(L) Law enforcement officers stand inside the parliament in Yerevan, Armenia November 10, 2020. © REUTERS/Artem Mikryukov; (R) Nikol Pashinyan © Photolure via REUTERS/Hayk Baghdasaryan
The embattled PM has spent the morning trying to explain his decision to angry citizens, after the surprise Moscow-brokered midnight peace deal, which saw Yerevan make considerable concessions to Azerbaijan.
In the early hours, Pashinyan announced that he had agreed to a cessation of hostilities with Baku, following six weeks of bloody fighting between the two nations over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. After originally telling his people they were winning the war, he now finds himself looking to explain what many Armenians see as a surrender.
“The army said to stop, because we have problems, and there are no ways to solve them. Our resources were exhausted,” he said on Tuesday. “Those who fought on the front lines had no replacements. Those who fought should have been able to rest. There were people on the front line who had not been replaced for a month.”
According to Pashinyan, Yerevan therefore decided that the war should be brought to an end as soon as possible to avoid further casualties.
Overnight, protesters in the Armenian capital stormed the country’s parliamentary building following the announcement of the ceasefire. Demonstrators smashed up the Prime Minister’s office and beat up the speaker of the National Assembly, Ararat Mirzoyan.
Under the terms of the agreement between Yerevan and Baku, overseen by Moscow, Azerbaijan will keep the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh it regained control of during the conflict. Armenia has also agreed to withdraw from nearby regions in the coming weeks. Russian peacekeeping troops will be sent to the front line to maintain the truce. According to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, the agreement constitutes a “glorious victory” for Baku.
On September 27, the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict suddenly erupted once again. The dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia is decades old, with both countries believing they have legitimate claims to the territory. The region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is primarily populated by ethnic Armenians. Baku had always considered the enclave to be illegally occupied by Yerevan.