The European Union and NATO voiced “concern” about the ambush of Azerbaijani forces on an Artsakh police vehicle on Sunday that killed three officers and injured a fourth. In statements reacting to the incident, neither body condemned Azerbaijan for its brazen attack.
“The EU is sorry for the violence that broke out on the Karabakh contact line yesterday, which resulted in at least five victims. The circumstances of this fatal incident must be thoroughly investigated. We call on all interested parties to exercise restraint to prevent further actions that could further undermine regional stability and threaten the peace process,” Peter Stano, the EU’s foreign affairs spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
The EU is currently deploying a 100-person mission on the border of Armenia that has been characterized as an effort to quell tensions.
In a similar statement on Monday, Javier Colomina, the NATO Secretary-General’s special representative to the Caucasus voiced “concern.”
“Very concerned with reports of deadly incident in vicinity of Stepanakert. This incident demonstrates the urgency to find solutions for outstanding issues at the negotiation table. NATO supports the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Colomina wrote on social media.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s ambush by Azerbaijani forces on the Artsakh police dominated a meeting between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Brice Roquefeuil, the French co-chair of the OSCE Minks Group, who is in Yerevan on a working visit.
Pashinyan emphasized that the actions of the Azerbaijani sabotage group cannot be described as anything other than terrorism and added that in addition to the blocking the Lachin Corridor and the actions aimed at provoking a humanitarian disaster in Nagorno-Karabakh for almost three months, “Azerbaijan continues the actions of terrorizing the Armenian population of Artsakh with the ultimate goal of accomplishing ethnic cleansing,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
Both leaders reportedly emphasized the need for Azerbaijan to immediately implement the decision of the International Court of Justice on unblocking the Lachin Corridor.
At the same time, Pashinyan added that, under the existing conditions, sending an international fact-finding team to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno Karabakh “is a vital necessity.”
The United States Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Louis Bono, who is also the American OSCE Minsk Group co-chair said that the U.S. stands ready to provide further assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan in signing a peace treaty.
“The peace treaty must be enduring and come from the two parties, rather than the United States or other countries,” Bono said after his meeting with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan in Baku on Monday, according to Interfax.
“It is important to Washington that Armenia and Azerbaijan interact irrespective of the mediation format. The final goal of the United States is peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Bono said. He noted that both sides would profit from peace, as they reaffirmed the aspiration for peace at a meeting in Munich on February 18, 2023,” added Bono, who, like his European counterparts, did not condemn Baku for the killing of three Artsakh officers. He is due in Armenia for talks on Tuesday.
The European reaction, especially a statement from the EU’s special representative to the Caucasus Toivo Klaar has angered Artsakh’s former state minister and human rights defender Artak Beglaryan, who in a tweet criticized the European diplomat for his lack of condemnation for Azerbaijan when visiting Baku.
“Back in Baku. Look forward to substantive meetings with [Azerbaijani] leadership to advance peace process after meetings in Munich,” Klaar tweeted. “The deadly incident today underscores the urgency of pushing forward with negotiations to achieve stability & a fair peace.”
Beglaryan hit back by calling Klaar “amateur.”
“My mistrust/doubts to Toivo Klaar get deeper due to his reactions to Azerbaijani crimes,” Beglaryan tweeted. “He is either: Amateur diplomat, Under Az [Azerbaijani] brainwashing, Corrupt official, With deviated perceptions of European values, interests & human rights. All four options require changes.”