Caspian Policy Center and AIR Center Hold Discussion on the Future of the American-Azerbaijani Relations
Experts from the U.S. and Azerbaijan discussed the future of American-Azerbaijani relations in light of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and U.S. presidential transition.
Washington, D.C. — TODAY, the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) and the Center of Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center) hosted a panel of experts to discuss the future of American – Azerbaijani relations in view of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and the U.S. presidential transition.
“At the Caspian Policy Center, we are paying close attention to the political, economic, and cultural developments in the Greater Caspian Region, including the future of Azerbaijani-American relations,” said Efgan Nifti, Chief Executive Officer of the Caspian Policy Center. “We produce an extensive amount of studies, analyses, and reports and hold timely conversations to inform American policymakers when making decisions about the region.”
“Now we have to look to the future. The wounds are very fresh on both sides, but we have to look to what benefits the situation can bring to the people,” said Dr. Farid Shafiyev, Chairman of the Center of Analysis of International Relations. “The U.S. had a vital role in supporting Azerbaijani energy projects in the 90s, and thanks to these projects Azerbaijan built its army, government, economy, and infrastructure.”
The U.S. is an integral actor in mitigating conflicts arising in the Greater Caspian Region. Ambassador (ret.) Richard Hoagland, Security and Politics Program Chair at the Caspian Policy Center, moderated an insightful conversation among the webinar participants on the importance of U.S. engagement with Azerbaijan for precipitating greater energy and economic connectivity with Europe, developing mechanisms for promoting good governance and the rule of law, and building long-lasting peace with Armenia.
The panelists, Ambassador (ret.) Robert Cekuta, Economy and Energy Program Chair at the Caspian Policy Center, Ambassador (ret.) Richard Morningstar, Director and Chairman of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council, Luke Coffey, Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, and Dr. Svante Cornell, Director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy agreed that as the U.S. enters a new presidential administration, Azerbaijan has an important place in American policy for both the South Caucasus and Central Asia regions. In addition, the panelists mentioned the growing importance of Turkey in the South Caucasus and the need to incorporate Turkey in regional discussions.
“Azerbaijan’s role in connectivity is crucial.Building cooperation in energy is an important way to build economic connections between the U.S. and Azerbaijan. We can build stronger U.S. business-commercial relations with Azerbaijan,” said Ambassador Cekuta.
“The U.S. has to play a role in helping Azerbaijan maintain its balanced relationship with other countries. Azerbaijan has always said that given its geographic and strategic location they have to get along with a lot of countries – Russia, Turkey, Iran, the U.S.,” said Ambassador Morningstar.
The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war highlighted the tensions in the South Caucasus. To address these tensions, the speakers mentioned the possibility of incorporating Azerbaijan into the C5+1 format sponsored by the U.S. as a means to enhance regional connectivity.
“The U.S. should create a greater diplomatic presence in Azerbaijan. The U.S. could establish a consulate in Ganja. We know why Ganja is important for strategic, trade and economic reasons. Having a U.S. diplomatic presence in Azerbaijan’s second largest city, on the opposite side of the country, close to the newly liberated areas and the Georgian border, would not only benefit America’s perception inside Azerbaijan but also help U.S. policymakers and diplomats get a better understanding of the situation on the ground,” said Luke Coffey.
“It is very important to understand that most initiatives that will happen are not going to be the result of U.S. policymakers. Azerbaijan will have to take the initiative and come with concrete suggestions and proposals,” said Dr. Cornell.
The panelists also mentioned that the Nagorno-Karabakh war revealed the importance of Russia and Turkey in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. In charting out its foreign policy objectives, the Biden administration will need to examine this new situation in the Caucasus and its potential ramifications for Europe and Eurasia’s security, stability, and prosperity.
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ABOUT CASPIAN POLICY CENTER
The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.
With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and the policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights about the outstanding issues of the Caspian region. Learn more at caspianpolicy.org.
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