Azerbaijan extends Armenian pullout deadline | Daily News

Azerbaijan extends Armenian pullout deadline

Local residents walk in a street after it was hit by a missile in Gandja in Azerbaijan in this October 8, 2020 file photo. Azerbaijan has emerged victorious in the war.
Local residents walk in a street after it was hit by a missile in Gandja in Azerbaijan in this October 8, 2020 file photo. Azerbaijan has emerged victorious in the war.

AZERBAIJAN: Azerbaijan said it had agreed to extend a deadline for Armenia to withdraw from a disputed district as part of a peace accord that ended six weeks of fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Residents of the Kalbajar district in Azerbaijan, which has been controlled by Armenian separatists since a 1990s post-Soviet war, began a mass exodus in the days leading up to the initial withdrawal deadline on Sunday.

But a foreign policy adviser to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said his country had extended the deadline over humanitarian considerations.

Hikmet Hajiyev said the withdrawal of “Armenian armed forces and of illegal Armenian settlers” was delayed until November 25 following an appeal from Armenia and mediation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Kalbajar’s settlement by Armenians was illegal. The people who were resettled there have no property rights,” Hajieyv told a news conference.

Kalbajar was almost exclusively populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis before they were expelled by Armenians in the 1990s war between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh, and a majority of the homes being abandoned previously belonged to Azerbaijanis.

Over the weekend AFP journalists saw fleeing residents haul away anything they could manage, including furniture, doors and windows.

In the Kalbajar village of Charektar, dozens of homes were set on fire by their former owners to make them unhabitable for the coming Azerbaijanis.

“We also moved our parents’ graves, the Azerbaijanis will take great pleasure in desecrating our graves. It’s unbearable, one Charektar resident said.

The village looked like a ghost town on Sunday, left to the stray dogs. All that was left were charred, collapsed homes, damaged funiture and rubbish strewn across the ground.

A Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed this week to Nagorno-Karabakh set up checkpoints and positions in the region’s administrative centre Stepanakert.

The deployment was part of the peace deal, which sees Armenia cede swathes of territory that Azerbaijan’s forces gained in the weeks of fighting.

- AFP