Hoffmann hopes German foreign policy in the South Caucasus to be value-based

 17:57, 2 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 2, ARMENPRESS.  Dustin Hoffmann, a German human rights activist , the head of the office and political adviser to German MEP Martin Sonneborn, believes that the European Union has a huge responsibility to support Armenia. He noted with satisfaction that France acted in that regard and helped Armenia in developing its defense capabilities, expressing hope that Germany, which for many years has conditioned its policy in the South Caucasus based on economic interests, will also change its approach.

Dustin Hoffman said  in an interview with Armenpress Brussels correspondent.  

“With Armenia moving away from Russia, the EU has a huge responsibility to support Armenia. It is good to see that France acted further by helping Armenia with what it needed: defense capabilities. I very much hope that Germany will also change its policy regarding the South Caucasus. Due to Germany’s contribution to the Armenian Genocide in 1915, there is a strong moral responsibility to prevent any further escalation. It is important to note that all the failures in the past should not stop the German government from changing its course. Better late than never,” he said.

Referring to the main purpose of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s visit to Armenia, Hoffmann said that in the past, Germany’s foreign policy in the South Caucasus was mainly to Azerbaijan’s benefit.

 “Although Azerbaijan was frequently using military force, Germany deepened the economic relationship with the regime in Baku.  Now when there is a risk of a regional conflict which could involve neighboring states like Iran and Turkey, such an escalation would not be in Germany’s interest because it jeopardizes the region’s stability. Also, Armenia started to move away from its partnership with Russia. Given the West’s current stance towards Russia, there is a strong interest in supporting such developments,’’ said Hoffmann.

Responding to the question about the place of Armenia and the developments in Nagorno-Karabakh in the political agenda of Germany's foreign relations, Hoffmann answered: “In the past, German foreign policy in the South Caucasus was not value-based but instead prioritised economic interests. Also, it seems like there is a lack of understanding of the conflict’s dynamics. Ms Baerbock did not comment on Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh for months, and when she did, it was already too late.’’ 

He also criticized the German Foreign Minister for his speech at the UN Security Council after Azerbaijan’s assault in September when she said that, Baku and Karabakh Armenians have to return to a dialogue”.

According to Hoffmann, such a statement was inappropriate after such a brutal attack by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh.

Speaking about the possibility of the EU imposing sanctions on Azerbaijan, Hoffmann said: “Currently, sanctions are unrealistic because there is no unanimity in the EU. Borrell’s statement of condemnation after Azerbaijan’s aggression was supposed to be a statement of 27 EU member states, which Hungary consequently vetoed. If the EU is not able to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggressions, it is doubtful that there will be consensus on sanctions. This is tragic, especially since the European Parliament already called for sanctions months ago. It is possible that more pressure would have prevented Azerbaijan from resorting to military force. Impunity encourages Baku.’’

 He also stated that the EU's foreign policy related to the South Caucasus has failed: “The EU’s foreign policy regarding the South Caucasus is a major failure. In the recent resolution, the European Parliament expressed it in an unusually blunt way: "The European Parliament expresses deep dissatisfaction at the fact that regular alerts by Parliament regarding the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the risks of a catastrophic outcome have been disregarded,’’he said.

Hoffmann also criticized the European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the signed memorandum on increasing gas supplies from Azerbaijan, although Aliyev’s fondness for military force was not a secret.

Hoffman positively assessed the activity of the EU observation mission in Armenia.

“The EU Monitoring Mission seems to be a success since it can have a deterrent effect and enables accountability for the EU leadership,’’ Hoffmann said.

  Lilit Gasparyan