Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace. View from Europe
About a month ago Baku hosted a conference with the participation of Armenian human rights activists and NGO leaders for the first time in the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The conference participants adopted an appeal to the Presidents and people of Azerbaijan and Armenia. On December 7, the "Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace" organization was established to institutionalize their activities and to continue the peacekeeping mission, the number of those wishing to join the initiative is growing every day.
"The establishment of the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace platform by the civil society of the two countries is an encouraging sign for the peace process in the South Caucasus", the Berlin political scientist, Heiko Langner, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, commented on the civic initiative "Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace", which is gaining momentum now.
According to the expert, the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be greatly facilitated if the Azerbaijani and Armenian people overcome the enemy perceptions of each other. "After the recent escalation this spring, which claimed hundreds of lives on both sides, it is important more than ever. Peace begins with reconciliation. The peacekeeping platform involves the victims of the conflict, including Armenians and Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh," Heiko Langner said.
"In this context, the political defamation of Armenian participants and participants of the peacekeeping platform and branding them as 'national traitors' by the de facto administration of Nagorno-Karabakh is a testament of the moral bankruptcy, since these people place the preservation of their power above the necessity of a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The detentions of the Armenian members of the peacekeeping platform - Lusine Nersisyan in Nagorno-Karabakh and the brother of the political activist Armen Virabyan in Armenia - indicate that the separatist regime and Armenia want to be not part of the solution, but part of the problem, and does not even shy away from detaining activists' family members," the German expert noted.
Heiko Langner believes that in both cases there is a serious suspicion of politically motivated detentions. "The alleged political prisoners must be immediately released. As long as Armenia continues the repression, the German Government as a member of the OSCE could raise the issue of financial assistance to Armenia in dependence on the position of peacemakers activists in this country in the future," Langner urges. "Thus, the peace process would get greater support. Also we should consider other promotional steps, such as the liberalization of the visa regime for citizens of Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to increase the interest of the conflicting parties in progress of the negotiations and make it difficult to sabotage peace efforts," the political scientist suggested.