Aliyev says Baku fully restored 'sovereignty', thousands flee region
The Azerbaijani president expresses optimism that the reintegration process of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijani society would be successful.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev stated on Monday that the country had fully restored its sovereignty just five days ago and expressed confidence in the successful reintegration of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians into Azerbaijani society.
"If three years ago, as a result of the second Karabakh war, we put an end to the occupation, on April 23 we completely restored our territorial integrity by establishing a border checkpoint on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border in the direction of Lachin. Five days ago we fully secured and restored our sovereignty. As a result of the anti-terrorist activities carried out in less than 24 hours, the Armenian army, which was illegally on the territory of Azerbaijan, surrendered, accepted our conditions and, so, Azerbaijan fully secured its sovereignty," he said during a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Nakhchivan.
The president also expressed optimism about the reintegration process of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijani society.
After Azerbaijan began conducting military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, the Armenian government reported on Monday that around 3,000 persons had entered Armenia from the contested region.
"As of September 25, 6:00 am [02:00 GMT], 2,906 forcibly displaced persons entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh. Of these, registration information for 2,100 have been summarized, and the need assessment of 794 is still in process," the Armenian government said in a statement.
According to the statement, 1,100 of the 2,100 registered immigrants who arrived in Armenia "wanted to go to places of residence decided by themselves" and the remaining approximately 1,000 were housed by the government.
The statement further stated that "forcibly displaced persons" continued to arrive throughout the night.
The Armenian authorities said that more than 6,600 persons had entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh later in the day.
"At 5 p.m. [local time, 13:00 GMT] on September 25, 6,650 forcibly displaced persons entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh. Of these, registration information for 5,580 has been summarized, and the need assessment of 1,070 is still in process," the government said on Telegram.
Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Baku of attempting ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh and pledged continued humanitarian and political support for Armenia, adding that Paris was "closely monitoring" the issue of Armenia's territorial integrity.
Responding to Macron's remarks, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada criticized France for supporting self-proclaimed Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and attempting to impose "neo-colonial traditions" in the South Caucasus region.
Hajizada also stressed that Azerbaijan's actions were in line with international law.
"We would like to remind the French side once again that Baku's activities to end the 30-year occupation of its sovereign territory by Armenia, aimed at restoring its territorial integrity and sovereignty is the legitimate right of Azerbaijan, enshrined in international law," he said in an interview with French broadcaster TF1.
"It's hypocritical for France, which overlooked human rights during its colonial era, to lecture Azerbaijan. Despite keeping silent about the Azerbaijani people's rights, who faced displacement and massacres for almost 30 years, France now feigns concern for Armenian rights. This showcases France's insincerity."
Azerbaijan initiated a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, with the announced goal of "restoring constitutional order." Baku further claimed that Azerbaijani forces only attacked Armenian military facilities in the region.
The attack followed just days after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan officially acknowledged that his country recognizes the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region as part of Azerbaijan's sovereign territory.
Azerbaijan held last week a first round of "reintegration" talks with the Armenian Karabakh combatants after they agreed to lay down their weapons against the backdrop of the day-long military offensive.
The combatants said they were in Russian-mediated talks with Baku to organize the withdrawal process and the return of civilians displaced by the fighting.