “unprovoked and well-planned military attack,” launched to coincide with this week’s annual meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.
Mirzoyan said the offensive targeted critical infrastructure such as electricity stations, telephone cables and internet equipment, killed more than 200 people and wounded 400 others, including women and children.
He said the “barbarity” of Azerbaijan’s aggression and deliberate targeting of the civilian population “was the final act of this tragedy aimed at the forced exodus of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Bayramov strongly denied the allegations of ethnic cleansing. He said representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh asked during Thursday’s talks for humanitarian aid, including food and fuel for schools, hospitals and other facilities that government agencies will provide soon.
Bayramov said Armenia kept more than 10,000 “armed formations” and heavy military equipment in Nagorno-Karabakh after the 2020 agreement. During the operation that started Tuesday, more than 90 of their outposts were taken, along with substantial military equipment, he said.
He held up photos of equipment he claimed was seized.
Mirzoyan urged the Security Council to demand protection for civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh; to immediately deploy a UN mission to monitor the human rights, humanitarian and security situation; to seek the return of prisoners of war; and to consider deploying a UN peacekeeping force to the region.
Azerbaijan’s move to reclaim control over Nagorno-Karabakh raised concerns that a full-scale war in the region could resume. The 2020 war killed over 6,700 people.