Azerbaijan: Geopolitics and challenging dialogue

10-04-2017

Azerbaijan lies in the South Caucasus, a key region where Turkey, Russia and Iran compete for influence. The country is facing complex territorial issues, with the secessionist region of Nagorny Karabakh being the subject of an unresolved conflict with Armenia. This conflict remains Azerbaijan's top foreign and domestic policy priority and is an essential part of its balanced attitude both towards key regional powers and the EU. The country's neutral geopolitical orientation is supported by its vast energy reserves, which make it an important producer, and transit country for gas and oil from Central Asia to the EU. For many years, this wealth helped sustain vigorous economic growth, yet recently there has been a persistent slowdown which has revealed the need to diversify the economy and invest in non-energy sectors. Azerbaijan has a vibrant secular Muslim society and its political apparatus is often criticised for the concentration of power in President Aliyev. The European Parliament has repeatedly denounced the situation of political prisoners; negotiations for a new comprehensive agreement were launched on 7 February 2017 following the release of some key prisoners in recent months.

Azerbaijan lies in the South Caucasus, a key region where Turkey, Russia and Iran compete for influence. The country is facing complex territorial issues, with the secessionist region of Nagorny Karabakh being the subject of an unresolved conflict with Armenia. This conflict remains Azerbaijan's top foreign and domestic policy priority and is an essential part of its balanced attitude both towards key regional powers and the EU. The country's neutral geopolitical orientation is supported by its vast energy reserves, which make it an important producer, and transit country for gas and oil from Central Asia to the EU. For many years, this wealth helped sustain vigorous economic growth, yet recently there has been a persistent slowdown which has revealed the need to diversify the economy and invest in non-energy sectors. Azerbaijan has a vibrant secular Muslim society and its political apparatus is often criticised for the concentration of power in President Aliyev. The European Parliament has repeatedly denounced the situation of political prisoners; negotiations for a new comprehensive agreement were launched on 7 February 2017 following the release of some key prisoners in recent months.