Franz Josef Jung, "The atmosphere of tolerance in Azerbaijan should serve as an example for other countries in the region"

Franz Josef Jung, "The atmosphere of tolerance in Azerbaijan should serve as an example for other countries in the region"

The German parliamentary society functioning under the auspices of the German Bundestag held a symposium on the theme "Security and Stability in the South Caucasus. Prospects of Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Germany’, dedicated to the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy. The symposium was organized with the support of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Germany, the German-Azerbaijani forum of the German Atlantic Society, the Berlin Institute for European Studies of the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus, and the SOCAR office in Germany.

Addressing the forum, the chairman of the German-Azerbaijani Forum, Hans Eberhard Shlayer, noted that the conflicts in the former Soviet Union began with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He drew attention to the fact that the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories is a flagrant violation of international law. Shlayer noted that the task of the symposium, which is taking place for the fourth consecutive year, is to contribute to the settlement of the conflict.

Azerbaijani ambassador to Germany Parviz Shahbazov said that Azerbaijan, which is known for its tolerance and tradition of multiculturalism, where representatives of different religions and cultures have historically lived in peace and harmony, facing aggression from neighboring states, but the local population in Khojaly underwent a massacre. The diplomat noted that the visits by the President of Azerbaijan to Germany over the past two years contributed to the strengthening of the cooperation in the political sphere and in the development of economic relations. The ambassador said that although his country is suffering occupation, Azerbaijan has become a leading force in the region and has become a reliable partner, contributing to the realization of global projects and fruitful cooperation with many countries, including Germany.

Noting the successful development of relations in all spheres, especially between the governments and the parliaments of the two countries, a member of the Bundestag, the parliamentary leader of the ruling CDU/CSU on foreign policy issues, Franz Josef Jung, described the atmosphere of tolerance in Azerbaijan as an example for other countries in the region. Jung also praised the role of last year's meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President lham Aliyev in strengthening these relations. The MP called the killing of people in Khojaly a terrible tragedy.

The Deputy Minister of Defence of Germany, Ralph Brauksipe, called the tragedy in Khojaly an ‘open wound’ of the Azerbaijani people. He noted that Germany as the OSCE Chairman is trying to contribute to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the Minsk Group and the European Union. Stressing that a solution to the conflict is possible only on the basis of principles of international law, he said that the sustainable development of Azerbaijan makes it possible to resolve this conflict.

Panel discussions with the participation of deputies of Azerbaijan and Germany on a solution to the Nagorno l-Karabakh conflict started after the presentations. The Moderator was the well-known journalist and publicist Richard Kiesler. A member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the representative of the Social Democratic faction in the Bundestag on budgetary matters, Johannes Kars, said that Germany, while chairing the OSCE, should make every effort to activate all the parties involved in the conflict, and to try to contribute to the implementation of the UN resolutions on this issue.

A Bundestag deputy, the head of the German delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe, Axel Fischer, spoke about the inadmissibility of double standards in the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and criticized the OSCE Minsk Group, which sought to prevent the recent discussions on this issue in the Council of Europe.

An MP from the Left faction, André Hahn, emphasized that the West should not  repeat in Azerbaijan the errors that were made regarding Ukraine. He praised the development of Azerbaijan and called for an end to the double standards which Azerbaijan faces.

A member of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Bundestag on energy issues, Mark Hauptman, praised the desire of Azerbaijan, which is located in a difficult region, to cooperate with Europe and stressed that with this in mind the West must pay back in return.

In turn, a deputy of the Milli Majlis, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Sport and Youth Affairs, Fuad Muradov, said that the main purpose of the commemorative events dedicated to the Khojaly tragedy is not to instill a sense of revenge. On the contrary, their task is to prevent the recurrence of crimes against humanity. The MP thanked Germany for its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the resolution adopted by the Bundestag in 2009.

The head of the inter-parliamentary working group, Rovshan Rzayev, expressed on behalf of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh appreciation for the support of the German MPs, which they provide in the conflict.

Then there was a presentation of the book by Professor of the University of Siegen, Rudiger Kipke ‘The conflict in the South Caucasus is in the focus of Azerbaijani, Russian (Soviet) and Armenian interests’ and the head of the Institute of International Law for Peace and Military Conflicts University, Bochum Ruhr, Professor Hans Joachim Heintze ‘The territorial Integrity of the Countries: the Study of the Principle of International Law on the Example of the Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.’

A historian Rüdiger Kipke told about the resettlement policy of Armenians during the times of Tsarist Russia, mainly on the territory of the Irevan and Karabakh khanates, which eventually led to serious changes in the national composition of these areas. He also stressed that falsified facts can be seen in the history books that allegedly the Soviet Union took away Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia and gave it to Azerbaijan, but this is not true. The historian noted that in fact the decision of the Caucasian Bureau of the Communist Party was about keeping Nagorno-Karabakh within the Azerbaijan SSR.

An international law expert Hans Joachim Hayntze substantiated the impossibility of applying the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians with legal arguments. He explained that the Armenian people gained independence by creating an Armenian state. In this case, the Armenians living in Azerbaijan cannot legally fall under the concept of a people, and are considered as a minority and can enjoy the rights that the law intended for minorities.

The symposium was attended by senior officials from the government of Germany, the Bundestag and of the Milli Majlis, the German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ms. Heidrun Tempel, the representatives of public, political and cultural circles of Germany, the Azerbaijani diaspora and the media, as well as representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in Berlin.