Focusing on Azerbaijan

Focusing on Azerbaijan

Last week, a number of world leaders and thinkers gathered in Baku. High-level representatives from more than 50 countries, former heads of state and government, officials from international and non-governmental organisations and other distinguished guests attended the Global Baku Forum on “Threats to the Global Order”.

At the IX Global Baku Forum, highly important messages, regarding the ongoing processes in the region and in the world, were conveyed.

Opening the forum, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev evaluated the current geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus and expressed his intentions for the future. Emphasizing that Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity in 2020, the Azerbaijani leader spoke about the process of building peace in the region and the obstacles to this process.

Armenia’s policy of aggression violated integration in the South Caucasus

In fact, the Karabakh conflict was holding back not only Azerbaijan and Armenia, but also the entire region. Armenia suffered the most. The settlement of the Karabakh conflict has already created new opportunities for the region. This is a unique opportunity. Armenia’s policy of aggression violated integration in the South Caucasus. Currently, there is an opportunity to rectify this situation.

The war in Karabakh was aimed at restoring justice, international law and national dignity. This is a unique case in the world; after a long conflict, a state expelled an occupier from its lands and restored justice. Such cases are rare in the world. Why does Azerbaijan want peace? Because Azerbaijan wants to create a stable, sustainable and developed region.

The Caucasus will be the region of cooperation, integration and peace

After 44 days of the Second Karabakh War, serious steps have been taken to achieve peace in the region. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, who have held several meetings in Moscow and Sochi with the mediation of Russia and in Brussels with the mediation of the European Union, are already very close to signing a peace agreement.

Azerbaijan is an active supporter of peace in this process. Armenia still questions Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and forces Azerbaijan to take similar steps against its territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan can demand the return of Zangazur

Historically, Azerbaijan has more right to do so. Because the history of the last century shows that 6 months after the establishment of the Soviet government in Azerbaijan -in November 1920- the Soviet government took Zangazur, the historical territory of Azerbaijan, and annexed it to Armenia. Therefore, if Armenia continues to claim status for Karabakh Armenians, why shouldn’t Azerbaijanis claim status for Western Zangazur? Because the population of this region was completely Azerbaijani.

In this regard, Armenia’s attempts to avoid peace are interrupting the peace talks. The Armenian government must learn from the Second Karabakh War and put an end to its territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Otherwise, a new conflict in the region will be inevitable and the next war will lead to more tragic consequences for Armenia.

Azerbaijan does not want a new war. After signing the Shusha Declaration of Alliance with Türkiye, on June 15, 2021, the armies of the two countries merged, which further increased the military power of Azerbaijan. But Azerbaijan looks to the future from a peaceful perspective.

Azerbaijan’s position is based on the international law and the principle of territorial integrity of the countries. Azerbaijan’s proposals on the normalisation of relations with Armenia include mutual respect for each other’s borders. Initially, the Armenian government accepted these five principles, but at a later stage, the steps to be taken were delayed. And revanchist statements made from time to time, show that Armenia is not a reliable supporter of peace.

No need for the OSCE Minsk Group

The Minsk Group, which received a mandate from the OSCE, has not achieved any results for 28 years. Therefore, there is no need for the Minsk Group after Azerbaijan resolves the Karabakh conflict. Any speculation about the Minsk Group in Armenia, or any other country, only irritates Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has already resolved the conflict. The Madrid Principles developed by the Minsk Group have been implemented. Now official Baku is thinking of ways to normalise relations with Armenia, and a peace agreement must be signed.

The expectations of the Azerbaijani society on these issues were not satisfied. The OSCE Minsk Group did not call Armenia an aggressor. Fully recognising the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on the territories occupied by Armenia. However, these resolutions were not implemented. On the other hand, the Azerbaijani side faced double standards. In other conflicts in the post-Soviet areas, the territorial integrity of the countries was unequivocally recognised; the attitude towards Azerbaijan was based on double standards.

Everyone understands the impossibility of a meeting of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group, especially after the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Azerbaijan’s importance in terms of energy is increasing

The Ukrainian-Russian war also highlights leadership of Azerbaijan, a leading state in the South Caucasus, in energy field in the European market. Today, Azerbaijan is an important partner of Europe in energy supply. Azerbaijan’s role in this matter will continue to grow in the coming years, as the abandonment of Russian oil and gas will become a reality.

In this regard, the demand for Azerbaijan’s energy resources is growing. Today the situation in Europe has changed radically. Therefore, the demand for hydrocarbon resources in Azerbaijan has increased, and Baku is doing its best to meet the growing demand. In recent months, Azerbaijan has received requests for gas supplies from several European countries. This is not easy, because gas production will need to be increased. At present, Azerbaijan and the European Commission are cooperating closely on this issue.

Many of the world powers appreciate Azerbaijan’s role in this issue. Azerbaijan is working to open the Zangazur Corridor to further expand its capabilities. Because along with its political significance, this corridor will significantly increase the economic potential of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan can export electricity to Europe via the Zangazur corridor in the future

European countries can benefit from the Zangazur corridor as well. Armenia must fulfil its obligations set out in the trilateral declaration signed in November 2020. Otherwise, peace and cooperation in the region will not be possible.

Azerbaijan has once again warned the world community at the highest level about Armenia’s delay in opening the Zangazur corridor and communications. President Ilham Aliyev’s warning also means that if Armenia continues to violate its obligations to the Zangazur Corridor, then the country, as well as Armenians who remained in the territories controlled by Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh, will miss the Lachin corridor. It is not difficult to imagine the possible consequences of this.

The opening of the Zangazur corridor is a demand not only of Azerbaijan, but also of the world community. Because it is a new line of communication of great importance not only in the South Caucasus, but in the whole of Eurasia. In this sense, Armenia’s attempts to resist the corridor are in vain, and Azerbaijan will eventually achieve its goal. On the other hand, the Zangazur corridor will be one of the main pillars of peace in the region, as well as the development of economic and trade relations between the countries of the region will play an important role in overcoming Armenia’s nearly 30-year isolation.

Because the transport, communication and infrastructure projects passing through Zangazur will unite the whole Turkic world and create additional opportunities for Armenia. This is very important for Armenia, which is in a difficult socio-economic situation. That is why Armenia should be more interested in opening the Zangazur corridor as soon as possible, instead of creating obstacles.

All in all, the Global Baku Forum has become an important platform in the world politics in recent years, and this annual forum in Azerbaijan has become a platform that brings the leaders of the world’s leading countries together and hosts useful discussions on issues of concern to humanity.

Ahmad Shahidov

Head of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

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June 2024