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Armenia Grants EU Monitors Diplomatic Immunity

Armenia Grants EU Monitors Diplomatic Immunity

In a move to bolster security cooperation with the European Union (EU), Armenia's parliament has endorsed a decision to provide members of a monitoring mission deployed by the EU along Armenia's border with Azerbaijan with diplomatic immunity.

The agreement ratified by the National Assembly not only confers diplomatic immunity on EU monitors but also ensures their unrestricted movement within Armenia. Additionally, it exempts them and their equipment from customs inspections and prohibits law enforcement agencies from searching their offices and vehicles. Furthermore, Yerevan pledges to guarantee their personal security and facilitate their evacuation from the country if necessary.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mnatsakan Safaryan emphasized the significance of the agreement, stating that Armenia values initiatives aimed at enhancing security cooperation with the EU. The EU mission, initiated in February 2023 at Armenia's request, aims to prevent or mitigate ceasefire violations along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Last year, the EU decided to expand the mission from 138 to 209 members.

However, Armenia's ally Russia has opposed the mission from the outset, alleging that it is part of U.S. and EU efforts to diminish Moscow's influence in the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan has also criticized the mission, challenging the impartiality of EU monitors and cautioning against any actions deemed detrimental to Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.

Despite opposition, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's government has defended the mission, asserting that it has helped reduce tensions along the border. Civil Contract party parliamentary leader Hayk Konjoryan expressed unequivocal satisfaction with the mission during debates on the agreement's ratification.

The agreement received support from 57 Civil Contract deputies, while 27 opposition deputies abstained from voting. Concerns were raised by some opposition members regarding the absence of restrictions on the mandate of EU monitors and the potential inclusion of monitors from non-EU countries like Turkey.

Vice-speaker Ruben Rubinyan reassured the opposition, stating that the EU cannot engage monitors from third countries without Armenia's consent, as regulated by an understanding between Armenia and the EU.


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