Baku, Azerbaijan, May 4
By Tim Tal - Trend:
Azerbaijan has its hands full - dealing with the ongoing occupation of its lands, getting ready to hold the First European Games and being busy with energy-related projects.
A pair of extra hands would've been great - to strangle the attempts to smear the country's image on the international stage. The reasons for negative activity and black "PR" against Azerbaijan is explainable - as the country gains more political weight, the attacks increase. In recent years, the country has become bigger, in terms of reaching the next level of visibility and credibility on the world stage.
The world powers, standing at the "top level" have always been looking down on countries standing on a couple of levels below, and suppressed any attempts of those countries to "get to the next level". Azerbaijan however continues to climb the "ladder", and a lot of those who stand above, do not appreciate that.
Bigger states seem to have little understanding of how much Azerbaijan had to deal with throughout its 20-plus years of independence to reach where it is right now. That is, with the ongoing occupation of the country's territory by neighboring Armenia.
Today, Azerbaijan is vitally important for several reasons, the biggest of which is gas. Azerbaijan has initiated the TANAP project, which is part of a bigger Southern Gas Corridor. Azerbaijan is not only investing its own money into this, but it also offers Europe an alternative resource of gas supplies. Azerbaijan's energy policy is growing and many European countries are looking forward to what the country can provide. Eternal dependence on Russia today is hardly an option.
The fact that Azerbaijan is treated unfairly by the bigger countries is similar to discrimination. I am sure a lot of people in the US remember those days, when people of color would be denied jobs, services and even simple joys of life, simply because they were thought of as being inferior to the whites. Not that it is totally gone today, but still.
Similar thing is happening with Azerbaijan. The US, for example, is having enough of problems with human rights itself, which are vividly demonstrated all over the local media outlets. This is while Azerbaijan is being attacked with the same, the human rights issue - something that cannot be solved within a month, a year or even ten years.
Some very important positive factors about Azerbaijan are often overlooked. Azerbaijan is a reliable partner, it co-exists in peace with its neighbors, except for Armenia (would you be friends with an aggressor, occupying your land?).
Many western politicians, groups and organizations claim that "oil-rich" Azerbaijan, that is carrying out its own independent policy, is where it is today for one reason only - because it has oil. This assumption is quite far from the truth, and to further explain it, I can settle for a very simple example from the world of sports.
We all know what team sports mean. Having a load of stars on a team doesn't necessarily mean the team will succeed and win a championship. A team of stars must be guided, guided by a coach that can point the team of stars into the right direction. That requires talent, vision.
Azerbaijan may have gotten lucky by being oil-rich, however if the policy carried out by the country's government was wrong - the country would've never reached its current position of the regional leader and someone the big part of Europe depends on.
And speaking of sports, Azerbaijan, being a small country, is taking on a huge responsibility by holding the First European Games.
For a country of Azerbaijan's size, such a big-scale event becomes even bigger in every possible term. As Azerbaijani leadership has pointed out numerous times before, if there wasn't confidence about the Games, Azerbaijan wouldn't step up to hold them in the first place.
Azerbaijan is currently asking for only two things - justice and cooperation. Some "big players" just need to get over the fact that a small country can learn from their experience and then take its own path towards development. Providing Azerbaijan with what it asks is actually not that much, considering the long-term benefits.
Tim Tal is an assistant editor at Trend Agency