Rio world champion Mesut Özil has sided with Azerbaijan in the conflict over Nagornyj Karabach. “Azerbaijan’s problem is our problem, his joy is our joy,” the former national player writes in Turkish on social media: “One nation, two states.”
The quote, which is attributed to the Turkish state founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is followed by an explanation in English. “It is important to me that everyone in the world knows about the fact that the Nagornyj-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is currently illegally occupied,” writes the 31-year-old.
Özil refers to a 2008 UN statement calling on Armenia to withdraw its troops from the region. “I urge that this decision (…) be recognized by everyone,” he emphasizes. Özil closes his statement with a call for peace and a future “without violence”. Every death, regardless of which side, is “a loss for everyone”.
Özil’s reference to the occupation by Armenia falls “too short”, Omid Nouripour told the sports information service. When Özil speaks out on such issues, “he should also criticize Turkey’s aggressive foreign policy,” said the foreign policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group. Ataturk also said: “Peace at home, peace in the world.” However, the policy of the Turkish government is “neither internally nor externally peaceful at the moment”.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region in the Caucasus had broken out again in recent weeks. Since the end of September there has been the bloodiest fighting since the 1990s, with civilians among the victims. Turkey is standing on the side of Azerbaijan and is supposed to support the country by sending mercenaries, among other things.