For decades, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus has been a recurrent source of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the past weeks the conflict has escalated: since the end of September there has been a war.
Under international law, the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding provinces belong to Azerbaijan, but have been occupied by Armenia since 1994. The Republic of Arzach, proclaimed in this area and supported by Armenia, is not internationally recognized. Currently, Azerbaijani troops with Turkish political support are advancing and attacking the region including its capital Stepanakert.
According to media reports, attacks on civilians and civilian facilities are lamentable on both sides. Nonetheless, the conflict is receding into the background in European public opinion. The suffering of civil society is hardly reported.
In the context of our Discuss Europe Event on the 17th of November, we also want to give the people in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh a voice and therefore we have talked to people from the different regions about their current situation.
Today’s interview is with Rufat (27) works in Hamburg and did his Masters in European Studies. He grew up in Baku, in Aserbaidschan.
Questions by JEF NRW
To what extent are you or your family affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Rafael: Of course, Me and everybody else reacted very negatively and emotionally after the outbreak of the war. This war is not desired by the Azeris (Azerbaijanis) and the Armenian people, they have geopolitical goals from the leadership of the opposite side and Turkey, which want to spread their Islamic caliphate and this is a continuation of the genocide of 1915.
This war is not desired by the Azeris (Azerbaijanis) and the Armenian people, they have geopolitical goals from the leadership of the opposite side and Turkey.
I live in Yerevan, about 400 kilometers from the battles in the region. In spite of everything, every day you see Ambulances drive through the streets, many wounded are lying in the hospitals and you can constantly see wooden coffins of the fallen.
How do you deal with this war? What do you think about it?
Rafael: I am sad and angry about this war. It has already cost thousands of lives and is now destroying or traumatizing already several generations, since it will take years to approach each other again after a possible peace.
Do you have contacts with people in Azerbaijan? Has anything changed since the last outbreak of the conflict?
Rafael: Unfortunately I have no more contacts. I myself was born in the 50s in Gjandja – formerly Kirovabad, belonging to Azerbaijan. At that time both Azerbaijan and Armenia were still part of the Soviet Union. Since 1989 I have unfortunately no more contacts in the region.
Do you see possibilities for a peaceful conflict resolution? How could this look like?
Rafael: The only solution to achieve peace – or at least a ceasefire, which lasted from 1994 to this year – can only be achieved by worldwide pressure from Europeans, Americans and Russian pressure on Turkey. Otherwise, many thousands more people will continue to die. Let us continue to send prayers to the dear God, so that one day this horror will finally end.
What do you hope for from the European Union to solve this conflict?
Rafael: First, I hope that the European Union will condemn Turkish politics and its warmongering in the strongest possible terms. They should withdraw their military advisor and mercenaries from Nagorno-Karabakh. Furthermore, Germany and the other European countries must use their veto to sell weapons to Turkey.
I hope that the European Union will condemn Turkish politics and its warmongering in the strongest possible terms. They should withdraw their military advisor and mercenaries from Nagorno-Karabakh.
At the moment, however, one can see that many EU countries are busy with themselves and therefore do not take a clear position against Turkey. But one should not forget that for example the Turkish lobby in Germany is very strong, understandable with 4 million German Turks, and Germany therefore does not want to take an aggressive tone.