On 26th of February 2015, the anniversary of the tragedy of Khojaly has been commemorated within the premises of the German Parliamentarian Society. The high-level event was organized by the German-Azerbaijan Forum, the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, SOCAR Germany and the German Atlantic Society.
“26th February remains a terrible day for us Azerbaijani”. Parviz Shahbazov welcomed around 180 guests to the third symposium “Security and Stability in the South Caucasus – German-Azerbaijan Cooperation Perspectives”. Even though economic issues were primarily the matter, Azerbaijan’s ambassador stressed the serious background of this anniversary: In the night from 25th to 26th of February 1992 during wartime, Armenian armed forces attacked the city of Khojaly located in the embattled Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh. “In that night of genocide the Armenian armed forces brutally murdered 613 people, among them 63 children, 106 women and 70 old people. 150 Azerbaijani are missed without a trace up to this day”, as Shahbazov explained. Despite the clear demand written down in four UN resolutions to withdraw from the territories in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian troops are still occupying Nagorno-Karabakh and seven bordering districts to the present day. Since 1994, ceasefire has been put into practice; nevertheless, a peace agreement is still a long way away. “Azerbaijan with its economic prosperity is a stability factor”, as the ambassador remarked.
Vice-President of the German Bundestag Johannes Singhammer highlighted the common interests of both Germany and Azerbaijan relating questions of energy supply as well as stability in Europe and the Caucasus. He referred to the 2009 resolution of the German Bundestag and considered Azerbaijan to be a reliable partner of the West, entitling the country as an example for multi-ethnic and multi-religious tolerance. Cooperation in economic terms is already developing closely, as Singhammer further continued. “The German Federal Government explicitly supports the Southern Gas Corridor. We are looking forward to seeing Azerbaijan on its orientation towards Europe”.
Striking words were used by Member of German Parliament Karin Strenz, Chairwoman of the Southern Caucasian Parliamentary Group of the German Bundestag. She had been trying to mediate several times between Azerbaijan and Armenia. “I told the representatives of the Armenian embassy that the problem would be solved immediately if Armenia would withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijan territories”, she stressed. Subsequently, the Armenian side finished the talks without any result. “I was raised in the German Democratic Republic, nobody is ever going to tell me on more time what I have to think – the hour of diplomacy is still open”.
Azerbaijan Member of Parliament Siyavush Novruzov came straight to the point: “If the international community would have been putting the same pressure since 1994 on the aggressor Armenia as today on Russia, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would have been solved long ago”.
The solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has its effects on energy security and energy prices in Europa, as stated by Elshad Nassirov. Nassirov, Vice-President of the state-owned Azerbaijan energy company SOCAR, referred to the importance of Azerbaijan as a reliable energy supplier for Europe. Around 4 million tons of petroleum is delivered from Azerbaijan to Germany, from 2020 onwards 10 billion cubic meter of natural gas will be transported to Western Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor, a project in which Azerbaijan and its partners are investing 45 billion U.S. dollar. “Through alternative energy suppliers like Azerbaijan the prices for natural gas in Europe are about to decline”, as energy manager Nassirov convincingly stated.
Prof. Dr. Rainer Lindner, Chief Executive of the Eastern Committee of the German Economy, referred to Azerbaijan’s strong economic position that enabled the country to “calmly refuse Russia’s offer for Azerbaijan to become a member of the Eurasian Union”. Linder furthermore stressed the Southern Corridor’s importance for the European energy supply.
Former undersecretary Otto Hauser raised the question of whether the partly return of the 1 million Azerbaijan refugees to their homeland Nagorno-Karabakh would be an initial step towards a solution. “Everybody has got a right for home”, remarked German Member of Parliament and Vice-President of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly Doris Barnett. “There must to be arrangement with Armenia regarding the question how Azerbaijan interior refugees can return to their home”, as Barnett stressed.