New stage of Azerbaijan`s foreign policy

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Baku, 9 January 2020 –

Experts are analyzing countries` achievements in different areas. Foreign policy is the principal focus of attention because the world is now facing controversial, complex and dangerous processes. Under new circumstances, sovereignty of an independent state is nowadays of crucial importance. In this context, dynamics and results of Azerbaijan`s foreign policy in 2019 hold particular interest. The analysis of facts shows that official Baku made quite serious achievements in foreign policy and increased its effectiveness. In fact, Azerbaijan achieved a new level. President Ilham Aliyev`s titanic efforts ensured Azerbaijan`s foreign policy entering a new stage in terms of sustainability, purposefulness and consistency. This policy has produced tangible results. The article will provide an insight into some aspects of Azerbaijan`s foreign policy.

Content and form: a brand new harmony in foreign policy

Experts are analyzing last year results of Azerbaijan`s foreign policy. Achievements of the South Caucasus` leader state in 2019 made strong influence on the general geopolitical situation in the region. Different aspects of Azerbaijan`s diplomatic activity spark particular interest as diplomatic flexibility and effective methodology are crucial to achieving success under rapidly changing geopolitical conditions. And Azerbaijan sealed great success in foreign policy in 2019, which has had great implications for the geopolitics and security in the region. The analysis of the country`s foreign policy from different perspectives is therefore very important.

Under President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan`s national diplomacy has made new achievements. It is the most important factor. The head of state`s policy is welcomed very positively by the world community. Experts rightly associate Azerbaijan`s foreign policy achievements with President Ilham Aliyev.

One of the most important factors in this context is that the Azerbaijani leader continued to put forward cooperation initiatives.

Azerbaijan attached serious attention to bilateral cooperation formats in 2019. Developing relations with different countries is of crucial importance for ensuring sovereignty. This process should be the constant focus of attention. In addition, the head of state was very actively involved in multilateral platforms, which is also significant from different points of view. First of all, it is the expansion of cooperation and partnership with foreign countries and international organizations. At the same time, raising the world community`s awareness of Azerbaijan`s realities is another important aspect where the organization of high-profile international events in Azerbaijan and the country`s involvement in transnational initiatives plays a key role. Official Baku`s contribution in this regard is recognized internationally.

These achievements allow to highlight a key factor that manifested itself in Azerbaijan`s foreign policy: the country`s diplomacy managed to harmonically coordinate bilateral cooperation formats with activity in multilateral platforms. This, in fact, means an important advantage in foreign policy. At the modern stage any independent state should be able to coordinate its activity with groups of states and different organizations in order to ensure its sovereignty. It is sometimes referred to as network diplomacy.

Network diplomacy is not confined just to building relations with different organizations and countries at the same time. In a broader sense, it implies ensuring coordinated and systematic activity with specific countries, groups of countries, regional and international organizations.

In this regard, Azerbaijan`s achievements in foreign policy last year draw particular interest. First of all, the country hosted summits of two influential international organizations – the Turkic Council and the Non-Aligned Movement. Both events saw the adoption of important decisions for Azerbaijan, including unanimous support for the country`s territorial integrity and the call for Armenia to withdraw from Azerbaijan`s occupied lands. It should be noted that the Non-Aligned Movement features 120 countries whose political views sometimes divide deeply. But all the member-states showed solidarity regarding the Azerbaijan-related issue. It is a triumph of a national diplomacy.

Regional and global scale: toward closer connectivity

Azerbaijan will chair both organizations in 2020, which opens up ample opportunities for official Baku to build up on the achievements made in 2019. But Azerbaijan`s activity in international organizations is not confined to the Turkic Council and the Non-Aligned Movement. This year Azerbaijan will also chair GUAM and TRACECA. In addition, the geography of the country`s presence in international and regional organizations expanded considerably last year. Specifically, Azerbaijan became a member of the Group 77 (G-77), which includes 135 states. The country was also granted an observer status at the Pacific Alliance. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is set to consider giving the country an observer status this year.

And add to this Azerbaijan`s activity at the UN, Council of Europe and PACE. In fact, through its multifaceted activity Azerbaijan has managed to build coordinated activity at all international organizations that play a key role in the global politics. This process is deepening on a yearly basis, having entered a new stage in 2019. This stage is quite remarkable as the country managed to consolidate its activity at regional and international organizations.

To achieve this official Baku introduced far-reaching effective programs in economic, energy, transport, logistics, cultural, humanitarian, security and many other areas. For example, Azerbaijan is one of the key participants of the "Belt& Road” initiative. At the same time, the country initiated TANAP project, which was launched in 2019, and is one of the main participants of the Southern Gas Corridor project. By opening the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line, Azerbaijan ensured its active involvement in a variety of international projects.

The country is contributing greatly to the implementation of East-West and North-South transportation corridors. Concrete steps were taken regarding both projects in 2019. The "Belt& Road” project is already yielding fruits. Azerbaijan will undoubtedly increase its contribution to the initiative.

All these projects are crucial to the success of Azerbaijan`s diplomacy. The two other states of the South Caucasus did not succeed in implementing large-scale projects which is the main reason behind their failure to become major players in the regional or global politics. This is probably of principal importance to the effectiveness of a foreign policy.

So in 2019 Azerbaijan remained committed to its foreign policy aimed at ensuring national interests. Highlighting this principle, President Ilham Aliyev said: ''In our foreign policy we protect our national interests and reduce the possible risks. Our foreign policy is centered on national interests. In our foreign policy, we should and are doing what our national interests dictate.''

What is most important is that by developing the foreign policy the country`s leadership managed to increase its effectiveness and flexibility amid tumultuous regional geopolitical circumstances last year. This protected Azerbaijan from the negative implications of regional and global geopolitical, economic, humanitarian and energy processes. Azerbaijan`s achievements look impressive even in comparison with developed countries.

Compared with its South Caucasus neighbors Azerbaijan, in fact, entered a qualitatively new level. This increased the country`s role in global geopolitics. In this context, 2020 will undoubtedly be a crucial year as official Baku will continue pursuing its successful foreign policy, adjusting its activity in order to address newly emerging challenges.

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