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EU Approves Another Monitoring Mission To Armenia-Azerbaijan Border


Armenia - Vehicles carrying EU monitors are seen near the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

The European Union formally decided on Monday to send a new monitoring team to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan in an effort to ease lingering tensions there.

“In response to Armenia’s request, EUMA (European Union Mission in Armenia) will conduct routine patrolling and report on the situation, which will strengthen the EU’s understanding of the situation on the ground,” it said in a statement released after a meeting of the foreign ministers of EU member states.

The statement added that the mission will have an “initial mandate of two years” but said nothing about its size and the date of its launch. EU sources told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service last week that it will likely involve about 200 civilian monitors who will start their work by February 20.

Armenia was quick to welcome the EU decision, with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan saying that it “will contribute to peace, stability and security in the region.”

“We will readily cooperate with the mission and support its activities,” tweeted Mirzoyan.

The EU already deployed 40 civilian monitors to Armenian border areas in late October on a two-month mission agreed during an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit organized by EU head Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The agreement followed the September border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which left more than 300 soldiers dead.

Armenia - An Armenian soldier stands guard on the border with Azerbaijan, November 12, ,2021.
Armenia - An Armenian soldier stands guard on the border with Azerbaijan, November 12, ,2021.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, did not rule out a “longer term EU mission in Armenia” in the near future when the monitors completed their mandate on December 19. EU representatives afterwards visited Yerevan to discuss such a possibility with Armenian officials.

Earlier in January, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev blasted the EU’s plans to again monitor the volatile border from the Armenian side without Baku’s consent. Aliyev said such a move “will not improve security” and will only complicate further EU mediation of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

Russia likewise rebuked Yerevan for seeking another EU monitoring mission. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned last week that it “could produce opposite results and create additional problems instead of boosting confidence.”

Lavrov also said Russia and other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) offered to send a similar team of monitors during a summit of the Russian-led military alliance held in Yerevan in November. He said Armenia rebuffed the offer because its ex-Soviet allies refused to voice “tough criticism” of Azerbaijani military operations along the frontier.

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