STRUSSBERG — The European Parliament has strongly condemned Azerbaijan’s military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, accused Baku of committing ethnic cleaning against the region’s Armenian population and called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Azerbaijani leaders.
In a non-binding resolution overwhelmingly passed late on Thursday, it also reiterated its earlier demands for the “withdrawal of Azerbaijan’s troops from the entirety of the sovereign territory of Armenia.”
The resolution says that the EU’s legislative body “condemns in the strongest terms the pre-planned and unjustified military attack by Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.” The September 19-20 offensive, which paved the way for the restoration of Azerbaijani control over the region, represents a “gross violation of international law,” it says.
The ensuing mass exodus of Karabakh Armenians to Armenia “amounts to ethnic cleansing,” added the European Parliament. It went on to urge the EU’s executive bodies and member states to “adopt targeted sanctions against the individuals in the Azerbaijani Government responsible for multiple ceasefire violations and violations of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The sanctions require the unanimous support of all 27 member states. None of them — including France, the main EU backer of Armenia — has backed the idea so far. French President Emmanuel Macron said later on Thursday that punitive measures against Baku would be counterproductive at this point.
EU leaders also resisted calls to sanction Azerbaijan during its nine-month blockade of the Lachin corridor that preceded the offensive in Karabakh. Analysts linked their stance to a 2022 agreement to significantly increase the EU’s import of Azerbaijani natural gas. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, described Azerbaijan as a “key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels” when she signed the deal in Baku.
The European Parliament resolution “regrets” von der Leyen’s statement. It says that the EU must suspend oil and gas imports from Azerbaijan “in the event of military aggression against Armenian territorial integrity or significant hybrid attacks against Armenia’s constitutional order and democratic institutions.”