YEREVAN, Armenia: Thousands of people took to the streets to register their protest in the Armenian capital Yerevan as Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia.
Soon after the announcement, thousands of people streamed to the main square in Yerevan to protest the agreement, many shouting, “we won’t give up our land!”
Some of the protesters broke into the main government building, saying they were searching for Pashinian, who had already departed.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a 1994 truce ended a separatist war in which an estimated 30,000 people died.
Sporadic clashes occurred since then, and full-scale fighting began on September 27.
The agreement came a day after Azerbaijani forces shot down a Russian helicopter that was flying over Armenia near the border with Nakhchivan, killing two servicemen.
Several cease-fires had been called but were almost immediately violated. However, the new agreement appeared more likely to take hold because Azerbaijan has made significant advances, including taking control of the strategically key city of Shushi on Sunday.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Facebook that calling an end to the fight was “extremely painful for me and for our people.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced he had signed an “unspeakably painful agreement” with Russia and Azerbaijan to end the war over the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, just hours after Azerbaijan c
“I have made a difficult, extremely difficult decision for personally me and all of us. I have signed a declaration with the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on stopping the war starting from 01:00 (local time),” Pashinyan said in a statement posted on his Facebook page early Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian peacekeeping forces will be deployed along the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and within the corridor that connects the region with Armenia.
The ceasefire agreement calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions.
He said the ceasefire deal stipulates the exchange of prisoners of war and bodies, according to the Russian official news agency, TASS. Russia neighbours Azerbaijan, but has a security alliance with Armenia. Moscow had tried to broker a ceasefire several times in the past few weeks, but each agreement fell apart within a short time.
The unrest in Nagorno-Karabakh dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the region, backed by Armenia, declared independence from Azerbaijan.
Shusha was captured by Armenian forces in 1992 and Nagorno-Karabakh established a de facto independence that is not recognised by most of the world. A 1994 ceasefire brought the violent conflict over the enclave to an end, but tensions continued to simmer.
Azerbaijan has long claimed it would retake the territory, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani. Tensions flared up again over the summer and escalated in September.
Both sides have reported dozens of civilian casualties since the conflict began in September.