Security strategy of small states: the case of Azerbaijan after the Tovuz clashes of 2020
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The main objective of the thesis is to analyze how a small state copes with a shock to its security emanating from a conventional military threat. The author used a single case study and chose the case of Azerbaijan after the Tovuz clashes. The Tovuz incident was a shocking event for Azerbaijan since it created an imminent threat to the security of the state and its energy infrastructure. The study seeks to analyze shifts in Azerbaijan’s security strategy as a result of perceived threats from the Tovuz clashes. The thesis aims to identify whether there has been a fundamental change in Azerbaijan’s relations with regional powers and examine the overall implications of the Tovuz skirmishes on Azerbaijan’s foreign policy decisions. To accomplish the research aims, the author contextualized Baku’s reaction to the Tovuz clashes in the long-term trends of Azerbaijan’s security policy. The author refers to the neorealist perspective on the security strategy choices of small states. The qualitative interview with Azerbaijani experts was selected as a major data collection method. The study results identified a tactical shift to Turkey. There was a change in Azerbaijan’s rhetoric towards Russia after the Tovuz incident. The perception of an imminent threat as a result of the clashes and tensions with Moscow prompted Baku to further consolidate its military, political, and economic partnership with Ankara. The results of the study also determined that one of the major implications of the Tovuz skirmishes was the reconsideration of Baku’s stance on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Although the military cooperation between Baku and Ankara has intensified after the clashes and there have been tensions in Baku-Moscow relations, the results of the study demonstrated that Azerbaijan’s security strategy did not fundamentally change. Azerbaijani elites proceeded with the use of hedging strategy in relations with regional powers.
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