The president said that we are not going to Europe. Where is Azerbaijan going?

President Ilham Aliyev declared on June 6 that Azerbaijan does not aspire to join the European Union, asserting the country's preference for independence from European influence. During a meeting with a delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking States (TURKPA), Aliyev emphasized Azerbaijan's resolve to chart its own course.

"We are here, we are not Europe," Aliyev stated. "We do not want to enter the European family, even if we wanted to, no one would let us in. We live here on our terms, we don't act on someone's orders, and we don't allow interference in our affairs. Don't touch me, and I won't touch you. If you touch me, then expect your head to hurt too."

Aliyev highlighted the deterioration in Azerbaijan's relations with several European countries following the Second Karabakh War. He also defended the Hungarian government, which has faced significant pressure and sanctions within the EU for its stance on traditional values.

Political commentator Nasimi Mammadli discussed the implications of Aliyev's remarks on the "Difficult Question" program. He noted that Azerbaijan's relationship with the European Union began with the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed on April 22, 1996. The PCA established cooperation principles, including respect for democratic principles, human rights, and legislative convergence with the EU.

Mammadli observed that Azerbaijan is now promoting a distinct "Azerbaijani" path of development as an alternative to European integration. "But Azerbaijan is not China, not India, not Great Britain, and not even Turkey. It does not have the resources to forge its own unique path," he said. He supports a pro-Western approach, which he believes better ensures citizens' safety, well-being, and freedom of expression.

Mammadli argued that the search for alternative development models typically arises when a regime rejects the principles of democracy and human rights. "The pro-Western path is focused on ensuring the safety of citizens, their well-being, and freedom of expression," he emphasized.

Aliyev's remarks signal a significant shift in Azerbaijan's foreign policy, reflecting a broader trend of distancing from Western influence and seeking new alliances. As Azerbaijan navigates this new trajectory, the country's leadership aims to assert greater sovereignty and independence on the global stage.

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