Against the backdrop of increasing global geopolitical turbulence every year, the problem of ensuring regional security becomes even more urgent. According to the common opinion of scientists and politicians, in the transformation of the modern world order, the regional factor in the political, cultural, geopolitical and economic contexts is considered an essential instrument influencing the formation of the global security system. The logic of transition from safe and stable regions to a safe and stable world requires an appropriate foreign policy from regional players. In this context, Azerbaijan's foreign policy stands out for its predictability, openness and constructiveness.
The South Caucasus has always been considered one of the most complex, controversial and sensitive to external geopolitical influences regions of the world. In this regard, the complexity of the South Caucasus as a concrete fact at the present stage within the logic of the formation of a new system of regional security is interesting. To characterize the foreign policy of the states of the region, we will proceed from the concepts of "old regionalism" and "new regionalism" widely used in the intellectual environment.
First, let us make some theoretical and methodological remarks. In Europe, the theoretical understanding of regionalism began in the 50s of the twentieth century. This has become relevant against the background of the formation of European regional integration. The main attention was paid to the study of interstate interaction in the economic and military spheres. The essence of the issue in the geopolitical aspect was reduced to the possibility of successful formation of closed-type groups in a bipolar world. This approach is based on a realistic paradigm, the philosophical and theoretical principles of which are set out in the writings of Thomas Hobbes. Within the framework of the realistic paradigm, politics is perceived as an arena of confrontation and armed conflicts between states. The concept of "old regionalism" corresponded to this approach to international relations.
But since the late 1980s, some researchers have begun to write about the end of history and the end of international relations, including (see: e.g.: 1). They justified their position with the passing of the war of the classical type and the end of the "cold war". Thus, the States were faced with the task of abandoning the policy of force. It was impossible to ignore the social and political aspects of transnational interactions. Accordingly, it became necessary to develop a new approach to regional integration in Europe. In other words, the development of the theory of a new regionalism has become a historical necessity. It had to conform to a new understanding of the dynamics and content of international relations. This aspect of the problem is intensively analyzed by Western scientists (see: e.g.: 2).
Thus, in the old regionalism, only states were considered subjects of regional building. It was mainly about military and economic cooperation. This concept was aimed at protecting regional players from the negative impact of globalization and the prevalence of groups "closed" to the entry of new members. But these principles were already contrary to the spirit of international relations. The emergence of the theory of new regionalism (New Regionalism Theory) in the 80s of the 20th century was the logical conclusion of the transformation of interstate relations. It was developed by Swedish scientists B. Hettne and F. Soderbaum (see: e.g.: 3). In the new regionalism, both states and non-state actors are considered subjects of regional construction, and interaction in all spheres of public life is important for it. The new regionalism considers cooperation within the region as an integral part of the globalization process and therefore the predominance of "open" integration associations is of fundamental importance for it.
We will not go into the specific details of the new regionalism, but only note that the European Union widely uses its principles in conducting its domestic and foreign policy. In the policy of development of internal integration, the EU tries to combine the theory of the new regionalism with the philosophical views on communication and integration of the famous German philosopher J. Habermas (see: e.g.: 4). The EU applies the principles of this theory in the framework of the Eastern partnership program and in the policy strategy up to 2004 in relation to the Baltic region. They are also reflected in the fundamental European documents, which are focused on the issues of regionalism. For example, in the "Charter on regionalism" of the European parliamentary community (1988) and in the documents of the Council of Europe – "Declaration on regionalism in Europe", "European Charter of regional self-government" (1996).
In our opinion, the abovementioned basic provisions of the theory of new regionalism and its comparison with the old regionalism, in the context of modern theoretical concepts of communication and integration, actualizes the following question: does the foreign policy of the independent states of the South Caucasus correspond to the principles of the theory of new regionalism in terms of security and cooperation?
Let's start with the analysis of the foreign policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The main outlines and priority directions of Azerbaijan's foreign policy were determined by the leader of the nation Heydar Aliyev. This was done on the basis of an in-depth analysis of global geopolitics 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 realities of the collapse of the old world order, which gave rise to conflicts in the Caucasus, the Balkans and other parts of the world, which have become hot from fire and bloodshed. These conflicts not only hinder the development of independent States, pose a direct threat to the very existence of fragile democracies, but also area threat to global peace and security" (see: e.g.: 5). This meant that Azerbaijan in its policy resolutely refuses any manifestation of conflict-prone steps. In its regional policy, Azerbaijan takes seriously into account the fundamental changes that are taking place in the system of international relations. And "its future basis will undoubtedly be an equal world order, which is already replacing military confrontation and ideological confrontation. The fundamental principles of the new world order are partnership, lasting peace and security for all in accordance with international law and the principles and provisions of the Charter of the United Nations"( see: e.g.: 5).
Thus, Heydar Aliyev was confident that partnership, lasting peace and security would ensure the transition of the world system to the era of cooperation and prosperity. Azerbaijan is ready "... to walk this path together, hand in hand with all countries and peoples of the world" (see: e.g.: 5). Azerbaijan, aware of its special responsibility in the post-confrontational world, pursues a policy fully consistent with the principles of the theory of the new regionalism. The validity of this thesis is proved by specific programs that are carried out within the framework of Azerbaijan's foreign policy. They cover energy, economy, culture, security and geopolitics. Logistics, transit routes, dialogue among civilizations and religions, humanitarian sphere, global and regional cooperation occupy a special place in the foreign policy of the Republic. We can give specific facts.
As a result of the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the Baku process has been serving the development of cooperation between the OIC and the EU for several years. This process is an arena of dialogue between politicians, scientists, business people, media representatives and public organizations from different countries. The Baku process involves both states and transnational actors. Within the framework of this process, the possibilities of dialogue in all spheres of social and political life are discussed. Thus, the Baku process considers interregional cooperation as an integral part of the globalization process.
Bilateral and trilateral cooperation formats are of great importance in Azerbaijan's foreign policy. The initiator of these formats is the Head of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The cooperation formats, like Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia, Turkey-Azerbaijan-Russia, Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Turkey, etc. are operating successfully.
In the geopolitical aspect, Azerbaijan is actually creating new values of cooperation. Experts on international relations call Azerbaijan a "geopolitical hub of the South Caucasus". Indeed, Azerbaijan is a place of intersection of routes within the framework of the "One Belt, One Road" program; West-East and North-South transit corridors cross in our country. Thus, Azerbaijan plays an active role in combining global projects ("One Belt, One Road") with opportunities for regional cooperation in different areas (bilateral and trilateral cooperation formats + transit corridors of different directions). This multilevel nature of cooperation in itself is a new geopolitical model of harmonization of regional cooperation with global projects. We believe that this model has great potential for the development of regional cooperation in the context of the new regionalism policy.
Another important factor is Azerbaijan's contribution to the formation of the regional security system. This is most clearly expressed in three directions. First, Azerbaijan actively participates in international anti-terrorist programs. Second, Azerbaijan is an active participant in ensuring Europe's energy security. This is said by the leadership of 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 to ensuring Europe's energy security. Third, Azerbaijan, despite the non-constructive and militant position of the leadership of the Republic of Armenia, strictly observes the rules of negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is a mediator in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In our opinion, the above-mentioned solid facts from Azerbaijan's foreign policy show the compliance of the Republic's foreign policy with the principles of the theory of new regionalism. We have already noted that the EU makes extensive use of these principles in its foreign policy.
Against this background, Georgia's foreign policy is seen as fully consistent with the principles of the new regionalism. Georgia, as an associate member of the EU, strictly observes its commitments in foreign policy. In relation to Armenia's foreign policy, this is impossible to say. Armenia is the only country that pursues a policy based on the principles of the old regionalism. It pursues a policy from a position of strength. This is proved by Armenia's occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani lands and refusal to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories, which are recognized by the international community as the territory of Azerbaijan. Armenia does not comply with the requirements of 4 UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of troops from the occupied territories. Official Yerevan is slowing down the negotiation process conducted by the mediation of the OSCE Minsk group with all sorts of artificial pretexts.
Thus, Armenia remains the main obstacle to the implementation of the new regionalism policy in the South Caucasus. Isn't it time to think seriously about solving this problem?