BRUSSELS — The European Union formally decided on Monday to send a new monitoring team to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan in an effort to ease lingering tensions there.
“In response to Armenia’s request, EUMA (European Union Mission in Armenia) will conduct routine patrolling and report on the situation, which will strengthen the EU’s understanding of the situation on the ground,” it said in a statement released after a meeting of the foreign ministers of EU member states.
The objective of the Mission is to contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence on the ground, and ensure an environment conducive to normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU.
“The establishment of an EU Mission in Armenia launches a new phase in the EU’s engagement in the South Caucasus. The EU will continue to support de-escalation efforts and is committed to work closely with both sides towards the ultimate goal of sustainable peace in the region,” said Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
“EUMA will have an initial mandate of two years and its Operational Headquarters will be in Armenia. The Civilian Operation Commander will be Stefano Tomat, EEAS Managing Director of the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC). A Head of Mission leading operations on the ground will be appointed in the near future”. The EU said in the statement.
Armenia was quick to welcome the EU decision, with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan saying that it “will contribute to peace, stability and security in the region.”
“We will readily cooperate with the mission and support its activities,” tweeted Mirzoyan.
The EU already deployed 40 civilian monitors to Armenian border areas in late October on a two-month mission agreed during an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit organized by EU head Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The agreement followed the September border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which left more than 300 soldiers dead.