Yerevan calls on EU to sanction Azerbaijan, warns of "imminent attack on Armenia"
Armenia urged the European Union on Monday to sanction Azerbaijan for its military offensive in Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh and warned that Baku could subsequently attack Armenia itself unless the West takes firm action.
Tigran Balayan, Armenia's envoy to the EU, listed possible measures such as a price cap on Azerbaijani oil and gas and the suspension of EU talks on closer relations with Baku. He also urged the West to deliver "bold" security assistance to Armenia.
"It's not only the opinion of the Armenian government, but also of many experts - also some of the EU member states - that an attack on Armenia proper is imminent," Balayan told Reuters in an interview in Brussels.
Azerbaijani forces took control of Nagorno-Karabakh in days, if not hours, in a lightning offensive launched on 19 September, triggering amid fears of ethnic cleansing an exodus of more than 100,000 Armenians, well over three quarters of the enclave's entire Armenian population, in less than a week.
Balayan said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's assurances could not be trusted, noting European officials have declared he broke promises not to attack Nagorno-Karabakh.
He said the EU had many tools to pressure Aliyev, and Nagorno-Karabakh paid a heavy price because none of them had been used.
He stressed that the EU had real leverage on energy, as Baku relies heavily on European countries as customers.
Pointing out that a meeting expected this week at a summit in Spain between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Aliyev, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel would only yield results if the EU was tough with Aliyev, he added:
"Unless there are certain red lines put in front of Aliyev personally for not keeping his word, it will be in vain again."
Balayan voiced fears that Azerbaijan would use force to establish a land corridor through Armenian territory to the exclave of Nakhchivan, which would also provide a link to Baku's close ally Turkey.
He also warned Azerbaijan's military goals could extend even beyond Nakhchivan, noting Aliyev had made comments that asserted Armenian territory was formerly part of Azerbaijan.