01/12/2024, 09.49
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Yerevan counting on the EU in negotiations with Baku

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The Armenian Foreign Minister has expressed satisfaction with the expansion of the Euma mission, which aims to protect the safety of the victims of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan has repeatedly objected to it, considering the presence of the Russian military sufficient. But for its future, Yerevan looks to Brussels much more than to Moscow.

Yerevan (AsiaNews) - According to what was declared during a briefing by Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, the civilian mission of European Union observers in Armenia has a "vital importance" for the security of the entire country, and especially on the borders with 'Azerbaijan. He expressed the Yerevan government's satisfaction with the EU's decision to expand the mission, increasing the number of its members and extending the period of its mandate.

The Euma mission began on 20 February 2023 in the face of the worsening of tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which then led to the occupation of Nagorno Karabakh, reintegrated into the Azerbaijani republic after a thirty-year war, and which reignited in parallel with the Russia's conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine.

It is precisely the passivity of Moscow's peacekeeping forces on the borders that pushed the Armenians to seek greater support from Europe, which decided to respond according to the principles of the Common Defense and Security Policy (CSDP) with a group of 138 observers to a two-year mission, which last December 11th were integrated with other members up to 209 people, adding another two years of field activities.

The operational center of the European mission is located in Ekhegnadzor, in the Armenian region of Bajots-Dzorsk, and another base is also active in Idževan in the Tavuš region. The aim of the initiative is to help stabilize the situation in the border areas of Armenia, to strengthen the trust and security of the people who have fallen victim in various ways to the conflict, especially the Armenian refugees who have abandoned Nagorno Karabakh, and also the search for conditions that favor the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the support of the EU.

Baku has repeatedly contested European support for Armenia, deeming the presence of the Russian military sufficient, which according to the Azeris should deal with the demilitarization of the area. The presence of Armenian armed forces, according to Azerbaijan, is the factor that prevents a rapid peace agreement from being reached, allowing for a shared demarcation of the borders.

The Russians want to appear neutral between the two contenders, effectively acting as a cover for Azerbaijan's military actions, but without exerting excessive pressure in turn on Armenia, not wanting to consider it "exiting" the historic post-Soviet alliances, granting it to European influence.

Mirzoyan instead insisted on the developments of Yerevan's collaboration with the EU, which include the implementation of several other projects. In his opinion, “relations between Armenia and the European Union are in a phase of opening new long-term processes, and the topics to be discussed are accumulating on the negotiating tables”.

Some projects depend on the already existing "comprehensive and expanded" Partnership Agreement, others are added even outside the approved document. The minister concluded by assuring that "despite all the challenges we are facing, Armenia continues on the path of broad democratic reforms, which bring us ever closer to Europe".

Mirzoyan's statements are echoed by the words of his Greek counterpart, Yorgos Gerapetritis, present in Yerevan representing the EU, according to whom these projects are very important not only for Armenia, but for the entire European Union, which considers the Caucasian country "an important part of Europe", and guaranteeing full support for the path undertaken.

A joint action recently developed is that of the so-called "Peace Crossroads", a functional plan to unblock communications and transport routes in all sensitive areas. The Armenian minister guarantees that Armenia "is unequivocally decided on the issue of re-establishing peace, despite obstacles, slowdowns and destructive attitudes, and we will achieve the goal as quickly as possible."

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