China-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Ukraine: prospects for cooperation under the 'One Belt, One Way' project

Thu 15 Nov 2018 08:36 GMT | 12:36 Local Time

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An article, entitled China-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Ukraine: prospects for cooperation under the 'One Belt, One Way' project, was published on the website of the Harvard Black Sea Security Program.

The article reads as follows.

An increasing number of politicians and experts have recently recognized that the processes of global geopolitical transformation should have specific trends that unite them. So far, the tendency towards controlled chaos prevails. Against this background, the creation of a new world order is the main task for political leaders. Therefore, any forms of manifestation of political wisdom and constructivism are perceived as an opportunity to save all of humanity.

Back in 1994, the former President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, speaking at the 49th session of the UN General Assembly, noted that serious changes were taking place in the system of international relations. It becomes necessary to create an 'equal world order'. Developing thoughts, the then head of the Azerbaijani state outlined his vision of the fundamental principles of the new world order: “Partnership, durable peace and security for all, in accordance with international law, principles and provisions of the United Nations Charter' become the fundamental principles of the new world order. In other words, Azerbaijan believed that humanity should move 'from a world of hostility based on strength into an era of cooperation and prosperity'. It should be noted that the leadership of Azerbaijan steadily and actively acts in this direction.

After the collapse of the Yalta-Potsdam system of international relations and the formation of a new world order, today's geopolitical realities vividly show that prestigious international organizations and leading countries of the world are faced with the task of stopping the world system’s incitement to a turbulent clash of civilizations and global chaos where political cataclysms occur more often and the world map changes, the world needs, in the literal sense of the word, a geopolitical placebo.

Based on these arguments, we would like to outline the geopolitical aspect of the prospects for the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and China in the framework of the One Belt, One Road project. In order for this project not to become an 'underground' of the modern geopolitics, which is opposed to traditional geopolitics, specific programs are needed to fully comply with all norms of international law and to be based on the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation of equal partners. Therefore, the most appropriate partner of China and other participants of the 'One Belt, One Way' project is Azerbaijan. Because, as experience shows, the leadership of Azerbaijan pursues its foreign policy proceeding from international law, strict observance of the equality of all parties and according to the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation. This is evidenced by the dynamics of cooperation between Azerbaijan and China under the 'One Belt, One Way' project.

The 'One Belt, One Way' strategy was launched in 2013 by the head of the PRC, Xi Jinping. Political circles received it with great interest. It is considered one of the promising global international infrastructure projects. The territory of this project includes countries rich in resources as well as 63% of the world's population. Xi Jinping introduced this strategy as the “Economic Belt of the New Silk Road”. 'One Belt, One Way' program consists of three projects: 'New Silk Road', 'South Silk Road' and 'Sea Silk Road of the 21st Century'.

According to the Azerbaijani analytical portal, 'The main goal in this strategy is to connect China’s economy with Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. According to the official Beijing, its concrete implementation should take place along a single route strip. The above-mentioned three projects comprise separate parts of this route ... The new development strategy of China stands behind the 'One Belt, One Way' initiative'.

Judging from this project's statistics, the volume of Chinese investments over the past few years amounts to a trillion US dollars. On 26 September 2016 an international seminar 'The Economic Belt of the Silk Road' was held in the Chinese city of Xi'an (the starting point of the ancient Silk Road). More than 300 experts from 35 countries took part in the seminar. Its final document had specified several main principles of China’s strategy in this project. One of the major ones was called mutually beneficial cooperation in the framework of international norms, which 'will contribute to global stability and this will allow to solve the problems of uneven development'.

Within the framework of the 'One Belt, One Path' project, the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor energy project and the Europe-Caucasus-Asia and China-Iran-Europe transport routes are of particular importance. These routes allow combining different transit flows into a single system on the territory of Azerbaijan.

Thus, under this project Azerbaijan could become a geopolitical and transportation hub in the South Caucasus. Remarkably, the status of Azerbaijan in this project is not limited to this. Azerbaijan is becoming an important and decisive geopolitical, political, cultural and transport space in the process of including all new participants in the 'One Belt, One Way' project.

By combining different transit routes and playing the role of a geopolitical hub, our country is able to expand these routes in different directions. In this capacity, Azerbaijan in the context of the 'One Belt, One Way' project is the most attractive country for the Eastern European countries. Experts note the fact that our country is the safest, stable and trustful partner for all states interested in civilized cooperation.

Moreover, Azerbaijan and Georgia are strategic allies which closely cooperate in the 'One Belt, One Way' project. And Georgia is a completely open country for Europe. So through Georgia, the European countries (first of all, the Eastern European ones – due to their geographical position) can actively join the 'One Belt, One Way' project.

Ukraine, as a large Eastern European state and a friend of Azerbaijan, has good chances to become its successful member. With Azerbaijani active support, Ukraine has an opportunity to become an integral part of that diverse and interconnected network (a kind of 'supercharged' economic field) that overlaps all of Eurasia.

Is Ukraine interested in joining this Chinese 'One Belt, One Way' initiative? Yes, 'Ukraine was one of the first European countries to respond positively and it signed a proper memorandum of cooperation'. But in our opinion, Ukraine's actual participation in the implementation of this project is far from perfect. Some experts even have doubts about Ukraine's success in the 'One Belt, One Way' project. For example, according to the Center for Transport Strategy (Ukraine), there are five key issues that prevent Ukraine's real participation in this project.

Of course, we do not pursue the goal of assessing the foreign policy of a sovereign and friendly country, Ukraine. But, as Ukrainian officials admit, transportation through the Black and Caspian Seas is promising. And this is a direct indication of importance of Ukraine's cooperation with Azerbaijan and Georgia under the 'One Belt, One Way' project. We believe that Ukraine, actively cooperating with Azerbaijan and Georgia, can turn into a transit hub of the 'One Belt, One Way' project.




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