The results of the visit of the British Export Secretary Graham Stewart to Baku confirmed the February forecast of ASTNA on the existence of a plan of foggy Albion to expand its presence in Azerbaijan in a new form.
In 1990, the arrival of the British political and economic flagship of the bp company in Azerbaijan was based on the development and transportation of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea. Today the goal of London is the development of promising green energy, as well as promising non-oil spheres of Azerbaijan. The dynamics of recent Azerbaijani-British relations show that this time the promotion of non-oil projects in Azerbaijan will be successful, in contrast to the failure in this direction at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, when Baku rejected the proposal to reinvest the profits from Caspian oil into the Azerbaijani economy.
The opening of a representative office of the British Chamber of Commerce and Industry was timed to the visit of Stewart. The tasks of this non-governmental and non-profit organization are to create favorable conditions for business, to provide all-round development of all areas of commerce, trade, economic, scientific and technical relations of business persons of England with entrepreneurs from other countries, as well as to protect the rights and represent the legitimate interests of members of the Chamber in government agencies of Great Britain and world communities. London believes that this very structure will become a locomotive for the promotion of new British business interests in Azerbaijan.
Stewart’s mission in reality is a continuation of the February rearguard visit to Azerbaijan by the Minister for European Neighborhood Affairs of the British Foreign Ministry Wendy Morton. In Baku, she announced Britain’s plans to develop green energy in Azerbaijan and a desire to reform Azerbaijan, which has already restored its sovereignty over the territories liberated from the Armenian occupation. The capital of the oil republic heard Morton’s revelations. Aliyev expressed gratitude to Britain for assistance in restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
In our analytical review in February, we suggested that one of the tasks of the Morton mission is to mediate consultations on the organization of the Aliyev-Biden meeting at the site of the Climate Change Summit, to be held in Scotland this November. This topic was developed on May 20 in the framework of the webinar “South Caucasus: Prospects for Regional Development and Cooperation” held by the International Center of Nizami Ganjavi, known for its activity in Britain.
Aliyev used this public platform to convey three messages to Washington:
- Azerbaijan is ready to restore relations with Armenia in full volume
- Azerbaijan is interested in the active US policy on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict
- Azerbaijan wishes to diversify relations with the United States, which were previously built on traditional energy and security.
“We can also cooperate in the defense industry,” President Ilham Aliyev said.
Aliyev’s statements during the meeting with Stuart and at the webinar can be considered a message across the ocean that the current regime is ready to cooperate and develop relations in the face of new realities not only of Azerbaijan, but of the international trend.
In the current days of Britain in Azerbaijan, the parties have publicly bypassed issues of democracy and human rights, although in February Morton diplomatically reminded of the need to join the Istanbul Convention on Gender Equality.
It will be difficult for Aliyev to bypass the issues of democracy and freedoms that are topical for Azerbaijan, since the success of building allied relations with London and Washington depends on the attitude towards them. In his inaugural speech on January 20, Biden announced his foreign policy, which involves restoring democratic alliances around the world, upholding American values and human rights, promised to hold a “Summit for Democracy”, which is supposed to fight the corruption and authoritarianism that flourish in several foreign countries. British Prime Minister Johnson expressed a similar idea.
Biden was consistent on this issue and on May 3, on Press Day, condemned the attacks on journalists and the attempt to curb media freedom.
In this context, it is impossible to get off with only steps in the field of green energy and the non-oil economy. However, time will show what effect this time will have bypassing these cornerstones of Western democracy. However, a course correction in this area will remain relevant and crucial in relations with Britain and the United States.