Generals meet in Baku: global security and cooperation prospects

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Baku, 17 July 2019 –

The meeting between generals Tod Wolters and Valery Gerasimov in Baku has grabbed experts` interest from a number of perspectives. The two global military superpowers` discussing critical issues in Baku is not a regular occasion. Experts analyze the reasons why the USA and Russia chose Baku as the venue of the meetings of their military leaders. A number of factors obviously play a role here. As a young state, Azerbaijan is making great strides. Its international influence is rising quickly. As the host of high-profile international events, Azerbaijan is recognized as a stable and reliable partner. So it looks normal that Washington and Moscow chose exactly Baku to discuss key military matters. This article will look at the geopolitical impact of the two generals` Baku meeting.

Baku is the venue for discussing key international issues

The recent meeting between NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tod Wolters and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation General Valery Gerasimov is the continuation of a good tradition. It is the fourth such a meeting hosted by Baku. And it`s not a coincidence that the two superpowers chose exactly Baku as the meeting venue. This means that Azerbaijan is the most suitable venue for the United States and Russia. There have been different explanations of the main reason behind this choice. Each of these opinions is important because it`s a matter of the international attitude towards a state building policy. There are no doubts that superpowers such as the US and Russia would never choose a venue for their meeting accidentally. Naturally, they want to meet in a country that they trust and rely on.

The fact that Azerbaijan was picked as a meeting venue in the South Caucasus is of great importance. First and foremost, Azerbaijan is an independent and rapidly developing state, which ensured its internal stability. And it is the level of internal stability that has long been a factor differing Azerbaijan from other regional countries. Azerbaijan`s internal stability is accompanied by rapid reforms. These two factors have transformed Azerbaijan into a geopolitical hub of the South Caucasus region. This manifests itself in large-scale international projects and events and sustainable development.

These international projects focus on energy security, regional and global cooperation, transport corridors and inter-cultural dialogue. In fact, this has made Azerbaijan the leader of the South Caucasus in all areas. The country is ready to host any high-level talks on any issue.

Azerbaijan is organizing high-level international discussions on the dialogue among civilizations, faiths and cultures. The Baku International Humanitarian Forum, Baku Process enjoy worldwide recognition. Everybody is aware that these grandiose projects and successful events are organized by the leadership of Azerbaijan. What should be added to this success is the organization of international sporting events. Azerbaijan has proved that it can excellently deliver this kind of events.

Azerbaijan`s tremendous role in building transport corridors deserves particular praise. The East-West and North-South transport corridors are now under construction. And it`s not about only transporting freight, it`s also about building the dialogue among cultures and civilizations. These corridors connect representatives of tens of countries. Azerbaijan is therefore capable of building cooperation that involves many countries, which interact effectively with each other. In addition, Azerbaijan is the country that put forward most of the initiatives on new cooperation format in the South Caucasus. President Ilham Aliyev`s bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation initiatives have already yielded fruits. From this point of view, Baku-initiated successful Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan cooperation format grabbed experts` attention. The reason is that historically Azerbaijan had been part of the Russian and Iranian empires. But now as an independent state Azerbaijan encourages cooperation between these two superpowers. Ilham Aliyev`s initiative is therefore of crucial importance and cements confidence in the Azerbaijani government.

Geopolitical context: promising process

When cooperation is concerned, Turkey and the West should not be forgotten. Turkey is the closest, fraternal country to Azerbaijan. Cooperation with Turkey is something automatic and axiomatic. But what also matters is the establishment of the mutually beneficial and reliable relations as independent states.

Unlike several independent states, Azerbaijan overcame "elder-younger brother" syndrome. Now it maintains stable, equal and mutually beneficial relations with Turkey. This means that as an independent state Azerbaijan managed to build constructive relations even with a very powerful fraternal country.

In this context, Baku`s relations with Western states are of particular interest. It is a well-known fact that Azerbaijan has made great strides in this regard. Two points should be emphasized here. First of all, Azerbaijan-US relationship is developing in accordance with international law and constructive cooperation format. This was manifested in the U.S. President`s letters to the Azerbaijani leader.

Donald Trump has repeatedly said that Azerbaijan is a reliable, promising partner. He has appreciated Azerbaijan`s contribution to international energy security, noting the country`s capability to fulfill this mission in a broader geopolitical area. This means that Washington considers Azerbaijan as a reliable and stable independent state and recognizes its valuable role in ensuring international security. In this context, the Azerbaijan President`s views hold particular interest. Ilham Aliyev said: "We are committed to continuing our multifaceted activity in ensuring international security and combating terrorism."

Finally, Azerbaijan enjoys the relations of strategic cooperation with the European Union. This covers security issues, fight against international terrorism, as well as energy projects. Brussels sees Azerbaijan as a promising partner. The statements made by the President of the European Council Donald Tusk during his latest visit to the South Caucasus were yet another confirmation of this fact.

There are therefore certain reasons behind the decision of the world`s two large military powers to discuss globally-important issues in Baku. Azerbaijan is the appropriate host of such high-level talks from all points of view. What the American and Russian generals said during their meetings with Azerbaijani officials confirms that these countries are quite interested in cooperating with Baku in military, security and defense areas. Both Washington and Moscow intend to strengthen their relations with Azerbaijan in these fields.

In Baku, generals Wolters and Gerasimov discussed Syria, Afghanistan, international terrorism, counterfeiting and other pressing issues, confirming their commitment to tackling the global challenges. However, the Baku meeting demonstrated the two superpowers` inability to reach consensus yet.

Baku`s hosting high-level discussions between the US and Russia is indicative of Azerbaijan`s growing international influence. The fact that the West and Russia discuss military and defense matters in Baku also highlights a chance to find a fair solution to regional conflicts. By receiving more detailed information on Azerbaijan`s attitude to the problem during these meetings, the generals may, naturally, take a tougher approach. In particular, they discuss the fight against separatism and terrorism among other issues.

All this points to Azerbaijan`s quickly growing international influence as the leader of the South Caucasus and the country`s recognition as a reliable partner. This boosts Azerbaijan`s role in different international processes. Of course, by reaching a new level, this process can help address several challenges in the region. When considered through this prism, the Baku meeting may mark the beginning of a new constructive stage in the U.S.-Russia relationship.

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