The EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Josep Borrell, discussed details of the civilian mission in a phone call with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan. Borrell briefed him on “the ongoing technical preparations for the deployment” and reaffirmed “the EU’s full commitment to contributing to de-escalation between both countries,” according to an EU readout of the call.
One of Mirzoyan’s deputies, Paruyr Hovannisian, said that over the next few days the advance team of about a dozen experts will tour various Armenian border areas to determine the locations where the EU monitors will be stationed.
A diplomatic source in Brussels told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier that the monitoring mission will number up to 50 members.
“The 27 Member States have acted rapidly to respond to Armenia's request,” tweeted Toivo Klaar, the EU’s special envoy to the South Caucasus. “The aim of the EU deployment will be to monitor the situation and support Armenia-Azerbaijan stabilization on the ground.”
An agreement on the deployment was reached on October 6 by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU’s top official, Charles Michel, at a meeting in Prague.
Macron said after the meeting that that the EU mission will seek to “build confidence” and facilitate the work of an Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on delimiting the long border where heavy fighting left at least 290 soldiers dead last month.
“The mission will start in October for a maximum of two months,” read an EU statement issued on October 7. It said that Azerbaijan “agreed to cooperate with this mission as far as it is concerned.”
Aliyev said on Friday that he rejected at Prague a proposal to deploy EU observers on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier as well.
On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed that the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) also stands ready to send border monitors to Armenia.
In a thinly veiled rebuke to Yerevan, Lavrov said that the CSTO secretariat in Moscow proposed such a deployment about a month ago but that Armenia, the current holder of the alliance’s rotating presidency, has still not acted on the offer.
Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian on Friday responded by pointing to Russia’s failure to provide military assistance to Armenia requested hours after Azerbaijani forces launched offensive military operations on the border on September 13.
“OK, let’s suppose that there is some truth to that statement,” Simonian told reporters. “But where is [Russia’s] reply to us in accordance with the Russian-Armenian treaty [on mutual defense?”
Simonian, who visited Moscow earlier this month, at the same time welcomed the proposed CSTO deployment.