News > EuFoA: Will Nagorno Karabakh conflict have an impact on the process leading to the signing of EU-Armenia Agreement? – Director Diogo Pinto’s Interview with 1in.am

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Eastern Partnership, Foreign Affairs

EuFoA: Will Nagorno Karabakh conflict have an impact on the process leading to the signing of EU-Armenia Agreement? – Director Diogo Pinto’s Interview with 1in.am

One of the main reasons of the tense situation created in Nagorno-Karbakh conflict is Azerbaijan’s aggressive behaviour. In certain sense Nagorno-Karabakh has become a platform for Aliyev’s personal ambitions. Aliyev wants to strengthen his power by portraying Nagorno-Karbakh and Armenian people as the “foreign enemy”. EuFoA Director Diogo Pinto has answered our questions concerning this topic

Diogo, my first question is about Europe and European problems now. After elections in France, UK, there will be also federal elections in Germany, which are the main challenges now for the European countries and the EU in terms of internal situation, keeping the European Union united, relations with the US and security issues? How would you answer to this question briefly, just to give us general sense about what kind of interesting developments are there?

I think that the most recent elections in Europe, even if we go further back, and consider the Austrian presidential and the Dutch parliamentary elections too, show that the disasters many foresaw did not occur. On the contrary, it seems that after Brexit and the election of Mr Trump in the USA, voters somehow woke up and realised the dangers of populism and anti-Europeanism, and have been voting in greater numbers for pro-European centrists ever since. I think this trend will be kept in the German elections, showing once again that people are fully supportive of the European project, the EU and European unity. In addition, some of Mr Trump’s controversial statements and actions, most of all his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, have pushed people and leaders in the EU to take an ever more united position and to move decisively forward in some issues, even without the USA. These are, from a certain point of view, good news for the EU.

UK and Brussels have started negotiations on Brexit. What can you say about this? What kind of results do you expect in the end?

I would say that they have started negotiations at last! It has been one year since the referendum in the UK, and nearly 3 months since the two-year deadline for completing the negotiations started. It was about time to commence these negotiations. As you know, they have started only now because the UK does not seem to know what their position really is; and, unfortunately for them, it seems that the clarity that PM May sought through snap elections has not been delivered by the electorate. To the contrary, the internal political situation in the UK has only been complicated by the involvement of a deeply conservative DUP party from the Northern Ireland. So, I really do not know what can be expected. Let’s wait and see, first of all, if the UK will get a stable government or elections will have to be repeated soon. The Brexit clock will keep ticking though, and it is the UK who stands to lose more from rushed or ill-constructed negotiations, but most of all from no deal at all, which would sever them from the EU without any arrangement.

How do you comment on recent incidents on the zone of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Isn’t it concerning in terms of regional stability and security?

Last week’s incidents and casualties in the Nagorno-Karabakh’s Line of Contact are very worrying, but unfortunately not surprising. Many experts have been foreseeing the increase of tension and the likelihood of further escalations already for quite some time. This is the combined result of accumulated frustrations with the impasse of the peace negotiations, unresolved grievances from last year’s 4-days war, but also, and possibly mostly, of an increasingly aggressive attitude of provocation from the Azerbaijani side. Under the pressure of an increasingly difficult economic situation, first the leadership in Azerbaijan resorted to domestic actions, leading to the arrest of many journalists, human rights and political activists and leading figures of the opposition. As this only led to an increased external pressure – as last week’s resolution of the European Parliament shows – , Baku is now eager to re-activate the perception of an Armenian threat, hoping to re-unite the Azerbaijani nation against an external enemy. Nagorno-Karabakh stands on the front-line, and is therefore a somehow collateral victim of Mr Aliyev’s need to keep and further consolidate his and his family and friends’ power. The situation is therefore worrying for the entire region, and if the international community, and especially the Minsk Group, fails to acknowledge the culprit and contain Azerbaijan, I fear that things will get worse before they can get better…

Both European and Armenian sides have declared, that they are going to sign the new Agreement on November in Brussels, during the summit of Eastern Partnership. Do you expect any kind of impact of security problems on the process of EU-Armenia Agreement signing? Can this be a real obstacle?

As you said, both sides have agreed and stated that the Agreement will be signed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in November. That is the plan. Of course, if some serious events take place in the meantime, the plan could need to change as other priorities impose themselves. But I do not think this will happen. I believe that both sides are fully committed to signing the Agreement in November, and I trust that this is what will happen.

The full version of the article can be found HERE (Armenian).

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