ArmInfo. Many Armenians are glad about the EU presence, Markus Ritter, Head of the EU Mission in Armenia, has said.
"In July last year, much to Russia's irritation, Armenia and Azerbaijan approved an EU monitoring mission. Some 100 police officers from various EU countries were assigned to patrol Armenia's border villages and document potential incidents. "We cannot interfere, we only have binoculars and cameras at our disposal," says Markus Ritter, head of the EU mission.
"Many Armenians are glad about the EU presence, Ritter says. But he is 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.
"Many Armenians believe there'll be a spring offensive by Azerbaijan. If this doesn't happen, our mission is already a success," Ritter said in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan responded to Mr Ritter's statement:
"We strongly condemn the fact that the head of the EU Mission, based on the false and slanderous claims of the Armenian side, expressed opinions that Azerbaijan is preparing for any attack, and presented the main task of the EU Mission as 'protecting Armenia from Azerbaijan,'" an official statement reads.
The European Union launched a EU civilian mission in Armenia (EU Mission in Armenia / EUMA) under its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
The EUMA is a neutral and non-executive mission, which will have a two-year mandate, and was formally established by the European Council decision on 23 January 2023.
The Mission is deployed on the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and will 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 normalisation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU.
The total - exclusively civilian - staff of the EUMA is approximately one hundred persons, including around fifty unarmed observers.
The Operational Headquarters of the mission are in Yeghegnadzor, in Armenia's Vayots Dzor province. EEAS Managing Director of Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) Stefano Tomat serves as the Civilian Operation Commander, while Markus Ritter is Head of Mission.