“We are proud that Azerbaijan has triumphed in such a short time,” the Turkish president celebrated this Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, given Azerbaijan’s recent military victory in Nagorno Karabakh. The “triumph” alluded to the military offensive launched by Baku in this territory, officially part of Azerbaijan but populated mostly by Armenians, which has an autonomous government not recognized by any country.
The operation, which began last Tuesday, barely lasted twenty-four hours until The Karabakh authorities accepted disarmament in exchange for the cessation of hostilities. Since then, uncertainty and fear have reigned in this region of 120,000 inhabitants, now in the hands of Baku. They fear ethnic cleansing by the Azerbaijani authorities and since Sunday night, thousands have fled to Armenia by road. As of noon on Monday, 4,850 Armenians from the Karabakh region had crossed the Armenian border, authorities in Yerevan announced.
On the western Armenian border, Erdogan visited his ally and president of Azerbaijan this Monday, Ilham Aliyev. The meeting took place in Nakhchivan, an autonomous enclave of Azerbaijan located between Armenia, Iran and Turkey. The visit took place on the occasion of the inauguration of a gas pipeline that connects Igdir, in Turkish Eastern Anatolia, with the enclave of Nakhchivan. It had been fourteen years since Erdogan had set foot in the enclave and the meeting was loaded with symbolism and parallels between the isolation of Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan’s recent victory in Karabakh.
During the press conference. Aliyev stoked Armenia and He accused her of “blocking” the gas supply to Nakhchivan for decades and called the country an “occupant”. Aliyev and Erdogan also agreed to build a military equipment factory in the city and celebrated the collaboration between both countries in defense matters. In 2020, Azerbaijan won the war in Karabakh and took much of the region under its control thanks to the support of Turkish military drones. Although in the last offensive Türkiye has not been deployed on the ground, Aliyev noted that “Azerbaijan will never forget Turkey’s moral support.” Aliyev also once again celebrated “the surrender of the Armenian army” and reiterated that Azerbaijan will guarantee humanitarian aid to the Karabakh region. “Regardless of their ethnic origin, people living in the Karabakh region are Azerbaijanis, so they will be protected by the state,” he said.
However, the reality on the ground is very different. According to Karabakh authorities, thousands of people are fleeing to Armenia for fear of revenge by the Azerbaijani army. “We haven’t taken everything with us in the hope of returning one day, although I doubt it will be soon.“explains Vadim, a carpenter and tour guide in Stepanakert, the unrecognized capital of Karabakh. “We go to Goris (Armenian town near the border with Karabakh) because we have family there. We don’t know if the Government will offer houses,” he explains.