MEPs commend Armenia for significant reforms, condemn Azerbaijan’s large-scale military attack

In a report, MEPs call on Armenia to pursue a comprehensive and mutually acceptable peace treaty with Azerbaijan, while praising Yerevan for its work on democratic reforms.

In the new report reviewing EU relations with Armenia, prepared by the Foreign Affairs Committee and adopted on Thursday, MEPs strongly condemn the large-scale military attack on Armenia by neighboring Azerbaijan in September 2022, which violated previous attempts to achieve peace and resulted in Azerbaijan’s forces occupying sovereign Armenian territory.

While stressing that this latest aggression has no direct link to the long-term conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the report calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to withdraw troops from all parts of Armenian territory. It also urges the governments of both countries to work on a comprehensive and mutually acceptable peace treaty and on the EU to continuously engage, mediate and effectively contribute to the peaceful resolution of this conflict.

MEPs reaffirm, however, that in order to be effective, any such peace treaty must include provisions that guarantee the integrity of Armenia’s sovereign territory, the rights and security of the Armenian population residing in Nagorno-Karabakh and other conflict-afflicted areas, and the prompt and safe return of refugees and internally displaced people to their homes.

A leader in democracy in the South Caucasus

Looking more closely at EU bilateral relations with Armenia, the report welcomes the full entry into force of the Armenia–EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in March 2021 and Armenia’s commitment to its implementation. MEPs commend Armenia for the significant reforms and thorough democratization process it has undertaken in recent years, reforms that have seen the country become a leader in democracy in the region. They also call on the EU and Armenia to work closely on the implementation of ongoing and future reforms under the CEPA, while highlighting that the framework covers a wide range of areas for joint work, including strengthening democracy, the rule of law and human rights, contributing to economic growth and fostering sectoral cooperation.

In addition, the report acknowledges Armenia’s fight against crime and corruption and encourages the government to continue implementing reforms to strengthen democratic institutions, the rule of law and judicial independence, despite the difficult international context and the challenges Armenia faces.

MEPs worried by media environment

While welcoming improvements in media freedom, MEPs stress that the country’s media environment is still characterized by polarization and they are concerned about cases of hate speech and physical violence against journalists.

While fully supporting the Armenian government’s effort to fight disinformation, MEPs say that any measures must not result in restrictions on journalists or freedom of speech.

The report was adopted by 55 votes in favor, 0 against with 5 abstentions.

“The report on EU-Armenia relations reaffirms once again the European Parliament’s commitment to peace in the region and the cooperation between Armenia and the EU in a number of important areas. As a vital stepping stone in this direction, we welcome the establishment of the EU Mission in Armenia and urge the Azerbaijani government to guarantee freedom and security of movement through the Lachin corridor, which has been blocked for almost two months,” said rapporteur Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria) after the vote.

Following the committee vote, the text will now be submitted for approval by the European Parliament as a whole.

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