ARMENIA and Azerbaijan agreed Tuesday upon a fourth ceasefire under the auspices of Russia, after a six-week war in which thousands have been killed and many more displaced.
The deal maintains the control of the Armenian-backed government in Nagorno- Karabakh at the price of conceding significant territory to Azerbaijan; some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers arrived in Nagorno Karabakh to maintain the ceasefire for the next five years at least. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev announced that Turkey would also be sending its own peacekeepers, however no details, figures or timeframes were mentioned.
The agreement has been met with celebrations in Azerbaijan and protests in Armenia, with protesters taking to the streets, storming government buildings, committing acts of vandalism and even severely beating politicians — including Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan who was hospitalised for surgery.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who signed the agreement, and who was described as a “traitor” by his people, called the deal “painful”, saying that he and senior officials in Nagorno-Karabakh were forced to push for peace after Azerbaijani forces captured the strategic city of Shushi, which cleared the way for a possible attack on Stepanakert, the region’s capital. Meanwhile the President of Armenia Armen Sargsyan stated that he knew about the agreement from local media.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron called for a “lasting political solution” to the conflict, saying that the interests of Armenia should be considered. He also urged Turkey to end its provocations in the region, since Turkey is adamant about overseeing the surrender of the seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
Turkey has been a major actor in the conflict since it started, sending Syrian mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces. Russia has also kept a close eye on the situation from afar, vowing to only get involved in the event that the conflict spilled over into Armenian territory.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 November, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly