EU considering measures against Baku "if rights are violated" in Nagorno-Karabakh
The European Union could review ties, including financial aid, with Azerbaijan and sanction individuals if the situation worsens following Baku's military takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh, Reuters cited an EU diplomatic service paper saying.
The Armenian populated enclave quickly turned into a ghost land after Azerbaijani military offensive as a vast majority of the population fled amid fears of ethnic cleansing.
The paper said the EU could reconsider political engagement, financial assistance and sectoral cooperation, without being more specific. It did not mention Azerbaijan's energy sector.
The paper, prepared by the European External Action Service and seen by Reuters, outlines further possible reaction but is cautious in tone.
It says that if the situation deteriorates, the EU could consider a review of its relations with Azerbaijan "on the basis of a gradual approach."
"In case serious human rights violations are committed, restrictive measures against individuals responsible for such violations could be envisaged," the paper said.
The EU's search for a response is complicated by its moves to rely more on Azerbaijani oil and gas as it has moved away from Russian energy due to Moscow's war in Ukraine, Reuters noted, and cited a diplomat "from a country favoring a tougher stance toward Azerbaijan," who said the document "reflects a balance of different positions of member states: We want more, but others do not want anything at all."
Diplomats say France, Germany and the Netherlands are among those pushing for strong signals of disapproval toward Baku while others such as Austria and Hungary are at the opposite end of the spectrum, Reuters added.
Another diplomat said the EU may not end up doing much more than condemning Azerbaijan's action and instead focus on supporting Armenia, economically and possibly with military aid.
The paper suggested the EU consider "political and economic actions to further support the democratically elected authorities of Armenia, including in the area of security and resilience, and the continuation of the democratic reforms".
Photo: Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh arrive in Kornidzor, Armenia, on 29 September 2023 (Reuters)