Senior EU officials and an Armenian government delegation headed by Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian discussed the situation in the conflict zone at a session of the EU-Armenia Partnership Council concluded late on Thursday. The meeting held in Brussels was chaired Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief.
A European Council statement on the meeting quoted Borrell as saying: “The EU stands ready to assume a role in supporting and shaping a durable settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in close complementarity with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. We are ready to use our peace-building and reconstruction tools to support this.”
The Minsk Group is co-headed by the United States, Russia and EU member France.
Oliver Varhelyi, the EU commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood who also attended the meeting, said in that regard that the 27-nation bloc plans to provide 10 million euros ($12 million) in additional humanitarian aid to victims of the Karabakh war.
Varhelyi also voiced its readiness to “work towards more comprehensive conflict transformation and longer-term socio-economic development.”
The Armenian and EU officials met in Brussels one day before a similar session of the EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council. “These meetings reiterate the importance of the EU's partnership with the countries in the region and the EU’s support to its recovery and to sustainable peace,” the EU statement said.
Reconstruction efforts in and around Karabakh began shortly after Russia brokered an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire deal that stopped the six-week war on November 10.
Moscow has not only deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops there but also opened in Stepanakert a “center for humanitarian reaction.” The center coordinates ongoing Russian-led demining operations in Karabakh and is also tasked with helping to rebuild the region’s civilian infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday urged other international actors to make good on their pledges to help victims of the conflict and, in particular, refugees returning to Karabakh.
The EU-Armenia Partnership Council also discussed the implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed by Yerevan and Brussels in 2017. The CEPA offers the South Caucasus state the prospect of a closer relationship with the EU in return for major political and economic reforms.
“The EU welcomes and supports Armenia's strong commitment to further pursue its reform agenda and to fully implement our bilateral agreement, despite the challenges the country is confronted with,” said Borrell.