New opportunities emerged for development of EU-Azerbaijan relations-ANALYSIS 

New opportunities emerged for development of EU-Azerbaijan relations-ANALYSIS 
# 19 October 2021 18:19 (UTC +04:00)

EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar is on a visit to Baku. Becoming intensive of such visits gives the reason to think that the new geopolitical reality in the South Caucasus after the restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is being accepted by the European Union.

Prospects for the development of Azerbaijan-EU cooperation were discussed at the meeting of Azerbaijani President with Toivo Klaar, emphasized that the EU attaches importance to the cooperation with Azerbaijan, and noted that Azerbaijan is a reliable partner of the EU.

During the talk, the visit of the President of the European Council Charles Michel to Azerbaijan in July this year was touched upon, it was noted that the meeting held between President Ilham Aliyev and Charles Michel during the visit made a crucial contribution to the development of Azerbaijan-EU relations.

The meeting emphasized that the EU is ready to contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region and work on a trust-building atmosphere

During the talk, as well as, views were exchanged on the upcoming Summit meeting of Eastern Partnership.

This visit is proof that the European Union supports the restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, as well as democracy and the legislation in the country. Europeans understand that Baku is the capital of Eurasia and preserves the values of the West and East. This is demonstrated by the high-level policy of multiculturalism and cultural diplomacy in Azerbaijan.

Recalling that in an interview with the Italian La Repubblica newspaper while responding to the question “Would you think that a bigger presence of Europe in South Caucasus could be a good mind?”, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said: “These issues are now broadly discussed. During the visit of President of the European Council Mr. Charles Michel to Azerbaijan this summer, we broadly discussed the very large agenda of EU-Azerbaijan. Of course, traditional areas of cooperation like energy, we can only applaud our joint efforts in implementing such a huge project.”

President Ilham Aliyev has noted in a joint press conference with Charles Michel that he highly evaluate this visit. One more attractive factor is that European Union has opportunities to initiate a "Marshall Plan" for the development of the region. Recall that after the Second world war, Europe was in very severe condition. In European countries, there were almost no goods that could be sold in convertible currency, in addition, in many of these countries, social-democratic strengths were not in the intention of approving painful recovery measures proposed by the liberal-minded economists. Of course, alongside carrying out reforms in the humanitarian field, there was a need to take opposite measures preventing the march of communism towards the west. At a such moment, United States has proposed 20 bln dollars of assistance to the European countries.

But with only one condition that European countries should use this assistance flexibly, planned, but also jointly. It was the first time that the European countries will operate as a single economic institution cooperating closely with one another. Marshall has also proposed assistance to the Soviet Union, as well as its alliances in Eastern Europe. But, Stalin refused this assistance accepting it as a trick. The Marshall Plan also benefited the American economy. Because the amount allocated as an aid to the European countries had to be spent on the purchase of goods that were produced in the United States, and those goods had to be transported across the Atlantic on American merchant ships.

This plan has really worked. The United States has already transferred 13 bln dollars to the European economy till 1953, with this, the European economy has revived. Moreover, that program was covering Western Germany that the western part of the country rejoined the European cooperation. In addition to the restoration of Europe, the “Marshall Plan” gave a chance to implement another “Schumann Plan". Thanks to “Schumann Plan", firstly "Euroatom", "Coal and Steel Union", then "Common Market" has been established. Thus, the “Schumann Plan” has developed Europe and later, led to economic and political progress and unity. But, both in the case of the implementation of a plan similar to the "Marshall Plan" for the development of the South Caucasus region or in the framework of other projects, Baku has some expectations from Brussels and these expectations should be taken into consideration for the further development of the relations. Baku expects that principle of justice will be established in the assistance provided to both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Till now, in many cases, this principle has been violated, more assistance has been allocated to Armenia than Azerbaijan. Brussels should take this factor into consideration. Azerbaijan has already started restoration works in the liberated lands from the occupation. AZN 2,2 bln amount has been considered in the state budget of 2021 for carrying out construction works in Karabakh. Azerbaijan has opportunities to attract additional investments to the country, to the restoration of Karabakh and steps are taken in this direction. It is desirable that the European Union and European countries be among those who joined the recovery process. This would also strengthen both political and economical relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan. Visit of representative of the European Union to Baku, conducted negotiations gave basis to say that Azerbaijan is accepted as a member of the European family. A multi-vector foreign policy that official Baku pursues gives its benefit. Azerbaijan is accepted as a regional power and turned into a country that the most diverse power centers are interested in cooperation.

President said in his interview that today the European Union shows great interest in the transport potential of Azerbaijan and actively participates in this field: “Because we turn Azerbaijan into an important transport center in Eurasia with modern infrastructure and diversified communication routes with neighbors. The European Union plans to be a part of this process. We are also discussing the role of the European Union in the development of the post-war period in the South Caucasus.”

This statement of the head of state shows that Azerbaijan is interested in cooperation with the EU, bilateral relations are also rising. European Union has a positive experience in the settlement of the conflict in the Balkans which is called the European gunpowder barrel. Namely based on this experience European Union can make an important contribution to eliminating post-conflict problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Baku has always suggested to the European Union to approach the resolving of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict as an approach to the settlement of the conflicts in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, repeatedly stating that the European Union expects the same approach in the settlement of the existing conflicts in Eastern partnership program. The conflict has already been solved. Azerbaijan was able to restore its territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan and the EU can cooperate on many issues in the new reality. Azerbaijan already has normal relations with European structures, as well as the European Union. Despite Azerbaijan is not a member of the European Union there is good cooperation between them. Today relations with the European Union are entering a new stage of development. European Union provides necessary aid to Azerbaijan by means of various programs in this process. This is mainly carried out by bringing reforms, laws, and practices to European standards and at other levels. However, European Union should continue to show pressure to Armenia for providing maps of anti-personnel anti-tank mines planted in the territory of Azerbaijan by them.

The European Union has great opportunities to achieve sustainable peace in the South Caucasus. European Commission has a wide financial opportunity for spending to the restoration of many cultural and religious monuments that were brutally destroyed in the sovereign lands of Azerbaijan by the fascist regime of Armenia. We would like to stress that European Union can join projects on the restoration of cities and infrastructure, agriculture fields in Karabakh which will be an important international trade center in Eurasia. Moreover, the officials of the EU have repeatedly stated that the body is ready to assist in the process of delimitation and demarcation of borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The official visit of the President of EU Council Charles Michele to Azerbaijan should not be overlooked. This visit is of great historic and political importance, at the same time showing that the EU attaches great importance to the cooperation with Azerbaijan. Firstly it should be noted that Charles Michel, unlike the representatives of the leading EU countries who have visited the region in the past, was able to put a sign of equality in the relations with the countries of the region, kept the protocol time at the same level for the states that he visited.

It was a very positive approach. Because he showed he approached the relations with the countries of the region not in some emotions, but only in the interests of the European Union. Protocol time was the same for every country in the region. On the other hand, Charles Michel learned our theses in-depth in Azerbaijan. We saw more clearly that he acted in accordance with the rhetoric of Azerbaijan after the Victory in his speech. Because he touched upon neither Nagorno Karabakh issue nor status issue. As Charles Michel knew what is a principal position of Azerbaijan was, he could avoid controversial issues in this regard. This was a very important step.