EU deploys border observation mission between Armenia and Azerbaijan

EU deploys border observation mission between Armenia and Azerbaijan

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday (October 17) to send a short-term observer mission along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, but questions remain about ultimate goals and their long-term planning.

The move comes after deadly clashes in September that raised fears of widespread renewed conflict in the region and prompted mediation talks between four parties in Prague earlier this month.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have already fought two wars over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, in 2020 and in the 1990’s. The last clash took place right on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The observation mission was agreed between French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel, as well as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

It follows an official request by Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan to EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell in September.

This team will contain “up to 40 EU experts to monitor the situation on the Armenian side of the international border with Azerbaijan”reads a press release from the European Council.

she will have “aims to monitor, analyze and report on the situation in the region” and won’t last « and principle » no longer than two months, he said.

A preparatory team arrived in Yerevan last Friday (October 14) to assess the needs and location and negotiate the mission’s framework with the Armenian side, with EU officials saying the mission’s final signing was just a formality should be.

The observers will be seconded from the EU Observer Mission in Georgia (EUMM Georgia), which EU officials say is a conscious choice as they have previous experience of the Caucasus region and local border missions and meet language requirements.

The move is prompted by a matter of speed, as setting up a new Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission would have taken too long, said EU officials familiar with the matter.

Although the deployment period has been set at two months, EU officials believe that a more permanent solution such as an EUMM Armenia will be needed in the long term.

Some EU member states have also raised concerns about the need to strengthen the staff of the EU mission in Georgia, for which a call for tenders was published this week.

A new round of mediation talks between the two sides in the conflict over the demarcation of the border will soon take place in Brussels, which would be the third attempt since May.

“The situation remains very dangerous, instability high and dissatisfaction high after 30 years of conflict”Toivo Klaar, the EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, told a European Parliament committee last week.

“There aren’t many international players besides us, so we need to get more involved”he added.

“What happened on February 24 has created a tremendous lack of trust from countries that previously had one […] special relationship with Russia »said a senior European official before the deal was finalized.

” The parts [au conflit] turn to us now; The parties increasingly have the feeling that we can react better to the situation than Russia can no longer.”he added.

“The fact is that they now think that, firstly, we can be an honest broker and secondly, that we promise things for the future that Russia cannot promise: we promise rapprochement with the European Union.”added the senior European official.

Faced with energy shortages and a desire to move away from Russian fossil fuels due to the war in Ukraine, the EU has turned to other gas suppliers, most notably Azerbaijan.

But Emmanuel Macron insulted Baku with it last week “We will not abandon the Armenians” whereas “Azerbaijan has launched several offensives along the border”.

Moscow, which criticized the French president for his comments, maintains around 2,000 troops in Armenia.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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