Azer Khudiyev: The role of Azerbaijan in the cooperation of the Caspian and Black Sea countries under the 'One Belt, One Road' project
Today, in our world that israpidly changing and full of turbulence, even many developedcountries are increasingly confronted with non-standard andnon-systemic challenges and threats of modern times. Increasingly, wecan observe how the economic and political foundations of some statesare weakening and sometimes collapsing. In the light of all thesecomplex and non-systemic geopolitical processes, there is a growingneed for rallying all countries and making a really weightycontribution that would serve to form a new geopolitical value forthe benefit of human development.
In this context, Azerbaijanover the past 15 years of its state development stage has made animpressive contribution to the development and preservation ofstability not only in the South Caucasus, but also in the countriesof the European region.
Our countryis the engine of ambitious and large-scale infrastructure projects ofinternational importance in the region. The government of Azerbaijanthrough these projects, so to say, is changing the entireinfrastructure map of the whole region today. The participation ofAzerbaijan in the implementation of the One Belt, One Road projecthas a multi-faceted character. As a main participant of thisambitious project, Azerbaijan performs a substantive andcommunicative function. In this capacity, our country is ageopolitical hub in the South Caucasus - it is not onlygeographically located at the crossroads of the 'West-East' and'North-South' routes, but also, as a member of regional andinternational geopolitical, geo-economic, geo-cultural structures,performs specific communicative function within several projects thatare designed to build bridges between the West and the East.
Undoubtedly,among such projects, One Belt, One Road takes a special place. Thebasis of this project's philosophy lies the thesis that in thecurrent world there is no absolutely independent country - “all areinterconnected with everyone”. Therefore, humanity is a complex andopen system. It has been scientifically proven that the existence ofany element of such systems largely depends on the existence of othercomponents. These “others” geographically can be located both inthe neighborhood and tens of thousands of kilometers away.Specifically saying, our world has become very "sensitive"in all spheres of life. This thesis takes place both at the level ofa specific society and humanity in general.
In thecontext of these arguments, we find very interesting the thoughts ofour President Ilham Aliyev about the place and role of Azerbaijan inthe framework of the One Belt, One Road project in his recentinterview with the Xinhua news agency. Ilham Aliyev stressed: “I amconvinced that geopolitics lie at the heart of transport projectsconnecting various countries. These projects affect the geopoliticalsituation, contribute to stability and predictability, and createinterdependence. Without neighbors, we cannot become a transitcountry. That is, it is a chain of states, and we are located on thepath that stretches from the East to the West and from the North tothe South. Thereby we connect continents and countries and build aneven more predictable future.” (1)
Thus, forofficial Baku, the One Belt, one Road initiative is attractive inthree aspects: 1) it can develop economic cooperation betweencountries and regions; 2) is can significantly contribute tostrengthening the security system in a wide geopolitical space; 3) itcan also serve to strengthen and develop intercultural andinter-civilizational relations, and encourage contacts betweennations.
In ouropinion, in view of these theses, it is possible to analyze theperspective of Azerbaijan’s cooperation under this project with thecountries of the Caspian and Black Sea basins. This topic is relevanton the eve of the second International Cooperation Forum, which willbe devoted to the One Belt, One Road project. The validity of ourapproach is also due to the fact that Azerbaijan already has richexperience in cooperation with the Black Sea-Caspian countries.Several years ago, in one of our articles, we addressed this issue inmore details. (see: 2). There we tried to analyze the Azerbaijanirole in creating a new European security architecture in the contextof cooperation with the countries of the Black Sea-Caspian basin. Letus point out the essential, from our view point, moments that areconsonant with the topic of this article.
It is knownthat Western and Russian politicians and analysts do not consider theBlack Sea and Caspian basins separately. They view it as a singlesystem that covers both basins (see, e.g.: 3 and 4) in all theirsecurity models (energy too), this is. For us, the functionaldefinition of the 'Black Sea-Caspian region' notion has the followingmeaning: the region that unites East and West.
Subsequently,security requires the formation of a network of “measuring points”of the situation in all countries of the region with oneorganizational and conceptual “knot”. As world practice shows,the direct path to this is the establishment of confidence-buildingmeasures between states as well as mending their full cooperation.
Azerbaijan’scooperation with the Black Sea-Caspian countries is built preciselywithin these principles. After the One Belt, One Road was initiated,it became possible to apply these principles in a wider geopoliticaland geo-economic space. Particularly, Azerbaijan, as a geopoliticaland geo-economic hub of the South Caucasus, was able to play the roleof a bridge between the participants of the One Belt, One Roadproject, and this is specifically expressed in establishing economic,energy and transit relationships between the Black Sea and Caspiancountries.
This issuehas become even more relevant against after the European countriesjoined the One Belt, One Road project, as documents on cooperationunder this project have already been signed between China and some EUcountries. On 27 August 2018, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotziasand Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed a memorandum ofcooperation under the One Belt, One Road initiative. And on 5December of the same year, a similar document was signed betweenPortugal and China. The document was endorsed in the presence of theChinese President Xi Jinping and the Portuguese President DineshJoseph D'Souza.On 23 March 2019, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and the Ministerof Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China (PRC) signed amemorandum of cooperation within the framework of the One Belt, OneRoad project. And finally, a similar document has already been signedbetween Switzerland and the PRC. The statement by the Swiss Ministryof Finance emphasizes that the promotion of trade cooperation,investment and projects' financing in the third countries along theOne Belt, One Road route in accordance with the basic principles ofcooperation and within the framework of international standards andlegislation in the respective countries, is the main purpose ofsigning this document. Thus, already four EU and Schengen zonecountries are starting to partake in the One Belt, One Road project.
These newfacts even more actualize the creation of a single transitory,geo-economic, energy system along the geopoliticalAsia-Caucasus-Europe belt. And here Azerbaijan, as a South Caucasusgeopolitical hub, plays a special role in the process of the BlackSea-Caspian countries' integration. Why precisely Azerbaijan?Because, firstly, Azerbaijan is not only one of the main projectparticipants: there are other 63 countries-major participants).Secondly, Azerbaijan is the initiator of several energy megaprojectsof international importance, such as 'Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan','Baku-Tbilisi-Kars', TAP, TANAP etc., within the framework of whichan international cooperation group has been created with several EUmembers, including Italy.
We areconfident that with a reasonable and objective approach to thisproblem, all participants of the One Belt, One Road project willgain. In that case, such principles as mutual perception,interaction, cooperation and harmonious co-development will bring aspecial advantage to the Black Sea-Caspian basin. And Azerbaijan, astable country with minimized investment risks in a rapidly changingregion, will play an even more active role along the West-East andNorth-South routes, where the main principle of work is mutuallybeneficial, easy and comprehensive cooperation of all countries.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev gave an interview to the Chinese Xinhua / AZERTAC, 17 April 2019// https://azertag.az/en/xeber/President_Ilham_Aliyev_was_interviewed_by_Chinese_Xinhua_agency-1271220 .
Azer Khudiyev. Azerbaijan and a new system of European security//
BiltenSlovenske vojske, GeneralštabSlovenske vojske, Junij2010 – 12/št. 2, s.145-152.
3.АdiyedvА.,Ryabtsev V. Geopolitics of the 'Black Sea – Caucasus – Caspian'(I) //https://odnarodyna.org/content/geopolitika-zony-chernomore-kavkaz-kaspiy-i
4. АdiyedvА., RyabtsevV.Геополитика зоны «Черноморье - Кавказ- Каспий» (II)//https://odnarodyna.org/content/geopolitika-zony-chernomore-kavkaz-kaspiy-ii
Hudiyev Azer Hudayar oglu - Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Ukraine