YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Federal and regional legislators representing Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have visited Nagorno-Karabakh after meeting with senior officials in Armenia earlier this week.
The AfD is Germany’s leading parliamentary opposition force, having finished third in the last German general elections held in 2017. The party is known for its Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant agenda.
The AfD delegation that arrived in Yerevan comprised four deputies of the German parliament, Bundestag, and three members of the regional assembly of the eastern German state of Brandenburg. They met with Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development Mane Adamian on Monday.
According to an official press release, Adamian briefed the visiting parliamentarians on economic reforms implemented by the Armenian government. She also informed them that the government and the European Union are planning to jointly organize an investment forum on Armenia in Germany this fall.
The German politicians also met with parliament deputies from the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). A statement by the Armenian parliament said the two sides stressed the importance of “Germany’s role in democratic, legal and economic reforms in our country.”
Most members of the AfD delegation, including Bundestag deputies Steffen Kotre and Stefan Keuter, traveled to Stepanakert on Wednesday. Accompanied by an Armenian pro-government lawmaker, they laid flowers at a local memorial to Karabakh Armenian victims of the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan before meeting with members of the Karabakh parliament.
The parliament’s deputy speaker, Vahram Balayan, congratulated the AfD on winning 11 seats in the European Parliament in the May 26 elections. Balayan also praised its “friendly relations” with Karabakh, according to a parliament statement.
The statement quoted Kotre as saying that he and his AfD colleagues will use their political influence to “deepen ties between Germany and Karabakh.”
While in Stepanakert, the German delegation also held a separate meeting with Arayik Harutiunian, Karabakh’s former prime minister and one of the main candidates in a presidential election that will be held in the Armenian-populated territory next year. They reportedly discussed the possibility of Karabakh-related initiatives by the European Parliament and humanitarian aid programs in Karabakh.
The AfD and Harutiunian’s Free Fatherland party have maintained contacts since 2015, prompting strong criticism from Azerbaijan.