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Azer Hudiyev: The Munich debate: a comparison of two political schools

Traditionally, the annual Munich Security Conference brings together heads of states, ministers of defense and foreign affairs, representatives of business and international organizations from many countries around the world. This year, from 14 to 16 February, the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich hosted conference participants from more than 40 countries. The most important issues of the world's political agenda were discussed. The conference participants tried to find answers to current geopolitical, economic, political, military issues and problems related to establishing of a new global security system. In various contexts, the speakers noted the danger of increased turbulence in world geopolitics, non-compliance with international law in interstate relations, and unresolved regional conflicts.

One of the actual topics in the context of exiting the turbulence of world geopolitics is the establishing of real footholds for dialogue and implementation of existing and new forms of global and regional cooperation. Theoretically and practically, these issues are related to close interconnection of global and regional geopolitics. The range of topics discussed at the Munich Conference shows the relevance of this thesis. The Conference not only gave a 'general assessment of the security situation in the world' but also analyzed the state of the West as a geopolitical region. This issue was addressed exactly in the context of the interconnection of world geopolitics with EU foreign policy. It includes the issues related to EU members' cooperation in defense, new challenges that emerged between the US and NATO allies, the threat of turbulence where 'security problems have mixed with climate change issues' etc.

Some discussions at the forum were devoted to the issues of Iran, Syria and Libya. New accents of the U.S. foreign policy, the problem of the EU's expanding influence, U.S.-China trade war, Russia's revitalization in world politics were discussed.

Despite the fact that the conference saw unexpected shifts of focus, in trying to take a fresh look at world politics, many participants in the discussions realized one important point feature of global geopolitics. Specifically, the contradiction between the content and objectives of superpowers' foreign policies and international law is deepening. And this factor is seen in the process of peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.

To be more frank, we mean that some international law players unjustifiably support and lobby aggressor states and apply double standards towards other states. Thus, major states, promoting their personal geopolitical interests, create an opportunity for aggressor states to disregard the international law imperative, and allow them to manipulate the negotiation situation and thereby deceive the international community.

With this contradiction in place, dangerous conflicts in various regions of the world have not been resolved for many years. This calls into question the prospects for regional cooperation and emergence of a new sustainable regional security system. The relevance of this topic was once again demonstrated by the debate at the Munich Conference between the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan.

It was not just a discussion of two politicians, but the debate of two political schools. Ilham Aliyev represented modern dialogue policy, while Nikol Pashinyan clearly looked like an echo of an outdated policy, aggressive and not ready for a civilized dialogue. At the same time, this debate clearly showed the contradictions between global and regional geopolitics, which we mentioned above.

The head of the government of the aggressor country, Armenia, tried in every possible way to avoid a real substantive dialogue by manipulating words and distorting even known historical facts.

And the President of Azerbaijan, strictly observing the rules of political etiquette in the framework of international law, restrained and clearly argued his thoughts. It is no coincidence that even many Armenian experts and politicians clearly consider Ilham Aliyev the winner of this debate.

Theoretically, this debate can be deemed in various aspects. For example, the analysis of these debates in the context of an individual's role in modern politics, one can draw interesting conclusions. From theoretical perspective, this issue is now considered among the most important ones in modern geopolitics. International scholars are confident that the factor of leader’s personality in modern geopolitical conditions plays a significant role. A politician, as a person, can even decide the destiny of global affairs.

During the debate, the President of Azerbaijan distinguished himself from his opponent by a high level of education, a culture of a modern political leader and good command of English. He demonstrated the 21st century's leader -- open to dialogue, observing political culture, restraint in any situation, with deep knowledge of politics.

And Nikol Pashinyan looked like a provincial politician with poor English, continuously trying to artificially manipulate the situation through distortion of facts and real logic of processes.

This moment was especially manifested in his words about the former Shaumyan district of Azerbaijan. N.Pashinyan wanted to present this area as part of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ilham Aliyev immediately responded and corrected him having said that this former region had never been part of the administrative structure of Nagorno-Karabakh. N.Pashinyan immediately agreed with the President of Azerbaijan. It is strange, then, why did the Armenian Prime Minister openly lie to international experts who knew the situation? And that happened because there was no historical truth behind him and he was not properly prepared for such debates, so he preferred to manipulate the situation in every way. However, the overall picture for him was deplorable.

A classic political lesson for the Prime Minister of Armenia was Ilham Aliyev's remark on creation of the second Armenian state. Hoping for the principle of peoples' right to self-determination, N.Pashinyan wanted to dissuade his opponent. But this trick also failed. By the end of debate, Ilham Aliyev calmly and logically commented on this issue and expressed the historical thesis: “The Armenian people have already self-determined itself. They have an Armenian state. My advice to them: may they find another place on the globe in order to determine themselves for the second time but not in Azerbaijan!”

These thoughts concretely and concisely express the firm position of the Azerbaijani leadership in resolving the conflict: the conflict can be resolved only within the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan! Period!

This was understood in Armenia. Therefore, many Armenian experts consider N.Pashinyan's participation in the debate a disgrace for the Armenian side. Here is just one example. Andranik Tevanyan, a political scientist, wrote that 'Aliyev’s behavior, his posture, a periodic grin at Pashinyan ... (when Pashinyan enthusiastically invented a bicycle about his micro-revolution) created the impression that we were the losing side in that war.' And he concludes: 'Pashinyan, speaking to international audience with such background and image, once again proved that the head of state’s costume is too big for him! Too big!'.

Yes, the advantage and political experience of Ilham Aliyev was obvious and unambiguous. The Azerbaijani President's personal qualities played significant role there and that was recognized even by leading Armenian political experts. Still, one should not forget about a political and moral factor, which is of great importance in a political leader's performance.

We mean a leader's attitude towards justice, humanity, objectivity and the norms of international law. By his behavior and thoughts Ilham Aliyev showed that he is a fair, humane and objective leader. The President of Azerbaijan observes all norms of international law rigidly.

Rightly so in his speech he emphasized the situation of compliance with international law. Ilham Aliyev said: 'With regard to the issue of international law, I must say again: Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions which require the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. The requirements of these resolutions are still not implemented. Therefore, any settlement path that will be reached as a result of peace negotiations should ensure the preservation of the internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.'

Honestly, we also do not fully understand the position and behavior of the debate moderator: when N. Pashinyan cynically declared historical nonsense that, supposedly, once in antiquity only Georgians and Armenians lived in Transcaucasia, and there were no Azerbaijanis there. We have not seen the moderator's response to this absurdity. But when Azerbaijani President emphasized a real historical fact with one sentence -- at the beginning of the 19th century, 70% of the population of Yerevan were ethnic Azerbaijanis -- for some reason the moderator rated this information as 'unconstructive'.

Apparently, the elements of double standards still remain in the political perception of Europeans that greatly hinders the fair resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh type conflicts. We think that a rightful solution to conflicts will come when our Western partners eventually recognize historical reality and depart from double standards' policy, and their constructive approach will be really useful in establishing peace and stability in the South Caucasus.

Azer Hudiyev

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Ukraine


 


BLACK SEA SECURITY PROGRAM - 2018

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