Armenia's defence minister resigns

Peter Spinella
·1-min read

Armenian defence minister David Tonoyan has resigned following the recent conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan, according to a state media report.

A replacement was quickly appointed.

Earlier this week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's spokeswoman adamantly denied that Tonoyan had already been dismissed after Armenia agreed to cede control of territory to Azerbaijan to end the conflict.

Such reports "do not correspond to the reality," spokeswoman Mane Gevorgyan said on Tuesday in comments carried by state news agency Armenpress.

Pashinyan's chief adviser, Vagharshak Harutyunyan, has been appointed to replace Tonoyan, who had served in the post for two years.

Pashinyan has been ridiculed by opposition politicians for his agreement to cede several areas in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan's military reported that it entered the Agdam district of Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday under the deal that Pashinyan signed last week.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had fought a bloody, six-week flare-up for the mountainous region, largely controlled for decades by Christian Armenian troops but considered by the United Nations to be part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.

The peace deal, reached between the warring sides and regional power Russia, specified that Agdam would be formally ceded to Azerbaijan.

That district had been largely populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis before it was seized by Armenian troops during a war between those former Soviet republics in the early 1990s.

In accordance with the trilateral agreement, "units of the Azerbaijan army entered the Agdam region on November 20," Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said in a statement.

With at least 1000 people reported killed, the fighting that began in late September was the deadliest between Azerbaijan and Armenia since the 1980s-1990s war, waged as they transitioned into independent countries amid the Soviet dissolution.