Baku Tribune presents an interview conducted by Seymur Mammadov with Founder and President, ALFAAZ Education and Cultural Society Shoaib Khan.
– Why did India block Azerbaijan’s participation in the BRICS summit?
– In a letter to Azerbaijani President Ilhan Aliyev, in 2019 the US President said that Azerbaijan is more prosperous and connected to the global economy than at any time in its history, Trump wrote to for the 26th anniversary of the Caspian Oil and Gas Show. Oil and gas production from Azerbaijan continues to increase stability in world energy markets, including through the Southern Gas Corridor. Azerbaijan can play an even greater leadership role by partnering with other potential suppliers, such as Turkmenistan and countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Now is the time to expand on your country’s success. In view of this Azerbaijan is a fast-growing economies of the world and in the near future it is to become a Caucasian tiger. This shows that Azerbaijan have full potential to become a full fledge member of the BRICS as the organization itself is a group of fast growing economies.
India’s blockade of Azerbaijan to BRICS is for two reasons first it does not want any country close to Pakistan or China in this group. Turkey-Pakistan-Azerbaijan military alliance is something which hurts India. China is already in BRICS and to push the dragon out of BRICS is impossible for New Delhi but it can block those countries’ entry into BRICS which are close to China and its allies Pakistan and Azerbaijan are among them.
Though India still depends on Russia for its military hardware but as far as trade is concerned the trading distance between Moscow and New Delhi has increased far more than what it was during the Soviet era. The second reason is India’s closeness to West particularly the US. India wants to be benefitted with BRICS but it does not want to displease the west by being closer to its members or allowing the allies of the members to be a part of the organization which is not in the interests of India or its western allies. Though Azerbaijan is having good relations with west as well as with Russia and India but because of its closeness to Turkey and Pakistan and Indian friendly relations with Armenia, there is a different view of New Delhi towards Baku.
– Do you think the Armenian factor could influence the decision of the Indian authorities?
– The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has joined forces with a longtime Indian-American community leader as it seeks to draw attention to Pakistan’s alleged military support for Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey in last year’s conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. The charge, first levied by the Armenian National Security Service at the height of the conflict last October, was widely picked up by media in India, which has had a fraught relationship with Pakistan since partition in 1947. ANCA notably hopes to get support from the 4 million-strong Indian diaspora in its new campaign calling on the Joe Biden administration to sanction Pakistan as a terrorist financing state.
The group has an action alert to its members inviting them to sign on to a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging that Pakistan be added to a blacklist of countries deemed to be non-cooperative in the global effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism due to its recent support for Azerbaijan’s war crimes. When Turkish-backed Azerbaijan launched a full-scale invasion on Artsakh, Indians on social media quickly took sides and expressed their solidarity with Armenia. Indian newspapers, despite being cautious and categorizing the so-called NKR as a separatist entity, were aware of the dangers of the presence of Syrian mercenaries, Pakistan’s logistical support and Turkey’s ambitions in Central Asia and beyond.
The Indians for whom Turkey has been assisting Pakistan when it comes to Kashmir, and Islamabad returns the favor by pledging support to Turkey in its policies in South Caucasus and Western Asia. Even before the Karabakh War, there was a war of words between India and Turkey over Kashmir. During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Kashmir conflict must be mentioned and it is a burning issue that threatens the stability in the region.
In response, India’s permanent representative to the UN condemned Erdogan’s statement and told Turkey to learn to respect the sovereignty of other nations. Meanwhile, on various occasions Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declared that Armenia fully defends India’s position on Kashmir. To strengthen the military ties in March 2020, India and Armenia signed a $40 million deal for the sale of four Swathi weapon locating radar (WLR) stations. A WLR is designed to detect the trajectory of an artillery shell.
Despite the fact that some Indian officials view the Karabakh struggle from a separatist angle, this perception has changed over time. For many Indians, Armenians are battling for their existence against Erdogan’s pan-Turkic and neo-Ottoman projects. Many Indian nationalists see Armenia as a buffer wall against Turkish expansion to the Far East. Both Armenia and India have a mutual concern about the growing partnership among Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. Backed by its two partners, Islamabad tried to consolidate its position on Kashmir, while Baku does the same over Artsakh. Moreover, the pan-Turkic aspirations of both Ankara and Baku should concern the Hindus in India. Ankara’s pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic dreams to unify all the Turkic nations and expand its influence over Central Asia threatens India’s national security and territorial integrity.
People within the Armenian and Indian diasporas are currently facing vehement challenges and Armenia and India are in a perpetual fight with the Turkey-Pakistan-Azerbaijan triangle. One of the key achievements of this diaspora cooperation roadmap will be the establishment of joint Armenian-Indian think tanks on various topics and sectors. Those think tanks will coordinate political lobbying in geopolitical centres of the world and will help consolidate necessary intellectual and financial resources.
– How will this situation affect bilateral relations – Baku and Delhi?
– It will not be surprising if other Arab states as well as Pakistan decide to join the BRICS bandwagon soon. China, as this year’s chair, has clearly indicated its willingness to work with like-minded partners who can join the grouping and promised to set clear priorities in wide-ranging cooperation to make our strategic partnership more efficient. India had good relations with Azerbaijan in the past.
Azerbaijan is an important country in the Caucasus region, and India’s relationship with it is evolving well. While oil and natural gas continue to dominate the discourse of their bilateral relations, but with the passage of time, both sides have identified various other potential areas of cooperation, including, pharmaceutical, tourism, IT, science and technology, agriculture and education. The relationship between the two countries could further get widened with the prospects presented by the BTC pipeline and INSTC route. Notwithstanding trade and economic linkages, old cultural relations are also contributing to deepen the engagement.
After India’s blockade of Azerbaijan’s entry into BRICS the relations could deteriorate further. The above-mentioned fields of cooperation could be affected and there is a possibility that these cooperative works could be slow or even stop for a period. If India can use its power to block Azerbaijan in BRICS then even Baku can use its powers to create hurdles for New Delhi in other international forums and organizations wherever it can along with Pakistan, Turkey and other allies.
This act of India can also be in the interests of China more as Beijing is trying its best to accommodate more countries from Arab world and the Caucasus and Central Asia to be part of BRICS. This will further create goodwill for Beijing and New Delhi will be seen as suspicion not only by Baku but also from other countries who are determined to join the organization.