BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV
It is not right to belittle, as well as to exaggerate the role of newly formed countries in world politics. Undoubtedly, the geostrategic location of Azerbaijan with its inexhaustible natural resources (based on the still relevant theory of the primary producing countries) intends a special place in an uneasy system of regional and international relations in one of the most problematic regions of the world, where the spheres of influence of power centres are constantly distributed and redistributed. However, the absolute majority of unbiased experts converge on a single opinion: Azerbaijan is at the centre of geopolitics and geo-economics of the region.
And it is not accidental that for the seventh time in the entire period of Ilham Aliyev's rule, an informal club of former heads of state and heads of government of influential and largest countries of the world gathers in Baku. There is no denying it, if in fact this informal club established itself (in the full sense of the word) in the Azerbaijani capital.
For the seventh time I have an excellent opportunity to communicate directly in the corridors with the most legendary politicians, who created new political history with their own hands. How many well-known figures appeared on the scene of this influential club! Landsbergis, Shushkevich, Kwasniewski, Hikmet Chetin, Saakashvili, Werner Faymann, Nawaz Sharif, Shimon Peres, Sali Berisha, Kuchma... This list of the legendary people in the new political history -- regulars of the Baku forum -- can be endless. And the honorary co-chairman of the club is the former President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
In general, in the West and even in politically established eastern countries, former heads of state or governments are not put on hold, they are not anathemised, they do not fall into disgrace. It is about the countries that have an entrenched perfected political culture. And even after resignation, these people continue to play the most important role in the political establishment of their countries, European institutions, in the world community. They continue to define the image of their countries. Their weighty word, authoritative opinion is priceless for think tanks, research circles forming the process of political decision-making.
And holding these forums in Baku is a great achievement, publicity capital for the host party, finally, is a high honour. Moreover, the authorities receive an excellent opportunity for direct and informal communication with public figures, determining the mentality in the world and European public opinion. All of them listen to the position of the president and government members, who have something to tell about the problems of the country. I am not even talking about internal, at least about national interests. Karabakh, geopolitics, energy map, global transport projects... Once a year, Azerbaijan gets a unique opportunity to actualise the problems of its agenda.
After all, along with the ex-presidents, the guests of these forums are also the current politicians. Here's a fresh example: this time Baku will host incumbent heads of state, heads of government, deputy prime ministers... It would seem that we should rejoice, and in every way promote the expansion of this successful plane. Azerbaijan managed to achieve a format that is beyond the power of any of the former Soviet republics! But no! Right on the eve of this prestigious forum there again rose critical voices, they say, why do we need this expensive event? What is the use of all this? What can we get and learn from all of this. And to get and learn today and at this very moment. Each year, the organiser of the Forum, Head of the State Committee for Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov, also gets it.
Our head of the State Committee for Diaspora can be criticised for anything, but not for holding this most important political event. But in fact there are people in the political elite and among the public with a strange, if not distorted logic, calling to give up this expensive pleasure.
Meanwhile, Armenia is very jealous of every congress of the powerful of this world in Baku. Yerevan even thought about holding an alternative forum, persistently persuading the famous Madrid club to gather in Armenia. In the to put it mildly insolvent Armenia, no one thinks about the excessive expenditure of the new project: after all, the Madrid Club of former heads of state and government created in 2002 to promote democracy and European values unites up to 80 ex-presidents and prime ministers from 56 countries!
What happens? Some people here propose to destroy one of the best ideas during the presidency of Ilham Aliyev and say goodbye to your own successful project at the same time when Armenia calls the Madrid Club to gather in Yerevan? Where is logic in that? Look who's coming to Baku this time. Former vice-president of the World Bank, ex-presidents and heads of government of Serbia, Latvia, Austria, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Albania, Belgium, Lebanon, Georgia, Ukraine, Greece, Hungary, Croatia, Macedonia, USA, France are gathering in the Azerbaijani capital...
This is not an empty and not even a diligently packed package, but a prestigious venue and an influential tribune. How can you refuse this forum! Where are the fair minds? Let's say that this time Nazim Ibrahimov managed to persuade the country's leadership to hold the forum. And what will happen next year? On what else to spend money, if not on such an event, having a Karabakh thorn? Is it possible that such a rich country like Azerbaijan is not able to solve systematically the problem of functioning of the Baku club once and for all?
I would like to conclude this small remark before the grand opening of the forum with the thought expressed in the preface: do not undermine the importance of your own state. After all, states, like people, get used to both victories and defeats. It's bad when states get used to defeats. There is nothing worse that when states, like people, are reconciled with an unchanging destiny to trail behind the scenes. States, like people, lose self-esteem and consider their own defeats natural. Why should we cancel our own successes and victories? I suggest only to think about it...