Armenian Prime Minister Denies Intent To Sign Deal With Azerbaijan

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan denied late on Wednesday that he was going to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan that would seemingly make concessions to the latter, after protests broke out in the Armenian capital of Yerevan following comments by Pashinyan to lawmakers suggested he would do so in exchange for a “lasting peace” between the two countries.

In a post on his official Facebook page made after protesters began gathering outside the parliament building in Yerevan, Pashinyan denied that he had signed or would be signing any document that would concede anything to Azerbaijan. Instead, he urged readers to not be manipulated by information warfare by “unfriendly foreign forces to break our resistance”.

Protesters gathered in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Wednesday evening demanding his resignation, after comments made to lawmakers by the Prime Minister suggested that he was willing to make some concessions in a peace treaty with Azerbaijan if it could ensure a “lasting peace” between the two countries. Opposition parties quickly accused him of preparing to concede the independence of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, the internationally unrecognized ethnic Armenian government that is the de facto authority in part of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region. 

Protesters at the gates of the Armenian parliament building on Wednesday night

Pashinyan’s statement came after he briefed Armenian lawmakers on a series of intense border clashes with Azerbaijani forces that have now spilled over into a second day, telling lawmakers that he had formally requested support from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) under its Article 4 mutual defense clause, saying that it was now applicable after Azerbaijani forces had taken control of Armenian territory along the border. However, Pashinyan also ruled out the imposition of martial law for the time being, saying that such a move was not needed.

Pashinyan told lawmakers that the Armenian military has suffered at least 105 casualties since the start of clashes sometime after midnight on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Baku has reported the death of 42 Azerbaijani soldiers and eight border guards in the clashes, in addition to two Azerbaijani civilians. Additionally, Baku claims that it is willing and prepared to return the remains of 100 Armenian troops killed in the fighting.

As has been the norm with border clashes between the two nations since the 2020 ceasefire that ended a war that saw Azerbaijan retake much of its territory from Artsakh, both sides have accused each other of firing the first shots. While Russia attempted to mediate a ceasefire that would have taken effect on Wednesday morning, it proved short-lived, with both nations similarly trading accusations of the other being first to violate it. Azerbaijani forces allegedly shelled a Russian Federal Security Service outpost near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, although Moscow has so far not commented on the claims.