Armenia and Azerbaijan sign peace deal to end Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement Tuesday morning local time to end fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as part of a pact signed with Russia that calls for the deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions.Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of Armenian ethnic forces backed by Armenia since a 1994 truce ended a separatist war in which around 30,000 people have died. Sporadic clashes have occurred since then, and large-scale fighting began on September 27.

People storm parliament in Yerevan, Armenia after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed an agreement with the leaders of Russia and Azerbaijan to end the conflict. (Vahram Baghdasaryan / Photolure / Reuters)

Several ceasefires were called but were almost immediately violated. However, the deal announced on Tuesday morning seemed more likely to take hold as Azerbaijan made significant progress, including taking control of the strategically key town of Shushi on Sunday.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Facebook that calling for an end to the fight was “extremely painful for me personally and for our people.”

Demonstration in the Armenian capital

Shortly after the announcement, thousands of people flocked to the main square of the Armenian capital Yerevan to protest the deal, many shouting, “We will not give up our land! Some of them broke into the main government building, saying they were looking for Pashinian, who had apparently already left.

The agreement calls on the Armenian forces to cede control of certain areas they held outside the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the eastern district of Agdam. This area has significant symbolic weight for Azerbaijan as its main city, also called Agdam, has been completely looted and the only building that remains intact is the city mosque.

The Armenians will also return the Lachin region, which holds the main road from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. The agreement calls for the road, the so-called Lachin Corridor, to remain open and be protected by Russian peacekeepers.

A total of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed to the region under a five-year mandate.

Residents of the Azerbaijani capital Baku are celebrating November 8 after the country’s President Ilham Aliyev said his forces captured Shusha, whom Armenians call Shushi, during the fighting in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Monday (Tuesday local time) that he had signed a peace agreement with Azerbaijan and Russia to end the conflict. (Reuters)

The agreement also calls for the establishment of transport links across Armenia connecting Azerbaijan and its western enclave of Nakhcivan, which is surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey.

Azerbaijani forces on Monday shot down a Russian helicopter flying over Armenia near the border with Nakhichevan, killing two soldiers. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said the helicopter was flying at low altitude and “against the background of these factors and in light of the tense situation in the region and the increased combat readiness in connection with d ‘ possible provocations from the Armenian side, the service combat team decided to open fire on killing. “

Strategic advantage

The seizure of Shushi, claimed on Sunday by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and confirmed on Monday by the Nagorno-Karabakh presidential spokesman, gave Azerbaijan a significant strategic advantage. The city is positioned on heights overlooking the regional capital of Stepanakert, 10 kilometers to the north.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to admit that a series of failures still haunts us and that the city of Shushi is completely out of our control,” said Vagram Pogosian, spokesperson for the president of the government of Nagorno-Karabakh, in a press release. on Facebook. “The enemy is on the outskirts of Stepanakert. ”

Since the end of the previous war in 1994, the international mediation efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s “Minsk Group” to determine the region’s final status have failed and the region has been separated from it. rest of Azerbaijan by a demilitarized zone.

Rescuers carry the body of a victim following what is believed to be a recent bombing raid during a military conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, in this photo released on November 6. (Armenian Unified Infocenter / Reuters)

Aliyev on Monday urged US President-elect Joe Biden to step up mediation efforts. In a congratulatory letter to Biden on his electoral victory, Aliyev said: “Azerbaijan expects the United States and the other Co-Chairs of the OSCE Group in Minsk to intensify their efforts to find a just solution to the conflict “.

Armenia says more than 1,200 Armenian soldiers were killed during the war. Azerbaijan has not declared its losses.

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