Advisor to the President of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, former NKR Foreign Minister David Babayan announced his decision to surrender to the authorities of Azerbaijan.
“You all know that I am included in the black list of Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani side has demanded my arrival in Baku for the relevant investigation. I have decided to go from Stepanakert to Shushi today. This decision will naturally cause great pain, anxiety and stress, in the first place turn, to my loved ones, but I’m sure they will understand,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
According to him, his “failure to appear, or worse, escape, will cause serious harm to our long-suffering people, to many people,” and he cannot allow this.
On September 27, the Azerbaijani military detained the former state minister (head of government) of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Ruben Vardanyan at a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor while trying to enter Armenia. The State Border Service of Azerbaijan reported that he was taken to Baku and handed over to “the authorities to make an appropriate decision.” The next day, Vardanyan was accused of financing terrorism and participating in illegal armed groups, as well as illegally crossing the state border of Azerbaijan.
The territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has been going on since the late 1980s. Populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, with the support of Armenia, declared secession from the Azerbaijan SSR, and in September 1991 announced the creation of the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”.
During the armed conflict of 1988–1994, 30 thousand people died in the separatist region. Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions of Azerbaijan came under the de facto control of the Armenian armed forces. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis, became refugees and internally displaced persons.
The “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” is not officially recognized by any UN country, including Armenia. In 1993, the UN adopted four resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the Karabakh region and recognition of the territory as part of Azerbaijan.
After another escalation of the situation at the end of September 2020, Azerbaijan returned to its control the areas around Nagorno-Karabakh and took the ancient and symbolically significant city of Shusha (Shushi in Armenian). The day after the capture of Shushi, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a ceasefire statement in Nagorno-Karabakh. Under the terms of the agreement, Armenia and Azerbaijan are assigned the territories where troops were located at the time the document was signed. A Russian peacekeeping mission is stationed along the contact line.
After this, Azerbaijan began a blockade of areas of Karabakh populated by ethnic Armenians: checkpoints were set up on the only road that did not allow any cargo, including food and humanitarian aid, to enter the region. Residents of Armenian areas of Karabakh have reported hunger in recent weeks.
On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan launched an “anti-terrorist operation” in the areas of Karabakh populated by ethnic Armenians: it ended with the capitulation of the authorities of the self-proclaimed republic.