Oleg Artyukov: Putin and Aliyev to discuss status of the Caspian Sea and Karabakh

Azerbaijan’s President Geydar Aliyev starts his three-day visit to Russia today, January 24. He is to meet with Russian President Putin in Moscow. Since Putin’s last visit to Azerbaijan in January’2001 the relations between the two countries have considerably improved. But there are just few practical results of the improvement. Status of the Caspian Sea is the key problem to be discussed during Aliyev’s visit to Moscow. The problem has already been touched upon during the recent visit of Turkmenistan’s President Niyazov to Moscow.

There are no great contradictions between Moscow and Baku on the Caspian status. Both parties aim at a stepwise solution of the problem: natural resources management, ecology, fishery. Iran’s position is the key one for realization of the scheme. Sometimes Iran stands up for a condominium (joint property) principle, sometimes it says about the necessity to divide the Caspian water area between the territories of the Caspian region, each country is to get 20% of the water area then. The talks between Putin and Aliyev will be devoted to development of a well-coordinated position on the problem. Moscow and Baku are to pick out necessary methods for solution of the problem around the Caspian Sea.

Besides the Caspian status the parties will also discuss other problems that are very important for the development of bipartite relations. For example, the status of Karabakh that is controlled by Armenia now. Settlement of the problem is extremely complicated. It is clear that Baku will never reconcile itself to the loss of Karabakh. But Russia’s position on the problem is greatly influenced by the fact that Armenia is its only ally in the Caucasus region. It is not worth while giving up the good relations with Yerevan by taking Azerbaijan’s side in the conflict. But Russia can act as a mediator in a mutually-beneficial settlement of the problem. Especially regarding the fact that the problem of Karabakh’s vague status may cause new violence outbursts.

Baku’s striving for NATO entry is another problem in the Russian-Azerbaijan relations. Turkey, that has been claiming to the role of a regional leader for a long period already, is the main support of Azerbaijan in achievement of the objective. If the plan is a success, Russia will be surrounded by NATO members from almost every side. This fact makes Russia rather watchful. But Azerbaijan will hardly be incorporated in NATO within the nearest time, if nothing extraordinary happens. But the problem is not to be ignored now.

Moreover, Russia would like to preserve its radar station situated in Azerbaijan. Baku does not object to it, but asks $5 million per year for its consent. Russia can pay $2 million only.

Certainly, other problems, in addition to the mentioned ones, are to be discussed during Aliyev’s visit to Moscow. The parties are interested in settlement of problems for improvement of bipartite relations.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

In the photo: Geydar Aliyev

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/24/35949.html

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