Yerevan on Tuesday responded to a stern warning to Armenia’s leadership from a close ally of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who said on Monday that European bodies must not be involved in efforts to settle the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Singling out the European Parliament and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Russia’s State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin claimed that they can only fan regional tensions. Armenia and Azerbaijan should stick to their agreements brokered by Russia during and after their 2020 war, he told Azerbaijani parliament speaker Sahiba Gafarova during talks held in Moscow.
“And those who make statements in the direction of European institutions may simply lose the country,” warned Volodin.
He said that the European Parliament, the PACE and other Western bodies have never settled any conflict and have caused instead the breakup of Yugoslavia and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“Therefore, while wishing to involve the European Parliament and the PACE, they should think ten times and weigh up how that could end, using the example of Ukraine, Yugoslavia and other countries,” Volodin went on. “Anyone who wants peace, who wants to resolve the situation, must not only stay away from these quasi-parliaments — both the PACE and the European Parliament — but clearly understand that their involvement will aggravate the situation, create more and more problems. And if they do that, they must be held accountable for the consequences.”
Volodin and Gafarova on Monday signed a cooperation agreement, which was hailed by the two as the first such agreement between the legislatures of the two countries.
”Relations between our countries are developing dynamically. I must say a word of gratitude to our presidents, who ensure this dynamics, lay a strong foundation for the development of relations,” Volodin said, adding that the agreement will “usher a new level of cooperation between the State Duma and the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan.” Volodin’s warning was the latest salvo by official Moscow, which has accused the European Union, and the West in general, of attempting to hijack the peace process in the Caucasus from Russia. The EU has announced that it will deploy a 100-person civilian mission to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan for a two-year period.
Armenia’s National Security Chief Armen Grigoryan claimed on Tuesday that the West has not imposed anything Armenia, in response to Volodin’s criticism of the EU mission.
“No one can impose anything on us,” Grigoryan told reporters. “In this context, the West hasn’t imposed anything on us. The deployment of that [the EU] mission was Armenia’s decision.”
“In May and November of 2021 an attack against the sovereign territory of Armenia took place, a large-scale attack also took place in September of last year. And given our experience that the existing security guarantees are not working, Armenia invited an EU civilian mission with the purpose of creating some security guarantees,” Grigoryan added.
“Naturally we are regularly speaking with our Russian partners on all existing issues, and we are presenting Armenia’s approaches, explaining why we have taken made these steps,” Grigoryan said.
Both the European Parliament and the PACE discussed at recent plenary sessions Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
The European Union legislature urged Azerbaijan to “immediately reopen” the Lachin corridor in a resolution approved on January 19 and hailed by Armenian officials. The resolution also condemned the “inaction” of Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh and called for their “replacement with OSCE international peacekeepers.”
Late last week, the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs released a report accusing Russia of conducting “disinformation campaigns” against the West in Armenia. It also demanded the immediate withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from Armenian territory seized during deadly border clashes last September.
Russian-Armenian relations have soured lately also because of the Azerbaijani road blockade. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly accused Russian peacekeepers of doing little to unblock the vital road. Moscow has rejected the accusations.