On 1st of December 2015 Berlin hosted an evening of German-Azerbaijani friendship, organized by the Azerbaijan Student Network with the support of Deutsche Gesellschaft and the Azerbaijani embassy in Germany. Members of the Bundestag, employees, diplomats, policy experts and academics, discussed various aspects of bilateral relations: from history and culture to the economy and foreign policy.
The topic of this event were the centuries-old and highly varied traditions of the harmonious German-Azerbaijani relations. Between XIX and XX century lots of Germans fled from Wurttemberg to South Caucasus and settled down. During the First World War the situation of Germans in the South-Caucasus region got worse, so they were driven out by the Russians to Siberia despite of the Azerbaijani protests against it.
Dr. Andreas Apelt, Deutsche Gesellschaft welcomed the participants and opened the event.
Parviz Shahbazov, the Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan, stressed out in his introduction speech the importance of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Germany, considering the intercultural exchange as well as the economic partnerships.
Hanns-Eberhard-Schleyer, chairman of the Board of the German-Azerbaijani Forum, explained the role of the Forum as one key point in the relationships between these two countries.
Ibrahim Ahmadov, Chief Executive of the Azerbaijan Student Network, emphasised that these two cultures have common values, as Azerbaijan is a country where women were given the right to vote earlier than in many European countries, for example, France, Italy and Germany. There was no transfer of European values to Azerbaijan. These values are Azerbaijani values linked to its cultural and historical experience. In this regard, Azerbaijan and Europe share common values, which are the solid foundation for close cooperation.
Moreover, Prof. Dr. Eva-Maria Auch, Chair of the History of Azerbaijan at the Humboldt University in Berlin, held a keynote speech about the historical development of the Swabian life in South Caucasus. She underlined the respect and tolerance with which the Germans were welcomed and pointed out that interreligious and intercultural exchange was nothing new to the Azerbaijani people. In addition,she emphasised that the German heritage is most preserved in Azerbaijan in the whole Region.
During the panel discussion the future of the German-Azerbaijani Relations was discussed considering the historical background.
Tabea Rößner, Member of the German Parliament (Bündnis 90/ die Grünen), was visiting Göygöl, former Helenendorf, in Azerbaijan this year. According to her, she was positively surprised by the manner the German and Azerbaijani people were living together, so she was able to learn a lot about her own culture as well.
Gunther Krichbaum, Member of the German Parliament (CDU/CSU Fraction), stressed out the strategic role Azerbaijan has for Germany and the EU. Charles M. Huber, Member of the German Parliament (CDU/CSU Fraction), underlined Azerbaijan´s important role in the diversification process of the European energy supply and noted that the economic cooperation between Germany and Azerbaijan can bring mutual benefit.Gunther Krichbaum
Gunther Krichbaum, addressed the issue of the still on-going Nagorno-Karabach conflict pointing out that Armenia is contrary to international law occupying Nagorno-Karabach and 7 provinces, a territory which is legally part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He also mentions the problem of refugees, who had to flee from their homes during the Nagorno-Karabach occupation, and still cannot return.
Additionally, His Excellency the Ambassador Shahbazovasked an important question referring to double standards Europe is applying. While there were sanctions against Russia in the case of the Crimea crisis almost immediately after the conflict escalated, there is no single sanction against Armenia. His Excellency also expressed his wishes in this regard, considering the fact that Germany will take over the Presidency of the OSCE and hopefully will do more to dissolve this conflict.
At the end the participants could enjoy delicious food and wine from Azerbaijan while continuing the discussion and taking a look at the photo exhibition. This event proved again that Germany and Azerbaijan have a common history which is the mail stone for a common future.