Georgia-Azerbaijan: End of marriage of convenience
2017 June 03 ( Saturday ) 12:05:16
The events around the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarly, stolen in Tbilisi on May 29 and smuggled to Baku, revealed an entirely new balance of the realities of Azerbaijan and Georgia on the path of a protracted transition from the Soviet past to the democratic future of the South Caucasus.
In this story, the most important is the indicator of the increased political maturity of the Georgian society, which turned the ordinary case of interaction and mutual understanding between the Azerbaijani and Georgian elites into an event that from now on will have serious consequences for both Georgia and Azerbaijan and the region as a whole.
Similar examples of interaction between Azerbaijani and Georgian special services in an open or covert form have always been present in the territory of Georgia, but which remained unnoticed for two reasons. At the first stage, under Shevardnadze and Saakashvili, economically weakened Georgia, which received important dividends from the transportation of Azerbaijani energy resources and cargo, was forced to reckon with its eastern despotic neighbor. Over the past 10 years, investments in Georgia and joint business projects on the territory of this country of two elites, especially the Saakashvili circle, have become an additional argument for the intervention of official Baku in the affairs of the neighboring country. This could also include a joint confrontation with Russian claims and the threat of international terrorism in the region.
For example, in 2005, on the eve of the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, the special services of this oil country, with the participation of Georgian partners, staged a stage of getting Azerbaijani finances for the overthrow of the regime in Baku from Armenian special services. This fact, despite calls for solidarity from the Azerbaijani opposition to Georgia, then went unnoticed, both by the public and the Georgian media.
True, it should be noted that the syndrome of political emigration of dissidents to Georgia has become a notable phenomenon in recent years. He followed the flight of private Azerbaijani capital to Georgia, in search of a better life from oppression in his homeland.
The Baku regime acted the same way; first it began to scale up black capital in the Georgian harbor, and then made attempts to dissolve the tentacles into Georgian social and political life. In particular, this concerned the neutralization of the opponents of the regime in Baku, who were morally connected with Georgia. Recently, this process has acquired an open nature. The arrest and death in the Baku prison Mehman Galandarov, who returned from Georgia to the mother's wake, the arrest in Tbilisi of the order of the physician Farman Ceyranly from Baku, the arrest at the entrance from Georgia of the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Front party Gezal Bayramli, demonstrative surveillance of Azerbaijani dissidents in Tbilisi. It seems that these actions could not help annoying the Georgians, which proved to be the case in Mukhtarly's case. Georgian NGOs, the media, the opposition and the head of state in open form have expressed an unprecedented protest "Bored!"
Thus, the Azerbaijani government, wishing it or not, caused a storm of protest in the Georgian society, seriously undermining its own achievements in spreading its influence in this country.
What happened in two countries, which did not allow Mukhtarly's case to be released in the traditional way of mutual understanding? Georgia, having moved to the parliamentary republic, having signed an agreement on associative membership with the European Union, NATO was rapidly leaving the post-Soviet space, while Azerbaijan, having opted for a policy of self-isolation from the West, diametrically opposed began to return from the post-Soviet space to the Soviet one with a multicultural mix of communism and Islam, with the inherent symbiosis of suppression of dissent, political and economic freedoms.
Could in this case two neighboring Caucasian countries be neighbors in the direct sense of the word. It seems that no. The case of Mukhtarly showed that the time for marriage between Tbilisi and Baku is going on, but for love it does not work because of disagreements in values.
As a consequence, this scandalous incident can be called epochal. Official Baku after this event, which is still at the initial stage of the fault, will noticeably lose its leverage of influence and presence in Georgia. At the same time, Georgia, politically and even economically, will set the tone for regional development, adjusting it to its own standards, which are not so close to European ones, but differ considerably from Soviet standards. That is, we can predict the growth of Georgian democratic influence on the processes in Azerbaijan, which has long been one of the important factors in counteracting the Sovietization of Azerbaijan.