Arastu HEBIBBEYLI, PhD
Abstract. In 2016 Azerbaijan marked the 25th anniversary of the restoration of its state independence. Able to reinstate independence twice in the past century in 1918 and 1991, Azerbaijan carries on its ancient and prolific tradition of statehood. This also means twice ridding itself of the occupation in a single century and makes state sovereignty the greatest accomplishment and asset for the country.
Azerbaijan, much like the rest of the post-Soviet space, had to surmount significant difficulties generated by geopolitical turbulence, active conflict and economic uncertainty in the early years of its independence. With the ongoing Armenian occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory on one hand and the problems of transition from planned economy to the market economy on the other, Azerbaijan found itself in a very complicated situation.
Throughout 25th year journey under such complicated geopolitical circumstances, Azerbaijan has gone from the country with a stagnant economy to the leader nation in the South Caucasus. This nation has become a reliable energy security partner and evolved from a recipient of international aid to a donor country. Initially, an average member of the international community, Azerbaijan eventually reached the level of the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2012-2013).
This article reviews the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus in the last 25 years.
Key words: Independence, geopolitics of multiculturalism, reliable partner, energy security, balanced and multi-vector foreign policy, transportation corridor
Azerbaijan has managed to preserve own historical traditions against the backdrop of cultural intransigence, aggravation of the West-Islam relations and surge of different phobias around the world. In this sense, Azerbaijan takes appropriate steps aimed at contributing to intercultural dialogue in the global arena, and this has remained a major component of our foreign policy. The foundation of a new cultural bridge between the West and the East was laid in Baku in 2008, when the city hosted the conference of Council of Europe’s Culture Ministers. What made that event special was that their colleagues from the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation were also invited. As a follow-up to that process, Azerbaijan had initiated and hosted another event in 2009, where the ministers of culture from the European countries were able to participate in the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Culture Ministers Conference in Azerbaijan.
Since 2011, Azerbaijan’s initiative has become a consistent platform. Every two years Azerbaijan hosts World Intercultural Dialogue Forum. Baku also hosted 7th UN Alliances of Civilizations Forum in 2016. That event demonstrated the ”Azerbaijani Model of Multiculturalism” to the rest of the world. From this perspective, propaganda of the principles of multiculturalism is a new dimension of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. This is also a thought-provoking challenge for the entire humankind.
Through the course of these years Azerbaijan’s foreign policy has focused on building a solid legal base for the just resolution of the conflict in line with the country’s territorial integrity across all the international platforms and the documents passed are a clear demonstration of successful outcome. Protraction of the resolution of the conflict stems from the lack of efficient mechanisms of the international law and the conflicting geopolitical interests of the global powers.
Despite the complex geopolitical location and tumultuous development path, all these years, Azerbaijan has managed to conduct an independent and balanced foreign policy backed by the national interests. Equal engagement with all the parties enables Azerbaijan to implement a mutually beneficial cooperation, transforming our country into an initiator of the main regional-scale projects and a trustworthy partner.
PhD in Economics, Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Deputy Head of Foreign Relations Department of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan