Baku and Stepanakert hold historic talks on the future of Karabakh and its Armenian community

Talks between representatives of Baku and Stepanakert on the future of Karabakh and its Armenian community were held in the town of Yevlakh on Thursday 21 September 2023.


Updated with correct names of the leaders of the delegation of the Karabakh Armenians

Representatives of the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh arrived in the Azerbaijani town of Yavlakh for discussions with Baku officials on the future of the territory and its Armenian population. According to Armenpress news agency the Armenian group is led by Davit Melkumyan, head of the "Artsakh Democratic Party" faction in the parliament of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic parliament, and Sergey Martirosyan, deputy secretary of the Security Council. The group travelled by car in a convoy escorted by Azerbaijani police and Russian forces. For the Baku side, the talks will be led by Ramin Mammadov, a member of parliament who earlier this year was designated by the Azerbaijan government as the lead person for contacts with the Karabakh Armenians.

The talks are expected to start at 13.00 local time (0900 GMT).


A decisive meeting that will define the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, and in many ways of the South Caucasus, is taking place in the Northern Azerbaijani town of Yevlakh this morning. Representatives of the Baku government, and of the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh are meeting, with the facilitation of the Russian military, to put into effect the agreement reached yesterday after a twenty-four-hour Azerbaijani military operation that left hundreds of casualties on both sides.

Speaking in a nationwide televised broadcast on Wednesday (20 September), Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said:

"During a meeting of representatives of the Karabakh community with my representative in Yevlakh, we will convey to them our visions of future coexistence. All their rights will be guaranteed: educational rights, cultural rights, religious rights, and municipal electoral rights because Azerbaijan is a free society. Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state. It is our great asset. Representatives of every nationality living in Azerbaijan can see this. There is no need to explain that. It is our way of life. There has never been and will never be discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds in Azerbaijan..." 

Amongst the Armenian population of Karabakh, the mood is somber. Thousands are gathered at Stepanakert airport hoping to be taken out of the territory, and amongst those intending to remain, there is a sense of apprehension about the future. Yevlakh may be about to carve its name in history but it is not yet clear for what reason.


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Opinion: Azerbaijan needs to provide its vision on the future of Karabakh Armenians

"The current impasse on the movement on the Lachin corridor can lead to the complete evacuation of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Besides the legal, moral, and logistical impediments to implementing such an initiative, it will become a geopolitical disaster for the region. It will only deepen the mistrust and hatred between Armenians and Azerbaijanis and prepare a subsequent cycle of violence in the future, as Armenians will take all steps to avenge such a national humiliation", writes Benyamin Poghosyan, in this op-ed for KarabakhSpace. There are no optimal solutions that will satisfy all sides. The choice will be made between bad, worse, and the worst options. The only way out is to find a "middle way," which may include restoring the supply of goods to Nagorno Karabakh via the Lachin corridor and simultaneously using other routes. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan should finally present its vision of the future of Nagorno Karabakh Armenians, with a detailed description of their rights and mechanisms to protect them. The general statements about Armenians having the same rights as any other Azerbaijani citizen according to the Azerbaijani constitution are not sufficient. Otherwise, even if a short-term solution alleviates the humanitarian disaster in Nagorno Karabakh, the crisis will remain there,with no light at the end of the tunnel.