Shafiyev: “Unique opportunity for agreement with Armenia”
“Azerbaijan looks forward to the resolution of the conflict within the framework of the principles of international law, in particular territorial integrity”. This was stated in an interview with Adnkronos by the Azerbaijani ambassador Farid Shafiyev, director of the Center of Analysis of International Relations in Baku since 2019, arguing that “the future trajectory of the war” in Ukraine, also in light of the start of the counter-offensive Kiev forces, both “difficult to predict”.
According to Shafiyev, during his recent visit to Italy, the war “has not had direct consequences” in relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, with the government in Baku which – he reiterates – “remains committed to supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Country to which it has provided humanitarian aid.
Emphasizing how in the context of the current geopolitical situation, Azerbaijan takes into account the military alliance between Russia and Armenia, the latter country which “kept up to 20% of internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan under occupation for about three decades with Russian support”, the analyst believes that the “liberation of the territories occupied by Azerbaijan in the Second Karabakh War (September 27 – November 10, 2020)”, has created “a new security situation in the South Caucasus. In the context of the new geopolitical realities in the region, Azerbaijan seeks to maintain a balanced foreign policy with Russia”.
The expert then comments on the latest round of peace talks between Baku and Yerevan mediated by Moscow, highlighting that there is now “a unique opportunity for the establishment of a lasting peace between the two countries” which have made “tangible progress in the negotiations”. Shafiyev then recalls that now on the table there is a document which is “the peace proposal initiated by the Azerbaijani government” and which is built “on the basis of the fundamental principle of territorial integrity of both sides. Baku has expressed very clearly that this principle it is the red line for Azerbaijan”.
According to the expert, Azerbaijan has asked to make the most of this opportunity as evidenced by the call for the establishment of the cooperation platform of the three countries of the South Caucasus. “Although this initiative is supported by Azerbaijan and Georgia, the Armenian side has yet to support it,” he points out.
Shafiyev confirms that Baku welcomes Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recognition of the Karabakh region as part of Azerbaijan last month. “This – he explains – provides a good basis for further peace talks and the signing of a peace agreement. There are, however, still several obstacles along this path that we must overcome” starting with those posed “by nationalist and revanchist groups in Armenia, by the Armenian diaspora abroad, as well as by Armenian lobby groups in some Western countries.”
“In this context, we hope for the support of the European Union and, in general, of the international community – he continues – Unfortunately, for many years, we have witnessed double standards in the approaches of some Western countries to territorial conflicts in our region. The Russia-war Ukraine has proved once again that this principle cannot be taken for granted or applied selectively.”
Finally, on relations between Italy and Azerbaijan, Shafiyev defines them as “mutually advantageous” and with “strong potential for further development”, noting how Rome and Baku, strong in bilateral trade that represents over 90% of Italy’s total trade with the South Caucasus region, consider themselves “strategic partners”.
“Italy has always been a strong supporter of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and this has positively contributed to the overall relationship between the two countries in various spheres”, adds the expert, recalling President Ilham Aliyev’s state visit to Italy in February 2020 with the signing, on that occasion, of the ‘Joint Declaration on Strengthening the Multidimensional Strategic Partnership’ which “further strengthened these relations”.
“Since then, numerous other initiatives have been implemented between the two countries, including in the fields of energy, agriculture, the reconstruction of the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, as well as in the military field” as evidenced by the recent signing of a contract for the supply of Leonardo’s C-27J Spartan, he concludes.