The Land of Fire and the Land of Milk and Honey
The Republic of Azerbaijan. The nation of Israel. Two geopolitically diverse economies with similar civil identities. Two bastions of investment opportunity and havens of religious freedom, inclusiveness and expression. Two strategic partners who since their independence declarations have shared a surprisingly rich history of understanding and cooperation.
Two democratic nations serving as beaming hopes amidst regions suffering from recurring destabilization, threatening within their very borders or just beyond them. Their locations place them at a perpetual cross-roads.
Beyond existing trade ties in the fields of technology, defense, national security, medicine, information and communications, agriculture and energy (e.g. Azerbaijan provides over 40% of Israel’s oil, the latter’s single largest supplier), it is their ambitions for sustainable development that is truly impressive because they are strikingly similar yet wholly unique.
Each looks to conquer internal regional fissures, relying on geopolitical capital to remain at the negotiating table, highlighting their ties to inspire greater international support.
In December 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Baku, where he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and authorized a series of initiatives to enhance trade relations in the bilateral relationship. In doing so, Netanyahu noted that while “…the world sees so much intolerance, so much darkness, here is an example of what relations can be and should be between Muslims and Jews everywhere.”
At times, peace in the Middle East, much like reconciliation within Nagorno-Karabakh, seems too daunting a geopolitical challenge; diplomatic observers and accredited journalists report as much from the front lines. However, the international community must not waver, tire or stop facilitating the negotiations that can effectively end these ongoing conflicts within our lifetimes.
And so while challenges linger, there is potential in partnership; the bond between the Land of Fire and the Land of Milk and Honey has never been stronger and may play a role in ending the conflicts in order to further their respective and shared development ambitions.