Protests against the capitulation of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh have been going on for the third day in Yerevan: demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, and the opposition is calling on the regions to join the capital demonstrators. This was reported by the Armenian service of Radio Liberty (Radio Azatutyun).
The demonstrators who gathered in front of the building of the Armenian Cabinet were met by reinforced police detachments, clashes began, and security forces detained several protesters, Armenia Today reports.
If earlier protesters gathered mainly on Republic Square in front of the government building, then on Thursday, September 21, demonstrators moved to different areas of the capital.
Representative of the Mother Armenia bloc Andranik Tevanyan called on demonstrators to disperse throughout the city. At a rally organized by opposition forces, he said that on Friday, September 22, protesters would try to surround the government building in order to disrupt a meeting of the executive branch.
“Starting from tomorrow until we achieve the removal of Nikol Pashinyan. I assure you that with disciplined and joint efforts this will happen in a very short time, even within a few days,” Tevanyan said.
In turn, the first Prime Minister of Armenia Vazgen Manukyan announced that the united opposition would begin mass actions of disobedience, which residents of not only Yerevan, but also the regions should join.
“Our first goal should be to bring this government to its knees, explain to them that they, as a government, are already dead, and after that we must resolve this issue in legitimate ways, so those of our partners who are in National Assembly,” he emphasized.
The opposition also announced the creation of a protest organizing committee, which included the head of the opposition faction “I Have the Honor” Hayk Mamijanyan, Andranik Tevanyan, coordinator of the “Ayakve” initiative Avetik Chalabyan, Vazgen Manukyan and representative of the Supreme Body of the ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan.
On September 19, Azerbaijan announced the start of “anti-terrorist measures” in areas of Nagorno-Karabakh populated by ethnic Armenians. The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army (a military structure operating in the unrecognized “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”) reported that on September 19 at around 11:10 am, the Azerbaijani military violated the ceasefire in the Askeran region by using a mortar. Immediately after this, residents of the Armenian regions of Karabakh began reporting heavy artillery shelling.
Baku stated that this operation is a response to the sabotage that the Karabakh military allegedly committed on the 58th kilometer of the Akhmedbeyli-Fuzuli-Shushi highway. They are alleged to have planted an anti-tank mine in the area, killing two civilians. The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army said it regards Baku’s statements “as another piece of disinformation.”
As a result of the “anti-terrorism measures” launched by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, seven civilians were killed, including the mayor of the city of Martuni Aznavour Saghyan. Also, according to the Karabakh authorities, 35 people were injured of varying degrees of severity.
On Wednesday, September 20, the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh decided to cease fire. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan confirmed that an agreement had been reached on the “suspension of anti-terrorist measures” in Karabakh on September 20 from 12:00 Moscow time. The agency reported that this was done after “an appeal from representatives of the Armenian residents of Karabakh, received through the Russian peacekeeping contingent.”
During his address to the nation, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that his country had achieved all the goals of the 24-hour “anti-terrorist measures” in Nagorno-Karabakh and “restored its sovereignty.” He also said that during the “anti-terrorist measures” of the Azerbaijani army in Karabakh, “the civilian population was not harmed, civilian facilities were not hit, but enemy military infrastructure and equipment were destroyed.”
On September 21, in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh, a meeting was held between representatives of Azerbaijan and the delegation of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh. Negotiations on the future of the Armenian population of the unrecognized republic after its capitulation lasted several hours, and the international media were not present. As a result of negotiations between the Azerbaijani delegation and representatives of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, no final agreement was reached; details need to be agreed upon, said the representative of the Armenians of Karabakh, David Babayan.
The territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has been going on since the late 1980s. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, with the support of Armenia, declared secession from the Azerbaijan SSR, and in September 1991 announced the creation of the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”.
During the armed conflict of 1988–1994, 30 thousand people died in the separatist region. Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions of Azerbaijan came under the de facto control of the Armenian armed forces. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis, became refugees and internally displaced persons.
The “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” is not officially recognized by any UN country, including Armenia. In 1993, the UN adopted four resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the Karabakh region and recognition of the territory as part of Azerbaijan.
After another escalation of the situation at the end of September 2020, Azerbaijan returned to its control the areas around Nagorno-Karabakh and took the ancient and symbolically significant city of Shusha (Shushi in Armenian). The day after the capture of Shushi, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a ceasefire statement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Under the terms of the agreement, Armenia and Azerbaijan are assigned the territories where troops were located at the time the document was signed. A Russian peacekeeping mission is stationed along the contact line.
After this, Azerbaijan began a blockade of areas of Karabakh populated by ethnic Armenians: checkpoints were set up on the only road that did not allow any cargo, including food and humanitarian aid, into the region. Residents of Armenian areas of Karabakh have reported hunger in recent weeks.