British parliamentary: “The territories occupied by Armenia should be freed” – INTERVIEW

_: Christopher Pincher: “Nagorno Karabakh does not exist like independent state, so it can’t hold fair and proper elections”

Baku: Victoria Dementieva ; The interview of Head of UK-Azerbaijan Inter-Parliamentary Working Group Christopher Pincher to APA

– How did your visit to Azerbaijan go? What issues were discussed during the meeting?

– We are part of Parliamentary group for Azerbaijan, member of Parliament in the UK had an interesting visit to Azerbaijan . Within 3 days we could visit Baku and Gabala and had meetings with British Ambassador to Azerbaijan, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Chief Executive of SOCAR, OSCE office and EU mission to Azerbaijan.

In Gabala we visited piano factory, the “Jala” juice production plant and also Olympic Sport complex in Azerbaijan. It was very packed program, which The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) organized for us and much attention was paid to the details.

I enjoyed Azerbaijan. It has tolerant, respectful and secular society. And it is rather unique I think. We could visit church, Jewish synagogue. And it absolutely shows the respect for all the communities, all religions here.

The regional issues, Nagorno-Karabakh were among the issues we discussed. We visited the people, who have been displaced, and went to one IDP camp in Gabala during our visit. They must be allowed to return their home. The territories occupied by Armenia should be freed and the army should be withdrawn.

– You touched on Nagorno Karabakh conflict. What is your opinion on the so called ‘elections’ in Nagorno-Karabakh held on July 19?

– Nagorno Karabakh does not exist like independent state. So it can’t hold fair and proper elections when people who should have been living there have been all number exclusively displaced, so it can not be a proper elections.

– Recently the EU reiterates to be more active in Nagorno-Karabakh resolution by facilitating the confidence building measures. How the UK can assist in this process?

– The Great Britain supports the OSCE Minsk Group’s activity. The British Parliament and British government can make it quite clear to all international organizations and Armenia that it supports the rights of the people who have been displaced from their home.

– Are the citizens of the Great Britain aware about the conflict or not so much?

– It becomes more because of TEAS activity for few years. But it is truth to say that Armenia because of its Diaspora around the world has got a lead in bringing its case and Azerbaijan should bring its case about its rights in frames to Nagorno Karabakh. I think the British public is hazily aware on the situation.

– How do you estimate the inter-parliamentary cooperation between the UK and Azerbaijan?

– We have friendly relationship with UK-Azerbaijan parliamentary relations working group. Certainly, my experience through these 3-4 years I first visited Azerbaijan, this is my third visit to your country, we have always been welcomed by Azerbaijani parliamentarians and our good relationship continues.

– Do you have any common projects?

– We hope that Milli Mejlis members will come to London in the next 12 months. We will meet parliamentarians and hope to discuss the future cooperation. And I think the TEAS also organized a number of debates that British parliamentaries have attended.

Also in Britain we have a concept of twinning. Our towns twin with other towns of the world to strengthen friendship. Twin towns realize school visits which is very good educational facility. As a result of going to Gabala today I am going to looking to possibility of twinning my own town Tamworth twin with Gabala. So young children of Tamworth could visit Gabala and vice versa. It is not my decision to make but I will propose it to the Mayor and local council.

-The energy sector is one of the main cooperation spheres between the two countries. How do you see the perspectives of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the UK?

Energy is an important issue in Britain. We have to be sure that we have secure supply of energy and diversified it. It is even more important in the Eastern Europe especially which rely heavily on Russia –it is important for them to diversify their supplies. So we very much support what have been done in Azerbaijan to get more pipelines to get gas into Europe. We have big interest in Azerbaijan. There are 5 thousand BP employees living and working in Azerbaijan. So we have very good energy relationship. But I think it is important to Azerbaijan to develops its beyond hydrocarbons and what it is trying to do by growing in non-energy products.
And I think Britain can help in areas such designing, construction, IT, telecoms and also in banking.

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