European diplomacy takes stock after an eventful week in the South Caucasus

EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, travelled to the South Caucasus for urgent consultations with the leaderships of Armenia and Azerbaijan after an eventful week  which saw a short Azerbaijani military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh leading to the emergence of a completely new situation on the ground.

On Friday, 22 September, Klaar met in Yerevan with Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and a day later in Baku, with Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev.

The diplomatic contacts come amidst some confusion in the European approach to the issue. An attempt to present a united front, by issuing a joint statement by the 27 member states in the context of a UN Security Council Meeting held on 21 September failed, exposing a long-standing and deep division in the approach of the member states. The EU appeared to be confused, in on the one hand wanting to appear as the honest broker in its role as one of the main mediators in ongoing talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, whilst wanting to express concerns about the future of the Armenian population of Karabakh amidst fears of possible violence against the civilian population, and ethnic cleansing.

Since the moment of crisis in Karabakh itself now appears to have passed, and a new situation is emerging,  it is likely that EU officials will want to concentrate once more in working with the sides towards an agreement on a "peace treaty". A meeting in Granada, Spain in the first week of October, is likely to provide an opportunity for the EU to get the sides back together.

source: with agencies
photo: EU Special representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar met Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan on 22 September 2023 (picture courtesy of the press service of the Government of Armenia)

Related articles

Opinion: Azerbaijan needs to provide its vision on the future of Karabakh Armenians

"The current impasse on the movement on the Lachin corridor can lead to the complete evacuation of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Besides the legal, moral, and logistical impediments to implementing such an initiative, it will become a geopolitical disaster for the region. It will only deepen the mistrust and hatred between Armenians and Azerbaijanis and prepare a subsequent cycle of violence in the future, as Armenians will take all steps to avenge such a national humiliation", writes Benyamin Poghosyan, in this op-ed for KarabakhSpace. There are no optimal solutions that will satisfy all sides. The choice will be made between bad, worse, and the worst options. The only way out is to find a "middle way," which may include restoring the supply of goods to Nagorno Karabakh via the Lachin corridor and simultaneously using other routes. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan should finally present its vision of the future of Nagorno Karabakh Armenians, with a detailed description of their rights and mechanisms to protect them. The general statements about Armenians having the same rights as any other Azerbaijani citizen according to the Azerbaijani constitution are not sufficient. Otherwise, even if a short-term solution alleviates the humanitarian disaster in Nagorno Karabakh, the crisis will remain there,with no light at the end of the tunnel.