The idea about power and prestige of a country can be derived from various accessible sources such as stats, conclusions of reputable experts and think tanks, achievements of the citizens in international sport arenas and even on the scenes of famous concert halls (let us agree that it all requires state investments and attention of leaders. Not all countries can afford it.) and others.
However, there is another indicator of the rising influence of the country; confidence and resolution of a leader when he speaks at world forums, summits and international organizations. A leader of a state who does not enjoy support of his people and prestige in the world and has a controversial legitimacy or serous economic difficulties and political instability in the country can hardly feel strong enough to speak from such platforms when eyes of tens of his counterparts from the largest economies and cameras of the leading news agencies are on him. Some psychological burden puts pressure on the heads of rogue countries, so called “outposts” who are easy to be manipulated and can be called on the carpet to their foreign masterminds. They are easily influenced and blackmailed, thus, turning into puppets whom citizens can only be ashamed of. This psychological burden, the perception of their own inferiority will never let them feel (particularly make remarks) confident, and they will always feel out of place in company of counterparts with the constant inferiority complex.
At the same time, leaders of states who score enviable successes in all fields and continue to develop when the whole world (including developed countries) is hit by the financial and economic crisis, as a rule, feel and act confidently not only on the home turf but also at various multilateral summits abroad.
By analyzing the results of the 24 April summit in Prague dealing with the 5th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership programme, we can find out, with the incredible accuracy, who is who, which state is a regional leader and which one is an outcast sitting on the sidelines of history.
At this summit, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan demonstrated his commitment to his principles – political hypocrisy, insincerity. He resorts again to his favorite method of staging a scandal behind somebody`s back, being frightened to look into the eyes of an opponent as well as slandering and escaping honest talks. Taking advantage of absence of the Turkish representative, the President of Armenia attempted to give vent to his bile on the present colleagues, accusing Turkey of being unconstructive and reluctant to open borders with the “innocent and long-suffering” Armenia.
Sargsyan`s such a demarche was a “homework” since he knew for sure that Turkey was not going to join the Prague summit. Therefore, the Armenian President, who gained experience in primitive political intrigues, thought he would portray himself as a “cool guy” before his citizens. Let us note without anticipating that shortly after his Prague disgrace, Sargsyan again demonstrated to the world how much fair a proverb “a leopard cannot change its spots” is. The next day, he, say, “caught” a moment to respond to Ilham Aliyev. Of course, behind his back. It can be done only by a person who is not self-reliant and unable to fight in a chivalrous and honest duel. He is a coward who is disdained by his own citizens. This is behaviour of the one who is proud of murdering innocent and unarmed infants, women and old man, stating this is the way of “breaking stereotypes.”
The discreditable conduct of President of Armenia in Prague did not add anything to his political and moral-psychological portrait. That is why there is no point of analyzing his deeds.
What happened in the Czech capital is unprecedented because this was one of the rarest, if not the first case in the international practice when the Head of State publicly defended the other country. He did it toughly, openly and directly without using diplomatic vocabulary. There was no preliminary preparation since it was very difficult – in any case for a person who got used to civilized relationship – to assume how far the Armenian president would go with his, to say the least, unethical speech although it was possible to guess what the Armenian president was going to state. The accurate argumentation, principled position and logics of the President of Azerbaijan cornered Sargsyan so clearly that he had nothing to respond because he was not taught to debate honestly, and lack of distinct arguments completely baffled him.
This case demonstrated Ilham Aliyev`s ability to quickly make a right decision in an unexpected situation. By his example (in not only Prague), the Head of the Azerbaijani state shows a new behavioral line in international relations: dedication to friendship, high morality, refusal from the old stereotype that in politics there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests, help a partner in the hour of need taking no heed that somebody might not like it. These are acts of the self-sufficient leader of the self-sufficient state. They arouse hopes that criteria of morality will dominate in international politics and behaviour of leaders will be driven not by notorious interests.
I do not rule out that in the future this case at the Prague summit will enter books on international diplomacy and political science with the already recognizable phrase: representatives of a friendly country are not present but I am here and I will respond.
President Ilham Aliyev reminded his colleagues in Prague why Turkey shut borders with Armenia since the Armenian side, as usual, prefers to speak about consequences and forgets about causes.
“The Turkish border with Armenia was closed after the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar District in April 1993. Prior to that, all the Azerbaijanis were driven out of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijanis accounted for 30 per cent of the Karabakh population. Before Kalbajar, the Armenians occupied Shusha and Lachin. Then they occupied Agdam, Fizuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Jabrayil, which are outside the administrative borders of Nagorno-Karabakh – a total of seven Azerbaijani districts which constitute 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory,” he said.
Although, Armenia claims opening of borders and deoccupation of Karabakh are two “parallel” and “unconnected” processes, the years passed once more showed that the border remains shut. It means that the two issues – whether anybody likes it or not – are intertwined. How can one be surprised that the Armenia-Turkey border is still shut? Was the main cause of closing the border eliminated? Did Armenians recognize the atrocities committed by their ancestors against the Muslim population of Anatolia and Caucasus during the World War I and agreed to jointly study the history of those tragic years? No! Armenia continues to escape an honest talk and puts recognition of the so-called “Armenian genocide” as a pre-condition to the joint study of historical issues – a nonsense in the methods of historical research.
The Head of the Azerbaijani State used the rostrum of the Prague summit to urge the world community again to reject the double standards policy. Unfortunately, such an approach to the same problems in various corners of the globe remains dominant in the politics of big powers, and eventually, gives rise to emergence of new conflicts. It is completely obvious that if the world condemned the separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh and their masterminds from the very beginning it could have prevented the spread of separatism across the whole world. Anyone could have hardly made up his mind to commit such crimes if the representatives of the self-proclaimed “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” were not welcomed in the European capitals and underpinned financially. The double standards policy is immoral and is fraught with new threats to the world – this is the message of the President of Azerbaijan to the international community. This concern was heard in his words: “And finally, the last issue. The Azerbaijani people are asking one question: why isn’t Armenia faced with sanctions? Why isn’t the Armenian delegation deprived of the right to vote and to address the Council of Europe? They have occupied the territory of another country and are flagrantly violating the rules of international law and four resolutions of the UN Security Council, but are not faced with any sanctions and punishment. The fictitious representatives of the illegal and criminal regime in Nagorno-Karabakh receive visas to European capitals. This is unacceptable and must be stopped.”
The speech of Ilham Aliyev openly showed the new geopolitical reality: strong unity of the two strong Turkic states with the strong economy not hit by the global recession, efficient army, rising prestige in the international arena and opportunities to influence the world politics. This is the equal unity rather than relations of the older and younger brothers. This is a strong regional factor which Armenia cannot but reckons with. This unity is strong not only for the shared ethnocultural roots but also joint implementation of energy projects of global importance, formation of the transport corridor, which will link Asia and Europe in the future. Participation of Georgia in these projects, forming trilateral format of not only economic but also political cooperation between Azerbaijan Turkey and Georgia leads to isolation of Armenia and leaves this country beyond regional borders.
As a whole, regional cooperation is brought to the forefront in the age of globalization. For many countries, in particular, small ones, it becomes for the most part a means of survival, effective resistance to external threats, guarantee of economic and social development, preserving of independence and protection from the slighting name “outpost”. Yerevan unfortunately does not understand this. That is why, it is desperately at feud with neighbors raising absurd claims against them and seeks protection and support far from its borders.
As a matter of fact, Armenia is alone despite the big Diaspora and four-square support from the West. Unless its leadership reconsiders its policy, takes a constructive position taking into account new geopolitical realities, leaves the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and stops utilizing historical chimera for achieving unrealizable goals, the future of this country will remain doubtful.
As far as Turkey-Azerbaijan relationship concerned, President Ilham Aliyev once again showed to the world community that the interests of the two fraternal nations coincide in all aspects and they always back each other. Azerbaijan and Turkey share troubles and joy. Let the whole wide world know that one nation represents both Turkish states at international events even if one of them is absent since we are brothers, “one nation, two states!”
Director General AzerTAc