10:15 20 July

Azerbaijani president’s visit to Washington: Maximal use of all opportunities of essential platform for dialogue - ANALYSIS

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s planned visit to Washington, D.C. did take place. The visit was of huge importance in terms of renewing bilateral relations, conforming Azerbaijan’s position in the international political sphere and use of all opportunities arising from the essential platform for political dialogue.

Nuclear security is an issue that is often overshadowed in the light of some global threats like terrorism, smuggling, human trafficking, etc. But in fact it does precede the aforesaid threats in terms of potential danger. The Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington is the proof that world leaders had properly assessed the scope of this threat. Apart from focusing on the discussion of a global problem, the summit was also an essential platform that brought world leaders together for political dialogue. The overall assessment of the Washington visit shows that Azerbaijan has been able to make maximal use of all opportunities arising from this platform for national interests.


In contrast to some claims, the visit proved that Azerbaijan-US cooperation had not weakened and cooperative targets had not changed. The Washington meetings showed that there are some areas that the US and Azerbaijan would never give up, no matter what were to happen around the world. These areas can be classified as follows:


  1. Countering global terrorism
  2. Ensuring nuclear security
  3. Delivering Caspian energy resources to Europe


Of course, these are not the only areas of cooperation. These three factors are permanent and stable, and make Azerbaijan irreplaceable for the US, regardless of their political relations. The region Azerbaijan is located (the borders with Iran and Russia, neighborhood with Central Asia over the Caspian, geographical, cultural, religious, and historical kinship with the Middle East, etc), strategic advantages associated with the geographical position (at the joints of East-West and North-South corridors), its energy resources (oil and gas fields in the Caspian), and its fundamental principles (multiculturalism, tolerance) all make Azerbaijan interesting to not only the US but all countries having interest in the region. Most importantly, there is on essential factor that sets Azerbaijan apart from neighboring countries—Baku pursues multidirectional foreign policy. That is to say, Azerbaijan builds its policies based on bilateral. These bilateral relations rely on mutual interests.


Azerbaijan’s successful transformation of its strategic advantages into foreign political activities allows the country to make maneuvers. On example is that in light of the aggravation of Turkey-Russia relations alone, Azerbaijan proved able to maintain economic and political relations with both countries at the highest level. Another example is that while the Turkey-US tension is going on, Azerbaijan is successfully developing relations with the US.


The invitation of President Aliyev to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and his meetings with President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden, government officials, congressmen, governors, heads of the leading lobbying organizations and financial institutions prove it. The messages given during the meetings indicate that there are enough hints for the3 US to define Azerbaijan’s position in the global security system. After all, we come to the conclusion that the spheres in which the US considers Azerbaijan irreplaceable are again the aforementioned three directions.


In conclusion, the US considers Azerbaijan a key partner in deal with the threat of nuclear smuggling and nuclear terrorism. The fact that President Obama stressed the importance of Azerbaijan’s geographical location should also be noted. During the meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Azerbaijan’s role in ensuring Europe’s energy security was stressed. And finally, Vice President Joe Biden said the two countries successfully cooperate in international peacekeeping operations, recalling Azerbaijan’s active participation in and contributions to the international anti-terror coalition in Afghanistan. The statements of these three officials all rely on one common idea: the US is interested to further expand cooperation with Azerbaijan, making it stronger and last longer. This idea is going to continue to be a good response to those making speculations about Azerbaijan.   


Meeting mutual economic interests. The Azerbaijani president’s Washington visit also prioritized economic factors in bilateral relations. Two facts were brought up in the meetings with officials as well as leaders of financial and lobbyist organizations: the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor and the need for mutual interests for investment in Azerbaijan’s economy. In this respect, the ideas of Vice President Joe Biden are more concrete:


  1. The US supports the Southern Gas Corridor project.
  2. Washington will do its part for this project to be implemented.


Southern Gas Corridor is one of the most important regional projects being carried out on Azerbaijan’s initiative in the second decade of the 21st century. The fact that the US administration is showing support to such a projects suggests that Baku has properly assessed global challenges and economic tendencies. At the same time, the support shown earns Azerbaijan additional political and economic dividends. In light of the ongoing economic crisis around the world, US officials showing support to regional energy projects being realized with Azerbaijan’s participation increase the country’s capability to attract more investment. It is no coincidence that the meetings held in Washington the existence of MUTUAL INTERESTS for investment in Azerbaijan’s economy were noted repeatedly. That is to say, Mr President’s calls about the importance of foreign investment in the country’s economy are beginning to yield concrete results.


The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Azerbaijani president’s Washington visit will, without doubt, also contribute to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The statements of Joe Biden as well as officials involved in defining the country’s foreign policy course fully corresponded to Azerbaijan’s interests. The US vice president’s statement that “the US strongly supports Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty” can be considered the MOST IMPORTANT OUTCOME of the Washington visit. In Washington, the Azerbaijani president has repeatedly stressed the importance of the US position with regard to the settlement of the conflict. However, there one more attention-grabbing difference in Joe Biden’s statement. That is the word “STRONGLY’ which he used in his statement. This means that attempts to resolve the problem in forms and ways other than the principles of international law are bound to failure. The solution, regardless of its form and way, has to be within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, and the world’s super power, the US, is interested in compliance with the principle. These statements show that attempts to escalate the situation result from failures.


Vugar Huseynov, APA Analytic Center

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