YEREVAN — An advance team of European Union monitors arrived in Armenia on Friday to prepare for a two-month mission aimed at easing tensions along the country’s border with Azerbaijan.
The EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Josep Borrell, discussed details of the civilian mission in a phone call with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan. Borrell briefed him on “the ongoing technical preparations for the deployment” and reaffirmed “the EU’s full commitment to contributing to de-escalation between both countries,” according to an EU readout of the call.
One of Mirzoyan’s deputies, Paruyr Hovannisyan, said that over the next few days the advance team of about a dozen experts will tour various Armenian border areas to determine the locations where the EU monitors will be stationed.
A diplomatic source in Brussels told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier that the monitoring mission will number up to 50 members.
“The 27 Member States have acted rapidly to respond to Armenia’s request,” tweeted Toivo Klaar, the EU’s special envoy to the South Caucasus. “The aim of the EU deployment will be to monitor the situation and support Armenia-Azerbaijan stabilization on the ground.”
An agreement on the deployment was reached on October 6 by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU’s top official, Charles Michel, at a meeting in Prague.
“The mission will start in October for a maximum of two months,” read an EU statement issued on October 7. It said that Azerbaijan “agreed to cooperate with this mission as far as it is concerned.”
Aliyev said on Friday that he rejected at Prague a proposal to deploy EU observers on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier as well.