Munich bridging the gap between Baku and Washington
    Normalisation with Yerevan on the horizon

    ANALYTICS  18 February 2024 - 12:05

    Samir Valiev

    Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is on a visit to Munich, continues to hold meetings on the sidelines of the security conference. Fidan, Scholz, Zelenskyy, Borg, Barzani, Herzog and a whole host of other names. Despite the diversity of interlocutors, all meetings were held at the initiative of the opposite side, which more than clearly indicates the increased authority of Azerbaijan and Ilham Aliyev personally in the international arena. And now, according to the press service of the head of state, Aliyev met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich based on a request from the US side.

    It is worth noting that this meeting was certainly necessary for the normalization of US-Azerbaijani relations, which have been negatively pressured by some US statements and steps towards Azerbaijan since last autumn. Suffice it to recall the biased statements of US Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien on November 15 at the hearings of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, because of which Blinken himself then had to call Aliyev to relieve the tension between the two states. And, obviously, realizing that a telephone conversation cannot always replace a face-to-face conversation, the American side came forward with an initiative to organize a meeting of the Secretary of State with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Munich. And Aliyev gave his agreement in principle.

    During the meeting, Blinken praised the fact that this year's COP29 climate forum will be held in Azerbaijan.

    "We seriously support this issue. We want to do everything we can to make this event a success and to ensure a lasting and dignified peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The US has done and will continue to do useful work in this direction. There are many topics for discussion," the US diplomat said in particular.

    In turn, President Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan is committed to the peace process and that the early conclusion of a peace agreement is in our national interests.

    It is noteworthy that the tone of the conversation between the Azerbaijani leader and the US Secretary of State was extremely benevolent. Noting that the US highly values bilateral relations with Azerbaijan, Blinken emphasized good opportunities for further strengthening of bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries. Ilham Aliyev, in turn, noted that there are favourable opportunities for the expansion of partnership between our countries. At the same time, the head of state emphasized that there is already de facto peace in the region and that Azerbaijani-American bilateral relations should develop independently, outside the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    This remark of President Aliyev can be regarded as a continuation of his words from his inaugural speech that "the process of normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia should be removed from the international agenda". That is, Baku has clearly outlined red lines in front of Washington. And, to all appearances, Aliyev's interlocutor agreed with this. This is understandable, as cooperation and partnership between the US and Azerbaijan has a long history. The relations between our countries have prospects for cooperation in political, economic, trade, security, energy and other spheres, and it is counterproductive to attach Armenia to them. The development of bilateral relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan should not become a hostage of the processes between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Moreover, the Americans cannot fail to see that the normalization process in relations between Baku and Yerevan is proceeding in its own way. Aliyev clearly and loudly announced: the war is over, there is no more Karabakh problem. Azerbaijan has no other intentions, no territorial claims to Armenia. We are in favour of peace and stability in the region. And if the United States also supports this issue, we will be only glad.

    By the way, the fact that Washington would like to continue the equal partnership with Baku, which has been established over the 30 years since Azerbaijan's independence, is also indicated by the fact that President Ilham Aliyev also held meetings with other U.S. officials during his visit to Munich at the suggestion of the U.S. side. Thus, Aliyev held talks with the Special Representative of the US President on Climate Issues John Kerry, who expressed confidence that the decisions to be taken in Baku within the framework of the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will give a serious impetus to international efforts in the process of mitigating the consequences of climate change. In turn, Ilham Aliyev invited John Kerry to visit Azerbaijan to participate in COP29. Kerry said he would gladly participate in the event.

    During Aliyev's meeting with Amos Hochstein, the US President's Special Coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security, Azerbaijan's strategic importance in the region was emphasized, the development of the Middle Corridor and Azerbaijan's role in this process were discussed, as well as cooperation within the framework of the SOR29.

    All the above-mentioned once again demonstrate that Azerbaijani-American relations have prospects for development. The American side shows direct interest in the development of relations with Azerbaijan. The tone and mood of the interlocutors allow us to assume with cautious optimism that the Munich meetings have left the previous problems and misunderstandings in the past.


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