President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the Moldovan summit of the European Political Union.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the Moldovan summit of the European Political Union.

The Ukrainian peace conference, held on June 15 and 16 in Switzerland, convened over 90 countries to discuss pathways to achieving lasting peace based on international law in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, which began in February 2022. The conference culminated in the endorsement of a final document by 78 participating countries, emphasizing the need to respect the independence and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, within internationally recognized borders. Notably, the document stopped short of explicitly demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

Russia, conspicuously absent from the invitation list, continued to assert its own conditions for peace negotiations, which included demands for Ukraine to cede parts of its territory. These conditions were rejected by Kyiv and its Western allies, who saw them not as a peace proposal but as an ultimatum for capitulation.

Among the countries invited but not in attendance was Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Administration provided no clear explanation for their non-participation. However, Rasim Musabekov, a member of the Milli Majlis Committee on International Relations and Interparliamentary Relations, dismissed the event as mere propaganda.

In an interview with Turan, he stressed that the absence of Azerbaijan would not affect his relations with Ukraine, referring to Azerbaijan's participation in previous events in support of Ukraine, such as the Berlin Summit on Economic Recovery in Ukraine.

Azer Gasimli, head of the Institute of Political Management, expressed a different point of view. In an interview with Radio Azadlig, he described the global political landscape as a competition between the authoritarian and democratic camps, and the conference in Switzerland highlighted this gap.

"Democratic Western countries were represented at the highest levels, whereas authoritarian states, including Azerbaijan, were notably absent," Gasimli observed. "Azerbaijan's absence aligns it more closely with Russia and other authoritarian regimes, a decision likely influenced by Moscow's preferences."

Indeed, Azerbaijan's geopolitical stance has been increasingly aligned with Russia, especially following the signing of a "declaration on allied interaction" between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 22, 2022. This declaration emphasizes strengthening bilateral cooperation in political, economic, and other spheres, signaling a deeper alliance between the two nations.

The absence of Azerbaijan, along with other authoritarian-leaning states like Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, underscores a significant geopolitical rift. As Western democracies rally in support of Ukraine, the alignment of these nations with Russia suggests a consolidation of an authoritarian bloc, further complicating the global response to the conflict.

The Ukrainian peace conference in Switzerland, despite its limitations and the absence of some key players, marked a significant moment in the international effort to address the conflict. It highlighted the growing divide between democratic and authoritarian states, a divide that is likely to shape global politics for the foreseeable future. 

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