Representatives for ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh met Thursday with the Azerbaijan government to discuss the future of the breakaway region.
The talks in Yevlakh, Azerbaijan, come a day after local fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh agreed to lay down their arms to end an offensive by Azerbaijan’s forces.
The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to hold its own talks about the situation on Thursday.
Gunfire was reported Thursday in the main city in Nagorno-Karabakh, which Armenians call Stepanakert and Azeris call Khankendi. Ethnic Armenians accused Azerbaijan of violating the cease-fire, which Azerbaijan’s defense ministry denied.
Russia, which has peacekeepers in the region, said Thursday it had evacuated 5,000 civilians from the area.
Thousands of protesters gathered Wednesday in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, to call on the government to protect Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev used a televised address Wednesday to claim victory, saying Azerbaijan had restored the region’s sovereignty.
Azerbaijan said it launched its operation Tuesday in response to landmine explosions that killed four soldiers and two civilians in the region.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is entirely within Azerbaijan but is populated largely by ethnic Armenians and had been under ethnic Armenian control since 1994. Parts of it were reclaimed by Azerbaijan after a war in 2020.
Along with Russia, the EU and the United States have an interest in the region and have held talks that are expected to continue, according to Mary Glantz, senior advisor on Russia and Europe Center at the United States Institute of Peace.
“The security of both sides and maintaining some sort of peace between those populations going forward is going to be a key issue [for] the international community — not just Russia and Turkey, but the EU and the United States,” Glantz told VOA’s Azerbaijan Service.
The security council will be convening to discuss the ongoing issues in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which, Glantz hopes, will be able to reach some sort of plan to ensure peace going forward.
“The military conquering of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan is just a piece of it,” she said. “Reintegrating the actual populations — having them live together side by side, the ethnic Azerbaijanis and the ethnic Armenians — is going to be an ongoing process.”
Some information for this story provided by the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.