wind rose

wind rose

President Ilham Aliyev was reminiscent of a spring squeezed by these two circumstances when he answered the questions of international experts who flocked to Baku ADA University on April 29 for the Second Conference on the South Caucasus, which this time was called "South Caucasus: Development and Cooperation." If we compare it with the last year's title of the conference "A new look at the South Caucasus: post-conflict development and cooperation", then we can state according to Aliyev that the conflict period between Armenia and Azerbaijan is left behind.

In the case of the first circumstance, from the facts presented by the President, it follows that Armenia and Azerbaijan have embarked on the path of practical steps, which are beginning to be implemented in accordance with the 5-point peace package. “Finally, we recently received a positive response from Armenia. Their government adopted the five basic principles put forward by Azerbaijan. These principles should form the basis of a peace agreement with Armenia. Also, at the suggestion of Azerbaijan, Armenia finally agreed to create a joint working group with Azerbaijan to start the process of delimitation of our borders. In my opinion, these are important manifestations of recent events, and they also show that now, a year and a half after the Second Karabakh War, the leadership of Armenia and, I hope, its people understand the need for peace. If a peace agreement is signed and these basic principles are implemented, then peace in the Caucasus will be strong and durable. This is our intention."

This is a document of five basic principles for peace with Armenia, which was published on March 14 of this year by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry:

1. mutual recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of international borders and political independence of each other;

2. mutual confirmation of the absence of territorial claims of states against each other and a legal obligation not to make such claims in the future;

3. to refrain from threatening each other's security in interstate relations, from using threats and force against political independence and territorial integrity, as well as from other circumstances incompatible with the purposes of the UN Charter;

4. delimitation and demarcation of the state border, establishment of diplomatic relations;

5. opening of transport and communications, establishment of other relevant communications and cooperation in other areas of mutual interest.

In support of Aliyev's words, one can mention the increasing contacts at various formats and levels, and the dialogue is taking on a permanent and consistent character.

In this context, the Caucasian cooperation of the three countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, begins to take real shape through the achievement of peace and the opening of communications that will have to unblock and connect the space surrounding the Caucasus with a geopolitical wind rose.

“At the same time, our peace agenda and initiatives, made public and supported by the international community, are focused on regional development and its new opportunities in the South Caucasus. Not only between Azerbaijan and Armenia – this is certainly one of the most important elements of regional cooperation – but also in the South Caucasus region as a whole,” Aliyev said.

The novelty of the peace process, perhaps, can be called a temporary, and possibly eternal disconnection from the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, which was caused by the war in Ukraine, where the interests of the co-chair countries clashed in an irreconcilable struggle. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict has moved into the framework of a two-vector international settlement, where the parties to the conflict are groping for common ground separately with the EU and Russia. Aliyev did not express any fear of projecting tensions between the EU and Russia over the situation in Ukraine onto the Karabakh settlement process.

However, in response to questions regarding the second circumstance, which include Azerbaijan's relationship with the EU, Russia and Baku's position in the Ukrainian crisis, Aliyev outlined equidistant, but at the same time fundamental points of contact. He made it clear that he is expanding cooperation with the EU, but is not going to join the EU. He is expanding cooperation with Russia, but is not going to go against her interests, in particular in the energy field. Aliyev once again supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine, bringing a decisive novelty to this position. In response to a question from Alena Khlivko, manager of strategic relations at the British Henry Jackson Society, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan never agreed to the occupation of its territory and eventually restored it. You can't give up, was the president's leitmotif: “Based on our experience, the most important thing is never to agree to an occupation. You know, during the negotiations there were different moments, and I received different messages from my colleagues from the West. One of them was that you should take reality into account… If you ask me about the most important of them, I can say that I definitely believe that it is perseverance. It is most important. You can never defeat the people of a country that is determined to defend itself. It may only be temporary. We have demonstrated this. Now I am proud that we openly support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and other countries. We don't hide behind big trees. We say what we mean."

From the experts' questions and Aliyev's answers, it follows that he manages to maintain a balance, both in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and the Ukrainian one. This is largely due to many years of experience in the negotiation process and a combination of circumstances, when regional and supra-regional forces are satisfied with the political equidistance of Azerbaijan, which today is to a certain extent involved in resolving the Ukrainian crisis. This is evidenced by consultations regarding Ukraine, in which Azerbaijan participates.

For Aliyev, of the two circumstances, Ukrainian is the most vital. To the question of Rick Vaughn, professor at the University of St. Andrews in Britain, he made it clear that the fate of the world in the South Caucasus is being decided now in Ukraine. “The situation in the region is closely connected with the situation in the world. I think that the situation in the world in the post-Soviet space will have a serious impact on the situation in the region. Therefore, when making this forecast, we must keep two scenarios in mind. The first scenario will be peaceful for the post-Soviet space, and the second one will be non-peaceful. Given the current war between Russia and Ukraine, we do not know when the war will end and what the post-war situation was like. But as for Azerbaijan, I think that in 10 years, of course, we will be much stronger. I hope that all these misunderstandings and problems with Armenia will be resolved by that time, and maybe even earlier. The South Caucasus region will be firmly integrated and there will be close cooperation between the three countries of the South Caucasus.”

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