Bundestag deputy Helin Evrim Sommer: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved on basis of UN Security Council resolutions and Madrid principles
German student portal Alumniportal Aserbaidschan, which covers political, economic, social, cultural and scientific events related to Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani-German relations, has published an interview with Bundestag deputy Helin Evrim Sommer. During the interview, Ms. Sommer, among other things, spoke about her attitude to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as her visit to Azerbaijan last year. Vestnik Kavkaza offers to the readers a translation of her answers on this topic.
- Until the end of the 1980s, up to 50,000 Kurds lived west of Azerbaijan's Nagorny Karabakh region (on the border with Armenia). During the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories, Armenian troops expelled all Kurds from their hometowns, forcing them to live as internally displaced persons in refugee camps in Azerbaijan. What can you say about it?
- I am probably the only member of the Bundestag who also has "the refugee experience." Therefore, I know from personal experience what a blow is an exile and escape for the victims. Although I am of Kurdish origin, but I remain committed to protecting the rights of all people, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation. Being a German politician, I see my role in supporting a peaceful resolution of the conflict, including in the case of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a full member of the Left party in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and deputy chairman of the Bundestag's Germany-South Caucasus Parliamentary Friendship Group, I try to work in that spirit and, despite unfavorable circumstances, encourage discussions between conflicting parties and directly affected civil societies of both countries. Ultimately, however, a solution to the conflict must be found by the conflicting parties themselves. I do not consider myself to be a party to the conflict and will not be influenced by the possible resolution of regional conflicts. There are several UN resolutions and the so-called 'Madrid Basic Principles' for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which contain a phased plan for a peaceful settlement and should be implemented by the conflicting parties. The plan includes, inter alia, de-occupying the occupied territories and returning all the refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of original residence, including the Kurdish population in the Lachin region, which forms a corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Do you have a personal or professional connection with Azerbaijan? What do you think about this country?
- Last year, I accompanied the chancellor on her trip to the South Caucasus with a delegation of all parliamentary groups. We met with the heads of state and government of the three countries and held high-level talks with various partners. At the same time, I was able to get an idea of the people's daily life there. On the one hand, there are similarities, but still differences between the three countries are great. I noticed that Azerbaijan's economic situation is better, and its population's standard of living is higher than in the other two South Caucasian republics. In addition, I saw many things which I already knew from Turkish culture, although of national specifics. This applies to architecture, mentality and even cuisine. Russian and Persian influences play a large role, which is explained by the country's history. The treatment of religious minorities in Azerbaijan is much more tolerant and progressive than in Turkey. Being a German deputy of Kurdish origin, as well as having Alevi religious origin, I was welcomed very hospitably and friendly in Azerbaijan. This is a clear difference, you see it right away. Unfortunately, our visit to the country was short. Therefore, I hope that I will have another opportunity to go there.