The decades-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated in the fall of 2020 and claimed lives of thousands of service members and civilians from both sides. As a result, Azerbaijan managed to regain control of the significant part of the conflict area.
The cease-fire agreement mediated by Russia in November 2020 was repeatedly violated in the course of the last year. Demarcation of national borders, issues of landmines and prisoners of war remain serious obstacles on the way to sustainable peace.
Member of the European Parliament and shadow Rapporteur for Armenia from the Greens/EFA group – Viola von Cramon-Taubadel – commented on the issue:
“During and after the bloody fighting between our two neighbors, members of the Eastern Partnership, the EU was shamefully absent from the region. This allowed Russia to cement its presence in the South Caucasus. The Kremlin, unfortunately, has no interest in solving the conflict as it benefits from protracted warfare. In addition, Turkey, another illiberal actor further hinders the peaceful resolution of the conflict and warrants greater EU presence.
The EU needs to take the leading role in resolving this and other conflicts in its neighborhood and step in with not only humanitarian assistance but more so with its unique peacebuilding experience. We need to help Armenia and Azerbaijan to turn the long-standing belligerence into long-standing cooperation.
The first crucial step in building peace would be providing full protection to civilians living in the conflict area. The EU can play a decisive role in this process.
In addition, Baku needs to hand over Yerevan the detained and perished Armenian soldiers, while the Armenian side should cooperate in demining the region. These actions will become a stepping-stone towards deep economic cooperation, which can be a precursor of regional convergence in political, social, cultural, and environmental areas.
With this in mind, I welcome the initiative of President Charles Michel to host the talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan during the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels. The Eastern Partnership can and should live up to its full potential of being the platform for peacebuilding and democratisation in the region.”