Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire: Armenians Open to Integration Talks with Azerbaijan

In recent reports, there appears to be a potential breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as the Karabakh Armenians are reportedly open to discussions concerning their reintegration into Azerbaijan’s state structure.

Media outlets have indicated that a ceasefire agreement has been reached in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh have purportedly agreed to Azerbaijan’s demand to cease hostilities and surrender their weapons. Both the Russian news agency Interfax and Armenian broadcaster Sputnik Armenia have confirmed the ceasefire.

According to the Karabakh-Armenian side, the ceasefire is set to take effect from 11 a.m. on Wednesday, facilitated by Russian security forces stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Additionally, it has been announced that Karabakh Armenians are willing to engage in negotiations with Baku regarding the integration of the predominantly Armenian-inhabited region into Azerbaijan. These negotiations are scheduled to commence on Thursday.

Despite international calls for a halt to hostilities, Azerbaijan continued its military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh for the second consecutive day on Wednesday. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that their military operations initiated on Tuesday were progressing successfully. They claimed to have “neutralized” military vehicles, artillery, anti-aircraft missile installations, and military equipment. Reports from Armenia also indicated that civilian infrastructure had been affected.

The internationally unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Ministry of Defense reported that its defense forces were offering fierce resistance and inflicting losses on the Azerbaijani armed forces.

According to reports citing the Azerbaijani presidential office, head of state Ilham Aliyev conveyed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a phone call that Azerbaijan would only halt its operation when Armenian fighters laid down their weapons and surrendered.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been the source of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1991. The majority of its population is Armenian, but the region is situated within Azerbaijan’s borders according to international law. In 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan, a move not recognized internationally. This has led to several brief wars between the two neighboring countries, both of which were part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.

In recent months, the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has deteriorated as the sole road connection to Armenia was blocked by the Azerbaijani government in Baku. Despite appeals to Russia, Armenia’s protecting power, the situation remained dire.

Russia had deployed peacekeepers to the region in 2020 after a short war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, Russia did not intervene in the current conflict. The shift in Armenia’s orientation towards military exercises with the USA in response to the ongoing tension angered the Russian government.

Azerbaijan has forged closer ties with Turkey in recent years, a development that has further strained its relationship with Armenia, primarily due to Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide in 1915 and 1916. The small Caucasus republic is positioned between its larger neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, both of which hold significant geopolitical importance. Turkey, as a NATO member, has increasingly played a pivotal role in the region and has sought to mediate with Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. Additionally, Azerbaijan holds strategic significance for its energy reserves and gas exports to the EU, particularly in light of the EU’s embargo on Russian gas.

Given the escalating violence, the Vienna Foreign Office has updated its travel advisory for Nagorno-Karabakh, warning against tourist travel to the area and advising against travel to border regions with Azerbaijan until further notice in Armenia.

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