Azer Khudiyev: Principles of the new regionalism and the problem of regional security in the South Caucasus

Azer Khudiyev: Principles of the theory of new regionalism and the problem of regional security in the South Caucasus

Against thebackdrop of increasing global geopolitical turbulence every year, theproblem of ensuring regional security becomes even more urgent.According to the common opinion of scientists and politicians, in thetransformation of the modern world order, the regional factor in thepolitical, cultural, geopolitical and economic contexts is consideredan essential instrument influencing the formation of the globalsecurity system. The logic of transition from safe and stable regionsto a safe and stable world requires an appropriate foreign policyfrom regional players. In this context, Azerbaijan's foreign policystands out for its predictability, openness and constructiveness.

The SouthCaucasus has always been considered one of the most complex,controversial and sensitive to external geopolitical influencesregions of the world. In this regard, the complexity of the SouthCaucasus as a concrete fact at the present stage within the logic ofthe formation of a new system of regional security is interesting. Tocharacterize the foreign policy of the states of the region, we willproceed from the concepts of "old regionalism" and "newregionalism" widely used in the intellectual environment.

First, letus make some theoretical and methodological remarks. In Europe, thetheoretical understanding of regionalism began in the 50s of thetwentieth century. This has become relevant against the background ofthe formation of European regional integration. The main attentionwas paid to the study of interstate interaction in the economic andmilitary spheres. The essence of the issue in the geopolitical aspectwas reduced to the possibility of successful formation of closed-typegroups in a bipolar world. This approach is based on a realisticparadigm, the philosophical and theoretical principles of which areset out in the writings of Thomas Hobbes. Within the framework of therealistic paradigm, politics is perceived as an arena ofconfrontation and armed conflicts between states. The concept of "oldregionalism" corresponded to this approach to internationalrelations.

But sincethe late 1980s, some researchers have begun to write about the end ofhistory and the end of international relations, including (see: e.g.:1). They justified their position with the passing of the war of theclassical type and the end of the "cold war". Thus, theStates were faced with the task of abandoning the policy of force. Itwas impossible to ignore the social and political aspects oftransnational interactions. Accordingly, it became necessary todevelop a new approach to regional integration in Europe. In otherwords, the development of the theory of a new regionalism has becomea historical necessity. It had to conform to a new understanding ofthe dynamics and content of international relations. This aspect ofthe problem is intensively analyzed by Western scientists (see: e.g.:2).

Thus, inthe old regionalism, only states were considered subjects of regionalbuilding. It was mainly about military and economic cooperation. Thisconcept was aimed at protecting regional players from the negativeimpact of globalization and the prevalence of groups "closed"to the entry of new members. But these principles were alreadycontrary to the spirit of international relations. The emergence ofthe theory of new regionalism (New Regionalism Theory) in the 80s ofthe 20th century was the logical conclusion of the transformation ofinterstate relations. It was developed by Swedish scientists B.Hettne and F. Soderbaum (see: e.g.: 3). In the new regionalism, bothstates and non-state actors are considered subjects of regionalconstruction, and interaction in all spheres of public life isimportant for it. The new regionalism considers cooperation withinthe region as an integral part of the globalization process andtherefore the predominance of "open" integrationassociations is of fundamental importance for it.

We will notgo into the specific details of the new regionalism, but only notethat the European Union widely uses its principles in conducting itsdomestic and foreign policy. In the policy of development of internalintegration, the EU tries to combine the theory of the newregionalism with the philosophical views on communication andintegration of the famous German philosopher J. Habermas (see: e.g.:4). The EU applies the principles of this theory in the framework ofthe Eastern partnership program and in the policy strategy up to 2004in relation to the Baltic region. They are also reflected in thefundamental European documents, which are focused on the issues ofregionalism. For example, in the "Charter on regionalism"of the European parliamentary community (1988) and in the documentsof the Council of Europe – "Declaration on regionalism inEurope", "European Charter of regional self-government"(1996).

In our opinion, theabovementioned basic provisions of the theory of new regionalism andits comparison with the old regionalism, in the context of moderntheoretical concepts of communication and integration, actualizes thefollowing question: does the foreign policy of the independent statesof the South Caucasus correspond to the principles of the theory ofnew regionalism in terms of security and cooperation? 

Let's startwith the analysis of the foreign policy of the Republic ofAzerbaijan. The main outlines and priority directions of Azerbaijan'sforeign policy were determined by the leader of the nation HeydarAliyev. This was done on the basis of an in-depth analysis of globalgeopolitics and tracing transformations in international relations.Speaking at the 49th session of the UN General Assembly, he noted:"Aggressive nationalism and separatism have become the realitiesof the collapse of the old world order, which gave rise to conflictsin the Caucasus, the Balkans and other parts of the world, which havebecome hot from fire and bloodshed. These conflicts not only hinderthe development of independent States, pose a direct threat to thevery existence of fragile democracies, but also area threat to globalpeace and security" (see: e.g.: 5). This meant that Azerbaijanin its policy resolutely refuses any manifestation of conflict-pronesteps. In its regional policy, Azerbaijan takes seriously intoaccount the fundamental changes that are taking place in the systemof international relations. And "its future basis willundoubtedly be an equal world order, which is already replacingmilitary confrontation and ideological confrontation. The fundamentalprinciples of the new world order are partnership, lasting peace andsecurity for all in accordance with international law and theprinciples and provisions of the Charter of the United Nations"(see: e.g.: 5).

Thus,HeydarAliyev was confident that partnership, lasting peace and securitywould ensure the transition of the world system to the era ofcooperation and prosperity. Azerbaijan is ready "... to walkthis path together, hand in hand with all countries and peoples ofthe world" (see: e.g.: 5). Azerbaijan, aware of its specialresponsibility in the post-confrontational world, pursues a policyfully consistent with the principles of the theory of the newregionalism. The validity of this thesis is proved by specificprograms that are carried out within the framework of Azerbaijan'sforeign policy. They cover energy, economy, culture, security andgeopolitics. Logistics, transit routes, dialogue among civilizationsand religions, humanitarian sphere, global and regional cooperationoccupy a special place in the foreign policy of the Republic. We cangive specific facts.

As a resultof the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, theBaku process has been serving the development of cooperation betweenthe OIC and the EU for several years. This process is an arena ofdialogue between politicians, scientists, business people, mediarepresentatives and public organizations from different countries.The Baku process involves both states and transnational actors.Within the framework of this process, the possibilities of dialoguein all spheres of social and political life are discussed. Thus, theBaku process considers interregional cooperation as an integral partof the globalization process.

Bilateraland trilateral cooperation formats are of great importance inAzerbaijan's foreign policy. The initiator of these formats is theHead of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The cooperationformats, like Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia,Turkey-Azerbaijan-Russia, Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Turkey, etc. areoperating successfully.

In thegeopolitical aspect, Azerbaijan is actually creating new values ofcooperation. Experts on international relations call Azerbaijan a"geopolitical hub of the South Caucasus". Indeed,Azerbaijan is a place of intersection of routes within the frameworkof the "One Belt, One Road" program; West-East andNorth-South transit corridors cross in our country. Thus, Azerbaijanplays an active role in combining global projects ("One Belt,One Road") with opportunities for regional cooperation indifferent areas (bilateral and trilateral cooperation formats +transit corridors of different directions). This multilevel nature ofcooperation in itself is a new geopolitical model of harmonization ofregional cooperation with global projects. We believe that this modelhas great potential for the development of regional cooperation inthe context of the new regionalism policy.

Anotherimportant factor is Azerbaijan's contribution to the formation of theregional security system. This is most clearly expressed in threedirections. First, Azerbaijan actively participates in internationalanti-terrorist programs. Second, Azerbaijan is an active participantin ensuring Europe's energy security. This is said by the leadershipof the United States and leading European countries. Official Baku,implementing major energy projects – Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, TAP,TANAP, Southern Gas Corridor, etc., – proves its commitment toensuring Europe's energy security. Third, Azerbaijan, despite thenon-constructive and militant position of the leadership of theRepublic of Armenia, strictly observes the rules of negotiationswithin the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is a mediator inthe settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In ouropinion, the above-mentioned solid facts from Azerbaijan's foreignpolicy show the compliance of the Republic's foreign policy with theprinciples of the theory of new regionalism. We have already notedthat the EU makes extensive use of these principles in its foreignpolicy.

Againstthis background, Georgia's foreign policy is seen as fully consistentwith the principles of the new regionalism. Georgia, as an associatemember of the EU, strictly observes its commitments in foreignpolicy. In relation to Armenia's foreign policy, this is impossibleto say. Armenia is the only country that pursues a policy based onthe principles of the old regionalism. It pursues a policy from aposition of strength. This is proved by Armenia's occupation of 20%of Azerbaijani lands and refusal to withdraw its troops from theoccupied territories, which are recognized by the internationalcommunity as the territory of Azerbaijan. Armenia does not complywith the requirements of 4 UN Security Council resolutions on thewithdrawal of troops from the occupied territories. Official Yerevanis slowing down the negotiation process conducted by the mediation ofthe OSCE Minsk group with all sorts of artificial pretexts.

Thus, Armenia remains the mainobstacle to the implementation of the new regionalism policy in theSouth Caucasus. Isn't it time to think seriously about solving thisproblem?




  1. Koj've A. Esquisse d'une phnomnologie du droit. Paris: Gallimard, 1981, 592 p.
  2. Bertrand, Badie: When History Begins, ERIS, 2-2014, p. 3-15.
  3. B. Hettne, F. Söderbaum Theorising the rise of regionness. / New Political, Vol 5, No 3 (December). Economy, 2000, p. 457-472.
  4. Habermas J. Der Konstruktionsfehler der Währungsunion / / Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, 2011, No. 5, p.64.
  5. Speechof the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the49th session of the UN General Assembly – New York, September 29,1994/


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