As Azerbaijani authors and researchers, let us provide a comprehensive review of the book titled “Romanticizing Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan: A Region through the Lens of Resistive Economy” by Dr. Muhammad Asim. In this review, we are comparing the facts presented in the book with the political, cultural, social and economic realities of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The book primarily focuses on the dynamics and potential for economic collaboration among Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, emphasizing the concept of a resistive economy as a means to foster regional stability and prosperity. Although the book does not specifically discuss Azerbaijan, it offers parallels and distinctions that can be drawn between the facts presented and the prevailing circumstances in Azerbaijan.
- One aspect highlighted in the book is the shared historical heritage among Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Similarly, Azerbaijan shares historical and cultural ties with neighboring countries like Iran and Turkey, which have significantly influenced its social fabric and cultural heritage.
- The book emphasizes the importance of economic cooperation among the three countries to promote development and progress. Azerbaijan also recognizes the significance of regional economic integration and has actively engaged in initiatives such as the Southern Gas Corridor and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to strengthen economic ties with neighboring nations.
- Another topic explored in the book is political advancements within the region, including the role of political parties, interest groups and governance structures at different levels. Azerbaijan has its own political landscape characterized by multiple parties, a presidential system, and regional governance frameworks. However, it is important to note that each nation has its unique political context and faces distinct challenges.
- The book also advocates aligning regional development with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Azerbaijan, as a member of the UN, has committed to achieving the SDGs and has incorporated them into its national development plans.
- Furthermore, the book delves into the dynamics of international relations within the region, discussing the impact of sanctions, geopolitical rivalries, and mutual defense cooperation. Azerbaijan, too, navigates its international relations in the complex realm of global geopolitics, balancing its own interests with engagements with various nations.
Although the book primarily focuses on Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, its insights into regional dynamics and potential cooperation can be applied to Azerbaijan as well. It advocates for pragmatic and patriotic leadership that safeguards national interests and promotes regional collaboration, aligning with Azerbaijan’s approach to its own development and relations with neighboring countries. Therefore, we offer the following suggestions on how Azerbaijan can promote its trilateral relations and establish jointly administered markets between Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey; Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey; and Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey:
- Azerbaijan should prioritize economic integration with Iran and Turkey by establishing a jointly administered market. This can involve reducing trade barriers, harmonizing regulations, and facilitating the free movement of goods, services, and investments between the three countries. The focus should be on creating a conducive environment for cross-border trade and economic cooperation.
- Azerbaijan can propose the establishment of a trilateral platform involving Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey to promote economic cooperation and address regional issues. This platform can serve as a forum for dialogue, negotiation, and coordination on economic matters, trade facilitation, and infrastructure development. It can help build trust, enhance economic interdependence, and contribute to regional stability.
- Azerbaijan should prioritize the development of cross-border infrastructure projects that connect Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. This can include the construction of transportation networks, such as roads, railways, and pipelines, to facilitate the movement of goods, energy resources, and people. Enhanced infrastructure connectivity will strengthen economic ties and promote regional integration.
- Azerbaijan can propose joint investment initiatives with Iran and Turkey to foster economic cooperation. This can involve creating investment funds or mechanisms that facilitate collaborative projects in sectors such as energy, agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. By pooling resources and expertise, these initiatives can generate economic growth, create employment opportunities, and deepen mutual interdependencies.
- Azerbaijan can promote cultural exchange programs and people-to-people contacts between Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey. This can involve initiatives such as student exchange programs, cultural festivals, and tourism promotion campaigns. Encouraging cultural understanding and fostering interpersonal relationships will contribute to greater regional cohesion and cooperation.
- Azerbaijan can actively engage in peaceful dialogue and mediation processes to resolve regional conflicts, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. By addressing underlying political disputes, the establishment of jointly administered markets can become more feasible and sustainable. Resolving conflicts will contribute to an environment of trust, stability, and increased regional cooperation.
- Azerbaijan can engage in public diplomacy and awareness campaigns to promote the idea and benefits of jointly administered markets. This can involve media outreach, seminars, conferences, and publications that highlight the potential economic advantages, job creation, and regional cooperation opportunities that can arise from such markets.
It is important for Azerbaijan to approach the establishment of these jointly administered markets with a long-term vision, a commitment to regional cooperation, and the recognition of the challenges involved. Close coordination and cooperation among all participating countries, along with sustained diplomatic efforts, will be essential for the successful realization of these initiatives.
Writers and Content Analysts: Aziza Mehmandarova and Havva Valiyeva