German Envoy Urges Cooperation Between Armenia, Azerbaijan


Noyan Tapan news agency
15 Apr 04


German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is to visit Armenia on 22
April within the framework of his regional visit.

In the run-up to the visit, the German ambassador extraordinary and
plenipotentiary to Armenia, Hans-Wolf Bartels, has agreed to give an
interview to Noyan Tapan news agency correspondent Susanna Petrosyan.

(Passage omitted: European officials visited Armenia recently)

(Correspondent) How do you assess the domestic political situation and
the human rights situation in Armenia?

(Bartels) As for the current developments, I hope that the opposition
and government will be able to return to a peaceful dialogue, for
state and political issues should be debated peacefully. Important
issues such as freedom of speech and movement can be included into the

(Passage omitted: Armenian parliament adopted laws in this regard)

(Correspondent) Germany comes second after the USA in terms of
investment in Armenia. What can you say about the current level of
Armenian-German economic relations and what prospects can you see in
the development of bilateral economic relations?

(Bartels) Yes, German is the second biggest investor in Armenia after
the USA. It must also be noted that the overall assistance provided by
EU member countries makes over half of the funds received by
Armenia. Germany is carrying out effective projects here such as the
Armenian-German Fund which issues loans to small and medium-sized
businesses through local banks. A total of 16m euros have been
allocated within the framework of the project, and this figure is

Unfortunately, German investment is not so big. A representative
office of the German Lycos information technologies company has been
operating in Armenia for one year already. The office employs 60-70
people and is planning to expand. I think it will be a good example
for other German investors.

(Correspondent) What hinders the inflow of German investment into
Armenia – laws or small market?

(Bartels) Both. Apart from this, it is difficult to export goods from
Armenia since transport costs through Georgia are high, and the route
through Iran is long. There are always problems with customs and
taxes, these are practical problems, and therefore, conditions for
investment are not quite favourable. Interestingly, the Armenian
diaspora is not investing much in Armenia either. Reasons are the
same, I understand.

(Correspondent) How important is the South Caucasus region from the
point of view of European security? The countries of the region are
members of the Council of Europe and it cannot be ruled out that the
three countries will be included into the Wider Europe – New
Neighbourhood initiative.

(Bartels) I think the region is of great importance to European
security. If something dangerous happens here, this will have a direct
impact on European security, and therefore much attention is being
paid to the South Caucasus. The appointment of a special
representative of the EU corroborates this policy. I do not doubt that
the region will be included into the Wider Europe – New Neighbourhood

The settlement of the Karabakh conflict is of great importance to
Armenia, and not only from the point of view of regional
security. Closed borders and the frozen, but still existing, conflict
hinders the country’s development. We hope very much that this problem
will be resolved in the near future.

I do not see good prospects for the region without regional
cooperation, which Armenia and Azerbaijan do not have. The Karabakh
conflict is not the only one here, there are very complicated
conflicts in Georgia.

It must be noted that we also had bitter conflicts back in Europe and
believed that the French and the German were permanent enemies. But
thank God, we managed to settle these conflicts and establish good
neighbourly relations. In the future, I hope, this will be possible
for Armenia and Azerbaijan as well.