‘I decided to raise my voice in favor of Armenia in order for the justice to be restored’ - MEP
YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 11, ARMENPRESS. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict will get a lasting solution only when all concerned sides, by putting aside their disagreements and emotions, gather around a table and try to reach an agreement, Member of the European Parliament Lars Patrick Berg said in an interview to ARMENPRESS, expressing hope that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship format will again be activated, and the European Union will be more actively engaged in the conflict’s settlement process.
-Mr. Berg, over the past one year active processes are taking place in and around the South Caucasus, mainly conditioned by the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war, new initiatives are being put forward which, according to some experts, could change the balance of power in the region or in other words lead to the creation of a new status quo in the region. And not only the countries of the region, but also the influential role players close to the region – Russia, Iran and Turkey, play an active role in these processes. What is the position of Germany as a member of the Minsk Group on the ongoing developments?
-I, of course, cannot speak on behalf of the German federal government, I am a member of the European Parliament, one of the 705 MEPs. Unfortunately, I am also not a foreign minister or head of state. In reality, yes, changes in the balance of power are taking place in the region. I just regret that in the past the European Union has not made active efforts on this direction. Recently the President of the European Commission said that the European Union must play an active role on the matters of this region. The problem is that the situation in this region is very complex, and it’s impossible to give a solution to the conflict in several days, and as politicians we must assess the situation correctly, not to run for our wishes.
Armenia is a country whose opportunities both in the East and West are very compressed, it can neither spread into the East nor the West. In line with this, of course, it’s important that people in Artsakh have an opportunity to live in peace and stability. I think and this is not something new that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship must again get activated so that the EU will have a chance to be more actively engaged in these processes and also to participate in the creation of new formats, including engaging the major role players you said, in the person of Russia, Turkey and Iran. My wish as an MEP is to raise my voice and give it in favor of the final settlement of the conflict.
-I know that you have visited Artsakh for several times and have supported a lot the Artsakh-Armenians’ fight for their freedom and right to self-determination. Did you visit there this time? How do you imagine the overcoming of the war consequences and Artsakh’s recovery from all the wounds it received?
-I would gladly visit Artsakh this time, but the latest incidents have created such a situation that my visit there could have a provocative nature. Although I know many politicians in Artsakh who both have responsibility and are active. I visited Artsakh in 2017, many visited with me, and currently we are involved in the “black list” of another country, and visiting Artsakh now is quite a sensitive issue.
In Artsakh I met with the former president Bako Sahakyan, former foreign minister Masis Mayilyan. In any case, I think that this conflict can have a solution if all concerned sides gather around a negotiation table and as politicians and decision-makers be able to put aside their disagreements, emotions and try to find the best solution to the issue.
-The most painful and urgent issue is that relating to the Armenian prisoners of war. Despite the requirements of the 2020 November 9 trilateral statement and the Geneva Convention, Azerbaijan still refuses to return all Armenian POWs.
-Of course, this is a very important issue, and the captivity of civilians first of all, as well as the representatives of regular army and the conditions which are not being observed, contradict to all international agreements, including the Geneva Convention. We had a chance to visit the pantheon of national heroes of Armenia, the Yerablur, from where we returned with great emotional impressions, and taking into account these moods, I think that the persons who keep the prisoners of war in detention, must quickly release them for the sake of peace and stability. There had been so many losses in that terrible war, so many people had been killed that it could be a big obstacle for the establishment of lasting peace in the region.
-In your opinion, what political, legal or other tools exist in European structures, the European parliament in particular for exerting pressure on Azerbaijan to return the Armenian captives? The next important issue is the destruction of the Armenian historical-cultural heritage in the occupied territories of Artsakh. What could be done to prevent this?
-Very good question. But I want to say that, unfortunately, we do not have other tools than words. However, the European Union is a large trading partner, and if we manage to introduce this idea in all member states that there could be such developments, than a lot of success can be achieved, but if they say every time that “we must close an eye for the sake of gas and oil”, people would not go beyond the words.
After the war I wrote a letter to the UNESCO Director General, asking to do what depends on their organization to prevent the damage to the Armenian cultural heritage in that territories. Such attitude against the cultural heritage of any people does not bring honor to those people who do that, and this must be viewed within a global perspective. But as of now I don’t know whether UNESCO sent a respective mission to Artsakh for examining the issues of preserving of the cultural heritage or not. Several months ago we had such hearings in the European Parliament with the participation of UNESCO, but until that moment no mission from UNESCO has visited Artsakh for security reasons.
And that hatred which exists and continues today, leads to further hatred and hostility. Therefore, it’s necessary to stop it with more serious, capable forces and take deeper steps towards reconciliation which would eliminate that feeling of hatred and would not allow its spread among the future generations.
We must take into consideration that this conflict would hardly have a quick solution in the short-run, as it requires a lasting solution, but such a solution is needed which would satisfy all sides.
Many in the European Parliament ask me “why you adopt such a position, because the result is that we cannot do anything there from here, and instead you get insults from Azerbaijanis and Turks under your posts on Facebook”. I tell them that the title of the politician is such that he must raise his voice in favor of the solution of any issue and any positive result. The other politicians raise their voices for another country, and I would like to raise my voice in favor of Armenia.
-Probably you do that based on the aspiration to fight for justice, the humanitarian principles?
-Firstly, I want to tell you that 5 years ago I even didn’t know where Armenia is, but when I saw that there are countries, which by using the tools of the current realities, such as lobbying, etc, conduct very active works in their favor, I decided to raise my voice in favor of Armenia in order for the justice to be restored. Eventually, there are countries which do not have that financial capacities.
Summing up my remarks, I would like to state that I arrived in your country as a guest and being aware of this country’s developments, in any case I must try to express as much balanced position as possible, but of course not forgetting about the incidents that have taken place.
Interview by Aram Sargsyan
Editing and Translating by Aneta Harutyunyan