ARMENIA: Pashinyan fires half his cabinet, Azerbaijani forces enter Kalbajar

YEREVAN – The President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian has, at the suggestion of PM Nikol Pashinyan, relieved 6 of 12 cabinet ministers from their posts after the signing of the war cessation agreement on Nov 9th.

The dismissals included the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Emergency, Labor and Education. The Ministers of High-Tech Industry, Environment, Regional Administration and Infrastructure, Finance, Health and Justice have retained their posts.

According to military observers, the resignation of Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan was part of Pashinyan’s attempt to dismiss accusations of defeat in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), against the backdrop of growing accusations against him by the opposition.

For its part, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said that “the Azerbaijani army today entered Kalbajar, another area ceded by Armenian forces as part of truce declaration in Karabakh.” “The withdrawal of Armenian forces was decided on the 15th of this month, but bad weather conditions made the withdrawal of Armenian troops and civilians difficult along the only route through the mountainous terrain linking the Kalbajar region to Armenia,” Azerbaijani officials said.

The Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement stipulates that Armenia would hand over to Azerbaijan some of the areas it controlled outside the Artsakh border. The first area, Agdam, was handed over last week.

In a related context, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed in telephone conversations with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia developments in the Region of Artsakh, the deployment of Russian peacekeepers there, and future steps on humanitarian assistance to the population.

The leaders addressed issues of coordination in the economic field and the opening of transportation routes in the region, Putin also discussed with Aliyev and Pashinyan the implementation of the settlement agreements in Karabakh, as well as the results of the Russian government delegation’s visit to Yerevan and Baku on the 21st of this month, the Kremlin said in a statement.

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