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Deal on Karabakh is ‘milestone,’ Armenian FM says

Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan on Monday praised a Russia-brokered Nov. 10 agreement that ended Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent Azerbaijani regions as “a milestone.”

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, following a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Ayvazyan said the agreement “stopped the bloodshed and secured a cease-fire” in the region.

He, however, argued that some of the main issues relating to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict have not yet been resolved and will be discussed between the sides once the situation in the conflict region is stable.

Lavrov said the agreement is being implemented and that Russia is satisfied with the parties’ adherence to the cease-fire.

Lavrov rejected the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s allegation that Russia and Turkey try to push the EU from the process of settling disputes in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh, a process Borrell called “astanization,” an analogy with the Astana format for the settlement in Syria.

The minister said the EU has to act in a modern way and should not try to present the world as one supposed to be divided into spheres of influence.

“There is enough space for those who participate in processes of settlement honestly and not for the sake of obtaining some geopolitical benefits and unilateral advantages,” he said, adding that Russia, Turkey and Iran are not indifferent to the situation in the South Caucasus, as they are direct neighbors of the countries of this region.

“As for the general mood that Josep Borrell outlined in his blog, as I understand, he is a little concerned that someone other than the EU can take some initiative steps in the modern world,” Lavrov added.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the occupation of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That war left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but large chunks of the surrounding lands in Armenian hands.

In 44 days of heavy fighting that began on Sept. 27, the Azerbaijani military routed Armenian forces and wedged deep into Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing Armenia to accept a Russia-brokered peace deal that took effect Nov. 10. The agreement saw the return of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh under Azerbaijan’s control and also requested Armenia to hand over all of the Azerbaijani territories it held outside the region.

The peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, while welcomed by many, drew massive reactions in Armenia as hundreds of people flocked to the streets for days, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Chaotic scenes also erupted inside Armenia’s parliament after the announcement of the deal as angry protesters seized control of its chamber to denounce the country’s leadership and attack the parliament speaker.

Both the protests and the demands for Pashinian’s resignation continues, with police forces regularly interfering with harsh measures. Last week, 35 protesters were detained and an investigation was launched against some of the demonstrators.

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