Observers of post-Soviet Eurasia have extended various explanations for Azerbaijan's decision to enter the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in May 2011. Yet, rather than representing a drastic shift in its external orientation, Baku's participation in the NAM should be recognized as a natural extension of its longstanding "balanced foreign policy" doctrine, originally introduced by second post-independence president Heydar Aliyev in response to the crisis conditions of the early 1990s. Azerbaijan has currently reached a level of national development that allows it to pursue multidirectional options. In addition, its increasing diplomatic engagements with states and international organizations in the Third World/Global South (Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America) during the past decade offer a means of both diversifying its external relations beyond the major powers and avoiding the asymmetric accession requirements of Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian institutions. Azerbaijan's membership in the NAM therefore provides it with a formal foundation for its independent foreign policy that potentially reinforces its leadership position within and beyond the South Caucasus region.
Paper prepared for the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), May 2015.
1. Azerbaijan and NAM: principles and objectives
2. Azerbaijan and institutional characteristics of NAM
3. NAM and Azerbaijan’s Global South diplomacy
Conclusion and Policy Implications