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Relations with the West

Azerbaijan’s strategic geographical location in large part dictates its foreign policies. In recent years, though, Baku’s practice of balancing Russia and the West has begun to shift more strongly toward strengthening ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Union, and the United States. How much further should Azerbaijan go in this direction?

Pro-Government: Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP):

“Azerbaijan enjoys friendly relations with all countries of the world except Armenia. YAP is for a balanced foreign policy,” says YAP Deputy Executive Secretary Mubariz Gurbanly. «YAP does not want Azerbaijan to be the puppet of any superpower. The principles the party advocates are ‘Welcome to Azerbaijan, but don’t stay permanently,’ and ‘Partnership, not dictatorship.”

Opposition: Azadlig (Freedom) Bloc:

Azadlig argues that Azerbaijan should accelerate its political, economic and military strategic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “To achieve this, we should start serious work on establishing high standards for democracy and society,” says Fakhmin Hajiyev, deputy head of the Azadlig bloc’s campaign. “We are for the development of comprehensive cooperation with our neighbors, Russia and Iran, but this cooperation should be based on the principle of equality. We are for deepening relations with Georgia and Ukraine, countries with the same belief in reform as Azerbaijan and that are on the road to democracy.”

Opposition: Yeni Siyasat (YeS – New Policy) Bloc:

YeS Campaign Manager Rashid Hajili says that Azerbaijan’s integration into Western political and economic institutions such as the Council of Europe and the European Union is a priority for the bloc. The bloc supports more extensive cooperation with the US and NATO.

Opposition: Liberal Party of Azerbaijan (LPA):

The party, like other opposition parties, supports Azerbaijan’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, and names European Union membership as a desirable goal. Azerbaijan should, says Deputy Chairman Avaz Temirkhan, become a role model for Central Asia and the rest of the Caucasus. The party supports strengthening Azerbaijan's strategic military cooperation with the US «in regard to the geo-political situation in the region,» but advocates «friendly relations with all neighbors.»

Candidate: Rasim Musabekov, Independent
Constituency: # 23 Nasimi-Sabail
Location: Downtown Baku

If terrorist “and other threats” to the South Caucasus increase, Musavekov says that he would favor “a bilateral or multilateral treaty with the US that would expand American security guarantees to Azerbaijani territory.” If such an agreement is reached, he says, stationing foreign military bases in Azerbaijan “must not be ruled out.” As do other Western-leaning opposition candidates, Musavekov favors expanding partnership programs with NATO and the European Union to encourage Azerbaijan to identify its geo-political interests with the West.

Candidate: Ayten Shirinova, Independent
Constituency: # 29 Sabail
Location: Downtown Baku

“Relations with the West, in particular, cooperation with NATO, the US and the EU, could be considered as very promising and positive. Azerbaijan is already a part of the [European Union’s] European Neighborhood Policy and the NATO Partnership for Peace. We joined the Council of Europe in 2001 and set the country’s political destiny. The USA is a country with a developed culture of democracy and gives us a hand in achieving these standards [of democracy] in the nearest future.”

AZERBAIJAN: ELECTIONS 2005 is a production of EurasiaNet.org with funding provided by the Open Society Institute.
Copyright © 2005 EurasiaNet.org.