After Azerbaijan’s military victory over Nagorno-Karabakh, President Ilham Aliyev urged ethnic Armenians in the region and neighboring Armenia to cooperate, reconcile, and grow together.
In a televised address, President Aliyev emphasized Azerbaijan’s commitment to integrating Karabakh’s population and transforming the region into a paradise.
He underlined that Azerbaijan’s grievances were not with Karabakh’s Armenian citizens but with their criminal separatist leadership.
This gesture aimed to address concerns of ethnic cleansing and build bridges between two communities marred by decades of hostility.
President Aliyev’s speech marked a significant turning point, with Azerbaijan seeking to reintegrate Nagorno-Karabakh into its territory while fostering harmony and collaboration.
He clarified that Azerbaijan viewed Karabakh’s Armenian people as its citizens, signaling a commitment to inclusive governance.
The president’s words aimed to counter allegations by Armenian leaders that Baku intended to cleanse Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population ethnically.
Such fears had loomed, given historical animosities and mistrust between Baku and Yerevan. President Aliyev’s message sought to alleviate these concerns and pave the way for reconciliation.
Azerbaijanis Seek to Reclaim Nagorno-Karabakh After Decades of Conflict
Many Azerbaijanis who had fled Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s during a conflict linked to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan now aspire to return to the region.
President Aliyev’s call for integration could herald their homecoming and revitalize the region.
President Aliyev expressed gratitude that Armenia refrained from intervening militarily during Baku’s operations, thereby improving the prospects for peace talks.
He highlighted the importance of peaceful negotiations in resolving the longstanding conflict.
Baku has contended that Armenia maintained forces in Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of a ceasefire agreement reached after the 2020 war, during which Azerbaijan reclaimed substantial territory in and around the enclave.
Aliyev stated that Azerbaijani forces discovered Armenian tanks and armored vehicles in the region.
Reports from a separatist Armenian human rights official indicated casualties in the recent fighting, with civilians affected.
President Aliyev underscored that his soldiers were instructed to avoid harming Karabakh’s civilians and civilian infrastructure during the 24-hour offensive that led to the separatist authorities’ surrender.
However, specific casualty figures remain unverified.
President Aliyev’s vision extends beyond resolving the conflict, envisioning Nagorno-Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijani control as a catalyst for peace, cooperation, and development across the South Caucasus region.
This includes the potential for greater collaboration with Armenia and Georgia.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had previously suggested that Russia was reducing its regional involvement due to Ukraine’s conflict distractions.
However, the Kremlin denied this claim, reaffirming its role as the guarantor of security in the region.