Azerbaijan’s parliament on October 22 approved a military budget of 2.5 billion manats, or about $3.12 billion. That figure is higher than the entire state budget of Baku’s neighbor and longtime foe, Armenia.
Experts in Baku believe the spending surge is designed to send a message to both Armenia and the international community: if efforts to reach a peace deal on the Nagorno-Karabakh territory remain stalled, Azerbaijan could again resort to force in an attempt to settle the conflict. Experts in Baku are quick to emphasize, however, that despite the massive increase, there are no concrete signs that suggest Azerbaijani leaders are actively planning for a resumption of warfare.
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Shain Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku. He is also a board member of the Open Society Foundation - Azerbaijan.