A visit of Azerbaijan’s president to Russia is coming to its end. Important problems of bipartite relations have been already discussed, and provisional results of the talks can be summed up. The main conclusion that can be drawn from the talks is that Russia has succeeded in strengthening of its positions on the post-Soviet area, in Azerbaijan particularly. An agreement on the future of Russia’s radar station in Gabala has been signed. Russia will get the station on lease for the next ten years with an annual payment at the rate of $7 million to Azerbaijan. It is to be mentioned, on the eve of the Azerbaijan president’s visit to Moscow Azerbaijan asked for $5 million. And Moscow considered the sum to be rather big then. But, as it turned out, Moscow will pay even more to preserve its authority in the area. The radar station in Gabala is actually important for Russia as it functions as the main cover of the southern part of the country. Thus, this is going to be an important investment.
In addition to this agreement, a contract on long-term economic co-operation between the two countries has been signed. Both parties are interested in construction of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Russia’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Nikolay Ryabov says, Russia is evaluating its participation in the project now, but Moscow is unlikely to give up the idea of joining the project. Moreover, American company Chevron-Texaco already informed about its participation in the project.
No specific agreements have been signed on the status of the Caspian Sea. The parties decided to work on the project more. Russia’s special envoy for the Caspian problems Viktor Kalyuzhny says, by beginning of the visit the experts have agreed on the coordinates of a modified middle line that is to make a boundary between Russia and Azerbaijan.
The problem of Nagorny Karabakh was also touched upon during Aliyev’s visit to Moscow. And it is quite natural, because Russia is an official mediator in the settlement of the problem. But the parties were rather cautious with discussion of the problem: it is really complicated, that is why it will take a lot of time to settle the problem. Vladimir Putin offered to settle the problem from the viewpoint that there would be no winners and no losers. The position seems to be the most reasonable one now, but it is difficult to say whether Baku and Yerevan will adopt it.
On the eve of the visit it was officially published that Geydar Aliyev planned to win Moscow’s support regarding transfer of the authority in Azerbaijan to his son Ilkham. It is not clear whether the problem has been touched upon during the talks. No doubt, Russia wants to preserve friendly relations with Azerbaijan, and no matter who exactly is to carry out this policy in Baku. What is really important for Azerbaijan, is to avoid violence outbreaks in the struggle for the power.
The talks of the Russian and Azerbaijan presidents are said to be a success. At the end of the visit Geydar Aliyev even told about strategic partnership between Russia and Azerbaijan. The future will tell, how the words will work.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/26/36125.html