How is Azerbaijan tackling global challenges through the NAM?
    Grabbing more platforms for justice

    ANALYTICS  06 July 2023 - 16:29

    Analytics Department Caliber.Az

    On July 5, Azerbaijan hosted The Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau themed “NAM: United and steadfast in confronting emerging challenges”. The high-level meeting in Baku is particularly important as the formation of a new global order is in progress. In essence, influential global powers are once more delineating their spheres of influence.

    NAM serves as a platform for 120 countries that have chosen not to align themselves formally with any significant power bloc. It stands as the largest collective of states worldwide, second only to the United Nations. Transformed into a robust platform for global discourse, this meeting has once more convened numerous influential political figures from across the globe to tackle pressing contemporary issues on the agenda.

    Azerbaijan assumed the NAM chairmanship in October 2019 at a critical time when the world faced the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic followed by a global socio-economic crisis. Moreover, during its chairmanship, Azerbaijan was engaged in a counter-military operation with neighbouring Armenia over the Karabakh region, resulting in the former's military victory and the liberation of occupied territories.

    In the post-war period, Azerbaijan became keen to develop new foreign policy tools amid the shifting regional and global geopolitical conditions to advance its interests and boost regional influence.

    In this regard, the NAM chairmanship became a viable option for Baku to deter international pressure and create more space for diplomatic manoeuvres enabling it not to fall under the influence of one particular actor. This approach became more relevant following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which opened more horizons in front of Azerbaijan, namely in the energy field.

    While the European Union (EU) member states faced harsh energy deficits, inflation, and global supply chain disruption, other countries like Azerbaijan offered their assistance. As such, Azerbaijan significantly boosted natural gas exports to Europe, delivering a total of 6.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to foreign markets in the first quarter of this year, including 2.9 bcm to Europe, 2.7 bcm to Türkiye, and 0.9 bcm to Georgia.

    In March 2023, European markets received nearly 612 million cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan, generating about €596 million in revenues for Azerbaijan during the reporting period.

    However, the post-Karabakh war realities were not as smooth as expected in Baku due to some Western countries' pressure on Azerbaijan, frequently citing "concerns regarding the ethnic Armenian community of Karabakh." Despite assurances of Baku that all ethnic Armenians will be granted Azerbaijani citizenship upon request, the doubling standards further ignited the diplomatic tensions.

    Therefore, President Ilham Aliyev’s harsh criticism of France for its notorious role in genocidal actions in Algeria and Morocco is unsurprising. According to his statement, nearly 1.5 million Algerians were killed during genocidal French rule, while their sculls still are kept in Paris museum as war trophies. Undoubtedly, Aliyev’s stance gained support from other member countries attending the NAM meeting.

    Indeed, the NAM membership bolstered Azerbaijan's international image and created favourable conditions for it to adjust its long-term balanced foreign policy, as in the case of Iran. Azerbaijan-Iran relations were strained in early 2022 when Tehran accused Baku of deepening ties with its arch-rival Israel and forging the Baku-Ankara-Tel Aviv axis in its northern borders with an attempt "to isolate Iran" from the region.

    Azerbaijan was quick to refute allegations and, unlike in previous years, did not make any visible effort to normalize relations with the neighbouring country, preferring instead to keep land borders closed, and the local Iranian spy network exposed with numerous citizens being arrested for their alleged collaboration with Iranian intelligence.

    Azerbaijani senior officials openly accused Iran of destabilizing regional security by pursuing a staunchly pro-Armenian position and pressuring Yerevan not to sign a final peace agreement with Azerbaijan. However, Iran’s bellicose rhetoric did not yield desired results for Iran, as Azerbaijan ordered the borders to remain closed until October 2023, while the embassy in Tehran also remained closed following the terrorist attack in January 2023.

    As a result, the Iranian authorities decided to take the initiative to mend ties, and in this vein, Foreign Minister Huseyn Abdollahian's visit to Baku to attend the NAM meeting was a crucial milestone. The Iranian foreign minister held a face-to-face meeting with President Ilham Aliyev during the meeting, adding that "it was a crucial and sincere meeting."

    Consequently, the NAM chairmanship granted Azerbaijan additional leverage in terms of regional influence and a more significant role in international politics. Also, the chairmanship term expires soon, and Baku will likely keep a high profile in the NAM as an important global platform for advancing its national interests.


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