A visiting European Union official held a series of meetings with senior officials in Yerevan on Monday to discuss a broad range of issues, including the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The visit by EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia Philippe Lefort comes amid heightened tensions in the region disputed by local ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijan. Violations of the 1994 ceasefire have increased dramatically in the recent period, with both sides blaming each other for the continuing loss of life.
Azerbaijan reported another death of its soldier near Karabakh as recently as last weekend, while Armenia said the previous weekend it had lost two servicemen in what the Karabakh military described as sniper fire from Azerbaijani army positions.
Apart from discussed issues pertaining to the ongoing EU-Armenia relations, at their meeting Lefort and Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian reportedly dwelled on the current stage of the Karabakh settlement. Issues concerning confidence-building measures were reportedly high on the agenda of their meeting.
“In this sense the EU special representative’s attention was drawn to the anti-Armenian and racist propaganda being carried out in Azerbaijan at the state level,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
The conflict in Karabakh was also discussed during Lefort’s meetings with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.
The Armenian Defense Ministry quoted the European official as saying that “the European Union does not want to see a new war in the South Caucasus.”
Meanwhile, the troika of the OSCE Minsk Group, the main international format brokering a solution to the protracted conflict, arrived in Yerevan on Monday as part of a fresh tour of the region.
The United States, Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the Group held a meeting with Foreign Minister Nalbandian and were scheduled to meet with President Sarkisian before setting off to the conflict zone for conducting another monitoring of the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” near Karabakh on Tuesday.