Foreign Policy Blueprint: Azerbaijan 2012

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2012 is over and out, however events of the year are still here with us, defining the future of Azerbaijan. For Azerbaijan past year was successful both in areas of international cultural and sport events as well as in matters of foreign policy and economy. It can be well said that the interaction of the country with international community have increased as well as the positive feedback on the state’s profile. Moreover, economic growth is also stable and running skywards. In 2012 Azerbaijan continued developing on its bilateral relation with its neighbors in terms of cooperation and trade as well as in solving common problems and negating threats.
Looking back at the past year with scores of different events and stories it seems relevant to chose top five events that have made the most impact on the international relations of Azerbaijan:

       Non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council. Elected by the support of 155 member-states of the UN in 2011 as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2012-13, Azerbaijan marked its first year with active and enthusiastic approach. Starting its membership in January 2012, Azerbaijan due to the rotation was chairing in UN Security Council in May 2012. During the chairmanship of Azerbaijan UN Security Council discussed many issues including non-proliferation of the nuclear weapons, the situation in Middle East, dealing with crisis in Syria as well as with the situation in Balkans and open high level discussion chaired by the President of Azerbaijan on the matters of combating terrorism. Voting and active participation of Azerbaijan in UN Security Council showed the attention and concern of the country towards different situations that international community is faced with.

        First recognitions of the Khojaly genocide. For Azerbaijan 2012 was also successful in terms of recognition of Khojaly genocide. Genocidal acts committed by Armenian armed forces in February 25-26, 1992 in Khojaly village of Azerbaijan that caused 613 civilian deaths, were officially recognized by the Senate of Mexico on January 31, 2012. That was the first official recognition of the genocide on the legislative level. Following that another legislative body – Senate of Pakistan have adopted the resolution condemning the occupation of the 20 percent of territories of Azerbaijan and the genocide against Azerbaijani civilians committed by Armenian armed forces in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly on 26 February 1992. With that act Pakistan recognized the Khojaly genocide and demanded implementation and enforcement of the UN Security Council resolutions that demand the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

      TANAP. Azerbaijan and Turkey have signed international agreement on trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline project (TANAP) on June 26, 2012. This project can be considered one of the largest events in energy diversification policies of Azerbaijan. The pipeline’s estimated cost is 7 billion USD. The start of construction works is planned for 2014, while the completion of pipeline is scheduled to 2018. Gas from Azerbaijan will be delivered through Turkey to Europe with the planned capacity of TANAP of 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year at initial stage. On later stages the planned increase is up to 23 billion cubic meters by 2023, 31 billion cubic meters by 2026, and at the last stage – 60 billion cubic meters with aim to establish ability to transport additional gas supplies from (or through) Azerbaijan. With that deal Azerbaijan have considerably strengthened its positions both as the energy source for the European market as well as the transit state.

       No man is left behind. In September 2012 after intense diplomatic negotiations Iran have finally released two Azerbaijani poets wrongfully accused of espionage. Moreover, on August 31, 2012 convicted Azerbaijan’s armed forces officer Ramil Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan where on the same day he was pardoned by the President of the Republic. Though Hungary, the extraditing state, have acted in accordance with European Convention on Extradition, Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and bilateral agreements, Republic of Armenia following the extradition, have decided to suspend the diplomatic relations with that country. This event, though serious diplomatic and political success of Azerbaijan, have also been used by third parties as an excuse for stalling already quite stagnant process of negotiations around Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Frustrating ineffectiveness of Minsk Group as well as the slowing dynamics of the negotiations have thus prompted the question of future relevance of the OSCE format of mediation.

       Shutdown of Gabala radar station. Azerbaijan and Russia were unable to come to an agreement and extend a lease deal on Gabala radar station. Previous lease deal on one of 8 main elements of anti-missile defense system of former Soviet Union have expired on December 12, 2012. Two days prior to the end of agreement Russia have officially notified Azerbaijan that it will stop the exploitation of the radar. Official position on both sides sees no harm to the strategic partnership between the countries. The end of the lease on Gabala radar station is significant due to the fact that it was the last presence of Russian military forces in Azerbaijan. After 2012 there will be none.

 Kamal Makili-Aliyev
Doctor of Laws (LL.D)

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