On September 20, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivered a speech to the nation in which he praised the agreement reached between his government and the Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh a few hours earlier.
The Karabakh armed forces had been no match for the massive offensive launched by Azerbaijan the previous day.
The agreement established the withdrawal of the remaining units of the armed forces of Armenia (though Armenia's prime minister reiterated that his country had no units in Karabakh), the "dissolution and complete disarmament" of the Artsakh Defense Force, Nagorno-Karabakh's local army, and the start of talks on the integration Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan.
"The process of withdrawal of Armenia's illegal armed units from their positions has already begun. In addition, they have accepted our terms and started laying down their arms," Aliyev said in his televised speech.
"It begs the question - who benefited from causing this situation? After all, immediately after the Second Karabakh War, we repeatedly appealed to the Armenian leadership, their patrons abroad, and other parties, expressing our legitimate concern and telling them that the continued presence of the Armenian armed forces on the territory of Azerbaijan was illegal and should stop. We were saying that the illegal junta [de facto Nagorno-Karabakh government] should fold up its so-called flag, worth no more than a piece of cloth, and vacate our lands. It is our sovereign right."
(Azerbaijan started and won the Second Karabakh War in fall 2020. It resulted in Baku regaining most of the territory it lost to Armenian forces in the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s.)
Aliyev also praised the decision by the Armenian leadership to not intervene in his country's latest attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.
"During this period, today and yesterday, Armenia has unexpectedly shown political competence, which we appreciate. We see this as an essential factor, and the events that happened today and yesterday will also positively impact the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia," he said, adding that Azerbaijan respects Armenia's territorial integrity.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan would convey to Karabakh Armenians "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," he said.
In accordance with the surrender announcement, on September 21 two representatives of the Karabakh Armenian population - David Melkumyan, a member of Nagorno-Karabakh's parliament, and Sergey Martirosyan, head of the region's security council - arrived in Yevlakh, under escort of Russian peacekeepers, to meet representatives of Azerbaijan's central government. The Azerbaijani delegation was headed by Ramin Mammadov, a member of parliament, who was also identified earlier this year as the person responsible for talks with Karabakh Armenians. The other two members of the delegation work under the special representative of the Azerbaijani president in the retaken areas of Karabakh.
After the meeting, Azerbaijan's presidential administration told the media that the Karabakhi representatives were presented with the country's reintegration plan for Karabakh's Armenian population. "The meeting was held in a constructive and positive atmosphere. Discussions were held on issues of reintegration of the Armenian population of Karabakh, restoration of infrastructure and organization of activities based on the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan," the statement read. (The plan has not been released to the public.)
The Azerbaijani presidential administration added that the Karabakhi delegation raised the need for humanitarian supplies, particularly food and fuel, in Nagorno-Karabakh, and asked for assistance from Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani fire reported in Stepanakert
In the meantime, reports came out of Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh's de facto capital, asserting that, despite the ceasefire, the Azerbaijani army was firing in the direction of the city from nearby areas. One former official claimed the army was moving toward the city.