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The ATHENA Jean Monnet Chair "The EU as a Global Actor" Practitioners Engagement Series is proud to present a crucial discussion on the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. Set against the backdrop of the one-day war in September 2023, this event will shed light on the dire consequences faced by the ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Event details of Nagorno-Karabakh: A humanitarian disaster and the EU’s irrelevance
27 November 2023
15:00 -17:00

Since the one-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, the entire ethnic Armenian population from the enclave of over 100,000 people was forced to cross the border to Armenia. At the same time, a major humanitarian disaster has unfolded within Nagorno-Karabakh which was left with food shortages and lack of access to water and electricity due to a nine-month long blockade enforced by Azerbaijan. Although the European Union condemned the military operation by Azerbaijan against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, at the high-politics level it remained reluctant to take action. 

Current situation

In this event, Olesya Vartanyan will provide insights on the ongoing conflict, the status of negotiation processes, the competing mediation efforts between Russia and the West, remaining issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the current on-ground situation. This information will be based on her ongoing field research and meetings in the region. Following this, Laura Luciani will discuss the EU’s external engagement in Armenia after the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Having played a peripheral role in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, over the past two years and particularly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU stepped up its conflict mediation role without much success. Laura will explore the question of whose security is conceived of and protected by the EU in Armenia, how this is experienced and questioned by the people on the ground and the broader implications of these processes for peace and justice in the South Caucasus region.

About the speakers

Laura Luciani (she/her) is a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University (Belgium). Her research lies at the intersection of critical European studies, South Caucasus politics and International Relations. She examines the European Union's attempts to transform the countries and (civil) societies of the South Caucasus through the promotion of norms. She is interested in the local effects and contestation of international development interventions, as well as in the interplay of gender and sexuality with geopolitics. Laura’s work has been published in international academic journals such as Cooperation and Conflict and Problems of Post-Communism.

Olesya Vartanyan (she/her) is International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the South Caucasus region. She researches and produces reports on regional security issues in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, with a particular focus on breakaway regions in the South Caucasus – Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. Olesya Vartanyan has worked on conflicts in the South Caucasus for more than 15 years. Before joining Crisis Group in 2016, Olesya worked as a journalist, with a particular focus on security and conflict-related issues in Georgia and its breakaway regions. With her field reporting during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Olesya contributed to the ground-breaking investigations of The New York Times about the origins of the conflict. Enjoying unique access to Abkhazia, for a number of years she covered crisis developments in this region for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She holds master degrees from the King’s College London’s War Department and from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs’ Media School.