Conflicts: Baerbock in Baku: Crisis mission in the Caucasus

Conflicts: Baerbock in Baku: Crisis mission in the Caucasus

The wars in Israel and Ukraine determine the German Foreign Minister’s calendar. She takes two days to explore another region where a wildfire is imminent.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is counting on a rapid continuation of the peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia through the mediation of EU Council President Charles Michel.

“In the entire region, people hope for peace. This requires the willingness to regulate a new way of coexistence for the benefit of all Azerbaijanis and Armenians,” said the Green politician after a conversation with her Azerbaijani colleague Jeyhun Bayramov in the capital Baku. This is the only way to achieve sustainable peace. This is also in Azerbaijan’s interest.

Baerbock offered Azerbaijan German support in clearing mines. “Three decades of conflict have literally turned Karabakh and surrounding provinces into a dangerous minefield.”

Bayramov appeared open to continuing peace talks with Armenia, but accused Yerevan of illegal territorial claims. According to the official translation, he said they were ready to continue the dialogue. Formats and locations of the negotiations are secondary. In addition to the EU-mediated negotiations, Iran and Turkey are offering themselves as mediators.

However, Baerbock expressed her concern – without naming Iran – as to whether “some actors would act as honest brokers in the interests of both countries”. Against the background of talks about the return of the more than 100,000 people who fled Nagorno-Karabakh, the Federal Foreign Minister said: “Trust and confidence are of course crucial for this.” You have to be realistic here. “It will take time to rebuild exactly this trust.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is located on Azerbaijani territory, but was inhabited by a majority of Armenians. The area broke away from Baku in the 1990s in a bloody civil war with the help of Yerevan. The Azerbaijani army forced the surrender of the local army in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19. More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians have fled the region.

Baerbock in the four-country triangle Armenia-Azerbaijan-Iran-Türkiye

Before Baku, Baerbock had already visited Armenia since Friday. On Saturday morning, she found out about the tense situation at Armenia’s border with the autonomous Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan during a control trip by the civilian EU mission EUMA. Baerbock stood in the middle of the four-country triangle between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Ararat, Turkey’s highest mountain, is very close there, covered in snow, an almost idyllic scene. But things are boiling in the region. Tehran and Ankara are trying to increase their influence on the ex-Soviet republics.

A good 70 kilometers from the Armenian capital, Yerevan, an employee of the Foreign Minister’s mission described that as recently as mid-June, two workers in a steelworks were injured during shelling by Azerbaijani snipers.

Azerbaijan exclave Nakhichevan

Nakhichevan has a population of around 400,000 and borders Armenia, Iran and Turkey. Azerbaijan has long pushed for road and rail connectivity to its enclave. At the beginning of October, the authoritarian country concluded an agreement with Iran on a transport connection across Iranian territory.

Baerbock offers more commitment to the EU mission EUMA

EUMA is monitoring the security situation along the Armenian side of the border. The mission began its work at the end of February and around 85 employees from 22 EU countries were deployed in mid-September. Germany currently has the largest contingent with 16 members and a federal police officer as mission leader.

In the refugee center for people from Nagorno-Karabakh

Baerbock later spoke to refugees from the crisis region of Nagorno-Karabakh in a reception center. Anjelika Stepanyan, 31, fled Nagorno-Karabakh. She shares a sparse room with two other adults and three children. Journalists asked her what expectations she had for a peace process between Yerevan and Baku. The woman replies bitterly that she doesn’t want to mention the word Azerbaijan. She fled out of fear of the Azerbaijanis and had to leave almost everything behind – but now she feels safe.

Deep divides between Yerevan and Baku

How deep the rifts are between Armenia and Azerbaijan is also shown when Baerbock flies from Yerevan to Baku. Instead of flying directly to the city of 2.2 million people on the Caspian Sea, your government Airbus has to make a loop over Georgia. Flying directly across the border is taboo.

Source: Stern

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