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Changing the foreign policy strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan after Karabakh

During the past two decades, the Republic of Azerbaijan had focused its foreign policy on the axis of Karabakh, and with the determination of its task, we are witnessing a change in Baku's regional strategy.
– International News

According to the international group Tasnim news agency, the Republic of Azerbaijan is in pieces It has become integral in the geopolitical puzzle of Central Asia. In the axis of Central Asia, Baku’s ambitions, position and attitude are definitely different from those of the aforementioned countries. The settlement of the conflict has led Karabakh for several decades. Now, with the finalization of the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh and the restoration of territorial integrity, Azerbaijan must revise and reshape its foreign policy priorities. Or the “equality distance” between the Russian-centered Eurasian structures and the Western power bloc is defined. The hostility between Russia and the West has only strengthened Azerbaijan’s determination not to align with either side.

At the same time, it has led to the search for a new geopolitical structure and direction for politics. foreign and economic development has become Baku.

Here, Central Asia emerges as a potential strategic partner for Azerbaijan, offering a mutually beneficial geopolitical and economic alignment.

Azerbaijan’s foreign policy has undergone several changes against the background of recent geopolitical changes and recent crises, especially the current war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza.

Baku’s military domination of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 and the subsequent support of the West to Armenia in the economic and political arenas have caused friction in Azerbaijan’s relations with the West and weakened one of the strongest pillars of the country’s balanced foreign policy since independence.

However, Baku is using its pivotal position in the Eurasian energy and connectivity map to strengthen relations with major power centers in the West while diversifying its foreign policy. It is determined to engage more closely with non-Western power poles in the Middle East and Asia.

This geopolitical calculation is driven by many factors, but mainly common roots, ethno-linguistic kinship and historical heritage. It includes the joint. The concept of the unity of the Turks is the source of a different attitude from Baku towards its neighbors.

These historical and linguistic links in recent years have led to a significant change towards greater political and economic convergence among the governments. It has caused a crack. In this regard, the Organization of Turkish States (OTS), which is loosely modeled on the European Union, has the potential to become a transnational organization if managed effectively.

OTS member countries They have also had the chance to turn their integrationist ideas into concrete projects such as the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route – also known as the Middle Corridor – whose importance has only increased in light of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The increasing importance of the Middle Corridor has also drawn more international attention to this region. The European Union recently announced the allocation of 10 billion euros for the development of this massive connectivity project that bypasses Russia’s infrastructure.

In this significant investment, 33 infrastructure projects, with A special focus has been placed on railway projects for financing. The Middle Corridor further highlights the key position of Azerbaijan, which plays an important role in this framework by acting as a vital link between Europe and Asia.

In other words, Azerbaijan—or, more precisely, Azerbaijan and Turkey (the two countries that usually cooperate in such geopolitical and geoeconomic projects)—could become a bottleneck for the West seeking deeper connections with Central Asia.

Since the 1990s, Turkey has increased its political and even military presence in the region by signing military contracts with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and selling Turkish drones to Kyrgyzstan with its economic expansion to Central Asia.

In addition to the countries of the region, Baku has become a strategic partner for this country by increasing exchanges with China. Recent changes in the region have made Azerbaijan’s government interested in partnering with China.

Azerbaijan is willing to upgrade its partnership and cooperation with China to a “new qualitative level, to a strategic partnership”. . China has already signed a similar agreement with Georgia in July 2023, indicating Beijing’s interest in improving its position in the South Caucasus against the backdrop of Russia’s declining regional position.

Baku Focusing on deeper relations with China, it aims for stronger participation in political, economic and geopolitical fields. Politically, Azerbaijan has long sought greater coordination with China in upholding the principle of territorial integrity at the global level. At the same time, Baku wants more Chinese support for the new regional status that was successfully formed after the Second Karabakh War. Azerbaijan’s leadership has repeatedly declared its strong commitment to the One China policy.

Although China’s approval of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been clearly Azerbaijan’s support for the One China policy, Baku has rejected the approach It appreciates Beijing’s measured and law-based approach to this issue compared to the biased attitude of some Western partners.  

After gaining full control over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan has invited foreign companies, including Chinese companies, to invest in the reconstruction process. Baku sees foreign investments of this kind in Karabakh not only as a financial contribution to the improvement of the region, but also as political support for its legitimate claims to this land.

Baku also sees huge potential sees in its economic relations with China. In 2023, trade between the Republic of Azerbaijan and China reached 2.5 billion dollars with a growth of 47.5%. Most notably, China has overtaken Turkey as Azerbaijan’s second largest import partner.

Although bilateral trade is highly asymmetric in China’s favor, Azerbaijan is seeking new agreements with Beijing to ease its access. It is to the big market of China.

For some time, the Middle Corridor multimodal transport project connecting China to European markets through Central Asia and the South Caucasus has been at the center of economic cooperation discussions between Baku And it has been Beijing. After the Ukraine war crippled regional supply chains, China now seems to have invested in further developing this route to diversify its supply routes to Europe and expand its economic sphere into Central Asia and further into the South Caucasus and the Black Sea.

Of course, it is worth noting that the widening of the gap between China and the West in the framework of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the reduction of Russian influence in the neighborhood and the new confidence of Azerbaijan after the victory in the Karabakh war, made Baku to The big game in the international arena is encouraging.

Deepening cooperation with China against the background of the emerging multipolar system may serve the interests of Azerbaijan to prevent the hegemony of a single power pole in the South Caucasus. slow Baku and Beijing are of the same opinion and concerned about Western interference in their internal affairs, especially the biased stance towards their territorial integrity.

Looking ahead, it seems that that Azerbaijan intends to show itself not only as a Caucasian or Caspian country, but also as a bridge to Central Asia. This strategic position sends a clear message, especially to Western powers that seek deeper cooperation with Central Asia.

Azerbaijan, along with Turkey and China, in the region as a low alternative. It is more dangerous than aligning with Eurasian structures centered on Russia or the Western power bloc. In the current situation, Azerbaijan’s association with Turkey and China has provided relative stability and opportunity for Baku.

Note: Eurasia expert Masoumeh Mohammadi

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© Webangah News Hub has translated this news from the source of Tasnim News Agency
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