Azerbaijan Mulls Cooperation with CSTO

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Written by Alex Gorka; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The prospects for establishing some kind of cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have recently entered the public discourse in Azerbaijan. The success of the Caspian Convention has triggered these discussions about the CSTO-Azerbaijani relationship. The haqqin.az website is serving as a platform for the ongoing debate, suggesting that membership in that organization should not be ruled out, given the circumstances.

Azerbaijan Mulls Cooperation with CSTO

According to Ali Husseynli, the chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament’s Legal and State-Building Committee, “…in the new geopolitical conditions it is possible to consider Azerbaijan’s participation in the CSTO,” adding, “I do not see any serious threats to our country as a result of its participation in the CSTO. In addition, it is possible to begin with the status of an observer state in this organization.” Commonspace.eu describes him as a serious politician, who is close to the presidential administration and is known for his role in offering new ideas for public discussion. If this is true, does it mean the Azerbaijani leadership is pondering the possibility of entry into the bloc? Why not? The Collective Treaty is an organization that welcomes new members. After all, Baku was a full-fledged member of the CSTO from 1993 to 1999.

If that event occurs, 70% of the South Caucasus will automatically fall within the domain of the CSTO. The organization would have a common border with Iran and gain access to the Indian Ocean.

Membership would pave the way for the acquisition of contemporary weapons systems from Russia, Belarus, and other member states at a considerable discount, or at “internal prices,” which are much lower than the rates charged internationally

Joining the CSTO is a logical step for Azerbaijan, as Russia considers this country to be a strategic ally. The two nations share a common border. Their common status as signatories to the recent Caspian Convention brings them even closer. Diasporas are also a factor dictating a need for an enhanced partnership. Baku enjoys a special relationship with Ankara. So do Moscow and Astana, the largest CSTO member states.

Everything is connected. Baku can play an important part in the implementation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as the other members of the CSTO do. Azerbaijani-Iranian transport projects could become part of the initiative. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a natural partner to the BRI, and the CSTO and SCO cooperate closely. Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, all parties to the CSTO, also enjoy membership in the SCO. The two organizations share a document – a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Dushanbe in 2007 – that defines the guidelines on bilateral cooperation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Azerbaijan on Aug.25. Those talks demonstrated that “human-rights issues” still cloud Azerbaijan’s relations with the West. That visitor pointedly met with opposition figures, including investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, to discuss “corruption and how it undermines peace, democracy, and security in Azerbaijan.” The chancellor noted, “We did not find common ground on all issues. But I argued that a strong civil society must be part of an open, secular society and made clear that we would like to see this strong civil society.” Nothing like this stands in the way of developing Baku’s relations with the CSTO member states.

Baku enjoys a solid, neighborly relationship with Iran and has lucrative economic projects either in the works or already up and running. The US campaign against Iran could have a negative effect on American-Azerbaijani relations, as Baku could be hit by US sanctions. Any nation can make itself less vulnerable to outside pressure of any kind by diversifying its portfolio of international relationships.

It is true that Azerbaijan is sticking to a policy of neutrality. It has a close relationship with NATO. Although a party to the EU’s Eastern Partnership program, it has refused to sign an association agreement with Brussels. It enjoys a special relationship with Israel while also supporting the idea of an independent Palestinian state.

Baku sees the advantage in preserving as much wiggle room as it can, and this policy is quite understandable. Today, the CSTO is being reformed so as to offer the new options of observer and partner-state status. This is a welcome development that is well timed! One of these statuses would perfectly be attuned to Azerbaijan’s interests.

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On June 10, 2018, SouthFront released a video analysis entitled “Crisis in Armenia and Balance of Power in South Caucasus“, which was describing how the recent in Armenia would impact the balance of power in the South Caucasus:

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  • Wegan

    Azerbaijan is being toyed with by the EU and the US. What’s more is that there is more Azeri in Iran than Azerbaijan. Their natural alliance should be 100% east. The west has nothing to offer to them.

    • BL

      This “country” of “Azerbaijan” is one of the unresolved sore points between Iran and Russia that has never been addressed. This region was historically Iranian lands called “Aaran” or “Shirvan” or “Albania” but NEVER “Azerbaijan”. After the Russian empire conquered the region from Persia during the 1800s they implemented a severe anti-Iranian cultural policy in order to remove the historic, linguistic, and cultural link between the Iranians of Aaran and the rest of Iran. One such policy was changing the name of the region into “Azerbaijan” (A name that historically only belonged south of the Aras river) and incorrectly telling the people that they are part of some mythical “Azerbaijan” nation that never existed. Imperial Russia did this to lay the foundation for future further expansion into Iranian territory. Unfortunately to this very day this is the fake and false “history” that is being taught in the republic of Azerbaijan to their people.

      The people of the republic of Azerbaijan are mixed but the majority are still ethnic Iranians (NOT Azeris) whose ancestors used to speak Persian before the migration of Turkmen tribes post Mongol invasions. Even then the language of Persian and Turkish was equally spoken until imperial Russia ensured that those linguistic links were cut.

      • lovethemapples

        interesting text. but I neither got the idea (point) of your text, nor the relation to original comment you replied to.

        • BL

          The original poster said “There are more Azeris in Iran than Azerbaijan”. This is a false statement. There are NO Azeris in Azerbaijan since the republic of Azerbaijan is a fake entity with a fake name. The people of that region have never been called “Azeri” in history until the Russian empire decided to call them that. It’s basically a similar situation to the Greece-Macedonia naming issue.

          • lovethemapples

            Still didn’t get your point.
            1. People on both sides of the river speak the same language,
            2. they both call themselves Azeri,
            3. statistically indeed there are more people in Iran calling themselves Azeri and speaking that language than in Azerbaijan Republic.
            So that statement is correct. Or am I missing something?

          • BL

            Sorry but I can’t be any more clear.

            1. For thousands of years the words “Azerbaijan” and “Azeri” belonged to the region and people south of the Aras river.

            2. The people of the region speak the same language because the entire region of Caucasus and Anatolia had their indigenous languages Turkify after the Mongol invasions, this doesn’t mean they’re now the “same people” and should be called by the same name.

            3. Imagine if after a few centuries the vast majority of the American state of Texas became Spanish speakers due to immigration. This doesn’t mean the Mexican government can suddenly change the name of its northern province to “Texas” and claim both sides of the border are “the same people”.

            If you still don’t get it, then let’s just end the conversation here.

          • lovethemapples

            1. And for thousands of years west of Turkey was predominantly Greek, should we now call people who live there Greeks?
            2. It doesn’t matter what we call them. What matters who they idetify themselves with, based on the evidence of ethnicity, language and geography.
            3. It depends if the people in Texas accept that claim or not. If it is mutually accepted, who are we to judge them.

            But anyways, this conversation has nothing to do with the article, so i will stop here.

          • BL

            1. The people of Western Turkey ARE predominantly ethnic Greeks, they have simply lost their indigenous language through a process called “Elite dominance”. It’s the same process that occured in Africa where many African peoples adopted the language of their colonial masters. No sane person would call a Portuguese speaking Angolan Black person a “Portuguese” person.

            2. I’m sorry but reality matters. Just because some insane person wants to identify as a tree doesn’t mean the rest of humanity should do too. You’re free to identify as whatever you want but the rest of us living in reality will identify you as what you actually are. All the evidence that you mentioned clearly indicates that these people are NOT Azeris since “Azeri” has a clear historical and geographical implication.

            3. In this case there’s no mutual agreement, it was a one sided forced issue without any discussion or mutual agreement.

          • lovethemapples

            1. Based on information available to me, there is absolutely no scientific research/evidence proving that people on both sides of the river are not ethnically related enough to be called the same ethnic name. In a contrary language and their ethnic identity allows it.
            2. As you may have seen from my previous comments, I have indeed mentioned the necessity of ethnic, geographical and linguistic evidence in order to be able to identify yourself a certain ethnic group. so that covers it.
            That evidence is not identified or researched by you or me. It is done by scientists and they at the moment classify both of those people as Azeri(sometimes Azerbaijani). So facts are always stronger than our opinions.
            3. Perhaps it was. But right now both of them identify themselves as Azeri. So the notion of who did it first or why they did it, doesn’t matter any more.
            I am not saying that you are wrong, of course you can choose to live with the reality of few hundreds or if you like even thousands of years ago. But I will prefer keep up with the changing world, so I cannot agree with your idea.

          • BL

            1. They are ethnically related enough because they are both Iranians.

            2. The current identification is not the result of “scientific” classification, rather it is the the result of naming these people according to what they name themselves. In other words, had the Russian empire not labeled these people as “Azeri” they would not be called “Azeri” today. My whole point is that according to history, geography, science, or whatever else you want to look into these people are NOT Azeri, they are only Azeri politically since that is their current political name.

            3. I normally wouldn’t care how someone wants to identify themselves but in this case this has security and political implications for Iran. If you read the comment below me written by the Zionist troll “putinbeater” you’ll understand what I mean. Right now the republic of Azerbaijan has been turned into a Zionist base of operation against Iran and they encourage and advertise separatism inside Iran due to this very fake historical naming mistake. Not just that but they also allow Israel to conduct military and espionage operations from their territory against Iran. Now their effects inside Iran are virtually none but it affects naive and uneducated non-Iranians such as yourselves and others forcing people like me to have to constantly explain why such notions are fake and incorrect.

            Of course people like you have political incentives to want to cling to this anti-Iran Zionist propaganda operation naively thinking you’re going to get something out of it in the future but any educated honest and impartial person will accept facts and reality once they see it. You said “I will prefer to keep up with a changing world”. I can assure you that the current situation will not remain constant and will change some time down the line. Once you declare yourself a hostile power to Iran, Iran isn’t just going to sit on the sidelines and watch. That’s all I will say for now and sorry but I’m not interested in continuing this conversation since I know you’re politically motivated and not interested in facts or reality so I won’t read your next response. Peace out.

          • lovethemapples

            ok bye

        • Mustafa Mehmet

          well said

      • putinbeater

        freedom for iranian azeris! je suis big azerbaijan!

  • lovethemapples

    Depends what CSTO has to offer to Azerbaijan.
    Weapons? They have plenty.
    Political support? They enjoy high level of relations with all of CSTO members (except Armenia)
    Security Guarantee against a potential (unlikely scenario) superpower? Turkey is already a guarantee.

    if it is resolving NK conflict, I doubt membership of Azerbaijan in CSTO will help that in any way. CSTO role in solving the conflict is more related to the membership (loyalty to Russia) of Armenia.

  • The Farney Fontenoy

    This isn’t as clear cut as it looks, Armenia has publicly stated it will veto Azerbaijan’s entry:
    http://commonspace.eu/index.php?m=23&news_id=4872

  • Rafik Chauhan

    AZERBAIJAN is the puppet state of Zionist . they have given green light to Israel to use their land to spies on iran and other anti isreal state. Alevi should not be a president people should remove him and his corrupt gover,ment

    • lovethemapples

      Maybe they see Iran as a threat. so why not. I can imagine Azerbaijan not wanting another nuclear power nextdoor.