"Attack on Baku and Moscow": a new EU monitoring mission in Armenia
New EU mission in Armenia
“This is rather serious support that will allow us to strengthen our position,” political scientist David Stepanyan said of the new EU mission in Armenia, along the entire border with Azerbaijan. He believes that this decision is a blow to Russia and Azerbaijan.
The EU Council approved the decision to send a new civilian mission to Armenia on January 23. This time the mission will be for two years. It is reported that a hundred people will be sent, but it is not known from which countries they will hail. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna wrote on Twitter that “France will be delighted to take part in this European mission.”
“Start of a new phase of EU involvement in the South Caucasus”
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 normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Affairs Josep Borel believes that the mission to Armenia marks “the beginning of a new stage in the EU’s presence in the South Caucasus.”
“The EU will continue to support de-escalation efforts and remain committed to working closely with both sides to achieve the ultimate goal of sustainable peace in the region,” he said.
Yerevan reaction: “We welcome the decision of the European Union”
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan welcomed the EU decision to “send a full-fledged civilian mission” to monitor the border with Azerbaijan:
“We will willingly cooperate with the mission and support its activities. This mission will contribute to peace, stability and security in the region.”
Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan also welcomed the decision of the European Union:
“We believe that the mission will make a great contribution to strengthening security, long-term peace and confidence in the region.”
Baku’s reaction: “The mission should not undermine mutual trust”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan expressed dissatisfaction with the EU’s decision, saying in a statement that “the deployment of the EU mission in Armenia should take into account the legitimate interests of Azerbaijan, and its activities by the EU should not undermine mutual trust.”
Aliyev agreed to the deployment of the previous two-month mission in October 2022 during a quadripartite meeting in Prague, “believing that this will help the process of normalizing relations” with Armenia.
“However, the activities of the monitoring mission were accompanied by serious deviations from the agreements reached in Prague due to the biased approach of some EU member states,” the statement says.
A few days ago President Ilham Aliyev criticized the creation of a new mission without the consent of Baku. He believes that this step by the EU will have a negative impact on Azerbaijani-Armenian negotiations through the mediation of Charles Michel.
According to political scientist and expert of the Armenian Institute of International Relations and Security David Stepanyan, Armenia cannot defend itself now, so it is trying to “get outside protection”. The new mission is a good step, but “we shouldn’t be satisfied with this,” he says:
“We must understand that this will not last forever. The Europeans will ensure our security to some extent, and we must use these two years to rebuild the army, to raise it out of Soviet standards.”
According to Stepanyan, the decision is evidence that the Europeans are ignoring Aliyev’s opinion:
“This is a blow to Baku and Moscow. I hope that this decision will contribute to the establishment of stability in the region. And Aliyev will no longer be used by Russia or Turkey as a blunt tool to strike at Armenia.”
Stepanyan says that Moscow has used Azerbaijan when Armenia did not make concessions to Russia.
“Despite the fact that we are allies, that the mission [of the Collective Security Treaty Organization] is fully prepared, Armenia prefers to negotiate with the EU so that a mission of civilian observers is stationed there on a long-term basis. This is the border with Azerbaijan, and probably if this mission is deployed without the consent of Azerbaijan, it would be counterproductive. Instead of building confidence at the border, it could create additional irritants,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference organized on January 18.
Stepnyan believes that “Lavrov understands that Aliyev does not have enough political weight to go against Europe,” but adds that he does not rule out Moscow again resorting to “Azerbaijan’s help”, even after the deployment of EU observers:
“I hope that Russia does not have the opportunity to make such concessions to Aliyev so that their price will prevail over his fears. And if Aliyev does not take military action, Russia will lose its only geopolitical leverage on Armenia.”
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New EU mission in Armenia