The successful counterattacks by Azerbaijani forces in the Upper Karabakh region have strengthened hopes that the country’s people will be able to return to their lands that they had to desert due to Armenia’s invasion 30 years ago.
The former residents of Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, who had to leave their homes between 1991-1994 to live in settlements on Azerbaijan’s western frontier, as well as the capital Baku, have now started to return to their lands.
Most are concerned that a cease-fire ultimately would not solve their plight, hoping that Nagorno-Karabakh is liberated from the occupying Armenian forces.
“I could never forget Karabakh. I’m living on the hope of returning to the land I was born,” said Ali Memedov, who lost his mother and brother to the Armenian invasion of Kalbajar in 1992.
“The Armenian forces killed my mother and brother at home and took my father and sister captive. The bodies of my mother and brother remained inside the home for 39 days and were buried on the 40th in Kalbajar. My father and sister were released 40 days later thanks to Baku’s intervention,” Memedov recounted.
After their displacement between 1991 and 1994, Azerbaijan built homes for the “Karabakh migrants” who previously had to live in camps.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Azerbaijan’s territory of Upper Karabakh.
The fresh clashes began when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.
Many world powers, including Russia, France and the US, have urged a new cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.
Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.
The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.
*Writing by Dilan Pamuk
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