Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan resigned from his post on Monday in a sign of political fall-out in the ex-Soviet republic after a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that locked in territorial gains for Azerbaijan.
Mnatsakanyan, whose departure was announced by the ministry’s spokeswoman on its Facebook page, had held the position since May 2018.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government has faced a popular backlash over the ceasefire accord that ended six weeks of fighting, with thousands of protesters last week demanding he resign.
On Monday, hundreds of protesters rallied in the capital Yerevan’s central Freedom Square.
The ceasefire signed by leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on Nov. 10 halted military action in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians. Some 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are now being deployed to the region.
Mnatsakanyan met Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov three times in the past month and a half in search of a ceasefire arrangement, but each effort quickly broke down.
For over 25 years until fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh resumed on Sept. 27, ethnic Armenians held military control over the entire mountainous pocket and substantial swathes of Azeri territory ringing it. But when the guns fell silent, they had lost much of the enclave itself – including its second city Shushi, which Azeris call Shusha – as well as adjoining terrain.