MUNICH, Germany (RFE/RL) — A minor kerfuffle broke out between Armenia’s president and an Azerbaijani diplomat during a panel discussion at a high-profile security conference in Germany on February 17 as the two men traded accusations over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The sharp words came during a Munich Security Conference event focusing on nations “in-between Russia and Europe” that featured Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip, EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, and Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachyov.
When the panel moved to questions from the audience, a first secretary at the Azerbaijani Embassy in Berlin suggested to Sargsyan that Armenia could have played a role in regional energy and transport projects if not for the standoff over Nagorno-Karabakh.
“If there was no policy of ethnic cleansing of Armenia against Azerbaijan, then probably today, Armenia could have benefitted from those projects,” said the diplomat, Sadi Jafarov, invoking an accusation that Baku frequently levels at Yerevan.
Jafarov also denounced what he called the “occupation” of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia. As Jafarov packed both commentary and questions into his turn at the mic, the host of the panel — Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group political risk consultancy — intervened in an effort to let Sargsyan reply.
“We don’t have time,” Bremmer said, though Jafarov managed to finish his question.