On November 23, 2021, the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies (CHS) and the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Doha hosted H.E. Farid Shafiyev, the Chairman of the Center of Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center) in Azerbaijan.
The lecture was hosted at the CHS and moderated by Professor Sultan Barakat, the Center's Founding Director, and attended by a number of diplomats – including the Ambassadors of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and the Republic of Turkey – along with a number of experts and students from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.
H.E. Shafiyev gave an introduction on the history of Azerbaijan and its longstanding linkages to the Middle East. He discussed key points in Azerbaijan's history from the 19th century onwards, including the impact of Russian presence on the country's political economy, wherein post-Soviet political transformation in Azerbaijan led to the development of hydrocarbon resources. H.E. Shafiyev also highlighted the linguistic and ethnic diversity of the South Caucasus region. He maintained that there is no religious basis to the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, particularly given that Azerbaijan has long enjoyed cordial relations with Christian countries. Speaking on contemporary matters, H.E. Shafiyev underscored the valuable partnerships Azerbaijani institutions have built with nearby Turkey and Georgia.
In the question and answer session with a live audience, some of the themes that were raised included: the role Russia is playing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; the drivers of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict; the conflict parties' strategic concerns; Azerbaijan's reconstruction plans for the region; and the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh. H.E. Shafiyev expressed hope for a comprehensive peace settlement that would include freedom of movement and no travel restrictions between the two countries. H.E. Shafiyev also discussed the lessons learned over a 27-year period of negotiations, including the shortcomings of the Madrid Principles.
H.E. Shafiyev noted the necessity of unifying joint efforts and strengthening mechanisms for regional dialogue and cooperation to achieve security, stability, and prosperity in the region. Because the disputed political status of Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan has harmed the viability of cooperation projects, H.E. Shafiyev expressed openness to the possibility of Qatar playing a mediating role between the two countries. H.E. Shafiyev also expressed his willingness to meet with Armenian counterparts through CHS to strengthen relations and promote dialogue in light of recent developments in peace making and reconciliation.