Time in Yerevan: 11:07,   28 May 2024

Rasmussen Group report urges EU to take bold steps, to provide substantial support to Armenia

Rasmussen Group report urges EU to take bold steps, to provide substantial support to 
YEREVAN, MARCH 27, ARMENPRESS:  The high-level group "Friends of Armenia Network," led by former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has prepared a report highlighting the need for further strengthening of relations between Armenia and the European Union, Armenia's potential membership in the organization and the current situation in the South Caucasus, including threats faced by Armenia. The group includes former prime ministers, parliamentarians, and diplomats.

The authors emphasize the steps and actions that the European Union should take, considering the existing problems and threats faced by Armenia. According to the authors of the report, now is the moment to take bold steps and provide significant support to the Republic of Armenia.

It is noted in the report that the EU has in the past been reluctant to extend security cooperation to Armenia because of the EU’s desire to maintain its mediation role. 
“Offering security cooperation, it has been argued, would undermine the EU’s mediation role by undercutting the EU’s equidistant approach to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This position has been exploited by Azerbaijan to block enhanced EU support to Armenia. There is nothing, however, to indicate that Baku is truly interested in a negotiated settlement. On the contrary, the attack against Nagorno-Karabakh only reinforces the point that Baku may again resort to the military option and is not interested in a negotiated settlement. The EU should reorient its engagement in the region away from trying to mediate, and instead strengthen Armenia’s deterrence in order to prevent another war.  Nevertheless, there is a need for the EU to step up security cooperation with Armenia, both in the short- and long-term,’’ reads the report.

The co-authors has noted that the EU should offer Armenia a gradual but certain roadmap to enhance relations. According to the report, it includes offering Armenia EU candidacy status. “Such an offer must be backed up with real, substantive support—anything else would be counterproductive and could backfire.”

According to the report, Armenia finds itself in a highly precarious security environment and Azerbaijan continues to pose a military threat and is signaling that it will attack Armenia.

The report reminds that as a result of the attack by Azerbaijan in 2021 and 2022, about 200km2 of the sovereign territory of Armenia is under occupation, which poses a direct threat to the sovereignty of Armenia. Referring to the statements of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the report says that Baku is trying to provide an informational field for a further attack against Yerevan.

The report has addressed President Aliyev’s threats towards the Armenian capital, Yerevan, as Azerbaijan does not hide its ambitions in that regard. At the same time, the report notes that Azerbaijan continues to demand a land corridor through Armenian territory, and if it does not receive it, it threatens to use military force to occupy the Syunik region of Armenia.

The authors has noted that Türkiye remains closely aligned with Azerbaijan, refusing to open its borders with Armenia and putting pressure on Armenia to make concessions to Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, the report highlights the importance of Turkiye role in the region and discusses the need to elevate relations with Armenia to a higher level.

Considering all the circumstances mentioned above, the report points out the necessity of increasing military aid from EU member states. This step is crucial for Armenia to enhance its defense capabilities and withstand attacks from Azerbaijan.

The report addresses joint  training and military exercises and the improvement of military relations with European countries. 

“By taking these steps, the European Union will send a significant signal to Baku and Ankara. Additionally, the co-authors of the report emphasize the importance of reforming and modernizing the Armenian Armed Forces, stressing the need for modern Western equipment as well,” reads the report.

According to the report, Armenia’s membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has proven to be of little value as a security provider for Armenia. Russia and the rest of the CSTO have done little to support Armenia in the face of Azerbaijani aggression. As a result, Armenia has effectively frozen its membership of the CSTO, trying to diversify its security mechanisms.

According to the report, it is important for Armenia to engage in a discreet and direct dialogue with Türkiye about normalization of relations and the opening of the border with Armenia.


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