On May 17, I had the honor of participating in the conference titled “Latvian-Azerbaijani Relations: From the Past to the Present to the Future.” The conference was organized by the University of Latvia, ADA University (Azerbaijan), and the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Latvia. The event took place in the Small Hall of the University of Latvia (LU). I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts with you all.
Firstly, I will briefly touch upon the history of our relationship and the significance of Latin in our general historical context. Secondly, I will highlight some positive aspects that I appreciated from the President’s office. Additionally, I will present some ideas and proposals for our future cooperation and what it holds for us.
Regarding history, when I was a student at the University of Latvia, in the late ’80s, we were constructing a united front to achieve our freedom and independence. During that time, delegates from the Caucasian region and Central Asia visited us, as we aimed to establish cooperation between our civil societies and emerging organizations fighting for independence, individual freedoms, and the preservation of our identities. We envisioned that just as the Baltic states united, despite occasional disagreements, the countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia in the Caucasian region could also unite based on their unique identities. We believed that by joining forces, we could combat the evil empire as President Reagan once described it. Unfortunately, history has shown that this idealistic vision was not fully realized.
Moving on to our current relationship, geographically we have a favorable position and good relations with your countries. However, some challenges exist, as your country, Azerbaijan, seeks membership in various institutions to which we already belong. These transactional relationships and different national issues contribute to the complexity. It is essential for us to uphold international law and high standards in international relations.
We can view the world from different angles, considering balance versus imbalance, stability versus instability. In my opinion, Azerbaijan represents stability and prosperity in the region, despite recent tensions over disputed territories. In the current turbulent environment, as Professor mentioned, Russia’s discriminatory war against Ukraine gains significance. However, it’s not only about balance or stability. I want to shift the perspective to the concept of right versus might. As countries striving for our place in the world and protecting our interests, it is crucial that international organizations not only serve the interests of powerful nations but also reflect the principles of rights and balance.
When international organizations are strong, respected, and uphold these values, smaller countries like ours can engage more meaningfully. Conversely, when international organizations fail, might tends to dominate over right. Russia has discovered this and often disregards international organizations, projecting its own interests. This situation benefits Moscow since many existing international organizations are inadequate and fail to meet current needs.
Now, let’s move on to the third point: our future perspective. I believe it is necessary for us to work together in Stockholm and Baku, Azerbaijan, and even in Africa to shape the future of international organizations. This includes the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and even NATO. A secure security architecture is crucial in regions such as the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. I firmly believe that Russia will eventually lose in this regard, which, in the long run, is healthy, even psychologically, as people learn from losses rather than victories. This crucial lesson seems to be missing in our neighboring country. Therefore, we must work together on security and the international environment.
In terms of bilateral cooperation, I strongly encourage our respective state institutions, including the Latvian government, ministries, and Azerbaijani counterparts, to explore opportunities for deeper engagement. This includes economic, industrial, political, and cultural cooperation. We shouldn’t overlook initiatives like student exchanges and partnerships. In the technological era, where information is instantly accessible, our cooperation can extend to various sectors. For example, environmental protection, sustainable energy, and waste management. Latvia has valuable experience in energy and can easily transfer knowledge to Azerbaijan. Moreover, we can explore industrial cooperation, innovative technologies, and systems that can be adapted for single-use, benefiting both regions. This cooperation can open doors for Lafayette to enter the Caucasian and Central Asian markets and establish stronger ties with Europe.
Lastly, I want to mention that the recent war provides us with an opportunity not only to deepen our cooperation but also to reshape the Northern European region. After this conflict, I believe countries such as Ukraine, the Nordic countries, and Baltic Sea countries will become more closely integrated in terms of security architecture, economic cooperation, and political influence. In conclusion, we, as both friends and partners, should work together for our mutual interests within the European Union, Brussels, and organizations like NATO. This alignment of interests is not merely a gift we offer; it is a vital necessity. We should encourage collaboration between our state institutions, governments, ministries, and enterprises. Our cooperation should encompass economic, environmental, and technological advancements. By doing so, we can achieve our common goals and create a more balanced and prosperous future for both Azerbaijan and Latvia.
In conclusion, the relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan hold great potential. By nurturing our friendship, promoting economic cooperation, cultural exchange, education, and diplomatic collaboration, we can build a stronger foundation for a mutually beneficial partnership. Let us seize the opportunities before us and work towards a future of shared prosperity and understanding.