The European Union (EU) plans to send a new observation mission to Armenia in a month; this time not for two months, but for at least two years, according to the RFE/RL Armenian Service.
As the RFE/RL sources report, last week this plan was accepted by the Political and Security Committee of the Council of European, and yesterday it was approved by the main organization dealing with observation missions: the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management.
Moreover, unlike the group of 40 sent last October, which was deployed on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, this time the European observers will patrol the entire territory of Armenia. Like the previous mission, they will be unarmed this time as well.
How many observers will arrive has not yet been officially announced. According to RFE/RL’s information, however, the new mission will include approximately 200 European specialists.
Their priority is to contribute to the reduction of incidents in the border zones of Armenia and regions affected by the conflict, to reduce the dangers for those living in these areas, and thus to create favorable conditions for the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the aforesaid committee concluded.
The structure proposed to the EU Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop a special plan of action in the coming days, which will specify by what means the safety of the mission will be guaranteed, how the risks will be assessed, what protective equipment will be provided and, if necessary, how the evacuation of observers will be organized.
In addition, it is suggested to specify the expected assistance from the Armenian authorities. Brussels, in particular, expects that Yerevan will assume responsibility for managing European contacts or incidents with Russian units, as well as provide the necessary immunity and privilege to the observers.
Baku, unlike the previous two-month mission, has not approved this one. Moreover, the president of Azerbaijan criticized the initiative a few days ago, and claimed that the Europeans had deceived them.
Yerevan, meanwhile, regularly emphasized the role and importance of EU observers. Months ago, Prime Minister Pashinyan claimed that this not only contributed to security, but also actually recorded the existing border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The new EU observers are expected to arrive in Armenia next month, and the mission will start on February 20. Already today, this matter will be discussed at the meeting of the ambassadors of the Union, and the final decision will be made, most likely, next Monday in Brussels, at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union countries.