Sonneborn: “The international community must decide if it wants to act on values or energy interests”

Sonneborn: “The international community must decide if it wants to act on values or energy interests”
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EU stance toward Nagorno-Karabakh contributes to current situation.

Martin Sonneborn – German Member of the European Parliament

Interview by Lilit Gasparyan

For almost a month, the Lachin Corridor, the only connection of the people of Artsakh with the outside world, has been blocked by Azerbaijan. The European Union is strongly concerned about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Beyond the concerns, what specific steps should the EU take to open the corridor?

I am glad to see that the EU is concerned. But the EU is part of the problem and not the solution. By signing the memorandum of understanding about gas deliveries, Ursula von der Leyen created a dependency that now clearly limits the European possibilities to react to Azerbaijan's unacceptable behavior. I am concerned about Toivo Klaar's whereabouts. He is the European Union's Special Representative for the South Caucasus but failed to comment on the corridor's blockade. I hope he is well or at least better than the 20,000 kids currently left without food and medicine in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The statement of the European Commission highlights that "concerns can and should be addressed through dialogue and consultations with the parties involved." The situation shows that for Azerbaijan, dialogue is not the way to resolve the problems. Do you think one reason for Azerbaijan's steps is the inadequate reaction from the EU, which is limited to declarations of concern without any follow up with concrete steps?

Azerbaijan's only choice of interaction is by force. By starting the 2020 Karabakh war, violating the ceasefire agreement many times, and by invading Armenia proper in September 2022, the dictatorship made clear that it would use military force whenever it wanted to. The European Union and its member states accept that and thereby support Azerbaijan's violent agenda. While the German's government official policy is that Azerbaijan must not have any benefits from the use of military force, the German Ambassador recently visited Shushi. The visit openly endorsed Azerbaijan's aggressive policy.

Recently when Azerbaijan was applying its Armenophobic policies, trying to cleanse native Armenians of Artsakh, the European Commission President von der Leyen was posing with Aliyev in Hungary signing the gas deals. How do you explain this situation, double standards, or disrespect of own values?

Ursula von der Leyen has no moral principles. She does not care about people's fate.

During this year the EP adopted several resolutions and strongly condemned Azerbaijan's continued policy of erasing and denying the Armenian cultural heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, in violation of international law and the recent decision of the ICJ. Why are these resolutions important and at the same time why do they not have visible influence on Azerbaijan? Is it due to European soft politics towards Azerbaijan or lack of punishment of Azerbaijan by the international community?

There is a lack of punishment. Azerbaijan has been destroying Armenian cultural heritage for many years. The most prominent example is how they almost entirely eliminated any Armenian traces in Nakhichevan. In addition, satellite images prove that Azerbaijan destroyed an Armenian church in Nagorno-Karabakh after the ICJ requested Azerbaijan to protect such sites. If the ICJ wants to be taken seriously in the future, it now must forward the case to the UN Security Council since the ICJ cannot implement its order in any other way. At the same time, the international community must decide if it wants to act on values or energy interests. If it is the latter, they should at least stop pretending that human rights and dignity are of any importance.

High Representative Borrell announced that the mission of the EU monitoring delegation will not be extended, how and where do you see the main reason for stopping it? Could there be other similar missions?

The monitoring mission was an important step. The European Union is supporting Azerbaijan, although it is publicly known that Azerbaijan recently started two wars of aggression which involved numerous war crimes, like inter alia executions and beheadings of prisoners of war and civilians. If the European Union decides to support this agenda politically and financially, it should at least take measures to prevent Azerbaijan from expanding its brutal agenda. There should be a new monitoring mission without any delay.

And last but not least, in 2016, the German parliament adopted a resolution recognizing the fact of the Armenian Genocide, accepting the negative role Germany had played at the time of the Genocide as the ally of Turkey, as well as launching several initiatives "in order to achieve rapprochement, reconciliation and a forgiveness of historical guilt between Turks and Armenians." What steps have the Bundestag or the government of Germany taken since 2016?

The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, denies the Armenian Genocide. That such a person can become head of state shows everything you have to know about the German commitment towards the Armenians. For Germany, the relationship with Turkey is a priority. Unfortunately, I doubt that it will change in the future.