Germany on Karabakh: Answers to parliamentary request
Vestnik Kavkaza received the German government's replies to the small parliamentary request of the 'Left' faction regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the role of Germany in its resolution under the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2016. The German government notes that the de-escalation of the situation on contact line between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops remains a priority task during Germany's chairmanship of the OSCE. Thus, the federal government supports the initiative of the OSCE Minsk Group on the development of mechanisms to investigate cases of violations of the ceasefire regime. Official Berlin will use bilateral channels of communication with Armenia and Azerbaijan to motivate them to make greater efforts to resolve the conflict. The German government is in constant working contact with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as holding informal discussions on individual cases with them. Germany also regularly contacts and exchanges views with the OSCE special representative on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Andrzej Kasprzyk. In the year of its chairmanship of the OSCE, the German government plans to intensify the practice of inviting the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to the capitals of the Minsk Group member states, to conduct consultation negotiations in the course of settlement of the conflict with them. As chairman of the OSCE, Germany is also holding talks with the sides of the conflict in order for them to take concrete steps on de-escalation.
The German government notes that in 2014 and 2015, an increase of armed incidents in comparison with previous years is observed. "The state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not clearly defined locally, making it difficult to accurately assess such incidents. According to sides of the conflict, the number of border and front line crossings by small combat groups has also increased."
The replies of the German government also note that cooperation at the level of civil societies of the two countries was complicated due to the worsening of the situation on the front. "We cannot exclude the fact that the representatives of civil society, who are standing for the reconciliation of the peoples and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, can cause a hostile reaction by their actions. For this reason, the German government will not specify the names of NGOs that are active in this field." In 2015, with the financial support of Germany, three projects were carried out, fully or partially aimed at the participation of civil society in the conflict settlement, worth more than 160 thousand euros. In addition, in 2014, on the line of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), scholarships for 62 Armenian and 148 Azerbaijani students were allocated. Within the DAAD's events, regular meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani students are held.
In response to a question about the participation of the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh in the process of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, the federal government noted that "sustainable settlement of the conflict can be achieved only in the case of overcoming the discord and mistrust between the populations, which arose over the years. Direct contacts between people can serve this purpose. In this respect, the German government is prepared to push and support relevant initiatives. The establishment of direct contacts between people also implies non-resistance to this by sides of the conflict."
Despite the criticism, expressed by the government of Azerbaijan against OSCE Minsk Group due to the absence of progress in the negotiations, the Azerbaijani side continues to adhere to the Minsk Group format. At the same time, Azerbaijan supports a more active role of all three co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group. The Azerbaijani side is open for suggestions, including of the Russian Federation, which would contribute to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
In its reply to a parliamentary request, the German government has once again completely disavowed the Armenian side's attempts to portray the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh as a successful 'state'. According to the German government, regular troops of the Republic of Armenia amount to about one third of all 23 thousand soldiers of the 'self-defense forces' of the unrecognized 'Nagorno-Karabakh Republic'. Conscripts liable for military service, who, in turn, are recruited in Armenia, make up the overwhelming part of the 'self-defense forces'.
In response to the request of the 'Left' faction regarding the attitude of the German government to parliamentary elections, held in Nagorno-Karabakh, the already known position was confirmed: "Germany does not recognize the so-called 'Nagorno Karabakh Republic' or the 'election' held by it."