Alternative or threat? –


Can the EU Mission in Armenia (EUMA), agreed on by the EU Council this week, contribute to stabilising a battle that the Worldwide Disaster Group considers one of many 10 most dangerous conflicts for 2023, ask Mail Negi and Tobias Pietz.

Mail Negi and Tobias Pietz work on the Evaluation of the Middle for Worldwide Peace Operations (ZIF) in Berlin.

Final October, French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Council President Charles Michel met with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev, in Prague. On the time, nobody imagined that this assembly would result in a brand new two-year civilian EU mission beneath the Widespread Safety and Protection Coverage (CSDP).

A heated battle since 2020

The decades-old battle between the previous Soviet republics Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated into the second Karabakh Struggle within the autumn of 2020. Azerbaijan was capable of retake giant swathes of territory beforehand occupied by Armenia.

The conflict resulted in an estimated 7,000 troopers shedding their lives till Russia brokered a cease-fire in November. Russian “peacekeepers” have since been stationed within the so-called “Republic of Arzakh,” the a part of Nagorno-Karabakh that continues to be beneath Armenian management. The “peacekeepers” monitor the Lachin hall between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to discourage Azerbaijan from additional assaults. Since Russia’s most up-to-date invasion of Ukraine, nonetheless, it appears their presence within the space not acts as a powerful deterrent.

Azerbaijan gained additional territory in Nagorno-Karabakh in March and August 2022. On 13-14 September, the battle escalated with an assault on Armenian territory, during which greater than 300 individuals died, and about 7,600 individuals fled. This, amongst different issues, triggered Macron’s and Michel’s initiative to hunt an answer.

On 12 December 2022, Azerbaijani protesters, self-proclaimed environmental activists, started a blockade of the Lachin hall. That is the enclave’s solely connection to Armenia and, subsequently, the principle provide route. Thus, along with the pervasive menace to the safety of Karabakh Armenians, residents face extreme meals shortages and energy outages.

The battle over Nagorno-Karabakh and the problem of demarcating the border between the 2 international locations are additionally essential on the worldwide degree. Russia and the regional powers Iran and Turkey are invested on this dispute and could possibly be drawn additional into the battle.

From EUMCAP to EUMA Armenia

On 22 September 2022, Armenia prolonged an invite to the EU to determine a civilian mission on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Shortly afterwards, within the margins of the primary assembly of the European Political Group on 6 October, the events to the battle met and never solely reaffirmed one another’s sovereignty and territorial integrity but additionally agreed on a course of for demarcating the widespread border. A two-month European remark mission, the EU Monitoring Capability (EUMCAP), was to assist this.

When the mission ended on 19 December 2022, the EU left behind a small planning mission to arrange for a everlasting civilian EU mission. The brand new EU Mission in Armenia (EUMA) is predicted to function from 20 February in an space – considerably expanded in comparison with EUMCAP – alongside Armenia’s total border with Azerbaijan. Along with patrolling, it’s tasked with establishing (much like EUMM Georgia) native communication channels and de-escalation mechanisms between the events to the battle. It should additionally assist border demarcation and trilateral dialogue between the EU, Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the battle.

EUMA has a mandate for 2 years and can have a workers of 100. This week, Dr Markus Ritter, head of the German Federal Police Headquarters in Stuttgart and former Head of Mission of EUAM Iraq, was appointed as head of mission.

Germany appears to be very a lot concerned in and supportive of the EUMA course of. The headquarters of the brand new mission might be established in Yeghegndsor, area places of work are deliberate in Kapan, Goris, Jermuk, Martuni and Ijevan.

Alternatives and dangers

By means of EUMA, the EU hopes to strengthen belief between Armenia and Azerbaijan on political and social ranges. The EUMA mission is meant to calm tensions within the battle space and close to the border between the 2 international locations, because the EUMM has carried out in Georgia.  The mission will proceed to help each international locations within the demarcation course of.

The EU is going through quite a few potential pitfalls. Russia, for one, seems to be against the mission. Azerbaijan in the end accepted the mission, although reluctantly. President Aliyev described the brand new mission, with its expanded mandate, as “very disagreeable” and felt that the mission would disrupt negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Alternatively, Azerbaijan has a big financial curiosity when it comes to relations with the EU. Turkey stays a troublesome and unpredictable actor however doesn’t pose a menace to the mandate implementation of EUMA.

As well as, Russia has stationed 2,000 troops declared as “peacekeepers” in Azerbaijan and practically 3,000 navy and Federal Safety Service (FSB) border guard items in Armenia. The FSB Border Guard controls, amongst different issues, the state border between Armenia and Iran. Additionally they intercepted EUMCAP patrols a number of instances on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

This exhibits that in locations the place the demarcation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is unclear, EUMA may discover itself in tough conditions. And but, EUMA shouldn’t be solely a possibility for the EU to make an essential contribution to stabilising the border battle and additional facilitating talks between the battle events. It may be a turning level for the Caucasus, the place the normal Russian presence is shedding affect vis-à-vis the EU.

A mannequin for future civilian operations?

By extending the world of operations from EUMM Georgia to Armenia, the method in the direction of establishing an initially short-term and now two-year mission in Armenia may happen at breathtaking pace. This could encourage future EU disaster administration and the continuing discussions on a “New Compact” for civilian CSDP through the Swedish EU Presidency.

Within the twentieth yr of CSDP deployments, missions corresponding to EUMA may spotlight the significance and potential of this instrument for versatile and political motion amongst EU member states and feed into ongoing reform processes to make it match for the longer term.

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