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American criticism of Azerbaijan not justified –Avinoam Idan

News.Az

November 05, 2013

122290

1news.az interviews Israeli analyst, doctor of the Haifa university Avinoam Idan.

Mr.Idan, how do you evaluate the current level of Azerbaijani-Israeli ties?

The system of close strategic relationship of Israel and Azerbaijan at the very beginning of its development did not imply or promise the current dynamics and the close interaction paradigm. Diplomatic relations were established almost immediately after the declaration of the state independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan. However, Azerbaijan, on the basis of various geopolitical reasons, yet has no diplomatic representation in the State of Israel. The strategic position of Azerbaijan, situated between Russia and Iran, dictates the need for an independent foreign policy and strengthening relations with Israel despite the tough geopolitical pressure.

What factors have contributed to strengthening of the Azerbaijani-Israeli relations?

It is worth noting a number of factors that have made a special contribution to the strengthening of Azerbaijani- Israeli relations. Azerbaijan is an important energy actor in the region and exports oil to the Mediterranean region, thus ensuring 40 % of the Israeli oil consumption.

Azerbaijan is actively involved in the development of Israel's gas fields. The geographical position of Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus is of strategic importance for Israel. Azerbaijan has no outlet to the ocean, but it is a strategically important state and a transport corridor between the East and the West, which connects Central Asia with Europe. Azerbaijan has close economic ties with the EU and the U.S., as well as with the countries of Eurasia.

Let’s not forget that Azerbaijan always had a great respect to the Jewish community…


You're absolutely right. Azerbaijan is a country with a predominantly Shiite Muslim population where religion is separated from the state. Azerbaijan is an example and a model of a tolerant state, which is interested in a strategic relationship with the State of Israel. Our Jewish state appreciates this special relationship. A very important part of the Azerbaijani-Israeli relations is the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Jews in Azerbaijan, as well as special and warm relations between Azerbaijanis and Jews. It is worth noting the fact that Jewish immigrants from Azerbaijan living in Israel today, are making a huge contribution to the development and strengthening of relations between the two countries.

What do you think about the recent statement of the US Department of State regarding the presidential elections in Azerbaijan?

Despite the difficult geopolitical environment and ongoing geopolitical pressure, the current Azerbaijani leadership chose the path of an independent state and a strong regional actor with a clear pro-Western orientation and strong economic ties with the West. This fact causes a strong convergence between Azerbaijan and Israel and forms the basis for the special bonds of strategic partnership between the countries.

The process of transition of the former Soviet Union from authoritarian regimes to democracy is a fundamental challenge to this process and here Azerbaijan is not different from other countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Given the recent events of the "Arab Spring" and scary and sometimes bloody results, especially in Egypt and Syria, the U.S. criticism of Azerbaijan is not justified. Israel views the process of democratization in these countries as an integral part of ensuring stability. Recent events prove that the loss of power and political anarchy can cause permanent and severe blow to democracy.

The last years of the development show that Azerbaijan is rapidly moving towards democracy, but it is clear that the country has to go a long way to meet the standards of the Western model. One of the main goals of the U.S. foreign policy in the Caspian basin is the promotion and development of Azerbaijan as a symbol of democracy in the region.

Israel has special feelings and interests with regard to Azerbaijan. This policy requires dialogue and continued support of the Azerbaijani leadership. This policy should be calibrated and should promote democratic processes that meet specific challenges that the Republic of Azerbaijan will face. This policy will prevent the slide of the region into political chaos and loss of control and ensure the development of democratic processes.

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