It is impossible not to notice that after a relatively long calmness, April has revived some foreign policy problems of official Baku, which had been frozen since the middle of last year.
Interestingly, negative messages are addressed from all foreign policy centers almost simultaneously, which may serve as a basis for concluding that the pause taken by President Aliyev to hold the reforms promised at the beginning of spring has delayed.
The first thunder broke out in Europe, whence the news came about the beginning of the trial in the case of the Italian politician Luka Volonta, who was caught in receiving bribes from the government of Azerbaijan for organizing the defense of the authoritarian regime within the Council of Europe and beyond, and the removal from the post of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Pedro Agramunt , who has long been accused of indulging the anti-democratic policies of the Aliyev administration. At the same time, the White House appealed to Congress with an initiative to suspend financial assistance to Azerbaijan. USAID allocated an average of $7 million to Azerbaijan for the development of democracy, reforms, and the agriculture. Although this amount was symbolic, they nevertheless demonstrated the interaction of the two capitals. And, finally, the Russians toughened the tone of the dialogue with official Baku, which was reflected in the closure of the border for Azerbaijani vegetables, official criticism of the pro-government Azerbaijani media, and tightening the emphasis on the Karabakh settlement issue.
Simultaneous displacements of the stability of all foreign policy vectors may indicate the formation of another arc of tension West-East against Azerbaijan. And the main impulses about the possible such a policy emanate most from Washington, which is less openly showing its discontent. But given the status of the superpower, it can be said that minor fluctuations in the form of suspension of assistance, and criticism of the situation in the field of freedoms, is enough to trigger a tsunami involving the forces, means and interests of all parties interested in Azerbaijan.
A year ago, the President Aliyev, after lengthy consultations, nevertheless agreed to carry out reforms and promised to start them in a short time, which each time shifted; last time in October announced their start in early spring. But he did not start them. The only thing he did was appointment of his wife to the position of the first vice-president, thus creating the conditions for forming a parallel government team with ambiguous domestic political goals and tasks, which is seen as the successor of the system that has evolved since the 1990s.
Consolidation of external interests in relation to the regime in Azerbaijan does not bode well for the Aliyev administration, but it has positive messages for the society, which, like foreign policy centers, is confused by the president's line of behavior, which clearly cannot explain in which direction the country with a crisis syndrome is going.
So far, are observed reforms according to Aliyev: the creation of oligarchic agribusinesses, techno parks, malls, further restriction of the freedom of the community, freedom of the Internet, expression, and repression against civil activists and even their families.
Under this situation, distancing the promises and obligations of the Azerbaijani administration and the growing pressure are going on in parallel with the growing contradictions, which is fraught with their shift to a single middle, that is, a clash with undesirable consequences for the regime. Avoiding an open clash is possible only if consensus is reached on the basis of proposals put forward earlier by the US and its allies. Their readiness for confrontation and Russia"s support, based on their own interests, leave little chance for Aliyev to take advantage of them for the interests of his regime.