"Azerbaijan has occupied the territory of Armenia" - European Parliament report
Report from the European Parliament
MEPs believe that “Azerbaijan’s latest aggression against Armenia has no direct connection with the long-term conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh“, meaning September military operations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in 2022. The European Parliament announced that this was a military attack that “violated previous attempts to achieve peace and led to the occupation of the sovereign territory of Armenia by Azerbaijani forces.” Thus reads a new report from the Committee on Foreign Relations, dedicated to the cooperation of the European Union with Armenia.
Armenian analysts consider European partners’ response very important, but do not have much optimism about the effectiveness of such documents. According to political scientist Suren Surenyants, they can have “only an illusory impact on Azerbaijan – until international organizations set the price of responsibility for Baku for its actions.”
“Withdraw troops from the territory of Armenia”
The European Parliament appealed to the Azerbaijani authorities to withdraw its troops, condemning the “large-scale military attack of Azerbaijan on Armenia in September 2022.”
Regarding the peace treaty to be signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the European deputies stressed:
“To be effective, any peace agreement must include provisions guaranteeing
- territorial integrity of Armenia,
- the rights and security of the Armenian population living in Nagorno-Karabakh and other regions affected by the conflict,
- prompt and safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes”.
Fifty-five deputies voted for the adoption of the document, with none against and five abstentions. The text will now be submitted for approval by the European Parliament.
“We welcome the deployment of the EU mission in Armenia and call on the Azerbaijani government to guarantee freedom and security of movement along the Lachin corridor, which was blocked almost two months ago,” Andrey Kovachev, rapporteur on Armenia, said.
European Parliament welcomes reforms, but expects more
The document also says that the European Parliament welcomes the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the EU, which went into effect in March 2021, as well as the country’s commitment to seeing it through. The MEPs praise significant reforms and the process of democratization — “[T]he reforms of recent years thanks to which Armenia has become a leader in democracy in the region.”
However, the European Parliament calls on the government to continue reforms to strengthen democratic institutions, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, despite the difficult international context and challenges the country is facing.
European MPs also welcome an improvement in media freedom, but note that the media environment in Armenia is still polarized. The document expresses concern about cases of hate speech and physical violence against journalists. Supporting the Armenian government’s efforts to combat disinformation, the Europeans say that no measures should lead to restrictions on the work of journalists or freedom of speech.
Political scientist Suren Surenyants recalls that over the past two months there have been many statements about the need to unblock the Lachin corridor. A relevant resolution was adopted by the European Parliament. But, in his opinion, the Azerbaijani authorities “do not care about diplomatic assessments”, and the new report will also not have an impact.
“The situation is clear and simple. Azerbaijan will reconsider its behavior, its position only if sanctions are imposed on it, or making sure that by blockading the Lachin road or holding the occupied territories of Armenia, it will have to pay a high political price,” Surenyants told JAMnews .
Surenyants is confident that the documents will not yield any especial results until international organizations set the price of responsibility for Baku.
Surenyants considers it positive that the European deputies have called a spade a spade and “declared the September military actions an occupation and did not link this aggression with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” On the other hand, Surenyants believes that Azerbaijan will not leave these territories in the near future if the country’s authorities do not have serious concerns about possible liability:
“Azerbaijanis are carrying out engineering work on the sovereign Armenian territory, equipping positions. Not a single international structure, not a single geopolitical center created a situation for Aliyev in which he would be forced to leave these territories.”
As for the emphasis made in the report on the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty, Surenyants believes that the separation of the resolution of relations between the two countries from the issue of the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh was on Baku’s agenda from the very beginning, and Yerevan agreed with this. However, Surenyants considers such a division dangerous:
“The agreement or document on the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations should contain at least an indication that an international Baku-Stepanakert dialogue mechanism is being created. If there is no such mention in the big agreement, Baku will not have any contractual obligations to ensure minimum conditions for the Karabakh people.”
According to Surenyants, Armenian diplomacy should try to take advantage of the favorable context of the new report.
Report of the European Parliament