Thousands of Armenians chose to leave the Nagorno-Karabakh region controlled by Azebaijan. Photo/Reuters
BAKU – 120,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh will leave for Armenia because they do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan and fear ethnic cleansing.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also said Armenians in Karabakh would likely leave the region, and that Armenia was ready to accept them, following last week’s defeat at the hands of Azerbaijan in a conflict that dates back to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Armenians in Karabakh, a region internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but previously outside Baku’s control, were forced to declare a ceasefire on September 20 after a 24-hour military operation carried out by Azerbaijan’s much larger military.
Azerbaijan says it will guarantee their rights and integrate the region, but Armenians say they fear repression.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent prefer to leave our historic land,” David Babayan, adviser to Samvel Shahramanyan, president of the Republic of Artsakh, told Reuters.
“The fate of our poor people will go down in history as a disgrace and shame for the Armenian people and the entire world civilization,” Babayan said. “Those responsible for our fate will one day have to answer for their sins before God.”
Armenian leaders in Karabakh said in a statement that all people displaced by Azerbaijan’s military operation and wishing to leave would be escorted to Armenia by Russian peacekeepers.
Babayan said it was unclear when residents would move to the Lachin corridor linking the region with Armenia, where Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan faces calls to resign for failing to save Karabakh.
In his speech, Pashinyan said some humanitarian aid had arrived but Armenians in Karabakh still faced the “danger of ethnic cleansing”.