On 31 October 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): Ioannis Lagos (NI) and Assita Kanko (ECR) posed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell:
“At least 45 people have been killed during the intense armed conflict between Azerbaijan and the Republic of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh), the latter supported by Armenia. The trigger for this violent conflict was Azerbaijan’s attack on Artsakh, a de facto independent state which is predominantly Christian and ethnic Armenian. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have declared martial law, and Armenia has announced full military mobilisation.
At the same time, Turkey’s defence minister has stated that ‘we will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means in their fight’. Meanwhile, Armenia and Artsakh have denounced the fact that Turkey has already dispatched mercenaries and military equipment to the region. The ongoing clashes raise concerns for a full-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
1. Does the EU intend to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggressive attitude by imposing sanctions? By what means will it express its full support to Artsakh?
2. What measures is it willing to take in order to prevent the intervention of third parties (e.g., Turkey) and avoid escalating tension in the region?”
On 4 February 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The EU welcomes the cessation of hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on 10 November 2020, following the Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement. It has called on all parties to respect it to prevent further loss of life, stressed that international humanitarian law must be respected, and called for an investigation on war crimes that may have been committed. Since the beginning of the hostilities, the EU has been engaged via the President of the Council, the High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP), the EU delegations and the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus.
More specifically, the President of the Council and the HR/VP were, while hostilities were ongoing, in direct contact with their counterparts in Armenia and Azerbaijan calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the return to the negotiation table. The EU also called on all regional actors to refrain from any action and rhetoric that could fuel further escalation of the conflict. This was also the message from the Heads of State and Government when they addressed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the European Council on 1-2 October 2020.
The EU considers that efforts must be renewed for a negotiated, comprehensive and sustainable settlement of the conflict, including for the determination of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The EU therefore reiterates its full support to the international format of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group led by its Co-Chairs (France, the United States and Russia). The EU stands ready to effectively contribute in the shaping of a durable and comprehensive settlement of the conflict, including where possible through support for stabilisation, post-conflict rehabilitation and confidence building measures.”
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