Some forces in EU likely to stake in fueling Azerbaijani-Armenian strain - Latvia's former defense minister (Exclusive interview)

Politics Materials 15 February 2024 09:33 (UTC +04:00)
Some forces in EU likely to stake in fueling Azerbaijani-Armenian strain - Latvia's former defense minister (Exclusive interview)
Laman Zeynalova
Laman Zeynalova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, February 15. Some forces in the European Union (EU) may be interested in tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Artis Pabriks, former minister of defense and ex-minister of foreign affairs of Latvia, said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

He was referring to the latest clashes on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.

“I feel that there are parties on the other side of the border, and possibly also someplace internationally, who would be interested in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he said.

Pabriks believes that such provocations may be orchestrated by political organizations or a few European Union member countries seeking to ensure the EU mission's position in Armenia.

“I think there is somebody who wants to see that mission, this is not a European institution as such, but rather some political groups or maybe a few countries,” the former minister said.

Pabriks recalled that he was the first defense minister from the European Union and NATO who visited Karabakh two years ago.

“I witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by this long-running war in Azerbaijan. At present, Azerbaijan's sovereignty is totally restored. I'd like to congratulate Azerbaijan on the occasion of the restoration of sovereignty over the entire territory, which is a significant milestone. For the first time, presidential elections were held throughout Azerbaijan, including the liberated territories. I believe that a significant amount of investment will be required to economically reconstruct this region of Azerbaijan, because roads, buildings, and the return of people are all essential, as is demining the territory. It's a big task. I believe that all of this will be done,” he noted.

Pabriks hopes that after the war ends, there will also be a new opportunity to create more understanding and more rational and pragmatic relationships between all three countries of the South Caucasus.

He believes that after the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, there is a window of opportunity to normalize relations between Baku and Yerevan.

“That is something both sides should focus on. The conclusion of the frozen conflict has enormous importance since it eliminates the opportunity for exploitation by numerous groups that could capitalize on its unresolved condition,” added the former Latvian minister.

Latvia-Azerbaijani relations

Pabriks noted that the bilateral relationship between Azerbaijan and Latvia has always been friendly and positive.

“We have a small Azerbaijani community in Latvia as well, which is an integral part of our society. We see Azerbaijan as a political and economic ally. As a member of the European Union, Latvian representatives also try to increase the interaction and positive views about Azerbaijan in the EU. I think it is our duty to show in Brussels the importance of Azerbaijan’s role. And of course, we have always supported Azerbaijan's sovereign rights over its territories. We are looking to Azerbaijan not only as a bilateral partner but also as a partner with which we work within different international organizations. We have always looked to the South Caucasus region as something similar to the Baltic region,” he said.

The former minister noted that, in particular, Azerbaijan’s energy potential is highly important for the whole European continent.

“But Azerbaijan's position is important not only because of its energy but also because of its political stance. It is a stable country, which is also a bridge between different regions. Azerbaijan is treated as a very important country for the whole Transatlantic Alliance, which would include not only European countries but also North America. And from that perspective, Latvia encourages good relations between the European Union, its Western allies, and Azerbaijan. Because Azerbaijan enjoys stability and prosperity, it also has good relations with Central Asian countries, Türkiye and Israel. Azerbaijan has an extremely strategically important position,” he explained.

In this context, Pabriks noted that the decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) not to approve the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation was a very negative and wrong step.

“Unfortunately, we can see that politics is often decided by votes or power struggles rather than right and wrong. The Latvian government's and my own position on this decision were quite critical. However, we are aware that the European Union is made up of diverse countries and perspectives. Some countries exert influence over lawmakers who make decisions in this area. I believe it was the incorrect course of action. But I hope it will be reversed as soon as feasible,” he concluded.

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