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Tuesday June 28 2022

Washington, Baku's shared security interests

4 April 2022 13:30 (UTC+04:00)
Washington, Baku's shared security interests

By Sabina Mammadli

Azerbaijan-US relations have entered a new phase of development. The United States' new approach to the regional geographical realities, as well as its assistance with regional reconciliation and state funding, demonstrate Washington's growing interest in Azerbaijan.

As previously stated, the U.S. State Department is considering providing $9.1 million in financial assistance to Azerbaijan. Another $600,000 could be spent in Azerbaijan on military exercises.

Another recent step toward deeper cooperation has been President Joe Biden's letter of congratulations on Novruz to President Ilham Aliyev, followed by President Aliyev's response letter.

The latest developments in relations with the United States elicited a range of positive reactions in Azerbaijan.

In response to Biden's Novruz greetings, Ziyafat Asgarov, chairman of the parliamentary committee on defence, security, and combating corruption, told local media that the United States values Azerbaijan.

He stressed that Washington and Azerbaijan have common security interests.

"The U.S. and Azerbaijan have common security interests, and Biden has demonstrated Washington's willingness to collaborate to address them," the chairman said.

According to him, the U.S. will work with Azerbaijan to address common security concerns, promote regional reconciliation, and explore new opportunities for economic cooperation.

Bahruz Maharramov, a member of the Azerbaijan-U.S. working group on interparliamentary relations, shared a similar viewpoint.

He stated that Washington recognizes the importance of cooperation with Baku in ensuring its interests in the region and that Azerbaijan is recognized as a new power center in the South Caucasus.

Novel look at regional situation

As evidenced by Biden's letter to President Aliyev, the reality of the end of the Karabakh conflict is already accepted in the United States.

When comparing the letter from last year's Novruz to this year's, one can reach these conclusions. Although Biden's Novruz greeting last year reflected the issue of "resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict", the same detail was not included this year.

Azerbaijan's position on the post-war situation is well known: Baku has repeatedly made all the necessary proposals to sign a peace treaty, recognize each other's territorial integrity, and begin border delimitation and demarcation.

As Ziyafat Asgarov mentioned, US assistance to regional reconciliation demonstrates Washington's support for the normalization of relations and the signing of a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"All of this demonstrates that the United States' desire to work closely with the Azerbaijani government in the coming period is an initiative aimed at continuing cooperation not only in old traditional areas but also in new directions," he added.

Political observer Elchin Mirzabayli believes that the directions of Biden's letter confirm the global acceptance of the realities created by Azerbaijan in the region, respect for our country's sovereign rights, the normalization of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations, and achieving long-term peace.

"Given U.S. President Joe Biden's letter and the importance placed on the development of mutual cooperation, it is safe to say that our country's role in regional, subregional, and global processes will continue to grow, and Azerbaijan will become a fulcrum for peace, security, and mutually beneficial cooperation in the South Caucasus," the politician added.

All of this suggests that Washington has come to terms with a new geopolitical reality in the South Caucasus region, he stressed.

US-Azerbaijan strategic co-op

Azerbaijan, as the only leading country in a strategically important region, is of particular interest to Americans, owing to their understanding that collaboration with our country in any area will ensure their success.

The U.S. interest in Azerbaijan can also be explained by the fact that the country recognizes the region as an important crossroads between Europe and Asia.

The planned opening of the Zangazur corridor and communications in the South Caucasus, and subsequent large-scale projects will benefit the entire world.

Concerning the country's international standing, Azerbaijani MP Elshan Musayev stated that Azerbaijan's importance and role in international relations, as well as the process of resolving issues in the fields of security and energy, are growing.

"The U.S. is interested in continuing strategic cooperation with Azerbaijan and developing relations," the MP added.

Later, referring to President Ilham Aliyev's response letter to President Biden, in which he stressed the importance of joint efforts for the further development of cooperation, the MP stated that the points emphasized in both letters provide grounds to conclude that Azerbaijani-U.S relations are at the highest level and that there are no obstacles to their development.

The MP also emphasized Azerbaijan's balanced foreign policy and the president's repeated statements that Azerbaijan is interested in normal relations with all countries.

"At the same time, Azerbaijan serves as a major guarantor of peace and democracy through its international activity, leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement, and global beneficial initiatives," Musayev said.

Elchin Mirzabayli also expressed his similar thoughts on the subject.

President Biden's approach, he believes, demonstrates that the U.S. values Azerbaijan's contribution to peace, cooperation, security, and development and that there is ample opportunity for Washington-Baku ties in critical areas.

Economic ties

Considering the ongoing situation in the world, global economies continuously slide downhill. And the U.S. is no exception.

At the same time, Azerbaijan's logistics and energy potential as an economic partner are important to the U.S. today. As the United States abandons Russian energy, Azerbaijan emerges as the natural choice for a global alternative energy source.

According to American political scientist Peter Theis, executive director of the Azerbaijani-American Center for Economic and Strategic Studies, the Biden administration should seriously consider opening up new markets for US industrial and medical products.

The expert mentioned the recent opening of Fuzuli International Airport and the opportunities that trade there could bring.

“The Fuzuli International Airport has recently opened, through which the United States can increase trade not only with Azerbaijan but also be able to export its goods to the countries of Central Asia,” noted Theis.

He also emphasized that the two countries have a lot of potential for commerce and trade, which could benefit both the U.S. manufacturing sector and the Azerbaijani economy.

Biden’s use of Azerbaijani words

Another notable feature of Biden's letter, which was written in English, is that the phrase "Novruz bayram" (Novruz holiday) was written in Azerbaijani.

Experts believe what appears to be a minor detail can be interpreted as a gesture of the world's superpower to Azerbaijan.

"Washington demonstrates once again its interest in cooperation with Baku, and this is reflected in the most delicate moments in diplomatic correspondence," political expert Telman Isa said.

Similarly, Ziyafat Asgarov stated that this detail in the letter is a genuine gesture made by the world superpower towards Azerbaijan and President Ilham Aliyev.

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