BAKU: Azeri pundits say no backlash if Kerry wins US election

Azeri pundits say no backlash if Kerry wins US election

Ekho, Baku
2 Nov 04

Today, on 2 November, an event closely watched by the whole world and
described as a “battle over the White House” is taking place in the
USA. Two candidates – republican George Bush and democrat John Kerry –
are vying for the sympathy of the electorate. And while John Kerry
enjoys the support of the Armenian diaspora, George Bush can count on
the votes of American citizens of Turkish and Azerbaijanis descent.

Opinion polls show that a significant part of the Azerbaijani
population supports the incumbent US president. The position of the
Azerbaijani diaspora of the USA is the same. Its representatives are
actively campaigning in favour of Bush and have even opened web
sites. For instance, is an independent web
site set up by the US Azerbaijanis. Its organizers stress that it is
not linked to either of the candidates. The Azerbaijani diaspora
explains its position by the fact that Bush supports Azerbaijan and
the White House appreciates Azerbaijan’s contribution to the war on

“The Bush administration supports Azerbaijan’s ambition to integrate
into Euro-Atlantic organizations,” the founders of the web site
said. The site also praised Bush’s role in the construction of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and in the suspension of sanctions
imposed against Azerbaijan under pressure from the Armenian lobby in
1992. At the same time, Senator Kerry was an active supporter of the
pro-Armenian Section 907 [which banned US government assistance to

[Passage omitted: background information about the candidates’ going
on a campaign trail]

A specialist in election processes, Fuad Agayev, does not think that
the election of Kerry would be catastrophic for Azerbaijan. “Because
the USA is an established democracy. A change of president is not as
palpable there as in Azerbaijan, Russia or Ukraine. America has a
developed political system, therefore, it would be wrong to think that
the support of one candidate by the diaspora might anger the other
candidate. The USA is not a country where the change of the head of
state entails the replacement of all key officials. So I don’t expect
any serious negative action on the part of Kerry if he wins the
election,” Agayev said.

The head of the Azerbaijani Euro-Atlantic Centre, Asim Mollazada,
explains the Azerbaijani support for Bush by the absent security
system in our region. The Azerbaijanis appreciate Bush’s policy which
is primarily aimed at protecting the national security interests of
his own country.

[Passage omitted: repetition]

Mollazada does not think that “there will be any major changes in
US-Azerbaijani relations if Kerry wins the election”. “Because there
are state mechanisms in the USA for protecting the interests of
America first of all. Since the strategic interests of the two
countries overlap, I don’t think any US president will pursue an
anti-Azerbaijani policy. Though as a person more aware of the South
Caucasus problems, Bush is more preferable to us,” Mollazada added.