Under the terms of the ceasefire agreement that Armenia signed on November 10 in the wake of a series of military defeats by ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh in a six-week war with Azerbaijan, Armenians, in particular, must gradually withdraw from three districts by December 1.
As Russian peacekeepers are being deployed in the region as part of the agreement Kalbajar will become the first district that Azerbaijan will regain on November 15 according to an agreed timetable.
The road leading from Kalbajar to the Armenian town of Vardenis is full of trucks these days as thousands of Armenians who have lived in the district for decades are trying to move their belongings to Armenia.
An RFE/RL Armenian Service correspondent witnessed local residents dismantling roofs, doors and whatever else they could from their houses to take with them to Armenia. One resident explained that the construction materials would help them build some makeshift housing in Armenia to somehow survive the coming winter.
Some videos posted on social media also showed some residents in Kalbajar burning their houses before leaving their villages.
Meanwhile, many Armenians bid farewell to their cultural heritage in the area, including Dadivank, a 9th-century monastery located in Kalbajar.
In a statement issued on November 13, Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that earlier this week Yerevan sent a letter to authorities in Baku noting that Azerbaijan’s “actions and policies adopted during the last decades are in gross violation of the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”
“Among other things, Armenia urgently called on Azerbaijan to cease its discriminatory practices and other continuous violations with regard to Armenia and ethnic Armenians, including but not limited to dissemination of anti-Armenian sentiment; failure to take effective measures to eliminate anti-Armenian propaganda; permitting public authorities or public institutions to promote or incite racial discrimination with respect to Armenians; discriminatory deprivation of the individual rights of ethnic Armenians, such as the right to security of person, the right to property, and the rights to access and enjoy cultural heritage; failure to provide ethnic Armenians with effective protection and remedies through competent national tribunals and other State institutions; and engaging in the practice of ethnic cleansing against Armenians,” it said.
The ministry said that in its letter dated November 11 Armenia urged Azerbaijan “to comply with its obligations under the Convention and invited the latter to address its violations of the Convention and their consequences through negotiations.”
“Should the Government of Azerbaijan reject Armenia’s invitation or fail to respond to it within the fixed timeframe, Armenia reserves its right to seek to settle this legal dispute in accordance with the procedure set forth in the Convention,” the statement concluded.