With the European Union’s (EU) Eastern Partnership Summit on November 24 approaching, its final declaration’s paragraph on regional conflicts has reportedly emerged as a matter of controversy capable of delaying the declaration. According to RFERL citing EU officials, Armenia and Azerbaijan have offered competing proposals seeking to modify the language already agreed by 28 EU member states.
The proposed agreed language is generic, saying “The summit participants call for renewed efforts to promote the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the region on the basis of the principles and norms of international law” and that “the resolution of the conflicts, building trust and good neighborly relations are essential to economic and social development and cooperation.”
Disagreement over Karabakh language has reportedly resulted in the postponement of an EU-Azerbaijan agreement discussed earlier this year. Meantime, the long-anticipated EU-Armenia agreement, initialed last March, is expected to be signed during the summit.
On November 13 Toivo Klaar was appointed as the European Union’s envoy to the Caucasus, tasked with contributing to peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. An Estonian diplomat, Klaar previously headed the EU’s Central Asia Division and before that was head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia.
Ever since the mandate’s creation more than a decade ago, EU envoys have not actually visited Karabakh, citing opposition from Azerbaijan. Their meetings with NKR officials took place in Yerevan instead. Klaar’s predecessors with the Karabakh mandate were Herbert Salber (2014-17), Philippe Lefort (2011-14) and Peter Semneby (2006-11).
The final declaration adopted at the summit reads as follows: “The Summit participants remain deeply concerned about the continued violations of principles of international law in many parts of the region. The Summit participants call for renewed efforts to promote the peaceful settlement of unresolved conflicts in the region on the basis of the principles and norms of international law. The resolution of conflicts, building trust and good neighbourly relations are essential to economic and social development and cooperation. The Summit participants welcome efforts and the EU’s strengthened role in conflict resolution and confidence building in the framework or in support of existing agreed negotiating formats and processes, including through field presence, when appropriate.”