Azerbaijan to remain Belarus’ strategic partner in the South Caucasus
Within formal integration platforms in the post-Soviet space, informal, albeit effective alliances have formed based on common interests and personal credibility.
On November 19th, 2018, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will visit Minsk. Bilateral negotiations will focus on implementing joint projects.
On November 12th, 2018, Alexander Lukashenka met with the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Belarus, Latif Gandilov. Among other things, they touched upon the CSTO summit in Astana where Belarus helped to block the appointment of a new Armenian representative as Secretary-General to replace the recalled Yuri Khachaturov.
On November 14th, 2018, Ilham Aliyev met with Gennady Akhramovich, Ambassador of Belarus to Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani leader was more direct in the public part of the meeting. He stated that Belarus and Azerbaijan closely cooperated on political and security issues. Azerbaijan was satisfied with the quality and technical capacities of the Belarusian military equipment and would extend the military-technical cooperation. Baku carefully (and apparently with pleasure) observed Yerevan’s negative response to Belarusian-Azerbaijani military contacts. In addition, Azerbaijan is closely monitoring the situation in the CSTO in an attempt to prevent Yerevan from using the organization to the detriment of Azerbaijani interests. That said, Belarus-Azerbaijan interactions are also about this.
In the current year, bilateral trade turnover tripled, and Azerbaijani exports to Belarus increased by 50%. A significant part of turnover (and its growth) was due to purchases of various Belarusian weapon systems and military equipment by Azerbaijan.
Baku will remain Minsk’s strategic ally on security matters in the South Caucasus in the future. The history of bilateral relations has proved the ability of the post-Soviet states to form effective alliances based on common interests and the personal credibility of the leaders. Simultaneously, in the future, Belarusian-Azerbaijani cooperation is likely to remain a priority for Belarus over her commitments within the CSTO, as the latter is an atomized organization with members divided over various matters.