Armenia hands over Kalbajar district to Azerbaijan

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Armenia officially ceded the Kalbajar district to Azerbaijan on Wednesday, as agreed in the agreement signed between the two countries in early November. It is the second territory surrendered by Armenia to Azerbaijan in accordance with the agreement that ended six weeks of fighting.

Azerbaijani soldiers and military trucks entered the Kalbajar district, bordering Nagorny-Karabakh, on Wednesday for the second of three retrocessions to be made by Armenia after the ceasefire that ended six weeks of fighting that left thousands of deaths.

The Azerbaijani army released images of the return of its soldiers, showing in particular night-time demining operations on the roads of this mountainous region where the first snow fell.

In a statement, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani army units entered Kalbajar district on November 25 early on, under the end of hostilities agreement signed in early November by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

Located between the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic and Armenia, the Kalbajar should have been surrendered on November 15, but Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, had postponed the event.

Soldiers in firing position protect a deminer at work.

Azerbaijani soldiers are demining part of the Kalbadjar district.

Photo: Associated Press / Azerbaijani Army

Aftermath of a first conflict

By signing the ceasefire, Yerevan, the Armenian capital, agreed to surrender three districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that had eluded Baku's control since a first war in the 1990s.

The district of Kalbajar, like that of Aghdam surrendered on November 20 and that of Lachin which is to be surrendered on December 1, formed a buffer zone surrounding the separatist region. Four other districts with the same role were taken over by Baku during the fighting.

Near the village of Cherektar, on the district border, Armenian soldiers were setting up a checkpoint on Wednesday with piles of tires blocking the road.

Kalashnikov automatic rifle in hand, Armen Chakhnazarian regretted the abandonment shameful of the region. We have a lot of churches herethe 20-year-old soldier said. Our ancestors, our elders and our friends are buried here.

In a televised speech, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev vowed to defend national heritage that are the many religious monuments of Kalbajar and criticized the Armenians for having set fire to forests and <q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":"burned houses that they had not built "," text ":" burned houses that they had not built "}}" lang = "en”>burned down houses they had not built before their departure.

In the days leading up to the handover, AFP had indeed seen Armenian residents cut down trees, retrieve power cables and even load parts of a hydroelectric dam onto a truck before leaving.

It is out of the question for Armenians that Azerbaijanis live in their homes, said 53-year-old mason Gaguik Yakchibekian. So they burn (the houses), the trees are cut down and the people take everything away.

At the end of the first war in 1994, the reverse exodus had taken place, the Azerbaijani population fleeing these regions then repopulated by Armenians.

A tripartite agreement

The end of hostilities agreement, signed when the military situation was catastrophic for Armenia, enshrines the victory of Azerbaijan and grants it important territorial gains after six weeks of a conflict which claimed several thousand victims.

It nevertheless allows the survival of Nagorno-Karabakh, diminished, and sees the deployment of 2000 Russian peacekeepers.

In Baku, the atmosphere was euphoric. Ilkin Mammadov, a 25-year-old student, said he wanted introduce Kalbajar to the world, while Ayshe Alieva, 22, thanked the Russian troops without whom we couldn't have lived there.

Before the handover, Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with Ilham Aliev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian to, according to the Kremlin, discuss the modalities of work of Russian peacekeepers.

The Russian president also spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he spoke the creation of a ceasefire control center spouse.

A military vehicle bearing a Russian flag is driven on an Armenian road.

A Russian patrol of peacekeepers passes a checkpoint set up by Armenian militants near the village of Cherektar.

Photo: Associated Press / Sergei Grits

Ankara's role

France last week called on Russia to lift the ambiguities surrounding the ceasefire, in particular on the role of Turkey, Paris worrying that Ankara is associated with peacekeeping operations. Moscow assured that no Turkish soldiers would be deployed.

Signed under Russian patronage, the ceasefire recalled Moscow's decisive role in its Caucasian home, but also the growing influence of Turkey, Baku's unwavering support.

Conversely, the Western countries seem to be losing ground and neither France nor the United States, mediators as members of the Minsk group, charged in the 1990s with finding a lasting solution to the crisis, have not obtained convincing results.

Read also :

  • Armenia's stability threatened after failure in Nagorno-Karabakh
  • 4 questions to understand the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

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