New EU civilian mission in Armenia to boost border security, efforts for normalization with Azerbaijan

The EU Council on Monday established a civilian mission in Armenia to contribute to stability along the country’s border and help normalization with its neighbor Azerbaijan.

"The objective of the Mission is to contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence on the ground, and ensure an environment conducive to normalisation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU," the council said in a statement.

In response to Armenia’s request, the European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA) will conduct routine patrolling and report on the situation, as well as contribute to mediation efforts in the framework of a process led by European Council President Charles Michel.

The mission will have an initial mandate of two years and its operational headquarters will be in Armenia, according to the statement.

Armenia’s foreign minister welcomed the move, saying the mission "will contribute to the peace, stability and security of the region."

"We will readily cooperate with the mission and support its activities," Ararat Mirzoyan tweeted.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Yerevan against the deployment of a "civil monitoring mission" on the border with Azerbaijan without Baku's consent.

"The Armenian side prefers to negotiate with the EU so that a civilian observer mission can be stationed there (in Karabakh) on a long-term basis. This is the border with Azerbaijan, so if this mission unfolds without the consent of Azerbaijan, it may simply be counterproductive. Instead of building trust at the border, it can create additional irritants," Lavrov said.

Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, during 44 days of heavy fighting, Azerbaijan liberated a significant part of Karabakh and a Russian-brokered peace agreement was subsequently signed, considered a triumph in Baku.

The peace agreement has not, however, ended conflict along the border and other disputes between the two countries.

Source: Anadolu Agency