NATO is not a panacea for Azerbaijan

Former Advisor on the National Security Zbigniew Brzesinski called Caucasus “Euroasian Balkans.” Caucasus is the central link of inter-civilization boundary stretching from Balkans through the Channels and Caspian Sea to China, that is the object of many-century play of world powers. Today, the play consist in creation of transport corridor for pumping over Caspian oil and securing Europe’s “energy independence” on Islamic world and Russia. Already in 1997, Caucasus was mentioned by US Department of State among other zones of America’s strategic interests. The West supposes, that if Russia and OSCE can settle neither Abkhazian, nor Nagorny-Karabakh conflict, Georgia and Azerbaijan’s request to NATO for aid is a rational act. While issues of Caucasian nations that now belong to different states are being charged by these two states to Moscow’s account. The West prefers to agree with it, taking into account its concern about Caspian oil and its natural distrust as for empire ambitions of Russia. “I should notice with regret that after the USSR’s disintegration, the policy carried out by the RF towards the newly formed independent states caused aggravation of contradictions between them and Russia, what in its tern provoked Karabakh and Abkhaz conflicts,” – ex-speaker of Azerbaijan parliament, Rasul Kuliev said in his interview to PRAVDA.Ru correspondent. “It is well known that Azerbaijan has been practically carrying war with Armenia for 10 years. About 20 percent of our territory was occupied by Armenia, and of course Azerbaijan cannot help feeling concerned about military agreements between Armenia and Russia. The question is that we are afraid of direct incursion by the troops located in military bases in Armenia, because Azerbaijan has common border with Russia, and there are enough Russian militaries there. The concern is that Russian troops can provide Armenia with the most up-to-date military technologies, while Azerbaijan cannot believe in Armenia’s peaceful intentions,” – Kuliev goes on. Russia’s negative role in Karabakh conflict certainly cannot be fully denied, though much water has flowed under the bridges. At that time, Russia did its best to maintain its influence upon Caucasus, because it understood that its position would be occupied by somebody else. If Russia leaves Caucasus, NATO will come there, what is occurring now. In my view, Russia should not be accused of empire ambitions: it simply defends its borders and stands up for its economical and geopolitical interests in the region. This became especially noticeable after the master was replaced in the Kremlin. Russia’s new policy towards Caucasian republics is more pragmatic and even a bit cynical somewhere. Having taken advance of financial crisis in Turkey, as a result of which it lost its control over the situation in the regions for some time, Russia is trying to restore its positions in Caucasus. Latest events in Georgia and Heidar Aliev’s recent visit to Moscow one more time show that the Kremlin is on the right way. The situation however should not be idealized. Washington hardly will hand over Caucasus to Moscow. The US represented in the region by its brother-in-arms Turkey does not intend to give such a chance to Russia. Georgia and Azerbaijan always threaten Russia with their entry into NATO. “To be honest, Russia cannot equally answer to this threat. It is without doubt that we are losing our influence either upon Middle Asia, or upon Transcaucasian region. We have no money to keep military bases in this region, while NATO has it,” – deputy chairman of State Duma Security Committee, Georgy Maitakov supposes. Though Azerbaijanian and Georgian politicians wrongly suppose that all the problems will be settled with NATO’s appearance in the region. This is only an allusion. It is noticeable that this initiative of Baku was not positively estimated by the US. The United States one more time showed that it is against any attempts to isolate Armenia and to intensify Baku’s confrontation with Ankara and Yerevan, because it understands that such prospect could cause inevitable widening of Armenian-Iranian relations and further strengthening of Armenian-Russian military and political cooperation. “Azerbaijan is not being admitted into NATO, while Heidar Aliev as a president considers it to be his main task to make his country NATO member,” – Magomed Chaguchiev, chairman of Caucasian Nations’ Union said. NATO is necessary for Azerbaijan to constantly tease Russia and Iran, while trying to obtain more concessions in energetic sphere, and not only in it. What conclusion could be made from it: first, NATO is not a panacea for the region, rather vice versa, because Azerbaijan or Georgia’s entry into this organization could destabilize the situation. Second, it is no more possible to make a fool of Russia, while on the other hand Russia must carry out a more weighted policy in the region, both in economical and in political field. Interest, sober calculation and neighbourly relations – that should by the base of Russia’s foreign policy. Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru photograph: NATO’s Secretary General George Robertson

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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