Azer Khudiyev: The Munich debate: a comparison of two political schools

Azer Khudiyev: The Munich debate: a comparison of two political schools

Traditionally, the annual Munich Security Conference brings together heads of states, ministers of defense and foreign affairs, representatives of business and international organizations from many countries around the world. This year, from 14 to 16 February, the Bayerischer Hofhotel in Munich hosted conference participants from more than 40 countries. The most important issues of the world's political agenda were discussed. The conference participants tried to find answers to current geopolitical, economic, political, military issues and problems related to establishing of a new global security system. In various contexts, the speakers noted the danger of increased turbulence in world geopolitics, non-compliance with international law in interstate relations, and unresolved regional conflicts.

One of the actual topics in the context of exiting the turbulence ofworld geopolitics is the establishing of real footholds for dialogueand implementation of existing and new forms of global and regionalcooperation. Theoretically and practically, these issues are relatedto close interconnection of global and regional geopolitics. The range of topics discussed at the Munich Conference shows therelevance of this thesis. The Conference not only gave a 'generalassessment of the security situation in the world' but also analyzedthe state of the West as a geopolitical region. This issue wasaddressed exactly in the context of the interconnection of worldgeopolitics with EU foreign policy. It includes the issues related to EU members' cooperation in defense, new challenges that emergedbetween the US and NATO allies, the threat of turbulence where'security problems have mixed with climate change issues' etc.

Some discussions at the forum were devoted to the issues of Iran, Syriaand Libya. New accents of the U.S. foreign policy, the problem of theEU's expanding influence, U.S.-China trade war, Russia'srevitalization in world politics were discussed.

Despite the fact that the conference saw unexpected shifts of focus, intrying to take a fresh look at world politics, many participants inthe discussions realized one important point feature of global geopolitics. Specifically, the contradiction between the content andobjectives of superpowers' foreign policies and international law isdeepening. And this factor is seen in the process of peacefulresolution of regional conflicts.

To be more frank, we mean that some international law playersunjustifiably support and lobby aggressor states and apply doublestandards towards other states. Thus, major states, promoting theirpersonal geopolitical interests, create an opportunity for aggressorstates to disregard the international law imperative, and allow themto manipulate the negotiation situation and thereby deceive theinternational community.

With this contradiction in place, dangerous conflicts in various regionsof the world have not been resolved for many years. This calls intoquestion the prospects for regional cooperation and emergence of anew sustainable regional security system. The relevance of this topicwas once again demonstrated by the debate at the Munich Conferencebetween the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the PrimeMinister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan.

It was not just a discussion of two politicians, but the debate of twopolitical schools. Ilham Aliyev represented modern dialogue policy,while Nikol Pashinyan clearly looked like an echo of an outdatedpolicy, aggressive and not ready for a civilized dialogue. At thesame time, this debate clearly showed the contradictions betweenglobal and regional geopolitics, which we mentioned above.

The head of the government of the aggressor country, Armenia, tried inevery possible way to avoid a real substantive dialogue bymanipulating words and distorting even known historical facts.

And the President of Azerbaijan, strictly observing the rules ofpolitical etiquette in the framework of international law, restrainedand clearly argued his thoughts. It is no coincidence that even manyArmenian experts and politicians clearly consider Ilham Aliyev thewinner of this debate.

The oretically,this debate can be deemed in various aspects. For example, theanalysis of these debates in the context of an individual's role inmodern politics, one can draw interesting conclusions. Fromtheoretical perspective, this issue is now considered among the mostimportant ones in modern geopolitics. International scholars areconfident that the factor of leader’s personality in moderngeopolitical conditions plays a significant role. A politician, as aperson, can even decide the destiny of global affairs.

During the debate, the President of Azerbaijan distinguished himself fromhis opponent by a high level of education, a culture of a modernpolitical leader and good command of English. He demonstrated the21st century's leader -- open to dialogue, observing politicalculture, restraint in any situation, with deep knowledge of politics.

And Nikol Pashinyan looked like a provincial politician with poorEnglish, continuously trying to artificially manipulate the situationthrough distortion of facts and real logic of processes.

This moment was especially manifested in his words about the formerShaumyan district of Azerbaijan. N.Pashinyan wanted to present thisarea as part of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ilham Aliyev immediately respondedand corrected him having said that this former region had never beenpart of the administrative structure of Nagorno-Karabakh. N.Pashinyanimmediately agreed with the President of Azerbaijan. It is strange,then, why did the Armenian Prime Minister openly lie to internationalexperts who knew the situation? And that happened because there wasno historical truth behind him and he was not properly prepared forsuch debates, so he preferred to manipulate the situation in everyway. However, the overall picture for him was deplorable.

A classic political lesson for the Prime Minister of Armenia was IlhamAliyev's remark on creation of the second Armenian state. Hoping forthe principle of peoples' right to self-determination, N.Pashinyanwanted to dissuade his opponent. But this trick also failed. By theend of debate, Ilham Aliyev calmly and logically commented on thisissue and expressed the historical thesis: “The Armenian peoplehave already self-determined itself. They have an Armenian state. Myadvice to them: may they find another place on the globe in order todetermine themselves for the second time but not in Azerbaijan!”

The sethoughts concretely and concisely express the firm position of theAzerbaijani leadership in resolving the conflict: the conflict can beresolved only within the territorial integrity of the Republic ofAzerbaijan! Period!

This was understood in Armenia. Therefore, many Armenian experts considerN.Pashinyan's participation in the debate a disgrace for the Armenianside. Here is just one example. Andranik Tevanyan, a politicalscientist, wrote that 'Aliyev’s behavior, his posture, a periodicgrin at Pashinyan ... (when Pashinyan enthusiastically invented abicycle about his micro-revolution) created the impression that wewere the losing side in that war.' And he concludes: 'Pashinyan,speaking to international audience with such background and image,once again proved that the head of state’s costume is too big forhim! Too big!'.

Yes, the advantage and political experience of Ilham Aliyev was obviousand unambiguous. The Azerbaijani President's personal qualitiesplayed significant role there and that was recognized even by leadingArmenian political experts. Still, one should not forget about apolitical and moral factor, which is of great importance in apolitical leader's performance.

Weme an a leader's attitude towards justice, humanity, objectivity andthe norms of international law. By his behavior and thoughts IlhamAliyev showed that he is a fair, humane and objective leader. ThePresident of Azerbaijan observes all norms of international lawrigidly.

Rightly so in his speech he emphasized the situation of compliance withinternational law. Ilham Aliyev said: 'With regard to the issue ofinternational law, I must say again: Nagorno-Karabakh is an integralpart of Azerbaijan. The UN Security Council has adopted fourresolutions which require the withdrawal of Armenian troops from theoccupied territories. The requirements of these resolutions are stillnot implemented. Therefore, any settlement path that will be reachedas a result of peace negotiations should ensure the preservation ofthe internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.'

Honestly, we also do not fully understand the position and behavior of thedebate moderator: when N. Pashinyan cynically declared historicalnonsense that, supposedly, once in antiquity only Georgians andArmenians lived in Transcaucasia, and there were no Azerbaijanisthere. We have not seen the moderator's response to this absurdity.But when Azerbaijani President emphasized a real historical fact withone sentence -- at the beginning of the 19th century, 70% of thepopulation of Yerevan were ethnic Azerbaijanis -- for some reason themoderator rated this information as 'unconstructive'.

Apparently, the elements of double standards still remain in the politicalperception of Europeans that greatly hinders the fair resolution ofthe Nagorno-Karabakh type conflicts. We think that a rightfulsolution to conflicts will come when our Western partners eventuallyrecognize historical reality and depart from double standards'policy, and their constructive approach will be really useful inestablishing peace and stability in the South Caucasus.


Azer Hudiyev

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Ukraine

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