Although there are some points of dispute with this high profile German politician, in view of the Azerbaijani audience’s interest in a German view of current events in the region, we present here an overview of the discussion and its most significant points:
Olaf Gutting noted with regret that the 25-year-long Nagorno-Karabakhconflict had become frozen and slipped out of international attention. Armenia’s armed forces continue in illegal occupation of Nagorno-Karabakhand surrounding districts, all undisputedly Azerbaijani land, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) told APA on Friday.
He focused on the refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan, noting that Europe and the international community do not pay enough attention to the problem. There are several UN, OSCE and Council of Europe resolutions that clearly indicate that Armenia’s occupation ofNagorno-Karabakh and the other territories violates international law. The occupation has lasted for over 20 years.
Despite the repeatedly approved decisions and resolutions by international organisations, there has been no progress in their implementation.
Mr. Gutting complained about the lack of political will to achieve such implementation.
He was asked to comment:
A working group of the South Caucasus Friendship Group, which you represent, is dealing with this issue. It means that each year you adopt appropriate documents on the liberation of those territories. Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan and occupied in defiance of the international law. But, ultimately, nothing happens.
And he responded:
That is true. As we know, nothing happens because of the region’s complex geopolitical location. We try to prevent both sides from taking action that might destabilise the situation. Sooner or later the conflict has to be resolved. The illegal occupation of these territories has to stop, Armenian armed forces must withdraw. At the same time, we do not want to get into another conflict with Russia.
The Bundestag member noted that Germany is using all possible means to prevent an escalation of the conflict into a military confrontation. The problem should be solved through negotiation, he said. This needs joint efforts from Europe, NATO and, of course, Russia to achieve that. Azerbaijan, he said, remains committed to its political course and maintains a balanced foreign policy towards both sides
In response to the presenter’s question, What do you mean by ’both sides’?Olaf Gutting said that he referred to relations between Azerbaijan, Europe,NATO and Russia:
In recent years Baku has taken steps towards NATO and Europe. This is an example of Azerbaijan’s commitment to the West. I think this should not be interpreted to mean leaving Russia's orbit. The expression ‘both sides’ means that both partners should be involved in the political debate. Therefore, getting closer to the West and possibly obtaining NATOmembership should be approached very carefully.
The events that we have witnessed in Syria and Ukraine must not be allowed to happen again. Therefore, every political move in the region should be well thought out. The South Caucasus is still generally under Russian influence. It is Russia’s ‘backyard’ and it’s very important for them that the West does not intervene too much in the region. I repeat once more that Azerbaijan plays a very smart game. In this delicate situation, it is wise for the two states involved to stay with the two great powers and the other regional players, constantly holding talks and maintaining the bridges.
To the question,
Why was an embargo imposed on Russia over Crimea and yet there was no such action in the case of Azerbaijan - it’s hardly ever talked about?
Olaf Gutting noted that the conflict had not been at the centre of world attention 20 years ago. Back then the West was not as unified on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict as it is now on Ukraine. If there had been a similar approach to the Karabakh issue, then sanctions would have been imposed on Armenia.
He believed that short-term and medium-term results could be achieved through negotiations, but different options were needed to resolve the conflict. One compromise option, achieved through negotiations, could be to grant autonomous status to Nagorno-Karabakh and return the occupied territories surrounding it to Azerbaijan. This could be a possible solution for the conflict.
In explaining Europe’s need for energy security and diversification of resources, Mr. Gutting emphasised Azerbaijan’s particular role in the energy race as potentially the sixth largest supplier of gas to Europe, and Germany wished to strengthen that role. Any monopolisation of raw materials supplies is dangerous, he stressed:
For this reason it is crucially important to resolve the Armenian-AzerbaijaniNagorno-Karabakh conflict. Currently, the oil and gas pipelines lie within 100 kilometres of the front line. This presents a threat to European supplies. That’s why Europe must show an interest in resolving the conflict and reaching a satisfactory solution for all parties involved by negotiation. We don’t need another conflict, we need peace.
A further important point is that Azerbaijan is a Muslim country, but a secular Muslim country. This should not be overlooked, because there is pressure from both Iran and Saudi Arabia for greater Islamisation in Azerbaijan. We need to help Azerbaijan, so that these Islamist tendencies do not gain the upper hand there. That could complicate the conflict even more.
The German politician went on to recommend checking the examples of Georgia and Ukraine and avoiding the mistakes made by the West andNATO. He also believed that Russia should not be left out of regional processes; he concluded:
Azerbaijan is not seeking NATO membership. That is not currently a subject for discussion. But the European Union also has its own vested interests, to ensure its energy supplies; it should ensure stability for their transportation.
The European Union is well aware of its responsibilities. We don’t need the US to be involved in any conflict. It is sometimes claimed that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a proxy war between the two powers. I think that approach is wrong. The European Union, for its own interests, should seek negotiations. On site. Even with the Russians. This is not a region where the US necessarily plays the main role. The only way to resolve this issue is through the joint efforts of Europeans, Azerbaijanis and Russians.
The Interview with Olaf Gutting MP below links:
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.
A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includesNagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam,Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.
The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.
Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCEMinsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Poland, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.
Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1996.
Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.