Faruk Tucakovic: Is Azerbaijan making a historic mistake in it’s “strategic partnership” with Serbia?


Almost a decade ago, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Serbia, Ilham Aliyev and the former Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic, agreed to start “strategic cooperation” between Serbia and Azerbaijan.
At the time, the Serbian president said that “Serbia has found the suitable partner in the Islamic world”, adding that it was time to turn the existing friendship into concrete cooperation and projects.
Years have passed since this meeting, and the day has come when the strength of the strategic partnership between Serbia and Azerbaijan will be tested in practice.
Although Azerbaijan has openly supported Serbia in the international arena for many years regarding Kosovo, Serbia failed the first test when Azerbaijan needed support.
In the first days of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the turkish Anadolu Agency reported that Serbia had silently delivered artillery offensive weapons to the Armenian army.
After the charge d’affaires of the Serbian Embassy in Azerbaijan, Danica Veinovic, was invited to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, the Azerbaijani side said it had reliable and confirmed information that Serbia had sent large quantities of ammunition of various calibers to Armenia. Later, Serbian officials themselves admitted that the delivery of weapons to Armenia did take place.
On the 12th of July in 2020, Armenian forces carried out an attack on the Tovuz region, where cannon shells were used, possibly of Serbian origin, after which the Azerbaijani general and 11 soldiers of the Azerbaijani army lost their lives.
Although Serbia was considered as “strategic partner” of the Azerbaijan in that time, its policies and actions were more than hostile in the critical moments of the struggle for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

But why is that so?
Looking at this bilateral relationship from the angle of Azerbaijan, Serbia differs primarily ideologically and in every other aspect from the Azerbaijani people. Serbs are a nation who, like the Armenians, cultivate the tradition of „expanding their country borders“, giving themselves the right and excuses to occupy the sovereign territory of neighboring countries, which is ethnically populated by Serbs.
In the past, Azerbaijan, as a friendly gesture towards Serbia and following the example of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, refused to recognize the independence of the newly formed state of Kosovo. Looking at this issue from the angle of Nagorno-Karabakh was also at odds with what was happening on the ground in these two regions.
While Azerbaijan has for many years advocated a peaceful solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, seeking solution through negotiations and deals to reach a fair solution for Armenians living there, offering opportunities for the Armenian people to stay and live in peace, Serbia has sought to physically clean non-Serbs through genocide and ethnic cleaning of Kosovo, carrying out all possible forms of discrimination and humiliation against the Albanian population in this region.
Despite all that, the friendship that Azerbaijan has shown towards Serbia over the years has been responded to mainly by hostility and close cooperation with Armenia.
Looking at these points from another angle, the majority people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Albanians from Kosovo are ideologically, religiously and in other ways very similar to the Azerbaijani people and have gone through almost identical tragedies in the recent past.

During the latest conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a member of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, officially expressed open support for Azerbaijan, sending a letter of support to President Ilham Aliyev. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina mostly supported the Azerbaijani army and welcomed the news of the liberated cities of Nagorno-Karabakh with gladness.

Military-technical cooperation between Azerbaijan and Serbia
Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and Azerbaijani Defense Industry Minister Colonel General Madat Guliyev recently signed an agreement between the governments of Serbia and Azerbaijan on military-technical cooperation.
Minister Madat Guliyev pointed out his satisfaction that he was authorized by the President of Azerbaijan to sign the Agreement with “brother” Nebojsa Stefanovic.
According to some information from Serbian sources, instructed by Azerbaijan’s success in the use of drones in Nagorno-Karabakh, Serbia is seeking to gain some know-how in this field from Azerbaijan.
Serbia has also been trying for more than a year to acquire drones and know-how technology transfer for the domestic production of drones from Turkey, although without success until now.
Although Bosnia and Herzegovina is today experiencing critical moments and threat under a new Serbian aggression, it was among the few countries in Europe that dared to openly express support for Azerbaijan, unlike the rest of Europe, which for decades was openly supported the illegal Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Only because of this act, even if it was just verbal support, many in the European Union looked at Bosnia and Herzegovina with sideways and with indignation.
Those who decide on foreign policy in Azerbaijan, in their calculations with the state of Serbia, should certainly take this information and points into account. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina and Azerbaijan are territorially distant from each other, our empathy and commitment to the Azerbaijani brothers and friends is strong.
Although Azerbaijan maintains economic and some other types of cooperation with Serbia, many of us wondering if military cooperation is really necessary for Azerbaijan’s interests in the region? What can Serbia offer to Azerbaijan that Turkey or Israel cannot?

Faruk Tucakovic,

Bosnia and Herzegovina


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