Stano: “The EU will spare no effort in helping the parties reach consensus and find solutions on all pending issues”
Interview by Lilit Gasparyan
The European Union is strongly concerned about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Beyond the concerns, what specific steps should Azerbaijan take to open the Lachin Corridor, which is the only connection of the people of Artsakh with the outside world?
The European Union is closely following the various developments along and around the Lachin corridor since the beginning of last December. The Lachin Corridor is under the control of Russian peacekeepers, but Azerbaijan could take measures that are within its jurisdiction to ensure freedom and security of movement along the corridor, in line with the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020. Restrictions to such freedom of movement cause significant distress to the local population and have humanitarian implications.
In your statement, you highlight that "concerns can and should be addressed through dialogue and consultations with the parties involved.” The situation shows that for Azerbaijan, dialogue is not the way to resolve the problems. Don't you think one reason for Azerbaijan's such actions is the inadequate reaction from the EU, which is limited to declarations of concern but not any concrete follow up steps.
The December 13 statement highlights that all concerns, including those Azerbaijan has on the alleged illegal transport activities along the Lachin corridor, can and should be addressed through dialogue and consultations with the parties involved.
We can only reiterate this statement.
The EU has also actively engaged on this issue through diplomatic efforts. HRVP Borrell has been in regular contact with the Foreign Ministers of both sides. EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar is also in regular contact with the leaderships of both sides, in line with his mandate and with tasking received from HRVP Borrell. The EU will continue its engagement in support of de-escalation efforts and work closely with both sides towards a comprehensive resolution of the situation.
If Azerbaijan continues its adopted policy, which has caused a humanitarian crisis, is there a possibility that eventually sanctions will be applied in line with European values?
As explained, we are following the developments along and around the Lachin corridor and their humanitarian implications very closely. Sanctions are only one of the EU's tools to promote the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and are not being considered in this case so far. Let’s not forget that EU sanctions are usually used only if all the other efforts fail to bring results, and need to be discussed and agreed to by all EU Member States. The EU’s efforts with Armenia and Azerbaijan are focussed on achieving solutions through dialogue, which the leaders of both countries have expressed their commitment to. The EU will spare no effort in helping the parties reach consensus and find solutions on all pending issues.
The planned EU mediated meeting of President Aliyev and PM Pashinyan of December 7 did not take place because Azerbaijan refused to meet. Doesn't lack of meetings increase the probability of resorting to other steps?
The leaders’ meetings facilitated by President of the European Council Michel allowed significant progress along the difficult path to peace. This format would be crucial to address the ongoing crisis and we can only encourage both countries to resume these meetings that started over a year ago, as soon as possible.
High Representative Borrell announced that the mission of the EU delegation will not be extended, what is the main reason for stopping it? Will there be other similar missions?
In accordance with the agreement reached in Prague on October 6, 2022 by the Prime Minister of Armenia, the President of Azerbaijan, the President of the European Council and the President of France, EU Monitoring Capacity to Armenia was deployed for a maximum of two months. The EU honored this commitment, and this deployment completed its activities on December 19.
As a next step, the EU Member States – in agreement with Armenia’s authorities – decided to deploy a transitional planning assistance team in Armenia, which is already in the country. As announced in December, the team will contribute to the planning and preparation of a possible civilian mission in Armenia, which is also expected to support EU’s efforts to contribute to the normalisation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.