European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, right, speaks with Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, January 22, 2024.

YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — The European Union on Monday, January 22, expressed serious concern at what its foreign policy chief described as territorial claims to Armenia made by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

“We agreed that Azerbaijan needs to return to substantive peace and normalization talks with Armenia,” Josep Borrell said after chairing a meeting of the foreign ministers of EU member states that discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict among other issues.

“The latest territorial claims by President Aliyev are very concerning, and any violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity would be unacceptable and will have severe consequences for our relations with Azerbaijan,” he told a news briefing in Brussels.

Earlier this month, Aliyev renewed his demands for Armenia to open an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. He also demanded Armenian withdrawal from “eight Azerbaijani villages” and again dismissed Yerevan’s insistence on using the most recent Soviet maps to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Borrell issued the same warning to Baku in November as the EU decided to deploy more observers to Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan . The 27-nation bloc launched the monitoring mission in February 2023 with the stated aim of preventing or reducing ceasefire violations there.

Aliyev twice canceled talks with Pashinyan which the EU planned to host in October. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov similarly withdrew from a meeting with his Armenian counterpart scheduled for November 20 in Washington. Baku accused the Western powers of pro-Armenian bias. It now wants to negotiate with Yerevan without third-party mediation.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Sounding a similar note was European Commission’s lead spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Peter Stano, who told Armenpress that the EU has been sending clear messages to Azerbaijan that any violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity would be unacceptable and will have severe consequences for EU-Azeri relations.

“The European Union has spared no diplomatic efforts to help reach a mutually acceptable settlement of the conflict over the past few years. We have been in close contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships, tirelessly reiterating our support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity of both countries and the resolution of issues exclusively by peaceful means. Our communication channels remain open. The EU has been using every opportunity to pass clear messages to Azerbaijan that any violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity would be unacceptable and will have severe consequences for our relations,” Stano added.

He added, “The President of the European Council Charles Michel, the High Representative /Vice-President Josep Borrell and the EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar continue their engagement for a sustainable and lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

French Senate Vote

On January 17, the French Senate voted 336 to 1 to adopt a resolution supporting Armenia and demanding sanctions against Azerbaijan. With the resolution the Senate:

The resolution supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia and condemns the military attack carried out by Azerbaijan with the support of its allies on September 19 and 20, 2023 against Nagorno-Karabakh.

In addition, it calls on Azerbaijan to guarantee the right of the Armenian population to return to Nagorno-Karabakh by providing conditions that will ensure their safety and well-being and call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the sovereign territory of Armenia.

The resolution also condemned the arbitrary arrests of political leaders of Nagorno Karabakh.

It also focused on Armenian heritage sites in Karabakh, calling “for the removal of Azerbaijan from the intergovernmental committee for the protection of cultural values in the event of an armed conflict.”

In addition, it seeks the establishment of an international group of experts at UNESCO and its mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to prepare an informative report on the state of cultural and religious heritage.

The resolution was written by the leaders of all political factions in the Senate: Bruno Ratayo, Marise Carrere, Cécile Soucierman, Guillaume Gontard, Patrick Kanner, Hervé Marcel, Claude Mallure and Francois Patria, as well as the head of the France-Armenia friendship group in the Senate, Gilbert-Luc Devinaz.

The session was chaired by the vice president of the Senate, Sophie Primas. Stephane Sejourne, the newly appointed Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, was also present at the meeting.

Armenian Ambassador to France Hasmik Tolmajian and Nagorno-Karabakh representative Hovhannes Gevorgyan were present at the session as guests of honor.

(Azatutyun, Public Radio of Armenia and Armenpress contributed to this report.)

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: