Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-01-16-Speech-3-433"

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"Madam President, we cannot discuss the South Caucasus without thinking of our former fellow Member Ursula Schleicher, who cared about this region in a special way and to whom we are grateful for the fact that the colonialist expression ‘Transcaucasus’ has been replaced by the term ‘South Caucasus’. The region comprises three very different countries with ancient cultures, which have nevertheless suffered in the recent past under colonialism and neo-colonialism. We must therefore approach this region with great sensitivity. Armenians in Western Armenia were victims of genocide, which means that even today, Turkey thinks of the Armenia of today – that is, Eastern Armenia – in terms of an unacceptable blockade. Georgia was a colony of Russia and the Soviet Union in a particular way, which means that today separatist powers in Georgia are still being used and abused by Moscow in order to destabilise this country. Azerbaijan is in a similar situation. For all these reasons, we in the European Union must have a strong role in this region, as this was once a region where, for once, it was not us Europeans who were spearheading misguided developments, but others. We therefore have a unique opportunity to mediate, democratise and stabilise here and we must reconcile conflicting principles and interests. These naturally include stable borders, but also the peoples’ right of self-determination. We have to support the rights of minorities to the fullest extent possible, but at the same time prevent destructive separatism. We have to preserve commodity interests and geopolitical interests, but at the same time we must see that these are not colonies, but partners, with their own interests and their own dignity and deserve to have their dignity acknowledged at last. Therefore, the Polfer report does justice to this difficult challenge in a distinguished manner and I also thank the Commissioner for the enormous effort she is making on behalf of this region."@en1

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