The despicable terror inflicted by Hamas on Israel, the dramatic humanitarian situation in Gaza, the danger that this conflict will spread across the Middle East, Putin’s renewed attempt to weaponise the cold against the people in Ukraine as winter returns – all of this is creating a full-blown challenge for international crisis diplomacy.
At the same time, we must be very aware of the fact that other crises are simmering elsewhere in the world, in Europe’s neighbourhood. Many people in the Southern Caucasus fear that calm in the region will remain impossible after decades of hostilities and the most recent violent clashes.
Not two months ago, more than 100,000 children, women and men from Nagorno-Karabakh were so afraid that they saw no other option than to leave their home in search of safety. Armenia has done a tremendous amount to welcome the refugees. This is just the most recent chapter in the long tale of suffering endured by the people of the region, Armenians and Azerbaijanis. More than 30 years of conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh have left enormous wounds on both sides. Wounds that are incredibly deep – but that can one day heal.
At a time when the traumas of the past and the present are so keenly felt, what matters is for everyone who holds the keys to peace in their hands to cast aside their reticence and take the path of mutual trust. This is what I want to advocate in Armenia and Azerbaijan, this is what I want to embolden people to do, this is what Germany and the EU want to contribute to. We share the goal of a sustainable, peaceful and safe future for Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
With peace as the foundation – something that we in Germany and Europe are very fortunate to enjoy – it is also possible to achieve prosperity for all. The Southern Caucasus offers enormous opportunities to do so. We Europeans are ready and willing to assist the region on this path by offering tangible forms of support. The planned undersea communications cable that will cross the Black Sea as part of the EU’s Global Gateway will bring Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to one another and also to us. The European Investment Bank is prepared to cover almost half of the total costs of 45 million euro.
Together with the countries of the Southern Caucasus, we want to work towards a region that can break free of the shadows of the past and shape the future for the good of its people.