Foreign Policy News: Azerbaijan plays key and critical role in South Caucasus and Middle East

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Baku, October 20, AZERTAC

Foreign Policy News has posted an article by Arye Gut, a noted expert on the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and the head of the Israeli NGO, International Society Projects. In his article, Mr Gut says: “In spite of vast and intense international concerns, including the substantial migration crisis emanating from Syria and terminating in Europe, Russia engaging in the Middle East with troops and air power, the U.S.'s flagrant absence from world affairs coupled with its abject show of weakness, it is still impossible not to notice international scrutiny of the Republic of Azerbaijan and anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric, particularly by Europe and the United States.”

“Last month, the European Parliament approved a resolution that calls for targeted sanctions against certain officials of Azerbaijan, who, according to its authors, "do not respect human rights." In other words, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that violates the legal norms of European democracy, as it was based on conjecture and offered no evidence.”

“Naturally, official Baku is indignant — and understandably annoyed. The US and Europe seem to be inexplicably struggling to discredit and put pressure on Azerbaijan, which is situated in an important geopolitical and strategic location, the nexus of Europe and Asia and sandwiched in between Russia and Iran.

Post-Soviet Azerbaijan has repeatedly proven that it plays a key and critical role in the South Caucasus and the Middle East. Azerbaijan is the key transit route for the transfer of men and materiale to and from Afghanistan and Azerbaijan troops stand shoulder to shoulder with Allied troops in Afghanistan, as they did in Iraq and Bosnia. Azerbaijan also is a key partner in anti-terrorism intelligence gathering operations with the West.”

“Azerbaijan also serves as the linchpin for energy diversity and security for Europe and Western markets, as Azerbaijan is not only the major energy hub in the region, but a major producer of oil and natural gas that presents Europe with a non-Russian, non-OPEC and non-Iranian energy alternative. Azerbaijani pipelines, like the BTC (the largest oil pipeline in the world next to America's Alaskan pipeline) pumps oil from the Caspian Sea through Georgia and to the Mediterranean Sea, terminating in the Turkish port city of Cheyhan. In addition and, perhaps, more importantly, Azerbaijan and its Western partners have already begun construction on the network of pipelines that will comprise the Southern Gas Corridor, which will transport Azerbaijan's vast gas reserves directly to Europe.”

The pragmatic approach of Azerbaijan, as a whole, includes religious tolerance, multiculturalism of Azerbaijani society, and constructive relations with its neighbors in a region where diplomacy is much more complex than in many other parts of the world. All of these factors played a role in the successful formation of this emerging democracy.”

He touches upon deteriorating situation in Armenia. “Reports show the situation in Armenia is very tense due to Serzh Sargsyan's leadership and what can only be described as his criminal-oligarchic pyramid that runs the country. Government policies and corruption systematically destroy small and medium sized businesses and cause public discontent and real hardship for the average Armenian. Unemployment in Armenia is rising and its economy is in systemic crisis, having to be bailed out periodically by Moscow. Yet, Armenian authorities hide the real figures on the catastrophic state of the economy. Armenia, due to a discontented population, is seeing a net decrease in population. Acute social discontent will put an end to the regime of Serzh Sargsyan. The question is only when it will happen.” He also highlights relations between Israel and Azerbaijan. “We see a strong case in point in the strong bilateral relations that exist between the State of Israel and Azerbaijan. Israel has repeatedly expressed its appreciation for Azerbaijan's warm and unique attitude of Azerbaijani President Aliyev, as well as the rest of the leadership of Azerbaijan towards the Jewish community.” “Commerce and trade flourish, with Israel becoming a major importer of Azerbaijani oil and Israel's technology industry aiding Baku with such projects as its telecommunications infrastructure and agriculture.” “However, the relationships between Israel and Azerbaijan, and Muslim Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijani Jews, cannot be explained away by simple mutual self-interest and business enterprises. Common values and a shared history permeate this modern relationship. Both countries are enriched by the human connections between them and a determination to live in diverse and religiously tolerant societies.”

Today, Azerbaijan is a genuine strategic partner of the US, Europe and the State of Israel and a strong independent nation. Azerbaijan is a mere 24 years old and, as such, is an emerging democracy, emphasis on the word emerging-just as the US was at 24 years old. The US and Europe must recognize the great strides Azerbaijan has made since throwing off the chains of the Soviet Union. From the ongoing establishment of civil structures that are the basis of any healthy and sustainable democracy to the overwhelmingly Western leaning energy and other business projects launched by Azerbaijan, that nation continues to evolve and build in the right direction,” Mr Gut says.

The full article is available at http://foreignpolicynews.org/2015/10/19/anti-azerbaijani-rhetoric/.

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