Day.Az interview with Dr. Alexandros Petersen
, the expert in the field of international relations, energetic and regional security, the author of The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West.
-What should be done to make the US more active in the issues concerning the South Caucasus and Azerbaijan in particular?
It should be self-evident to U.S. policymakers that the South Caucasus is a geopolitically
important region and that Azerbaijan is a strategically vital partner there for a number of reasons that have to do with top American foreign policy priorities. Unfortunately, this is not obvious in the complicated and distracted policymaking environment in Washington. The best thing that Azerbaijani leaders can do to remind U.S. policymakers is to remain on a firm Western-oriented path, to be seen as a trusted and reliable partner and to offer assistance on foreign policy priorities. Azerbaijan has been doing all of these things for some time and has increasingly received more attention. My advice now would be to stay the course - U.S. policymakers will eventually become used to the idea of Azerbaijan as an ally and the region as important.
-Azerbaijan takes all measures proving its strong commitment to the strategic partnership with the US, but we sometimes don’t see the same attitude from the American side, especially when it comes to the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. What do you think about current position of Washington on the NK problem and level of Armenian lobby’s impact on that position?
The Armenian lobby in Washington is particularly powerful, especially in Congress, but the main reason that U.S. policymakers do not focus on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as much as they should is because it seems to many casual observers that it is not solvable. This misconception, that the conflict presents an ethno-religious web in which no American leader wants to be tangled, is the main reason that high-level U.S. policymakers stay away from pushing for conflict settlement. The leadership in Baku can help to change this misconception by presenting very practical scenarios through which settlement can be achieved, and by showing a strong willingness to be the more serious, settlement-oriented side in the conflict. Azerbaijan has already done this to a large extent, but as I mentioned a lot of this is about staying on a good course until the U.S. sees an opportunity in conflict settlement instead of a liability.
- How would you estimate the European Parliament resolution on NK, adopted on October 23 which expresses the importance of the conflict settlement based on four resolutions by UN Security Council?
I think this is a fair and accurate statement. It simply makes clear the reality on the ground in the conflict zone. It is good that it refers to the multiple UN Resolutions calling for Armenian forces to withdraw. However, it is unclear just how much pressure the Eastern Partnership mechanism or the European Parliament can put on the leadership in Armenia. After all, as of September, Armenia has formalized its position as a de-facto neo-Sovietized part of Russia's sphere of control in Eurasia. The fundamental problem underlying the conflict and Azerbaijani-Armenian relations is that Armenia is not an independent actor. Armenia's leadership takes its orders from Moscow and the Kremlin is seeking to undermine the policy independence of the Eurasian states. One of the primary ways it is doing that is through perpetuating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
-How do you see the future development of Azerbaijan after Presidential elections that held in the Republic not long ago?
My sense is that Azerbaijan's leadership will continue its sound management of the economy and will perpetuate and hopefully expand the policy of growing SOFAZ as a rainy day fund and strategic investment vehicle. I expect to see the further development of important institutions for good governance and economic diversification, as well as a continued focus on developing human capital. This last point is extremely important. The future of Azerbaijan depends almost entirely on the quality of the country's human capital.