The visit of US Secretary of State was waited hopefully and anxiously in Baku. After the meeting of the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia in Saint Petersburg, when I. Aliyev ran out; USA became the last hope for the President of Azerbaijan. Aliyev expected to use advantage of the contradictions existing between Moscow and Washington in the visions of the political situation in Caucasus. It is necessary to comment that Aliyev thoroughly prepared himself for the meeting with Hilary Clinton. Now there are no doubts: the bloody provocation on June 18th was meant to America and it was a signal for USA indicating Azerbaijan’s disagreement with Russia’s proposal. Recall that Ilham Aliyev being extremely depressed by the negotiation process in Saint Petersburg, not being courage enough to contradict the President of Russia, and keeping in mind the lack of arguments confirming the territorial claims of Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, by the most banal way escaped from the northern capital of Russia.
After organizing provocation on June 18th (few hours later Aliyev’s escape from Russia) and claiming responsibility for this bloody incident official Baku attempted to blackmail OSCE Minsk group cochairmen interested in the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Large-scale military exercises held in Azerbaijan from June 21st to June 24th with involvement of military equipment served the same purpose. According to Baku’s plan the demonstration of Azerbaijani "military power” had to warn the cochairmen of Minsk group and convince them of the aggressiveness and determination of Ilham Aliyev’s intentions.
However, military exercises conducted near Baku with declared purpose "liberation of occupied territories”, as well as extremely bellicose rhetoric of the President of Azerbaijan, not impressed Russia, USA nor France. Presidents of these countries on July 26th made a joint statement in Muskoka (Canada) presenting their vision of conflict resolution, completely precluding the resumption of the armed phase in Azeri-Karabakh conflict.
Not right to say that the statement was pro-Karabakh, rather the contrary: this document was actively rejected by the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. However, Muskoka statement provoked even more rejection in official Baku expecting unconditional recognition of Azerbaijani "right” on Karabakh. The statement presupposed the international guarantees in preventing military actions and deployment of peacekeeping forces into a zone of conflict, completely disappointed Baku hoped on building "its” territory with the help of major powers.
Muskoka statement has hardly noticeable, but very important detail: there are no proposals on "returning” of the historical Armenian regions to Azerbaijan derived beyond the limits of Armenian autonomy Nagorno-Karabakh in the Soviet period and placed by the NKR Defense Army under its control in the course of counterattack of Azerbaijani armed aggression. By statement appearances, the deployment of peacekeeping forces are expected in these mentioned above areas. It was a reaction of the Presidents D. Medvedev, B. Obama and N. Sarcozy on the unconstructive Azerbaijan policy and the demonstrative threat of force.
It seems like this turn became for Baku cold water tub: proposals made in the statement not only deprive Azerbaijan (even without it) ghostly sovereignty, but also greatly exacerbate relations with neighboring Iran, vehemently opposing the deployment of Western world troops in Caucasus. Undoubtedly, the given circumstances caused fact that Baku for more than three days could not find formulations for the reaction on the Muskoka statement. Finally, on June 30th the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry made its reply, calling the statement "generally acceptable”, but rejecting the possibility of accommodation Russian, American or (just in case?) Turkish peacekeepers in Karabakh.
Necessary to say, Baku is indeed in unenviable position: Azerbaijan realizes that the renewal of military actions is fraught with the loss of statehood. At the same time Aliyev doesn’t have enough of courage to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Mediators refrain from the unique legal assessment of Karabakh region, located in the Soviet years beyond the limits of Armenian autonomy. It means that the negotiation process on regulating Nagorno-Karabakh conflict returns back to the spring of 1993.
This turn of events render the meaning of Azerbaijani plan: the military blitzkrieg would let Baku quick occupation of NKR’s Araks areas; according to next steps in the plan of Azerbaijani strategists the intervention of major powers would stop the further escalation of military actions. Baku unambiguously had been made clear that state initiating first use of force, in order, to change existing borders, should not rely on international grace. Then it means that blitzkrieg, no matter the way it would be held, will turn to full-scale war with completely predictable consequences, one of them would be complete destruction of Azerbaijan. Then, it’s not actually important would there be few new little countries or would the present Azerbaijan be divided between Iran, Russia and Armenia.
Under these difficult conditions Azerbaijan with a special feeling expected US Secretary of State, reasonably perceiving H. Clinton’s visit as the serious chance to change the situation in their favor. However, as it turned out, Azerbaijan doesn’t have anything to offer to Washington with exception of the completely unnecessary for the USA oil and gas and losing its strategic importance Kutkashen (Gabala) radar station. As a result, Baku had to endure from the high-ranking American lady considerable amount of unpleasant words; the softest of them were demands on release political prisoners, bloggers E. Millie and A. Gadjizaadeh, and on improvement the situation with freedom of speech, media ets. H. Clinton also mentioned the story of the usurpation of authority by I. Aliyev: "Democracy - is not only about elections, independent judiciary, transparent institutions and leaders”.
Azerbaijan got accustomed to wipe spit: Baku was ready to listen to any accusations and insults, the main thing – to get support in its territorial claims on Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. But Clinton didn’t please Aliyev in this question either. "We consider that the problem must be solved on the basis of three principles of the Helsinki Final Act OSCE: the principles of non-use of force, self-determination and territorial integrity”, was stated at the press conference in Baku disappointing all those present.
Nevertheless, US Secretary of State left to Azerbaijan loophole to keep relations with America. At a meeting with representatives of Azerbaijani youth organizations H. Clinton emphasized three priority issues of her visit to Baku, including: "guarantee the independence of Azerbaijan and security of its territories”. ""In the world there are still states that can’t accept the independence of Azerbaijan; therefore we have to support Azerbaijan in security matters”- stated US Secretary of State obviously not referring to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Thus, USA offers to Azerbaijan simple choice: to agree on the use of its territory as military base, with the tip of it directed against Iran, or to say goodbye to the tiny hopes on the occupation of certain areas of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Quite frankly, fantastic situation: go to the left- life will be gone, go to the right – purse will be lost.
There are no doubts: US military base in Azerbaijan - is the main priority of H. Clinton’s visit to Baku. However, agreement on the arrangement of US military base in Azerbaijan is the most unacceptable for Baku, since it’s well aware of all of the consequences of this suicidal step. The thought of a "purse” (actually Baku lost this "purse” 22 years ago) should be left, at least temporary. Ilham Aliyev has enough of prudence. Otherwise Azerbaijan will lose chances to continue its brief history.