Borrel threatened Baku with "serious consequences". Opinion on the EU position
Details of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting
The EU mission that monitors Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan will be expanded. This proposal was approved by the participants of the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union. It is reported that the EU foreign ministers took into account the “continuity of reforms in Armenia”. The decision must still be approved by the European Commission and ratified by EU member states.
The participants of the meeting also approved a proposal to intensify discussions on the liberalization of visa regime with Armenia. This was stated by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell at a press conference after the meeting. But journalists quoted his statement regarding Armenia’s security most of all:
“Any violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity is unacceptable and will have serious consequences for the quality of our relations [with Azerbaijan].”
Political observer Hakob Badalyan considers it vital to get clarification on how effective the mentioned “consequences” will be, and whether, for example, sanctions on President Aliyev and his family members are possible.
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“Increase patrols at problematic parts of the border”
Josep Borrel ltold journalists about the need to strengthen the EU observation mission stationed on the Armenian border. In this regard, the number of observers patrolling the territory will be increased.
“The EU will be very attentive to any attempts of internal and external destabilization in Armenia. The Council of Ministers discussed how to strengthen cooperation with Armenia and support its democratically elected authorities, its sustainability, security and ensuring the continuation of reforms in the country. We will also consider possible support to Armenia within the framework of the European Peace Facility,” he said.
The European Peace Facility is a mechanism through which Brussels provides funds to non-EU countries to improve their defense capabilities, prevent conflict and promote peace. Through this mechanism, the EU has supported Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.
Borrell also called for the resumption of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan through the mediation of the head of the European Council. He stated that a peace agreement could be signed and the EU is committed to continue its mediation role.
“The EU mission will further enhance stability at the borders”
This is how Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan commented on the possible expansion of the EU observer mission on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. He told journalists that this issue has been discussed for a long time. But it is not clear yet by how many the number of observers will be increased.
Commenting on the beginning of negotiations on visa liberalization with the EU, he noted that Yerevan seeks to complete them as soon as possible. He believes that the process will intensify in the coming months and considers it important that none of the EU countries has opposed it.
Political observer Hakob Badalyan told JAMnews that when assessing the statement on violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity, one should understand what exactly EU officials mean by integrity. He says that the border is indivisible, and Azerbaijan demands the return of enclaves.
The expert emphasizes that in the current world situation, all such “international formulations” lose their force and significance, yielding to the factor of force:
“The question arises how rational it will be to expect that statements about territorial integrity can mean anything and be a deterrent for Azerbaijan.”
He believes that the wording “severe consequences” in Borrell’s statement also needs clarification:
“Are we talking about severe consequences in the form of some kind of sanctions that Aliyev can easily circumvent or compensate for? Or would they be severe consequences directly for Aliyev’s family? The latter could in a sense change the situation.”
According to the political observer, it is important to understand to what extent these “heavy consequences” can become an effective mechanism to improve Armenia’s security.
The analyst calls the expansion of the EU observation mission and the discussion of visa liberalization a “bonus” offered to Armenia. In his opinion, in this way the EU is trying to bring Baku back to the Brussels negotiating platform and achieve the signing of a protocol document, if not a peace treaty.
Badalyan warns that one should not allow visa liberalization with the signing of a peace agreement:
“Yerevan is offered one thing, expecting to get something else. If it is connected with the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, then the bonus in the form of visa liberalization should be definitely rejected. It is much more important for us what will be the content of the agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
He recalls that during her visit to Armenia, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock avoided the topic of closer EU relations with Yerevan. She stated that “peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is important and a priority.” According to Badalyan, this showed that the EU “considers its relations with the region as a whole and is not ready to significantly promote relations with Yerevan, which would lead to differentiation with Azerbaijan.
Badalyan states that today the power factor prevails over the appeals and statements of the international community. And Azerbaijan’s power is formed in interrelation with such actors as Turkey and Israel:
“Despite the appeals of the international community, Israel bombs Gaza and solves its problems, including at the cost of killing civilians. To the extent that EU statements deter Israel from solving its problems militarily, they will also deter Azerbaijan if Baku sees an opportunity to use force against Armenia.”
Details of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting