YEREVAN — The European Union has ended a two-month monitoring mission launched by it along Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan in October.
In a statement released late on Monday, the EU said the team of 40 civilian monitors “completes its mandate” in line with an agreement reached by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief Charles Michel at an October 6 meeting in Prague.
The agreement came three weeks after large-scale border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces left more than 300 soldiers dead.
“The deployment of 40 European monitoring experts has proved to be effective and contributed to building confidence in an unstable situation,” the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, was quoted by the statement as saying.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna likewise said on December 6 that the monitors deployed to the Armenian side of the border have “really limited the risk of escalation.” They should therefore continue their work “as long as it is needed,” she said.
Still, Colonna and the foreign ministers of other EU member states decided not to extend the mission when they met in Brussels a week later.
In this regard, Borrell did not rule out a “longer term EU mission in Armenia” in the future. The EU will deploy a “transitional team” to the South Caucasus state for this purpose, he said.
Tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the “line of contact” in and around Nagorno-Karabakh have remained high since September. The Armenian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday morning that Azerbaijani forces opened fire overnight at its troops stationed in Gegharkunik province bordering western Azerbaijan. Baku denied that.