In its frantic search for alternative gas suppliers to Russia, the European Union has reached an important agreement with Azerbaijan. The government was in Baku last summer linked To increase methane shipments to the European Union from 8 billion cubic meters recorded in recent years to 20 billion cubic meters in the future. But what destabilized the agreement with Brussels is the growing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A crisis that has never been resolved and periodically threatens to deteriorate with unpredictable consequences.
The most recent armed conflict, that of fall 2020, lasted six weeks and claimed more than 7,000 casualties. Since then, there has been a shaky cease-fire that has not calmed the winds of war, with both sides still preparing for a possible new war. This is evidenced by the death of nearly a hundred (49 among the Armenian soldiers and 50 among the Azeris) last September, when the two factions clashed after the movement of the artillery of the Azerbaijani army in the territories controlled by the Armenians. The resumption of hostilities persuaded Brussels to send a hundred agents with the task of monitoring compliance with the ceasefire.
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pressure on the European Union
The move angered Baku, which accused Brussels of interfering in the dispute, “not trying to solve the problem, but to freeze it,” as denounced by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev last month. On the other hand, pressure comes from Armenia on Europe to do more to prevent the dreaded spring offensive. “Azerbaijan’s goal is clear to everyone, it is ethnic cleansing, it is a genocide it is preparing for,” Armenian diplomat Hashmik Tolmajian told reporters at the French Diplomatic Press Association. He added that “Azerbaijan is starving an entire population to force them to leave the region,” accusing the Azerbaijani army of cutting off a vital road – the Lachin corridor – linking Armenia to the lands controlled by the separatists since mid-December, the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Gas is in danger
The ambassador stressed that “the European Union has enough leverage in its diplomatic arsenal to put pressure on Azerbaijan,” and called for “targeted sanctions” on the country that supplies gas to the EU. He noted that “Azerbaijan is not Russia, not Turkey, not China,” adding that “if the levers are used, they will be effective.” But if the European Union chooses to intervene, it will have to agonize over the 20 billion cubic meters of gas agreed upon last summer.
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