Armenia – Opposition tries to mobilize against Nagorno agreement

Several thousand protesters, sympathizers of the opposition, gathered from midday in Yerevan.

After six weeks of deadly clashes for the independence region of Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on Tuesday to end hostilities.

Keystone

The Armenian opposition tried to mobilize Wednesday against Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian, accusing him of having betrayed his country by signing the cessation of hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh and by accepting the handover of vast territories to the Azerbaijani enemy.

At the same time, the first Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the conflict zone, on the outskirts of the territories still under Armenian control in Azerbaijan, after six weeks of deadly fighting, the most serious since the war of the 1990s.

Several thousand protesters, supporters of the opposition, gathered from midday in Yerevan, according to an AFP correspondent.

“You will not be able to stop the whole country”

Some of them, including political figures like the leader of the prosperous Armenia party, were arrested at the start of the protest, before police finally allowed the rally to continue despite its ban due to martial law in force since. end of September.

“You will not be able to stop the whole country”, shouted into the megaphone a deputy of Prosperous Armenia, Arman Abovian, while the crowd chanted slogans hostile to Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian, accused of capitulation. “They are accomplices of the Turks, do not support them”, launched Arthur Vanetsian, a former head of the intelligence services, in reference to Turkey, ancestral enemy of Armenia and ally of Azerbaijan.

After two hours of speeches and harangues, the demonstrators finally took over, calmly, the direction of the seat of government, then of Parliament. Police arrested 135 people before releasing them later, according to a spokesperson interviewed by AFP.

Pachinian defends himself

After six weeks of deadly clashes for the independence region of Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on Tuesday to end hostilities under the aegis of Moscow, with Armenian forces on the brink of collapse.

In New York, the UN Security Council held an informal meeting on this agreement, at the request of Russia, which wanted to present the terms to its partners in this forum, according to diplomats. It was not clear after the meeting whether Moscow would seek to have a resolution or a simple declaration after this meeting to validate the ceasefire and the deployment of Russian troops in the region, according to the same sources.

The agreement enshrines important Azerbaijani military victories in this mountainous region of the Caucasus, after fighting which, according to a very partial toll, left some 1,500 dead.

Humiliating defeat

Held responsible for this humiliating defeat by the opposition, Nikol Pachinian defended his decision on Wednesday, arguing that signing the cessation of hostilities had been the only way to preserve the survival of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno Karabakh, even if it is weakened and lessened.

“We kept what we could not have kept” if the fighting continued, said Nikol Pachinian, hero of a peaceful revolution in 2018 on Facebook.

Shortly after the deal was announced, hundreds of angry protesters took to the seat of government and parliament on Tuesday, smashing windows and ransacking offices. Conversely, the news sparked scenes of joy in Azerbaijan, with President Ilham Aliyev celebrating an Armenian “surrender”.

On Wednesday, Ilham Aliev proclaimed in front of the military that his country had won a “brilliant victory” and considered that Nikol Pachinian had been “sufficiently humiliated” and “punished for his despicable acts”. He also said he wanted “compensation” from Armenia for the “material and moral” destruction of this war.

Russian soldiers deployed

The end of hostilities agreement notably provides for the return to Baku of seven Azerbaijani districts, a sort of security glacis surrounding Nagorno Karabakh, and the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping force. Azerbaijan also conquered territories in the north and south of the breakaway republic.

The lands remaining under Armenian control will be linked to Armenia only through the Lachin Corridor, a 5 km wide strip of land whose security will be guaranteed by Russia. This is where the first Russian peacekeepers were deployed on Wednesday, securing this vital route to Nagorno Karabakh.

Some 400 of the 1,960 Russian soldiers who are to be deployed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the next few days have arrived in Armenia, according to Russian General Sergei Rudski.

Baku support

With this agreement, President Vladimir Putin strengthened his position in the South Caucasus, strengthening Armenia’s dependence on Russia and deploying troops for the first time in Azerbaijani territory.

Turkey, Baku’s great supporter, has also gained influence, and will have to play a role in monitoring the application of the ceasefire.

The agreement signed earlier this week, however, does not provide for any lasting settlement mechanism for the Karabakh issue, which has plagued the region since the fall of the USSR.

AFP/NXP

Posted today at 21:55

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