Over the previous few many years, now we have witnessed how public religion is faltering, not solely within the established management within the Western democracy, however within the idea of democracy itself. A serious contributing issue to this erosion is the failure of determination makers to uphold the values they extol, being elementary for our democracies, particularly relating to human rights. This facet will not be solely true domestically, however maybe much more on the worldwide area the place the collective group is meant to uphold the enshrined democratic values guiding our decision-making globally. One such instance amongst many is how each the US and the EU have addressed the democratic shortcomings of Azerbaijan and Russia in gentle of the wars in Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine respectively. The disparity has even elevated because of the Ukraine Conflict because the 2022 vitality disaster in Europe has propelled Azerbaijan, an outspoken autocracy, to be heralded as a “strategic companion for the EU.” This text examines how the perceived double commonplace of Western Establishments, such because the EU, in the direction of Russia and Azerbaijan have emboldened an autocratic Baku, while risking undermining rising democracy in Armenia.
“Us First” in an Age of Common Values: Realpolitik Reigns Supreme
Regardless of the development of our democratic methods and its core values in regards to the universality of justice and human rights, decision-making nonetheless follows a strict power-centered “us first” coverage. That is hardly shocking as we are inclined to at the beginning take care of our personal pursuits, individually, nationally and internationally. Nevertheless, this selfishness has a value which grows exponentially when utilized collectively and has a dangerous impact on our democratic methods, which within the fashionable world are certainly primarily based on common equal rights. Such an inwardness corrodes and hollows out the spine of democracy, particularly the general public’s religion within the system itself. This corrosion doesn’t solely pertain to home politics however is very legitimate, because it grows in proportion with the globalization of our world, interlinking us a lot tighter to one another in each facet: political, monetary, local weather, well being, and many others.
Thus, the pursuit of realpolitik on the expense of democratic values and human rights causes tangible contradictions throughout the very cornerstones of our functioning democracies, which in flip undermine folks’s perception in them. One such instance is how the victory of an autocratic Azerbaijan within the 2020 Conflict over the Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh really dangers undermining the emerging democracies in Armenia and Georgia. Turning a blind eye to how an outspoken autocratic regime in Azerbaijan couldn’t solely run over the Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, but in addition willfully threaten Armenia, has made many Armenians to query the double-standards of the Western world, particularly within the gentle of the response to the warfare in Ukraine. The strategy by the Western states to Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh are, nevertheless, solely certainly one of many examples in an inventory that’s too lengthy to say exhaustively: Turkey’s assault in Syria, Saudi Arabia’s warfare in Yemen, abandoning Afghanistan’s folks to the Taliban, and many others.
None of that is new although prior to now recorded three millennia of our civilization, we tend to care for ourselves first, generally even when it means disregarding our ideas. That reality however, there are two main modifications affecting our notion: the enshrining of human rights in worldwide legal guidelines as guiding beacon for our policymaking (not less than seemingly) and the IT revolution and the knowledge availability, offering virtually instantaneous details about ongoing encroachments and wrongdoings all over the world, permitting us to match them and their penalties with our personal realities. The latter has a transparent impression on the previous as now we have concrete references to how politicians, nationally and internationally, make guarantees and extol the significance of democratic values solely to neglect or abandon them if they don’t converge with their pursuits.
Defend or Sacrifice Democracy: Ukraine/Russia vs Armenia/Azerbaijan
A putting instance of this disparity and perceived hypocrisy is how the USA and EU, primarily in regard to the position they’ve within the OSCE Minsk Group as a mediator within the Nagorno-Karabakh Battle, have handled the 2020 Armenia/Azerbaijan Conflict and its aftermath, in contrast with the Russia/Ukraine warfare in 2022. Studying the information and the statements by US and EU officers, there’s a roaring emphasis on the assault by an autocratic Russia on a younger and creating democracy in Ukraine and the pledge to collectively defend the common rights of the Ukrainian folks, a extremely commending stance by the worldwide group. The response is after all not solely in regard to democratic values alone, however definitely in regards to the EU’s perceived threat by Russia. Though Azerbaijan doesn’t pose a menace to EU as Russia presently does bodily, its encroachment of democratic values, human rights, safety and peace as a member of the European group, EU’s Eastern Partnership Program and OSCE trigger cause for concern. Nevertheless, whereas the democratic dimension was not solely almost entirely absent in the Armenian/Azerbaijani war of 2020, it has really grow to be much more conspicuous since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. From the appraisal by NATO’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev, to EU’s gas deal with Azerbaijan, and all media reporting in-between (with few criticizing exceptions) have noticeably ignored the state of affairs in an outspoken autocratic Azerbaijan and what it entails for the Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The disparity between addressing Russia and Azerbaijan turns into much more salient as soon as we take a look at the stories on the state of democracy in every respective nation. Russia scores 19/100 on an total democracy index, making it a “reasonable autocracy” whereas Azerbaijan, scoring only 9/100, is labelled a “exhausting autocracy” based on Freedom Home. Reporters With out Borders locations Russia on the bottom segment of its list, on place 155/180 simply after Azerbaijan on place 154. To match, Ukraine scores 61/100 on democracy index and locations 106/180 for media freedom, whereas Armenia scores 55/100 on democracy index and locations slightly excessive, 51/180 in media freedom.
The dearth of media freedom as a mirrored image of the extent of democracy and the criticism thereof has been particularly tangible on this regard. The criticism towards Russia and the way Moscow has restricted press freedom formally, even penalizing damning reports about the war in Ukraine, has been reported in media, appearing as a stable foundation for political criticism and condemnation of the war. The identical has hardly been achieved in regard to Azerbaijan. Whereas Yerevan launched official amendments to curtail negative official reports in regards to the ongoing warfare, drawing justified criticism, the entry for overseas journalists and unbiased media was seemingly unrestricted. Azerbaijan, alternatively, severely restricted the entry of overseas press and, within the uncommon instances the place they have been allowed into the nation, they have been often assigned “minders” who would accompany their actions and reporting. This resulted in a closely regime-controlled media reporting from the Azerbaijani aspect, virtually fully channeling the regime narrative. This manipulation has continued within the aftermath of the warfare, the place, as a part of the Azerbaijan’s notorious “Caviar Diplomacy,” Baku has continued to disseminate its narrative by arranging all-exclusive trips for foreign journalists.
The criticism of Europe’s posture in the direction of Azerbaijan is nothing new and is especially ascribable to its significance as an vitality useful resource. Though Azerbaijan’s reserves of pure fuel should not among the many largest on the earth, the pace of its extraction and their geopolitical positioning make Azerbaijan an necessary various to Russia as vitality provider. That is an perception which has hardly escaped the regime in Baku. As Europe’s dependency on Russian fuel has grow to be painfully evident within the ongoing energy crisis in 2022, the price of turning to various sources has grow to be much less necessary, particularly if the prices pertain to “summary” notions equivalent to human rights and democratic values. That is the place the EU’s strategy to Azerbaijan turns into much more troublesome as a result of Baku’s leveraging of its energy resources to subjugate democratic values will be regarded as a parallel to that of Moscow’s coverage all through the continuing warfare in Ukraine. But, the response to respective coverage is sort of diametrical, as Europe’s condemnation of Moscow’s policy additionally implies discovering substitutes, amongst which Azerbaijan is viewed to be well-positioned. The quick urgent wants of nationwide safety in type of hovering vitality prices and the prospects of a freezing winter in Europe appear to eclipse any notion of criticism of the shortage of democratic values in Azerbaijan, elements which go hand in hand when chastising Russia for utilizing fuel “as an instrument of blackmail,” to cite European Fee President, Ursula von der Leyen.
Setting a Value Tag on Democracy and Human Rights
As soon as these elements are factored in, it turns into fairly tough to keep away from the perceived deliberate erasure of the flagrant democratic shortcomings of Azerbaijan, while each article and assertion in regard to Russia makes positive to say them. The dearth of comparable criticism of Azerbaijan has virtually a self-reinforcing impact, because it paves the way in which for politicians to unimpededly reward and portray the regime in Baku as a strategic partner. In a way, the EU is signaling that autocracy and disrespect of democratic values can certainly repay if the worth is correct. This facet turns into much more disturbing because the Armenian inhabitants in Nagorno-Karabakh is going through an imminent threat of total ethnic cleansing underneath the watchful eyes of OSCE and EU. Whereas one-third of the enclave has already been ethnically cleansed within the wake of the 2020 warfare, Baku continues to insist on abolishing any “particular rights” for the Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh. In a latest assertion, President Aliyev made this subject clear including that “Just as the rights of Azerbaijani citizens are protected, so are theirs.” Given the abovementioned details in regards to the appalling state of democracy in Azerbaijan, rating it the second worst autocracy (after Belarus) in Europe, makes Aliyev’s assertion as an outright punishment and a dim perception right into a darkish future awaiting the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
But, Western states, establishments and media proceed to show a blind eye to the apparent. Whereas “Defending Ukraine means defending democracy” and the warfare is used to demand for long-term democracy support policies, the faltering state of democracy in Azerbaijan is conspicuous by its absence on the political area. This coverage is flagrant on the subject of specialists and analysts discussing the trail ahead for the Nagorno-Karabakh battle which not at all has been resolved. The problem of democracy, or slightly the overall lack of it, lies on the core of this dialogue. There are fairly many articles arguing for a manner ahead primarily based on both regional autonomy or the guarantees for the right of the Armenian population as friends to the remainder of the Azerbaijan’s inhabitants. These approaches have, nevertheless, one apparent flaw, particularly that they demonstratively avoid the elephant in the room, the shortage of the very democracy which is meant to ensure these rights. In actuality, this leaves us with one concrete selection, particularly the remedial secession of Nagorno-Karabakh via the train of their proper for self-determination. It must be famous that even subsequent articles dismissing the argued proper for self-determination not solely proceed to avoid the question of democracy, as within the case of the work of Vasif Huseynov, however very like the rhetoric of an autocratic Baku, outright argue that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, as a marginal a part of the inhabitants, should have no rights at all, as with the printed ideas of M. Hakan Yavuz.
This blatant ignoring of the details in regards to the state of democracy in Azerbaijan is, sadly sufficient, just one instance of how the politicians and decision-makers corrode the notion of democracy as we all know it. A latest report from Freedom House compiles a slightly troubling picture of how democracies, each current and rising, are faltering. The report concludes that: “The liberal worldwide order will solely be as robust because the democracies that defend it. Sadly, too many democracies or would-be democracies within the Nations in Transit area have been weakened by the corrupt and intolerant practices that characterize governance in hybrid regimes. Dedicated democrats can now not enable these practices to go unchallenged.” The latter commentary is equally relevant to the worldwide group and the way the strategy to the Nagorno-Karabakh battle by worldwide organisations, e.g. NATO and The EU, is emboldening an autocracy in Azerbaijan while probably harming emerging democracy in Armenia.
Corroding Western Democracy: Selecting Whose Rights to Defend
Given the replete details in regards to the state of democracy in Azerbaijan, one is justified in questioning whether or not determination makers would have been equally comfy in praising an autocratic Azerbaijan had media stories been extra crucial and substantial, as now we have seen within the case of Russia versus Ukraine. A scarcity of nuance and critically reporting on Baku’s narrative has not solely contributed to glossing over the democratic shortcomings of Azerbaijan, however it has helped support the marginalization Armenians’ rights in Nagorno-Karabakh. In such a fashion, an uncritical media has contributed to such policymaking by way of its “bothsidesism” or “constrained objectivity”. This results in a media that has fallen into an all to well-known lure which journalists are warned about: “If somebody says it’s raining and one other particular person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to cite them each. Your job is to look out the window and discover out which is true.” Sadly, media broadly has achieved little to scrutinize the deeper, extra substantial elements within the Nagorno-Karabakh Battle, as an alternative partaking in citing Baku’s narrative in a simple “whereas one aspect claims this, the opposite aspect says that.”
That stated, the state of affairs in Azerbaijan, as illustrated within the abovementioned NGO stories, are well-known and substantiated. But, they appear to be ignored all collectively. Donny Miller has stated “Within the age of knowledge, ignorance is a selection.” Sadly, that’s precisely the selection politicians have been making when realpolitik issues collide with democratic values and human rights. Our civilization has come a good distance through the previous century by enshrining democratic and human rights into worldwide legislation and the ideas governing our lives. Sadly sufficient, the policymaking and the pursuits of “us first” proceed to reign supreme in selecting whose and which rights to defend whereas ignoring others for the sake of our personal features, corroding public belief in what Western democracy represents and stands for.
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