Hungary lifts veto on EU military aid for Armenia, Azatutyun says

By Mark Dovich

The European Union is expected to disburse nearly $11 million in non-lethal military aid to Armenia after Hungary lifted its veto, Radio Azatutyun, RFE/RL’s Armenian service, reported Thursday, citing unnamed diplomatic sources in Brussels. It would be the first time the EU has assisted Armenia’s army.

“EU foreign ministers are now expected to give the final green light to the military aid to Armenia at their next meeting slated for July 22,” the outlet wrote. CivilNet was unable to independently verify the information.

The funds, whose approval requires unanimity among all of the bloc’s 27 countries, are earmarked for setting up a mobile field hospital for an Armenian battalion, according to internal EU documents obtained by Radio Azatutyun.

There was no immediate comment from Yerevan, Budapest, or Brussels.

What’s the context?

Armenia formally asked the EU last year to add it to the European Peace Facility, a funding instrument that provides military aid to non-member countries, including Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

But that has still not happened, reportedly due to opposition by Hungary. Radio Azatutyun first broke the story in April that it was Hungary blocking the EU from disbursing the money. Budapest was reportedly demanding that the bloc also add Azerbaijan to the program — even though Baku had not even applied to join.

A newly reached compromise deal is set to see Hungary drop its veto on aid to Armenia in exchange for EU funding for demining efforts in Azerbaijan, Radio Azatutyun reported.

What’s the background?

Hungary has long been one of the EU’s most openly pro-Azerbaijani members.

Armenia broke off relations with Hungary entirely in 2012, when Budapest extradited Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov back to Baku after convicting him of murdering Armenian army lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan at a NATO training course. Safarov was given a hero’s welcome upon his return.

Ties between Armenia and Hungary remained frosty until last December 2022, when the two countries issued a surprise announcement to restore full diplomatic relations. Armenia has since dispatched its figurehead president and top diplomat to Budapest in an apparent effort to mend ties.

Since the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Armenia’s relations with Russia have frayed significantly, while the EU, as well as a number of individual member states, has sought a noticeably more active role in the South Caucasus.

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