Mark Libby.Social network

Mark Libby.Social network


Question: The U.S. President Joseph Biden nominated Mark Libby for the post of U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan. Who is Mark Libby? What is known about him as a politician?

Alex Raufoglu Answer: First of all, Mark Libby is a career diplomat. He has served in various hotspots such as Iraq, Cyprus, and is a veteran professional who has worked in crisis management at the State Department's Operations Center. Bit his most toughest diplomatic assignment, according to his colleagues, may have been representing the Trump administration in Brussels since mid-2018. And with this, he coped with honor. In any case, after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, he was entrusted with the acting ambassadorship at the U.S. mission to the EU. last summer, after completing his career in Brussels, he returned to Washington, where he teaches at the National War College.

Question: Why Mark Libby? What political motives can be in his appointment as an ambassador?

Answer: This choice indicates, first of all, that the United States is interested in maintaining a certain continuity in relations with Azerbaijan. Three years ago, the U.S. government, by sending career diplomat Lee Litzenberger to Azerbaijan, marked a shift: If you remember, previous 3 ambassadors, who preceded Litzenberger, were coming primarily from energy background, while Lee Litzenberger represented a completely different direction - he came from the Military-Political Bureau, and he also had experience in Brussels. The diplomatic portraits of Mr. Libby and his immediate predecessor are somehow similar. Libby's experience can be used properly in Azerbaijan, especially given the importance that Biden administration has been coordinating its Eastern European, Balkan and Caucasian strategies with Brussels more closely than the previous administrations.

Last year, following one of Secretary Blinken's visits to Europe, I had a chance to listen to Ambassador Libby's public address before U.S.-European young professionals. He devoted most of his nearly 10-minute talk to values ​​and developing relationships based on values. The general message was that relations based on values, creating close ties between countries and peoples, determine the most reliable and long-term cooperation. The Azerbaijani-American relations have long yearned for such an approach...

Practice has shown that, unlike career diplomats, “energy ambassadors” - of course, there are always exceptions – have avoided public speaking on topics such as human rights, including direct contacts with independent media and opposition leaders during their tenure in office. After leaving Baku, they chose to lobby in their own countries for the oil and gas policy of the Azerbaijani government, thus sacrificing the interests of the American people in long-term, value-based cooperation with Azerbaijan for the sake of their, so to speak, their individual approach.

Returning to your question, I would like to emphasize one factor: recently, in the annual reports of the State Department related to Azerbaijan, they often refer to the results of the constant contacts of the embassy in Baku, in particular, of the ambassador with the government on issues such as political prisoners, freedoms and security. It is important that such contacts are protected and strengthened. Even in the most critical moments... In both areas, the experience of Mr. Libby can make a serious contribution to the common cause. Especially taking into consideration that the United States in its current policy towards Azerbaijan seeks some sort of predictability.

Question: By the way, in recent months, the President of the United States sent letters to the President of Azerbaijan twice in which he used such expressions as “Azerbaijan is an important partner in world politics”, “I welcome your constant steps towards improving the living standards of the Azerbaijani people”, “democratic governance and purposefulness reforms." This gives grounds to assert that a special sympathy has recently been felt in Azerbaijani-American relations, in particular, this concerns the attitude of the United States towards Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani government. What does the President of the United States want to say with such statements?

Answer: An interesting observation… I wouldn’t say that the letter fact in itself is something new. Perhaps you are right about the lexicon that’s being used, although here again the assessment should be given in a broader context: the fact is that U.S. diplomacy under the current administration is distinguished by the maximum use of diplomatic courtesy and etiquette.

As is known, the previous administration deliberately abandoned the rules of the game, blocking the path of diplomacy in a number of cases. Diplomacy, in general, was forced out of the corridors of the State Department, key decisions were made "at the top" - mostly closed to the public – and were telegraphed through direct channels. True, in relation to countries such as Azerbaijan, this difference was felt relatively less, because officials in Baku had long been using approximately the same management practice and, as they say, were accustomed to...

However, it is a fact that in recent months American diplomacy, as it is said to have returned to the stage soft-spoken and clad in the most decorated robes. The standards have changed. Either this will change the usual behavior and rhetoric of the allied countries, or a difference will immediately appear between them.

Question: Is the U.S. President so well aware of the situation in Azerbaijan that he expresses such an opinion in his messages?

Answer: When the situation in Azerbaijan is analyzed, of course, they refer not only to the rhetoric of official sources. Similarly, letters from presidents should not be seen as a policy-setting strategy. Nevertheless, the declaration in Mr. Biden's letters of the need for democratic reforms is to be welcomed. Especially when you consider that these letters, as a rule, have to be posted on official government websites and TV channels, without changing the text.

As for the praises addressed to the leadership of Azerbaijan, along with the diplomatic courtesy used here, it is necessary to emphasize the expected, and sometimes even demanded by officials in Baku in relation to themselves, “praise”. For years, Azerbaijani officials, either through direct channels or with the help of lobbying organizations, have forced their way into Western political circles, demanding praise or applause from them. No matter how insignificant this factor may be for self-confident politicians and countries, for others, progress without it is sometimes difficult...

Question: Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan Hikmet Hajiyev recently paid a visit to the United States. Following this, several high-level visits were made from Washington to Baku. Assistant Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of State, and so on. All this gives grounds to assert once again that some processes are taking place in US-Azerbaijani relations. What do you think is happening? What is the reason for this rapprochement, the ongoing shifts? What does the US want to achieve from Azerbaijan?

Answer: Recently, during one of the events, a Western diplomat explained Washington's messages to Azerbaijan with the classic American phrase: "Help us help you" ... In particular, against the backdrop of events in Ukraine, protecting the independence and sovereignty of countries such as Azerbaijan has become a priority goal for Washington. Once crises are out of whack, it is sometimes too late to offer help, so before it's too late, the US has offered to take part in overcoming threats against Azerbaijan, and still hope so.

But the "help" expected from Baku is simple - don't alienate the West by carrying out repressions at home. Washington believes that Azerbaijan's revision of its policy on values ​​and freedoms would be a smart move. But if it pushes the West away from him, then in the end, the Kremlin will hit Azerbaijan, turn it into its prisoner.

Also, Azerbaijan is invited to contribute to the energy diversification of Europe, to assist Europe in this emergency. For the past 30 years, the United States has worked with Baku to help Europe diversify its energy sources, and it has done so selflessly.

The conclusion from recent contacts is mainly that if Azerbaijan is really interested in maintaining its independence and a certain degree of freedom of action from Moscow, it knows very well what to do, and also what not to do.

Sometimes in the region the policy of alienation of the West from Azerbaijan – in other words, isolation — is mistakenly presented as "neutrality". The leadership of Azerbaijan should not forget that Ukraine was also a neutral country in February 2014 when Putin attacked Crimea. What happened next is known to everyone.




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