PARIS — France has called for an extension of a two-month monitoring mission launched by the European Union along Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan in October.

The leaders of the two South Caucasus nations as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief Charles Michel reached an agreement on the mission at an October 6 meeting in Prague. It came three weeks after large-scale border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces left more than 300 soldiers dead.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said late on Tuesday that the 40 or so civilian monitors deployed by the EU to the Armenian side of the border have “really limited the risk of escalation.”

“This presence should continue as long as it is needed,” Colonna told the French parliament. “This is our belief. This is also … the desire of the Armenians.”

Tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the “line of contact” in and around Nagorno-Karabakh increased late last month and early this month, with the two sides regularly accusing each other of violating the ceasefire. Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan described the situation there as “extremely tense” last week.

Colonna acknowledged that tensions in the conflict zone are running high. But she blamed that on “the absence of credibility of security guarantees which Russia claimed to have offered the region.”

Noting that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have not subsided, Colonna reiterated France’s and the European Union’s support for Armenia and pledged consistent efforts to bring peace to the region.

The dispatch of a civil mission to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan to monitor the situation and support stabilization on the ground after Azerbaijan’s September 13-14 unprovoked aggression on Armenia was approved by foreign ministers of EU.

The mission began the monitoring on 26 October to build confidence and contribute to the work of the Armenian and Azerbaijani border commissions.

 

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