EU launches expanded Armenia border mission, US presses for progress on Karabakh –


The EU launched Monday (23 January) a civilian mission to assist monitor Armenia’s risky border with Azerbaijan, bolstering the bloc’s function in a area seen by the Kremlin as Russia’s yard.

The transfer comes as Moscow — centered on its warfare in Ukraine — has been dropping affect after many years of domination over its neighbourhood.

Brussels mentioned it hoped to “contribute to stability within the border areas of Armenia, construct confidence on the bottom, and guarantee an surroundings conducive to normalisation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan”.

“The institution of an EU Mission in Armenia launches a brand new section within the EU’s engagement within the South Caucasus,” overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell mentioned.

The initiative was requested by Armenia and expands upon a 40-strong mission that was deployed for 2 months late final 12 months.

The brand new mission has a two-year mandate and can conduct “routine patrolling and report on the scenario”, an EU assertion mentioned.

In response to a press launch, the Civilian Operation Commander of the Mission can be Stefano Tomat, EEAS Managing Director of the Civilian Planning and Conduct Functionality (CPCC), with headquarters in Armenia. A Head of Mission main operations on the bottom can be appointed within the close to future.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought within the early Nineties for management of Nagorno-Karabakh, a battle that left 30,000 useless and led to an Armenian victory.

Baku took its revenge in a second warfare fought in 2021, which claimed the lives of 6,500 folks, retaking swathes of territory.

Russian peacekeepers had been deployed there after the 2021 battle.

However Armenia has accused Russian troopers of failing to forestall flare-ups within the preventing and stopping Azerbaijanis who’re blockading its solely land path to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Worldwide Disaster Group’s South Caucasus analysts, Olesya Vartanyan and Zaur Shiriyev, reacted on the challenges EU the mission is going through.

Vartanyan warned that the mission might fail if it has too little funding, restricted entry or an excessively circumscribed mandate.

“Past monitoring, and registering incidents, mission members needs to be empowered to be extra energetic in facilitating dialogue at an area stage alongside the border to forestall and mitigate violence”, she mentioned.

Shiriyev mentioned that the success of the mission relied on the energetic cooperation between EU screens and the Azerbaijani aspect, and likewise that extra cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenian officers on the border was wanted.

“Whether or not or not official Baku views the EU mission as assist and sees a cause to cooperate with it, can be one of many figuring out elements of its success. The EU mission is in Baku’s curiosity when it comes to establishing contacts and presumably a hotline on the border with Armenia to forestall and mitigate incidents”, he mentioned.

US presses on Azerbaijan

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday requested the president of Azerbaijan to redouble efforts to clinch a peace settlement with Armenia and referred to as for the speedy reopening of a hall very important to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area.

However Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, denied that the Lachin hall, linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, was topic to a blockade. He mentioned officers within the area needed to halt a mining mission that Azeri activists say is the principle cause for disrupting site visitors.

Blinken’s talks with Aliyev on Monday adopted the secretary of state’s name with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday specializing in steps to restart talks with Azerbaijan.

Blinken “underscored that the danger of a humanitarian disaster within the Lachin hall undermined prospects for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the State Division mentioned in an announcement.

Blinken additionally raised human rights considerations in Azerbaijan when he spoke to its president, the State Division mentioned.

In an announcement, Aliyev mentioned greater than 90 sufferers had been taken from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia by way of the hall. Almost 1,000 autos had used the highway since mid-December.

“President Aliyev mentioned that this proved that the Lachin highway has not been closed by the Azeri aspect,” Russian information companies quoted the assertion as saying.

Final week, Russia additionally informed Azerbaijan that the highway main into Nagorno-Karabakh needed to be shortly cleared of protesters.

Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan within the dying days of Soviet rule, however Azerbaijan regained a lot of the misplaced territory in a six-week battle in 2020, ended by a Russia-brokered truce and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers.

Russia and the European Union have led efforts to clinch a sturdy peace deal – Aliyev and Pashinyan have had a collection of direct conferences.

Azerbaijanis who say they’re environmental activists have blockaded the highway for weeks in protest on the mining mission.

Yerevan says they’re government-backed agitators. The deadlock is being seen as a take a look at of Russia’s skill to calm hostilities in its yard.

(With further reporting by Georgi Gotev)

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