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 Tuesday, February 27 2024 17:49
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Stano: baseless allegations, continued unjustified criticism directed  towards EUMA from Azerbaijan are totally baseless and really  regrettable

Stano: baseless allegations, continued unjustified criticism directed  towards EUMA from Azerbaijan are totally baseless and really  regrettable

ArmInfo. The European Union supports a sustainable and lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so the efforts towards the normalization of relations between the two countries need to continue fasterú European Commission's lead spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Peter Stano stated.

Thus, regarding the latest border incident between Armenia and  Azerbaijan, which resulted in the death of 4 Armenian servicemen,  Peter Stano  emphasized that the EU condemns every loss of life  wherever it happens under whatever circumstances this happens.  "But  this repeated, unfortunately repeated incident only underlined yet  again the need for, of course, distancing the forces and putting much  more efforts into measures and activities that prevent such incidents  from occurring because they don't bring anything positive. They are  just contributing to the atmosphere of tension, distrust and adding  one more tragedy upon another tragedy. So, this illustrates really  the urgent need for the distancing of the forces - this is something  the EU has been advocating for a very long time. We are supporting a  sustainable and lasting peace, so the efforts in terms of  normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan need to continue faster  and this reminds us how important it is to continue this process  because without the normalization there is a risk that such incidents  will be repeated again and again and again. And as I said, this only  worsens the overall atmosphere. So, it's really important to show  restraint on the one hand, and distance the forces on the other hand,  and then continuing the overall political efforts to advance the  normalization talks. ," Stano said in an interview with Armenpress.

In order to clarify what actions the EU will take, considering that  aggression is already taking place on the sovereign territory of  Armenia, the European official first of all drew attention to the  fact that the European Union is not an actor, a party involved in  this problem.

" This is in essence a bilateral problem and a problem of course of  international law and the respect for international law. We always  say that territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries need to  be respected, and whenever there are disputes about that, they need  to be solved around the negotiating table. So, we, as a third party  and not direct party participant or direct side involved in this  issue, we can only work with partners and encourage them to follow  exactly these steps. That means solving all open issues around the  negotiating table and that's why we got involved in the support of  the normalization process with President [of the European Council  Charles] Michel, with our Special Representative Toivo Klaar, who is  conducting a lot of activities and supporting the efforts of  President Michel and High Representative [of the European Union for  Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep] Borrell, so that we really  encourage both sides to continue this process, solve together and  solve all the issues, not through shooting, but through discussing at  the negotiating table," Stano noted.

When asked why the EU is not taking practical steps to hold  Azerbaijan accountable, against the backdrop of statements of High  Representative Borrell assuring that relations between the European  Union and Armenia are currently at the highest level, Mr. Stano  confirmed these statement of the EU chief diplomat and added that  Brussels is determined to continue working to deepen and strengthen  them.  "High Representative Borrell really said that relations  between EU and Armenia are at their best point, at the highest level  currently, and we are determined to continue working on deepening and  strengthening them. That's why we agreed two weeks ago in Brussels to  launch work on the new partnership agreement or new partnership  agenda with Armenia to explore the whole potential of our cooperation  even more than what we are doing for Armenia already now. There is a  very multifaceted support to Armenia with practical issues on the  side of economy, social development through the economic investment  plan, through humanitarian assistance, for example, for people who  had to flee from Nagorno Karabakh, we are working on strengthening  the resilience of Armenia, the resilience of its economy, through the  EIP, the Economic Investment Plan, but also through other means, and  we already said last year that we are going also to explore the  possibilities to strengthen the defence capabilities of Armenia, of  course through non-lethal means and non-lethal instruments. But this  is something that is on the table." he assured. 

At the same time, Stano noted: " We are also including or we will be  including the area of security and defence into our discussions and  cooperation in this new partnership agenda, so there are practical  steps in order to help Armenia to be stronger, to be more resilient  to whatever problems there are in terms of threats to its safety and  at the same time we will continue to engage also with Azerbaijan,  trying to convey very strongly the message that unilateral actions  like threat of force, threat of using force and violations of  international law are not the way to move forward because it will  carry consequences, but again, we are at a stage of our relations  with Azerbaijan, that instead of threats, we still prefer engagement.  But if the situation continues to develop in a negative direction,  then the Member States will need to see and decide or review the  situation and see what other tools we could use. But for us right  now, because we are a political community that believes in peaceful  resolution of problems, for us right now, the best means to solve the  issue also between Armenia and Azerbaijan is to continue engaging  with both sides, of course."

According to him, EU sanctions as a whole are not a magical solution  to all problems and they are applied in combination with other EU  tools.

"I should maybe clarify one thing very, very clearly. The EU  sanctions in general, they are not a magic solution to all the  problems. Sanctions are always used in connection with other tools we  are using, so they are not the instrument. They are one of the  instruments. We are using and usually we start using sanctions when  all the other instruments have failed to bring the desired  objectives, " the EU official said.

At the same time, he added that the EU believes that no one will  attack Armenia, that all threats will be eliminated during  engagement.

 "Well, we still believe that no one will attack Armenia, that all  the threats or all the challenges Armenia is perceiving right now  will be removed exactly in the process of engagement. But the  European Union was also very clear, should there be any kind of  violation of Armenian territorial integrity and sovereignty, then we  would react, but again, we cannot really focus only on sanctions as  the only magic wand that solves everything, including using them as a  potential. Because if you look at the history or track record of the  European Union in using sanctions, then it's usually the last resort  that we are making use of when it comes to the current issue or when  it comes to sanctions in general. One cannot forget the principle of  adopting sanctions, this is an instrument in the hands of the Member  States who first need to sit together and decide - yes, we are going  to use it and this decision needs to be made by unanimity of all 27.  So, unless you have all 27 Member States on board, you cannot talk  about the sanctions. But again, this is not a magic solution. It's a  supporting measure in combination with other instruments the European  Union has always preference for to use them to solve the issues and  remove threats or challenges, " the EU representative belives.

When asked to comment on the accusations voiced against the EU  observation mission in Armenia by Azerbaijan, Stano stressed that  'allegations and continued baseless, unjustified criticism' from  Azerbaijan are 'totally baseless and really regrettable'.

"The European Union decided to launch its mission in Armenia based on  the request from Armenia, and we deployed this mission on the  territory of Armenia, so this mission is something between the EU and  Armenia and the baseless allegations and continued baseless,  unjustified criticism directed towards our mission from Azerbaijan is  really, I mean it's first of all, it's totally baseless and it's  really regrettable. One part or one of the ambitions of the mission  was also to engage with Azerbaijan in confidence building measures,  and this offer stands. So, we are repeating on every occasion the  offer to Azerbaijan to engage with our mission because it will bring  only benefits. This is a civilian unarmed mission that is deployed on  the sovereign Armenian territory with the task to observe what is  going on and to report and to reassure Armenians that, I mean there  is a EU partner that is watching over their safety and security. This  is not a mission directed against anyone. The mission intends to  enhance stability and hopefully also eventually contribute to  confidence building, so our offer to engage with Azerbaijan stands,  but at the same time very decisively we are rejecting all the  baseless allegations and criticism against this mission, " he stated. 

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