After signing the peace deal between Armenia-Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenia has begun handing over disputed territory to Azerbaijan.
Residents of the Kalbajar district – one of the seven districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh which, along with the enclave, have been controlled by ethnic Armenians for decades – began a mass exodus from the mountainous area in the days leading up to the official withdrawal date of November 15.
“Azerbaijan agreed to prolong the deadline for the withdrawal from Kalbajar of Armenian armed forces and illegal Armenian settlers until November 25,” said President Ilham Aliyev’s foreign policy adviser, Hikmet Hajiyev.
He said Aliyev had granted on humanitarian grounds to allow an Armenian request for the delay following intervention by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The weather is getting worse, there is only one road in that direction … and the capacity of the road is low,” Hajiyev was quoted as saying by local media.
The highly tensed international conflict of 2020 between Armenia-Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh region reached some parity on November 10 with a peace deal mediated by the Russian Government.
The peace deal favours more provisions to Azerbaijan, and the political analyst believes it to be Turkey ‘game due to long historical friendship of Azerbaijani and Turks causing an uproar on Armenian streets of Yerevan against the peace deal. The protestors called for Armenian Prime Minister’s impeachment with remarks “Nikol, the traitor.”
Provisions in peace deal
The peace deal was signed by Russian President, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. It is to be noted that the Artsakh regional Armenian government also agreed to the provisions.
The deal included complete ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities in the region. The two sides will maintain positions in the territories they currently hold. This is a considerable gain for Azerbaijan, as it holds more 15-20 per cent than what it had due to more military aggression.
Many important Armenian ethnic regions controlled by Artsakh will be delivered to Azerbaijan.
Following graphic indicates, the primary control over the region:
According to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal,
▪︎The Kalbajar region will be returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan until November 15, 2020.
▪︎The Aghdam region will be returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan until November 20, 2020.
▪︎The Lachin region by December 1, 2020. pic.twitter.com/ywSAShKdSB
— Ozgur Tufekci (@OzgurTufekci) November 10, 2020
The yellow coloured areas are already under Azerbaijan’s control after the aggression.
Major Kalbajar region, Aghdam region and Lachin (slanting areas) region presently under Armenian control will be given to Azerbaijan as per the agreement over a period till December 1, 2020.
The red coloured territory is under the control of the Republic of Artsakh, indirectly in Armenian control.
Refugees and internally displaced will return to their respective nations, and both the sides will also transfer prisoners held in wars and dead bodies. The exchange of people from territories will be catered under Russian Control from a new corridor which will be opened from Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan.
Russia as a peacemaker:
Along the frontline of the Lachin Corridor, Russian troops will act as peacemakers for the next five years. The Moscow Government presently deploys two thousand soldiers. Apart from this, a peacekeeping command post is being installed to enforce the ceasefire.
Russia, even though the first country to implement a communist form of Government turns capitalist in resolving international conflicts. Its role is ambiguous as it supplies military equipment to both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Publicly, Dmitry Peskov, Spokesperson for Vladimir Putin have taken sides of both the nations.
Azerbaijan’s win with Russia’s blessing is sceptical in itself. However, with US elections and Tensions in France and the entire EU over terrorism, Moscow diplomatically wants the Caucasus for itself.
It is seen that Azerbaijan has three times more military than Armenia. They have purchased advanced weapons systems, mainly from Israel, Russia and Turkey. The Armenian military and Artsakh forces heavily rely on older Soviet-era weapon systems.
In such a situation of conflict, Azerbaijan had the upper hand and Russia having a military base in Armenia only will help Armenia in case of international threat over its recognised boundaries and Nagorno-Karabakh isn’t the one.
Impact of ceasefire agreement on Armenia
The ceasefire agreement and cession of territories was a decisive blow to Armenia and prompted protests against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. Officials arrested the leader of a small centre-right party who formerly headed the national security service on Saturday, based on suspicion of plotting to assassinate Pashinian.
The agreement also discouraged many Armenians who had hoped for Russian support in the conflict.
“Our nation has lost everything, our heritage, everything. We have nothing left. I can’t say anything. I’m only begging Russian people to help us, so that at least others can have a better life in our own land,” said Seda Gabrilyan, a weeping mourner at the Sunday burial of a Nagorno-Karabakh soldier in Stepanakert, the regional capital.
Many agitated residents preparing to evacuate set their houses ablaze to make them unusable to Azerbaijanis who would move in.
Authorities of Azerbaijan, accused civilians leaving the area for burning houses and committing what it called “ecological terror.”
“Armenians are damaging the environment and civilian objects. Environmental damage, ecological terror must be prevented,” said Hajiyev.
What is Turkey’s deal?
On November 11, Turkey and Russian signed a memorandum of understanding MOU setting up a joint Turkish-Russian alliance to monitor the peace deal.
In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Turkey will join the peacekeeping forces in the region to monitor the implementation of the deal with Russia.”
He further said, “As Turkey and the Turkish nation, every day for 28 years we felt the pain of the occupation in our hearts, together with our Azerbaijani brothers.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said “Armenia will pay the price if it violates Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal” on Thursday addressed to the reporters.
The triumphant Azerbaijani defence was delivered, trained, and helped by the Turkish military. However, Turkish military intervention in the conflict is denied by Anakara, but experts believe it otherwise.
Azerbaijan-Armenia live in hostility with each other since centuries over ethnic tensions and Nagorno- Karabakh Region. This area is internationally recognised as Azerbaijan’s territory, but Artsakh– Armenian separatist Government, govern it. A war broke out in September 2020 between the two nations over the region. It continued till six weeks resulting in a total causality of more than 5,000 soldiers from both sides, including Russian peacekeeping troops.
The accord is triggered by significant protests in Armenia with opposition entering into government buildings and demanding resignation whereas triumphant scenes were recorded in Baku of Azerbaijan.