International

Armenia agrees to end war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said Monday night that he has "painfully" signed an agreement with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Russia to end the war with Azerbaijan on Tuesday, Daily Sabah reported.

"I have signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on the termination of the Karabakh war," Pashinyan said in a statement posted on his Facebook page, calling the move "unspeakably painful for me personally and for our people."

Kremlin released a statement later, saying that parties have signed a deal on "complete stoppage" of combat actions in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"I made that decision as a result of a deep analysis of the military situation," Pashinian said adding, "We need to analyze our years of independence to plan our future and not repeat the mistakes of the past."

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced later that the cease-fire has started, and that Azerbaijani and Armenian militaries will remain in positions they control.

According to a piece published on the Middle East Eye news website, the deal will mandate Armenia to "cede a large chunk of territory."

Turkish and Russian peacekeeping forces will be stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh after the deal, Haber Global television reported later in the day.

The agreement calls for Armenian forces to turn over control of some areas it held outside the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the eastern district of Agdam, according to the Associated Press. That area carries strong symbolic weight for Azerbaijan because its main city, also called Agdam, was thoroughly pillaged, and the only building remaining intact is the city's mosque.

Armenians will also turn over the Lachin region, which holds the main road leading 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.

In all, 1,960 Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed in the region under a five-year mandate, the AP said.

The agreement also calls for transport links to be established through Armenia linking Azerbaijan and its western exclave of Nakhcivan, which is surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey.

The capture of Shusha

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also addressed nation later in the day. Hailing the deal as victory, Aliyev added Pashinian was obliged to sign it after Azerbaijan liberated its occupied territories, especially the key town of Shusha.

The capture of Shusha has also been a major victory for Azerbaijani forces, who have been making gains against Armenian separatist fighters since new fighting erupted over Nagorno-Karabakh a month ago.

The town has a significant military value since it is located on strategic heights about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the region’s capital over Khankendi (Stepanakert) and on the road linking the city with Armenian territory.

The Azerbaijani army inflicted "heavy blows" on Armenian military positions in the Khojavend region, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry also said on Monday. A ministry statement late Sunday said the Armenian army suffered "heavy losses" and fled their position on the front line.

Over the past six weeks, the Azerbaijani army has liberated five cities, three towns, nearly 240 villages and some strategic heights from Armenian occupation.

About 20% of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, has been under Armenian control for nearly three decades.

Armenian opposition wants PM to quit

Tellingly, Armenia's opposition on Monday called for the prime minister's resignation as Azerbaijan continues its military successes in Upper Karabakh region. A total of 17 opposition parties called on Nikol Pashinyan to step down in order to prevent "unrecoverable losses."

"The political forces demand that Pashinyan and his government, who are responsible for the current disastrous situation, leave office," the joint statement said.

They also pushed for the establishment of an emergency executive body to resolve military and political issues. "Losses of lives and land, and deteriorating relations with allies, especially with Russia, clearly show that the current government is incapable," the parties said.

—Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com