Farid Shafiev: "Azerbaijan forms bilateral relations with partners regardless of other countries' agenda"

Farid Shafiev: "Azerbaijan forms bilateral relations with partners regardless of other countries' agenda"

Today Baku hosted meeting between Foreign Ministers of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), during which chairmanship of the organization passed to Azerbaijan. In an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza, chairman of the board of the Center for Analysis of International Relations, Farid Shafiev, spoke about Azerbaijan's approach to activities and prospects of the Non-Aligned Movement.

- What role does the Non-Aligned Movement play in the system of international relations today?

- If you remember the history of the organization, the Non-Aligned Movement, which appeared during the Cold War, united a fairly large group of countries that didn't want to join any military-political blocs. Formation process began from 1955 to 1961. Although the group was led by countries whose governments adhered to leftist views and socialist model, the main philosophy of the NAM was its refusal to join the Soviet Union and the communist bloc or the United States and the Western bloc. After the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, there was a question of whether this organization was truly needed - time itself answered: the events of the past 20 years have shown that relations in the world have remained the same. At first there was unipolar world in which the United States dominated, and now we're moving towards multipolar world, where fight for spheres of influence never stops. In this regard, the Non-Aligned Movement hasn't lost its relevance at all.

It's important for Azerbaijan that the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement always supported sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states. This aspect is very important for us. The aspect of independent economic policy is also important. Basically, the Non-Aligned Movement consists of developing countries, and it's essential for them to find economic development paths that would meet national interests of the organization’s member countries.

- What's Azerbaijan position in the Non-Aligned Movement?

- As President of Azerbaijan noted, we're pursuing policy based on national interests. That's why we adhere to policy of non-alignment, in other words, balanced policy in contacts with our neighbors, formation of bilateral relations regardless of other countries' agenda. We haven't joined and are not going to join any military-political blocs in the near future.

The principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity is also very important for us. At the last NAM summit in Venezuela, member countries expressed support for territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which is a very significant factor for us.

Overall, the fact that for the next three years Azerbaijan will be chairing this organization - that includes 120 countries and is a fairly big force at the UN - shows how huge reputation of our republic is. Perhaps we will manage to include those issues that are in line with our national interests on the agenda, including those related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Of course, I'm talking about diplomatic and political side of the conflict resolution, since military resolution is a separate issue. As for Azerbaijani diplomacy and Azerbaijani research institutes and think tanks, it's important for us to promote Azerbaijan’s interests on the political platform and in the research space. Naturally, this chairmanship should bring huge dividends.

In 2011 Azerbaijan was elected to the UN Security Council, and most of the countries that supported us were members of the Non-Aligned Movement. This shows that the NAM has a power to promote certain resolutions in the UN.

- Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku is the first European summit of the movement after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Basically, Azerbaijan has to bring something new into the activities of the NAM. What innovations can Azerbaijan bring?

- Indeed, recent summits were held in Venezuela, Iran and Cuba, while the emphasis was placed on anti-American topics. Moreover, philosophy of the Non-Aligned Movement is generally directed against influence and dictatorship of any country over others. In this sense, it seems that the chairmanship of Azerbaijan will balance organization’s agenda.

I would like to separately comment on the participation of President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, in this summit. Some countries don't recognize his legitimacy, however, he is the legally elected Venezuelan leader, and permanent mission of Venezuela continues to operate on his behalf at the UN. We respect the UN Charter and we accept Maduro, but we must understand that this summit is not dedicated to Venezuela. According to the protocol, Venezuela transfers chairmanship to Azerbaijan, and that's why Venezuelan President came to our country, so this move shouldn't be misinterpreted.

- Politicians in the West often say that the Non-Aligned Movement has lost its relevance. What can you tell these people?

- I believe that the issue of non-aligned politics has remained relevant for many countries, many countries still pursue independent policy. Tasks of protecting territorial integrity and sovereignty of states have also not lost their relevance. Territorial integrity of many states and their sovereignty are currently under threat. It's also important that there's common economic agenda of the NAM member countries.

Non-alignment, sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic agenda still unite countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. Perhaps Azerbaijan will take lead in breathing new strength and bringing new trends to the activities of the Non-Aligned Movement. Our Center for Analysis of International Relations plans to conduct a series of round tables and seminars on the prospects of the Non-Aligned Movement next year with other research institutes and think tanks.