A UN mission is present in Nagorno-Karabakh for the first time in about 30 years

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh / Photo: M-Production / Alamy / Alamy / Profimedia

A United Nations mission arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh today, Azerbaijani media reported.

It is the first time in the past 30 years that international organization has gained access to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia previously asked the International Court of Justice to order Azerbaijan to withdraw all troops from civilian facilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and allow UN access.

Azerbaijan has rejected accusations of ethnic cleansing in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave of its ethnic Armenian population and maintains that its residents are free to stay or go.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly accused Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing since the enclave's decade-long bid to break away from Azerbaijani rule ended in sudden defeat on September 20.

Pashinyan said more than 100.000 of Nagorno-Karabakh's roughly 120.000 residents have fled to neighboring Armenia.

"We cannot accept accusations of ethnic cleansing or genocide," Hikmet Hadjiev, diplomatic adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said last night.

"Ethnic cleansing is a violent action, when someone uses force against civilians — (which is) exactly what Armenia used against us, 30 years ago."

"But that doesn't mean we will repeat the same thing. There was not a single case of violence or crime against civilians. They confirm it themselves," claims Hadjiev.

"And there were no 'Armenian' citizens in Karabakh," he added.

"We have always considered them citizens of Azerbaijan, but unfortunately the illegal separatist entity has not allowed us to have direct communication with them," he said of the ethnic Armenian separatists who have ruled the enclave for three decades.

He said Azerbaijan had "hired internal security troops to coordinate with the so-called local Armenian authorities."

"They still control the cities," he stressed.

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