“Azerbaijan has bombarded areas which are well into the interior of Armenia,” Borrell told the European Parliament on Tuesday during a question-and-answer session on last month’s fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. “They have been using artillery as well as drones. We are not seeing a continuation of hostilities over a disputed area. Rather we are seeing incursions into Armenian territory.”
“The two countries blame each other for the breaking of the ceasefire. But the fact of the matter is that Azerbaijan has bombarded and occupied part of Armenia’s territory,” he said, adding that Azerbaijani forces must be withdrawn from those border areas.
Borrell’s comments did not satisfy members of the EU legislature who blame Azerbaijan for the worst escalation of the conflict since the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. They said that statements of condemnation alone will not force Baku to change course.
Borrell argued that the EU is actively involved in international efforts to ease the tensions and facilitate a peaceful settlement between the two South Caucasus nations.
“We have suggested that there be an EU mediation mission and that we deploy it to the border,” he went on. “Armenia agrees but Azerbaijan doesn’t. What more do you want us to do? We are not going to be sending EU troops without the agreement of both parties.”
Some of the unconvinced parliamentarians called for EU sanctions against Azerbaijan, drawing parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Azerbaijani military operations against Armenia. They said the EU must scrap or freeze a recently signed agreement to increase Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe.
“What is more important: Azerbaijani gas or the Armenian blood?” asked Jordan Bardella, a French member of the European Parliament.
Borrell dismissed the question as “absolutely ludicrous.” He also said that none of the EU member states has demanded sanctions against Baku.
“As you know, the imposition of sanctions is a prerogative of the member states,” added the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body of which Borrell is the vice-president, has initiated many of the sweeping sanctions against Russia imposed by the 27-nation bloc since February.
The September 13-14 border clashes left at least 280 soldiers from both sides dead. Azerbaijani troops reportedly attacked and seized some of the Armenian army positions along the long frontier.
The United States has publicly urged Azerbaijan to “return troops to their initial positions.” France has likewise demanded the Azerbaijani troop withdrawal.
Baku denies occupying any Armenian territory.