A victorious President Ilham Aliyev stated he had achieved a decades-long “Azerbaijani dream” by retaking Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian separatists, as he raised his nation’s flag within the area’s foremost metropolis on Sunday.
Wearing navy apparel, the longtime chief flew the blue-red-green flag in what Azerbaijan calls Khakendi and Armenia Stepanakert, cementing Baku’s conquest after final month’s lightning offensive.
The September 24-hour navy operation led to the exodus of practically all ethnic Armenians from Karabakh.
It was the primary time Aliyev set foot within the metropolis because it fell to Armenian separatists within the Nineteen Nineties.
“We achieved what we wished. We fulfilled the dream the Azerbaijani individuals have lived with for many years,” Aliyev stated in a victory speech.
The overwhelming majority of the estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians that had been residing within the territory have since fled throughout the border to Armenia.
He stated his nation has “waited 20 years” to see Azerbaijani rule in Karabakh.
“This victory will keep in our historical past eternally,” he stated, triumphantly.
His journey got here precisely 20 years since Aliyev grew to become president of Azerbaijan, succeeding his father Heydar Aliyev.
The authoritarian chief stated he had longed to take management of Karabakh since rising to energy.
“Twenty years in the past, once I started to fulfil my official duties as president, I set myself a primary process,” he stated.
“In order that on all territories, on all lands, in all cities and villages, that on the time had been underneath occupation, the Azerbaijan would fly.”
Aliyev stood within the metropolis which had become a ghost city just about in a single day after the Azerbaijani offensive, with nearly its complete inhabitants fleeing
– Visits cities, fortress –
Baku revealed photographs of the longtime chief in navy apparel on his knees, kissing the Azerbaijani flag earlier than it was raised on a flagpole.
It stated he additionally visited a reservoir and an historical fortress, in addition to different cities.
The 61-year-old posed in entrance of mountains and water, holding pomegranates — a fruit related to the area — in one of many images.
Aliyev’s go to got here as Pope Francis on Sunday known as for the safety of Karabakh’s historical Christian Armenian monasteries and church buildings.
The Catholic chief spoke after his conventional Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Sq. in Rome:
“Past the humanitarian state of affairs of the displaced individuals, which is critical, I want to enchantment for the safety of the monasteries and locations of worship within the area.”
He known as on the brand new authorities and “all inhabitants” to respect the locations of worship “in an expression of religion and an indication of a fraternity that enables us to dwell collectively in our variations.”
Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of “ethnic cleaning” in Karabakh, which Baku denies.
Aliyev’s journey got here after he met with Russian chief Vladimir Putin at a gathering of ex-Soviet leaders in Kyrgyzstan, which Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan didn’t attend.
Whereas Aliyev didn’t go to a European summit for talks with Pashinyan earlier this month, his workplace has stated that he intends to journey for Brussels talks with the Armenian chief.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh because the dying days of the Soviet Union.
The mountainous area of Nagorno-Karabakh was populated primarily by Armenians and have become a part of Azerbaijan underneath Soviet rule, within the years following the autumn of the Russian Empire in 1917.
The neighbours went to conflict twice over the territory: within the Nineteen Nineties and in 2020.