Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan seem to be well-kept secrets from many Western travelers. With a fascinating history, a plethora of attractions and relatively low prices, the region shouldn't stay a secret for long.
The turn of events brings to light two features of existing EU policy: the relative weakness of EU incentives and the continuing problems for countries in the post-Soviet space to evade Russia's influence.
Amidst the great uncertainty that prevails in the Middle East today there is at least one thing that is certain: we are living through a great shift in the region's politics and alliances, the repercussions of which are yet to be fully felt.
His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, spoke eloquently in support of developing a land of tolerance in many countries. I imagined President Rouhani one day join him, recreating the land of tolerance Iran once was.
Azerbaijan is a staunch ally of Israel, a secular counterweight to Iran and an increasingly critical exporter of oil and natural gas, and its importance to U.S. national security seems clear -- at least, for every president until now.
Recent unrest in the Middle East highlights the importance of our strategic relationships in the region. A steadfast ally of the United States is Azerbaijan, and the United States must redouble its efforts to promote peace in this critical but unstable South Caucasus region.
Whatever US government engagement in Azerbaijan on human rights and democracy has been so far it has had zero structural impact. Behind-the-scenes advocacy simply does not work -- it is merely appeasement of authoritarianism.