The Washington Times has published an article headlined “Why Azerbaijan matters for the West”.

Written by Janusz Bugajski, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington DC, the article says: “On April 11, the people of Azerbaijan will be voting in presidential elections on the eve of a major milestone in the country’s history. May 2018 is the centennial anniversary of the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Modern Azerbaijan is the inheritor of the first independent state and maintaining its sovereignty is key to security in the South Caucasus and adjoining regions.”

“Since regaining independence in October 1991, Azerbaijan has become a bridge between several regions as well as an energy and transportation hub, important for Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and the United States. Azerbaijan is at the heart of Europe’s gateway to Central Asia and a critical transportation and over-flight zone for NATO supplies in its military operations in Afghanistan. With the newly developed transportation corridors, Azerbaijan will have a central position in the Silk Roads between China and Europe.”

Highlighting Azerbaijan´s importance in ensuring Europe´s energy security, the author says: “Following the “contract of the century” in 1994, when a consortium of foreign oil companies, led by BP, entered a production-sharing agreement to develop Azerbaijan’s Caspian oil reserves, the country has channeled its oil exports westward. “Next year, Azerbaijan will start the first deliveries of natural gas to Europe, launching the Southern Gas Corridor from the Caspian Sea to Italy via Georgia, Turkey, and the Balkans, thus making an essential contribution to Europe’s diversification of gas supplies.”

In his article, Bugajski also draws the readers` attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that since the 1990s war with Armenia over Azerbaijan’s region of Nagorno-Karabakh, almost 20 percent of the country’s territory remains occupied by Armenia including seven Azerbaijani districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. The author stresses that the number of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs displaced from occupied territories is above one million.

“Twenty-five years of international mediation to resolve the conflict and return the territories to Baku’s jurisdiction have proved unsuccessful. Four resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) adopted by the U.N. Security Council in 1993 regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which confirm that Azerbaijan territories are occupied by Armenian armed forces, remain unimplemented.”

“As the South Caucasus is developing into a strategic hub for Europe, the international implications of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are becoming more significant, particularly for the security of volatile nearby regions between the Middle East and Central Asia.

Azerbaijan’s government is seeking to balance the country’s security, sovereignty and economic growth with the demands of building a democratic society.

“Baku’s primary goal must be to maintain national independence and regional stability. The upcoming presidential elections will enable Azerbaijan’s citizens to express their verdict on the government’s achievements,” Bugajski says.

BAKU. 10.04.2018. AzerTAg.

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