The fifth Caspian Summit is due to be held on August 12 in Kazakhstan and will host the leaders of the Caspian countries. The agenda includes signing a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. As reported earlier by Russian Foreign ministry the Caspian Sea is going to be considered neither a sea nor a lake, but will have a special legal status.
In this context, Azerbaijan seeks to be recognized as a “friend” to both East and West, although it has been reportedly criticized for its authoritarian regime and poor human rights record by the western countries.
Richard Kauzlarich, Center for Energy Science and Policy (CESP), Distinguished Visiting Professor Schar School of Policy and Government George Mason University and former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, does not find it credible considering Azerbaijan’s foreign policy is mainly pro-Russian.
“For at least four years, Azerbaijan has been pursuing a pro-Russian policy. Russian arms sales are an important part of that. It remains to be seen how the negotiations on a comprehensive EU-Azerbaijan agreement will affect that direction. I doubt that it will. Also to the extent that the EU presses issues of human rights and fundamental economic reform there will be frictions in the Azerbaijan-EU relationship. Azerbaijan tries to convey the image of a balanced foreign policy between Russia and the West (including the US) but the reality is that the pro-Russian tendency is strongest,” he told Armenian News – NEWS.am.
Kauzlarich was US ambassador in Baku in the mid-1990s when the negotiations on the status of the Caspian began. He says negotiations have been very difficult because both Russia and Iran have sought to control what the other littoral states could do on – and under – the Caspian Sea.
To the question whether he thinks this will trigger anger from US as there might be no possibility to transport military cargo to Afghanistan he answered that it certainly has to be a matter of concern.
“As US-Russian relations have deteriorated over the last few years, Moscow has become negative about the trans-shipment of US military equipment destined for Afghanistan. Without seeing the language in the agreement on this point, it is hard to know whether the media reporting is accurate about Russia using the convention on the Caspian to block such shipments. It certainly has to be a matter of concern because the US has applied renewed sanctions on Iran, and proposed additional sanctions on Russia because of the Russian role in the poisoning of Russian citizens in the UK,” he said.