YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan must be prosecuted for handing over strategic areas along Armenia southeastern Syunik province to Azerbaijan shortly after last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the main opposition Hayastan alliance said on Friday, October 29.
Syunik borders the Zangelan and Kubatli districts southwest of Karabakh which were mostly recaptured by Azerbaijan during the six-week hostilities stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire last November.
Armenian army units and local militias were ordered in December to withdraw from the rest of those districts as well as territory located along the Soviet-era Armenian-Azerbaijani border which has never been demarcated due to the Karabakh conflict.
The troop withdrawal sparked angry protests from local government officials and ordinary residents of Syunik. They said they can no longer feel safe because Azerbaijani forces will be stationed dangerously close to their communities, including the provincial capital Kapan.
Opposition leaders in Yerevan likewise accused Pashinyan of hastily and illegally ceding those lands to Baku. But he insisted that “not a single inch” of Armenia internationally recognized territory was lost.
Pashinyan admitted personally ordering the pullout when he spoke in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday.