The EU's tools for resolving conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region
The EU does not have enough reliable information about current events in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. There is a gradual increase in disinformation aimed at mobilizing the domestic public in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The European Union considers the OSCE Minsk group to be the only platform for finding a solution to this conflict in the South Caucasus. The Minsk group is led by Russia, France and the United States. MEPs are calling for action against Turkey, which was a provoking factor in the outbreak of armed actions. A review of relations with Ankara is planned for the December EU summit.
The escalation has highlighted the need for various institutions of the European Union to take timely measures to prevent the outbreak of conflicts that are in the frozen stage.
The Caucasus in Detail team is investigating potential tools for resolving the situation in Karabakh that are at the disposal of the European Union. The European Unionhas been and will continue be the biggest supporter of the Armenian government's ambitious reform plan, which is consolidating democracy, the rule of law and promoting human rights in the country
On November 24, 2017, Armenia and the EU signed the comprehensive and enhanced partnership agreement (CEPA) . In 2019, after the velvet revolution, the EU increased its financial support and increased its annual grant allocations to 65 million euros, which were aimed at supporting the new government's reform program, developing the private sector, education and target regions. In addition, since 2014, more than 1 billion euros in mixed loans and grants have been invested in energy, agriculture and transport.
Through various levers of influence, EUbodies are able to persuade Armenia and Azerbaijan to agree to the introduction of peacekeeping forces along the line of contact, which has separated the parties to the conflict since 1994.
Given that dozens of people on both sides are killed or injured in private shootings in the Nagorno-Karabakh region every year during periods of escalation, the introduction of a peacekeeping force decades ago could have served as a rational step towards a timely and full-fledged settlement of the conflict.
There is also the possibility of conducting a peace enforcement operation, the international legal basis for which may be a decision of the UN security Council adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for enforcement actions (measures) in the event of a threat to peace. However, in practice, such operations were carried out without the approval of the UN security Council.
The main factor that weakened the firmness of the EU countries' position regarding the promotion of the idea of the need to introduce a peacekeeping contingent is the issue of financial support. The EU bodiesmight have chosen saving money, given that the cost of international peacekeeping operations requires only an increase in financial costs over time.
Currently, the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Commission, and the EU special representative for the South Caucasus are guided by the Resolution on foreign policy in relation to the Eastern Partnership countries, updated in June 2020 before the summit.
Unlike the document adopted by the European Parliament in 2017, the resolution does not reflect the principles of "self-determination of peoples" and "non-use of force or threat of force" in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It contains several articles that really cast doubt on the security of Armenia and the unrecognized NKR.
Therefore, it is not surprising that immediately after the adoption of the resolution on foreign policy in relation to the Eastern Partnership countries, the Armenian statesman David Shahnazaryan made a statement about "provoking Azerbaijan to start a new war".
He accused the European Parliament of non-proliferation of the principles of "non-use of force or threat of force" and "peaceful settlement" to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict is excluded from the list of conflicts that should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law and the Helsinki principles, since "Russia does not participate in it".
" (O) …whereas the European Parliament condemns the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the EaP countries, does not recognize forceful changes of their borders and attempted annexation of their territories and rejects the use of force or the threat of force, and shares the EU’s commitment to supporting a peaceful conflict resolution via diplomatic means and in accordance with the norms and principles of international law, the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, namely in the conflicts to which Russia is a party…» .
Since the "abolition of force or threat of force" and "peaceful settlement" mentioned in this article do not apply to this conflict, the European Parliament does not deny the possibility of using force in Nagorno-Karabakh. Justifying at that time the possibility of future threats and military actions in the conflict zone, the EU gave Azerbaijan the green light.
" (b o) …call for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from all occupied territories and for an end to military hostilities, which unnecessarily claim the lives of civilians and soldiers whilst hampering socioeconomic development, and enable hundreds of thousands of IDPs to return to their homelands…".
The Resolution also outlines the problem of returning Azerbaijani refugees to their homeland, which was promoted by the Azerbaijani leadership, despite the fact that the role of the OSCE Minsk group mediation mission in the peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh is represented by only one wording:
" (b r) ……reaffirm support to the OSCE Minsk Group co-Chairs’ efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to their 2009 Basic Principles, with a view to achieve a solution based on the norms and principles of international law, the UN Charter and the OSCE 1975 Helsinki Final Act, encourage all sides to intensify dialogue and to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric that would further jeopardise any prospects for settlement…".
The three main principles of the peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh was left by the foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.
" (b m) …Reiterate the EU’s commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the EaP countries within their internationally recognized borders and support their efforts to fully enforce those principles; underline the importance of the unity and solidarity of the Member States in this regard…".
In this case, the third fundamental principle – the right of peoples to self-determination-is also missing. The resolution notes that the implementation of the above-mentioned obligations is "mandatory", i.e. the European Parliament takes into account the recognition of the territorial integrity of the Eastern partnership countries, their internationally recognized borders, and the mandatory implementation of these principles without any restrictions, including the non-use of force.
The deputies who promoted these formulations took this position as a result of active lobbying by the Azerbaijani side. While each state seeks to promote its own interests, the willingness of the deputies to abandon the official EU position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in favor of one of the parties to the conflict, caused great alarm.
We should admit, now the EU does not have a clear position on this conflict, and does not have a fundamental force in protecting the rule of law in the continental space.
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