Markus Ritter, head of European Union monitors deployed to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan

“Many Armenians believe there will be a spring offensive by Azerbaijan. If this doesn’t happen, our mission is already a success,” Markus Ritter, the German head of the  European Union monitors deployed to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, told Germany’s Deutsche Welle. broadcaster this week.

Many Armenians are glad about the EU presence, Ritter said in the interview.

But he was quick to dampen expectations: observers are not permitted access to Azerbaijani territory. Ritter and his colleagues are therefore unable to detect, for instance, troop movements in preparation of another attack.

“We cannot interfere, we only have binoculars and cameras at our disposal,” he said.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Ritter’s remarks, saying that they are based on “false and slanderous statements made by the Armenian side.”

The Armenian government did not immediately comment. It has repeatedly claimed in recent weeks that Baku is planning a “new military aggression” against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The European Union launched the EU civilian mission in Armenia (EU Mission in Armenia / EUMA) on February 20 under the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).

The EUMA was formally established by a Council Decision on 23 January 2023. Through its deployment on the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, the objectives are to contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence and human security in conflict affected areas, and ensure an environment conducive to the normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU.

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