German FM backs stability in strife-torn Caucasus region

Agence France Presse
April 21, 2004 Wednesday 8:06 AM Eastern Time

German FM backs stability in strife-torn Caucasus region

BAKU, April 21

Germany Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said on a visit to the
former republic of Azerbaijan on Wednesday that the European Union
was committed to helping the volatile Caucasus region achieve

Fischer, who had arrived in Azerbaijan from a trip to Afghanistan,
was speaking at the start of a tour of the region which will also
take in the neighbouring states of Georgia and Armenia.

“I told my colleague that we are interested in stability in the
region and the European Union is ready to do everything in this
regard,” the German foreign minister, speaking through an
interpreter, told reporters after talks with his Azeri counterpart
Elmar Mamedyarov.

He said Germany was keen to see an end to the long-running conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of

The row is seen as a major source of instability in the region, which
is becoming a strategic crossroads for oil exports from the Caspian
Sea to Western markets.

“We discussed the conflict and reached the conclusion that the two
sides should make steps toward one another, with the support of the
international community,” Fischer said. “We want the conflict to be
resolved as quickly as possible.”

Commenting on Azerbaijan’s human rights record, which has drawn
criticism from the international community, Fischer said he welcomed
the recent release from jail of a number of alleged political
prisoners. “I think it should be extended to all other political
prisoners,” he added.

Fischer was due to meet Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev later
Wednesday. On Thursday morning he is scheduled to travel to Armenia.
The following day he is due in Georgia, from where he will return to