EU monitors tell Baku which section of Armenia's border will be monitored
EU monitors in touch with Baku
“We inform Baku about our plans a week in advance so they know where we are and what we are doing. This is also done to prevent misunderstandings and incidents,” Markus Ritter, head of the EU monitoring mission monitoring the Armenian–Azerbaijani border, said in an interview with the Swedish edition of Blankspot. He also said the information is transmitted to Azerbaijan through the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar.
After the fighting near the border village of Tekh in Armenia, some wondered whether the incident was observed by the EU mission monitoring the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and what practical steps might be expected of them. In response, the EU diplomatic service said that on the morning of April 11 the monitors “carried out another patrol” near the villages of Tekh and Kornidzor, but were not in this area when the incident occurred. They learned about the shooting in the evening from the Armenian authorities.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan stated that the observers have the necessary information and, according to the reporting mechanism, will report the situation to the EU Foreign Service.
On April 11, a tense situation arose near the village of Tekh in the Syunik region of Armenia. At the end of March, in the same area, the Azerbaijani armed forces improved their positions, moving 100-300 meters deep from the borders of Armenia. From these improved positions, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire on the Armenian servicemen who were carrying out engineering work.
The Armenian Defense Ministry reported 4 dead and 6 woundedwhile assuring that “as a result of the Azerbaijani provocation, the Armenian side has no positional losses.” In connection with this incident, the EU Foreign Service called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to “intensify negotiations on the delimitation of the border.”
“We inform Baku which section of the border we will patrol”
A journalist from the Swedish edition of Blankspot met with Markus Ritter in the Armenian city of Yeghegnadzor, where the mission is headquartered. Ritter recalled that it was originally planned to place observers in Azerbaijan, but Baku refused to accept them.
Ritter announced that the mission is cooperating with Azerbaijan, reporting a week in advance when and in what areas patrols will be carried out. Toivo Klaar clarified that the schedule is transmitted to Baku only a couple of days before the start of each week, and not a whole week.
EU observers arrived in Armenia at the end of February this year with a long-term two-year mission. It consists of 100 people — 50 observers and 50 administrative staff. The purpose of the mission is to promote stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence on the ground and create favorable conditions for the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Political observer Hakob Badalyan finds it difficult to say whether the requirement of Azerbaijan is to provide information about the work of the mission. He recalls that the agreement on the deployment of the EU civil mission on the Armenian side of the border was reached on October 6 in Prague during the talks between the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, France and the head of the European Council, and Baku agreed to cooperate with the mission only “to the extent that it will concern him.”
“It is clear that at least the coordination of work and communication with Azerbaijan was an inevitable circumstance of the work of the mission on the border of Armenia. First of all, because the EU with its monitoring mission has absolutely no intention of becoming a supporter, assisting any side of the conflict,” he told JAMnews.
According to Badalyan, the mission was carried out with the tacit consent of Azerbaijan on the condition that it would not create problems for Baku. It is possible that Azerbaijan, in turn, has an agreement not to create problems for the EU mission.
“If there is such an agreement, it is not being respected, to put it mildly. The incident in the village of Tekh is under the responsibility of the EU monitoring mission. And we need to wait for what assessment they will make on this matter.“
Badalyan thinks that a coordinated dialogue is underway between Azerbaijan and the European Union, but it has been established not only because of energy resources. He says that Baku is also a channel of communication with Iran, Russia and Central Asia, saying that there are secondary circumstances.
According to Badalyan, it is wrong to think that Armenia can offer the EU anything that “will lead to the rejection of relations or agreements with Azerbaijan” and replacing them with agreements with Armenia.
But he considers it necessary to work with the European Union on the agenda of democratic reforms, including within the framework of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. He believes that in this way Armenia should try to maximize its viability, competitiveness, economic and political weight and thereby balance the EU cooperation with Baku.
He also believes that Armenia can use its achievements in terms of democratization of the country as an argument to attract other players:
“As centers that have assumed responsibility for regulating international relations and for systems of values, they must remain true to this responsibility specifically and directly in the issue of resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.”
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EU monitors in touch with Baku