The separatists in Khankendi announced their willingness to lay down their weapons and hold a meeting in Yevlakh without the previous preconditions. Formally, of course, they are trying to make it look as if the illegal regime has accepted the peacekeepers’ offer, but this does not change the truth. The illegal regime has surrendered. Moreover, by declaring that “an agreement has been reached on the withdrawal of the remaining units and personnel of the Armenian Armed Forces from the area of deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, the disbanding and complete disarmament of the armed groups of the ‘Defense Army of Nagorno-Karabakh’ and the withdrawal of heavy equipment and weapons from the territory of Karabakh for the purpose of their speedy disposal”, the Armenian side was forced to acknowledge that these units were indeed present there. And most importantly, the halting of the anti-terrorism actions is taking place amid the acceptance of our country’s conditions by the remnants of the illegal regime.
It took Azerbaijan 24 hours to solve this extremely difficult problem. Power, surgical precision and clarity of our army’s actions, calibrated moves of our diplomacy, determination and iron will have paid off. Azerbaijan, led by President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, followed a well-thought-out plan, and the new, post-war, strategy has borne fruit. A dangerous “mine” on our territory has been defused.
Could this page have been closed without a new series of military operations, air strikes and anti-terrorism efforts? Probably yes, and probably no. Yes, because Azerbaijan offered dialogue, reintegration, and working on a peace treaty. And no, because the Armenian side responded to Azerbaijan’s peace initiatives with insidiousness, refusal to attend meetings and putting forward absurd preconditions. Unfortunately, peace requires the will of both sides, and one of the sides, Armenia, did not want to go its own part of the road to peace. Thankfully, Azerbaijan had the strength, diplomatic authority and composure to counter this with its calibrated strategy and save the region from new bloodshed.
This was preceded by a lot of hard and, for some, invisible work. It was essential to enhance the combat effectiveness of the army and not to fall into post-victory euphoria. To work out scenarios for new operations. To conduct a subtle and complex diplomatic game and to crush the Armenian side’s hopes for external intercession. On its own, our country implemented Paragraph 4 of the Trilateral Statement, under which the Armenian armed groups were to be removed from Karabakh concurrently with the deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, just as it implemented the UN Security Council resolutions three years ago. It has protected its citizens. First, the internally displaced persons who are now returning to the liberated territories. And secondly, the very Armenians of Karabakh, who were held hostage by the illegal junta. From now on, Azerbaijan has full control over its territory. There are no “gray areas” left in our country.
And this is another brilliant victory for Azerbaijan—not in a war this time, but in a localized anti-terrorist mop-up. But this does not change its historical significance. A new page of history is opening in the South Caucasus. And it is once again being written by Azerbaijan under the leadership of its President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev.