Has anything changed in the relations between Azerbaijan and the West?

Recent developments hint at a nuanced shift in the dynamics between Azerbaijan and the Western world, characterized by a tempered tone in criticism and burgeoning diplomatic engagements. Yet, against this backdrop of diplomatic overtures, the persistence of arrests targeting civil society representatives and looming sanctions from the United States underscore the complexities that underpin Azerbaijan's relationship with the West.

Notable instances signaling a thaw include discussions on the return of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), highlighted by the statement of Dominique Hasler, Chairman-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein. Moreover, meetings between President of Azerbaijan and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, telephone conversations with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and the resumption of diplomatic activities by French Ambassador Anne Boillon have injected optimism into bilateral relations.

However, juxtaposed against these diplomatic strides are the continued arrests of civil society figures in Azerbaijan, casting a shadow over the purported positive changes in relations. Moreover, the threat of sanctions from American lawmakers targeting high-ranking Azerbaijani officials and punitive measures imposed by the United States against Azerbaijani companies for alleged assistance to Russia present additional challenges.

Political scientist Ahmed Alili analyzes this current situation in the program "Difficult Question",  asserting that understanding the West's stance towards Azerbaijan is a complex endeavor, marked by ambiguity and fluctuation. Alili highlights the lukewarm response from the United States and the European Union to the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent from Karabakh, suggesting a lack of clarity on the part of Western stakeholders.

Despite these challenges, Alili underscores Azerbaijan's substantial contributions to the EU, particularly in economic and geopolitical realms. The country's strides towards NATO standards in its Armed Forces, coupled with investments in energy security and transport infrastructure, position Azerbaijan as a key player in regional stability and energy diversification efforts.

However, deep-seated contradictions persist, with Azerbaijan diverging from the integration projects envisioned by the United States and Europe. Alili emphasizes Baku's stance against preconditions for integration, advocating for a holistic approach that prioritizes sovereignty and national interests.

"Azerbaijan has always been against integration projects in the interpretation desired by the United States and Europe, i.e. the implementation of political reforms first, and then consideration of the issue of integration," Alili said.

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Difficult question

Taksi sayı azaldılır, bəs köhnə taksiçilər nə ilə dolanacaqlar? – Rauf Ağamirzəyev Çətin sualda

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