Our Analytics 15 august — 14:02

Five Putin's letters for Azerbaijan: CSTO and... (Our editorial)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

President Ilham Aliyev finished the mission of the founder of the Third Republic Heydar Aliyev with a historic victory. In Aktau, at a meeting of the presidents of the Caspian littoral states, Ilham Aliyev signed the historic document regulating the new status of the Caspian Sea.

Background

Alas, after the collapse of the USSR, the division of the Caspian Sea remained a gordian knot in the relations of all the Caspian countries. New independent states could not share the richest and inexhaustible resources of the Caspian shelf. From the very beginning of unresolved differences Heydar Aliyev insisted on the division of the Caspian along the middle line. Subsequently, the position of Azerbaijan was supported by Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Although the interests of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan were permanently encountered due to the rich Kapaz field, called Sardar in Ashgabat in honor of the leader of the Turkmen nation. The paradox, but even in the implementation of the division of the Caspian along the median line Kapaz was on the sea border of Baku with Ashgabat.

The geographic uniqueness of the Caspian Sea, an intracontinental reservoir separated from the oceans, allowed Iran and Yeltsin's Russia to insist on the division of the sea space into five parts, distributing one part to each Caspian country. At the same time, Russia categorically refused to apply to the Caspian the norms and principles of international maritime law expressed in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The status of the sea would open the way to the region for extra-regional powers, which primarily would prejudice the interests of the main regional players - Russia and Iran. Therefore, these two states insisted on maintaining the legal regime governed by the Soviet-Iranian treaties, which prohibited ships of non-Caspian states from sailing in the Caspian Sea.

After lengthy negotiations and the tough position demonstrated by Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, in 2003 Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan agreed and established the coordinates of the dividing lines. These three countries have limited the areas of the seabed, consolidated their sovereign rights over the dividing lines and recognized each other's right to extract oil and gas in the coordinates of the dividing lines.

The concept of Putin and Aliyev won

However, the fundamental geopolitical changes in the region, marked by the emergence of Putin's Russia that rose from its knees and opening the way to the formation of another regional security system, led to the emergence of qualitatively new military-political and economic relations between the Caspian countries. The new process in the region was given new impetus by the format of personal trust and friendly relations between the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan.

The concepts of geopolitical axes Moscow-Baku-Ankara and Moscow-Baku-Tehran worked out by Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev (the formation of this axis was a big blow to the interests of Armenia, because the Iran-Armenia strategic railway was transformed into a new Azerbaijan-Iran project), that uncovered the most powerful geo-economic potential of the four states, led to the creation of global transport and communications, logistics systems and energy corridors (North-South, East-West), largely bringing together the positions of the leading states of the trans-Caucasian and Trans-Caspian regions. Ilham Aliyev's unique foreign policy strategy has significantly strengthened the geopolitical and military-political importance of Azerbaijan in the whole of the Greater East.

Aliyev, Putin, Rouhani step by step approached the implementation of a compromise and consensus decision on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. A major role in the process of rapprochement between the positions of states was played by the historic Baku Summit of 2010, which was held on the initiative of President Aliyev. For the first time it was in Baku that the Caspian countries laid the legal basis for joint use of the Caspian basin based on the national-state interests of the sovereign state. It was at the initiative of Ilham Aliyev that an agreement was reached on the width of the national zone, including the water space under the sovereignty of the coastal state. The countries signed the first agreement. This was a tangible step towards the realization of the Caspian concept of Heydar Aliyev. And the eight-year long talks that followed the Baku summit resulted in the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in Aktau.

The document was adopted taking into account the national interests of Azerbaijan. Although the Caspian Sea was recognized as an intracontinental reservoir, the division occurred on the basis of the principle of the midline. Thus, each of the five parties will have the right to establish territorial waters that do not exceed 15 nautical miles in width, which will be measured from the so-called baselines. The methodology for establishing baselines for the identification of zones will be approved by another, separate agreement. Each country will also have the right to establish a fishing zone with a width of 10 nautical miles adjacent to territorial waters.

Another decision, important from the point of view of national interests of Russia and Azerbaijan, was the provision on the inadmissibility of the presence in the Caspian Sea of the armed forces of extra-regional states.

Course on the union with the CIS

Immediately after the historic victory of Ilham Aliyev in Aktau, pro-Western Armenian experts sounded the alarm, indicating the strengthening of the role of Russia and Azerbaijan in the Black Sea-Caspian region. The success of the regional foreign policy doctrine of Ilham Aliyev further exacerbated the regional position of Armenia, isolated it from all the major projects of geo-economic integration. Aliyev's foreign policy for the region presupposes strengthening and developing relations both in the format of bilateral relations and within the framework of leading political organizations.

Of course, a lasting military-political alliance between Azerbaijan and Russia is a system-forming factor of the regional doctrine. Moscow recognizes and supports the integrity of Azerbaijan, which is expressed in the Kremlin's unequivocal position, supplies modern weapons to Baku, acts as a stabilizing factor in the region. President Aliyev said openly about this in his speech at the CIS summit.

Sociocultural identity, expressed in a special relation to the Russian language and the great Russian culture, the humanitarian and socially valuable community of the two countries create a solid ground for the development of military and political ties.

Along with this, Azerbaijan in the person of President Aliyev created unique trust and allied relations with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, demonstrating reliability and predictability, loyalty to obligations and continuity in fidelity to traditions.

The system of these allied relations was manifested during the recent visit to Baku of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. Presidents long discussed allied relations face to face. Earlier Aliyev had held similar confidential negotiations with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom he respectfully calls the aksakal (honorary elder) of the entire region.

Commenting on the historical success of Azerbaijan in Aktau, Armenian experts, pointing to a qualitatively new alignment of forces and the unpredictable nature of the situation, recognize that Armenia, especially in the light of the reckless westernization of Yerevan, is no longer an outpost of Russia in the Caucasus. Against the backdrop of these unexpected confessions, a piercing refrain is the assessment of Russia's patriotic forces, categorically expressed by the leader of the Eurasian movement Alexander Dugin: "Azerbaijan is Russia's only ally in the Caucasus."

Is it worth sealing the alliance in the CSTO?

However, the most effective mechanism in the current system of regional security, guaranteed by Russia, is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). By and large, unlike the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Customs Union - regional organizations that are still at the stage of formation - the CSTO, called by the "Tashkent Pact" to strengthen regional security and stability, collective protection of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, is the only functionally established organization of countries that have sealed their allied ties.

This organization includes all the main allies of Azerbaijan, which are demanding immediate de-occupation of Karabakh. The CSTO includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. Armenia is still formally represented in the organization, but after the color revolution, its new pro-Western government took a frank course towards European integration, and, apparently, the day when the Pashinyan Cabinet will leave this military-political alliance, like the CIS, is not far off.

Please note that all the CSTO member states are self-sufficient and sovereign, defending their national-state interests and priorities. And Kazakhstan is actively represented in all programs of military-political interaction in NATO peacekeeping programs. Kyrgyzstan is an undeclared citadel of pro-Western liberalism in the CIS, and Lukashenko's principled and uncontrollable nature, for whom there is no higher value than the sovereignty of Belarus, who allows himself sometimes hard discussions with Russia, with which Minsk si in a single Union State, earns sincere respect.

Whose sovereign rights does the CSTO infringe? If since 2009, such an integral state, like Iran, wants to have a status of an observer member of the CSTO, then what restrictions on sovereign rights can we talk about? It is noteworthy, but it is precisely since 2009 that the CSTO, the same political organization as the CIS, has decided to create a Collective Rapid Reaction Force. The joint armed forces of the allied countries are designed to repel military aggression and restore the territorial integrity of the states forming part of the alliance.

Note that the only country that faced military aggression and lost part of the territory as a result of annexation is Azerbaijan. And all the countries belonging to the CSTO insist on de-occupation of Azerbaijani lands.

Could the CSTO become a platform for a final Karabakh settlement? Do you remember the veto imposed by Nazarbayev on Armenia's accession to the Eurasian Union? What did Azerbaijan's great friend demand from Armenia? Deoccupation of the Karabakh lands!

And the concept of Vladimir Putin, voiced in Baku by Alexander Dugin about the need to return the lowland Karabakh and five districts to Azerbaijan without preconditions?

All regional institutes and organizations in the post-Soviet space are still on the way of their formation. The only effective mechanism for a just Karabakh settlement can be the CSTO. Maybe we need to open a public discussion? And do you think that this organization, which unites all sincere allies and partners of Azerbaijan, can become a platform for restoring the integrity of the country? You may well say: utopia! However, about twenty years ago, wasn't the today's reality, when all the Caspian countries came to a common agreement, rightly dividing the Caspian Sea, a utopia?

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