After the truce A quick guide to the latest developments in the aftermath of the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh
One week has passed since Yerevan and Baku announced the ceasefire that ended six-weeks of deadly conflict in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Since then, Russian peacekeepers have entered the region and Azerbaijan is preparing to take control of nearly half of its territory on December 1. Meanwhile, in Armenia, protests are continuing over the truce, which is widely perceived as a capitulation, and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is facing increasing pressure to resign. Meduza breaks down the latest developments since the signing of the Nagorno-Karabakh truce on November 10.
The ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh is holding and Russian peacekeepers are arriving in the conflict zone. The core contingent is made up of units from the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade — a peacekeeping brigade in the Russian Armed Forces. Several dozen military transport aircrafts carrying military personnel, equipment, and material provisions are arriving at the Russian base in Armenia daily, where they are forming convoys and being sent off to Nagorno-Karabakh. Sappers are also working in the region — they have already cleared the Lachin Corridor (which connects the Armenian portion Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia) and the section of road connecting the pass to Stepanakert (the unrecognized republic’s capital). On the morning of November 17, the corridor was completely open to civilian traffic. Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that 1,207 refugees have returned to Stepanakert from Armenia in the last three days. On the other hand, ethnic Armenians are leaving the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh that will be transferred to Azerbaijan’s control on December 1 en masse. They’re packing up hastily and many have set fire to their homes prior to departure.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that the parts of Karabakh being placed under Baku’s control will not have a special status. “There is a single Azerbaijan — multi-national and multi-confessional. All citizens of Azerbaijan, representing different peoples and religions, live in conditions of peace and good neighborliness. The Armenian population will live in these conditions too,” Aliyev stated. He also promised to file lawsuits against Armenia with an international court, demanding compensation for “destroyed infrastructure” located on these territories.
In Armenia, demonstrations demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan are taking place daily — people there refer to the agreement he signed to end the war in Karabakh as “traitorous.” The largest demonstrations involve tens of thousands of protesters. On November 11, opposition lawmakers tried to raise the issue of Pashinyan’s resignation in parliament but failed due to a lack of quorum — deputies from the ruling coalition didn’t attend the session. On November 17, the opposition was unable to go through with a vote of no confidence in the government for the same reason. Many opposition party leaders who support the protests were arrested on charges of organizing illegal gatherings on numerous occasions, but were later released. On November 13, the National Security Service announced that there had been a planned attempt on Pashinyan’s life. Four opposition leaders were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the alleged assassination plot; three days later, a court rejected a motion to jail them.
Armenian President Armen Sarkisyan spoke out in favor of Pashinyan stepping down. During a televised address on the evening of November 16, he maintained that the country “can’t ignore reality and continue to live an ordinary life.” Sarkisyan said that he had consulted with ruling and opposition politicians, as well as civil society groups and members of the diaspora abroad, and as a result had reached the conclusion that holding early parliamentary elections is the only way forward. Sarkisyan called on Pashinyan to resign ahead of the snap elections and transfer power to an interim “government of national accord.”
Pashinyan refuses to resign, but is making changes to the government. Though the prime minister admitted that he considers himself the main person responsible for the outcome of the most recent conflict in Karabakh, he stated that Armenia lost the war only because of Turkey action’s on the Azerbaijani side. In response to a question about his resignation on November 16, Pashinyan said that the only thing on his agenda that day was “the issue of ensuring the stability and security of the country.” He also called on the opposition to guarantee that it will not use violence (including military methods) to bring about a change of power. That same day, Pashinyan promised to make changes to the composition of the cabinet of ministers and dismissed Foreign Affairs Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, as well as his deputy Shavarsh Kocharyan.
Translation by Eilish Hart