Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will arrive to Russia on an official visit on September 1, the Azerbaijani presidential administration said yesterday. Ilham Aliyev will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, following which a number of intergovernmental and interdepartmental documents will be signed. On the eve of the event, the economic and political experts from both countries told Vestnik Kavkaza about the most likely agenda of the talks and the current level of Russian-Azerbaijani relations.
The leading expert of the North-South Political Science Center, Alexander Karavaev, recalled in the first place that due to the scale of Russian-Azerbaijani cooperation, the agenda of the talks between Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev will be really extensive. "The most intriguing is possible interesting solutions in the economic sphere. An agreement is planned to be signed between the economic ministries of the two countries. As a whole, we are intensifying mutual exports and investments - this is the trend of the last 3-4 years. One of the topics is the issues of oil and gas processing, in particular, a project implemented at SOCAR Polymer with the participation of Gazprom, as well as various joint projects of Rosneft and SOCAR," he said.
"The Presidents will also discuss cooperation with third countries: Russia-Azerbaijan-Turkey and Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran, including coordination of oil and gas policy in the markets of third countries. It is also necessary to discuss the transit and export of gas to Turkey by SOCAR and Gazprom. In general, Azerbaijan has always played a very important role in the South Caucasus for Russia," Alexander Karavaev said.
Head of the expert council of Baku Network, Elkhan Alasgarov, said that serious preparations for this visit were held in Baku. "The events taking place in the world are pushing Baku and Moscow to further rapprochement in politics, economy and the military sphere. Russia and Azerbaijan support each other in international organizations, there is a high degree of trust between the countries' leaders. Azerbaijan's government agencies cooperate with Russian state structures in many areas," he said.
"In the field of economy, first of all, we should note the North-South transport corridor project, which will significantly affect cargo transportation not only in the region, but also in the world. The presidents will also discuss the working issues related to the settlement of the situation around the Caspian. The topic of military-political cooperation will be also touched upon," Elkhan Alasgarov said.
"The most important foreign policy issue is Karabakh. Russia supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and participates in the peaceful process of the conflict settlement, being one of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, and the conflict will be the key topic of the talks along with the economy," the head of the expert council of Baku Network stressed.
The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov also expects that economic issues will be the main ones at the presidents' talks. "Based on the results of the signing of the Caspian Convention, we have established a solid legal foundation for intensifying economic cooperation in the Caspian region. It regards both the North-South project, joint projects on oil and gas production, the use of the Caspian Sea bioresources, trade in agricultural products, as well as military-technical cooperation," he said.
"The main political topic, of course, will be the Karabakh settlement, within the framework of which the situation in Armenia will be discussed. Perhaps, there will be a very serious shift with regard to the CSTO. I think there is a high probability that Azerbaijan will receive either a partner and observer status CSTO, or a new format of cooperation will be created at the CSTO. The presidents will also discuss the situation in the Middle East, first of all, in Syria and Iran," Sergei Markov noted.
Political scientist Rovshan Ibrahimov, in turn, pointed to the high frequency of meetings between the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan in recent years. "The agenda will also be quite regular, for Azerbaijan the key issue will be the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is possible that President Putin will come out with a new mediation mission to hold a meeting of President Aliyev and Armenia's Prime Minister Pashinyan," the expert predicts.
"The negotiating agenda in the economic sphere is a very broad. Russia is the largest non-oil partner in the export of Azerbaijani products, and there is a prospect for the development of this direction, primarily in the agricultural sector. Possibly, options for Azerbaijan's participation in the CSTO will be discussed, for example, setting new institutes in the CSTO, such as observation or partnership," Rovshan Ibrahimov said.
"Over the past 20 years, no regional project has been implemented without the participation of Azerbaijan, and our country is the guarantor that these projects will be implemented." I think that Russia quite adequately and correctly perceives Azerbaijan as a reliable partner, relations with which are always going only upwards, both sides are optimistic about the future and see there are only opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, respecting each other with respect," the political scientist concluded.