‘Dunford-Gerasimov meeting in Baku indicates Azerbaijan’s growing influence’

‘Dunford-Gerasimov meeting in Baku indicates Azerbaijan’s growing influence’
# 16 February 2017 15:50 (UTC +04:00)

The meeting in Baku of Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov indicates Azerbaijan’s growing influence, MP Rasim Musabeyov told APA on Thursday.

“Because they were more concerned by the processes going on in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran and Syria, the US and Russia had been looking for a suitable place to discuss what’s happening in these countries,” he said.

According to the MP, since Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia are not involved in these processes, the meeting was expected to take place in one of these three countries.

“However, Georgia was not an option for Russia because of a known reason and Armenia is an outpost of Russia. In that case, it wasn’t in US interests to hold the meeting in Armenia,” said Musabeyov, adding. “Finally, Azerbaijan is a secular country and a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Azerbaijan pursues an independent policy. So, all eyes were set on us. Of course, the facts that Azerbaijan can organize the meeting at a high level and is preferable in terms of security and communication should be noted. Moreover, Azerbaijan has lately hosted major international sports and cultural events. Considering all this, Baku was a unique platform for the meeting between Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov.”

Political analyst Gabil Huseynli made similar remarks, stressing that the holding of the meeting in Baku is strongly connected with the fact that Baku has hosted major international events in recent years.

He reminded that Baku has also hosted several forums of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

“There is an ongoing process called ‘Baku process.’ Baku has hosted numerous events on multicultural relations between civilizations,” he said.

Huseynli said he thinks the holding of the [Dunford-Gerasimov meeting] in Baku stands to a more important reason.

This meeting mostly focused on the discussion of countering global terrorism and the coordination of the two countries in counterterrorism, he stressed.

“Washington and Moscow sometimes call terrorism ‘Islamic terrorism’, however, they had to hold this event in the capital of a Muslim country that is involved in the fight against terrorism and has high level of security and stability. From this point of view, Azerbaijan is superior to other Muslim countries,” he said, noting that Azerbaijan was elected as a place for the meeting precisely because of these qualities and its dynamic role in international relations.

Given high-level relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, holding the meeting in Baku does not create any problems for Moscow, according to Huseynli.

“At the same time, this choice also meets the US interests as this country has been strategically cooperating with Azerbaijan in Afghanistan against Taliban for years. Nearly eighty percent of all weapons and goods the US are transported to Afghanistan through Azerbaijan,” he said.

The political analyst hailed the years-long participation of an Azerbaijani military contingent in anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan.

From this point of view, he noted, Baku has not been chosen by chance for such a high-level meeting.

“Azerbaijan is a leading country in the region and pursues a flexible foreign policy. The capital of Azerbaijan is a place of safety for international events. Besides, in the future Azerbaijan can be chosen as a permanent place for discussions on the fight against terrorism. Though this is the first event, I think this is not the last. Such events can be continued either at the level of Joint Chiefs of Staff or higher ranking politicians,” he added.

He noted that this meeting will turn Azerbaijan a strategic part of the US which is significant for Azerbaijan itself and its international image.