Russia - Azerbaijan: results of 2019
A panel session titled 'Russia - Azerbaijan: results of 2019' was held at the Russia Today international multimedia press center yesterday. Experts who discussed current state and prospects of relations between the two countries agreed that a high-level political dialogue is developing, with close interaction being supported by parliaments, foreign policy and key ministries. According to the Plan on developing the key areas of Russian-Azerbaijani cooperation for the period until 2024, signed in 2018, economic cooperation is increasing, aimed at increasing trade and counter investments, developing transport potential, creating joint ventures, sharing experience in the field of digitalization and budgetary tax sphere, as well as expanding humanitarian ties.
According to director of the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at the Institute of International Studies of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Stanislav Chernyavsky, "Azerbaijan is Russia's strategic ally in the South Caucasus. All new trilateral formats were established thanks to Ilham Heydarovich Aliyev's initiative and supported by Azerbaijan. I mean those regular meetings at the level of senior officials of Turkey, Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan. Meetings of the Caspian fivehave resulted in the agreement on issues on the status of the Caspian Sea. In terms of foreign policy, Azerbaijan is not only a regional leader now, but also a significant global player. Let's not forget it holds the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement this year. Azerbaijan understands tactics, but the most important thing it understands strategy in any direction."
Speaking about the Karabakh conflict settlement, Stanislav Chernyavsky noted: "This is a bloody wound for Azerbaijan, and Russia takes part in all negotiations on this issue. The situation in Armenia is changing now - the process of democratization is underway in some Armenian way. Let's see what position the Armenian side will adopt at the talks ... But our relations in Azerbaijan are promising, fruitful and stable. I am pleased to see Azerbaijani students who study in Moscow, since I myself teach at MGIMO. They are good students and represent their people with dignity."
Expert at the Valdai international discussion club Farhad Ibrahimov drew attention to the figures: "In 2018, trade turnover between Russia and Azerbaijan reached $2.5 billion. Moreover, Russian exports totaled $1.7 billion and imports - $733 million. In January-July this year, imports of Russian products to Azerbaijan amounted to $1.2 billion, and the volume of Azerbaijani products exported to Russia amounted to $488 million. This year's final figures will show that trade will grow and Russian-Azerbaijani relations will develop uniquely. Russia's investments in Azerbaijan amounted to $5 billion. Azerbaijan invested $1.2 billion in Russia's economy. Some 600 Russian companies operate in the Azerbaijani market, with about 200 of them with 100% Russian capital. Azerbaijan is Russia's main trading partner among the CIS countries that are not members of the EEU. It speaks of Russia's priorities in the region."
Farhad Ibrahimov agreed with Stanislav Chernyavsky on "the positive effect of the Azerbaijani-Russian relations on the formation of geopolitical trilateral formats, such as Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran, which contributes to the speedy implementation of the International North–South Transport Corridor project, as well as Russia-Azerbaijan-Turkey, which also is of great importance, especially against the backdrop of challenges in the Greater Middle East region, of which Azerbaijan is a part." "Large Russian oil companies, such as Gazprom Neft, LUKOIL, Transneft and Metrovagonmash, which supplies metro cars for Baku, successfully operate in Azerbaijan. In other words, Azerbaijan is more than interested in Russia actively developing and cooperating its economic relations with Baku in this direction," Ibrahimov believes.
The head of the Caspian Expert Club, deputy director of Trend News Agency, Gulnara Mammadzade, noted that over the past five years, the Russian-Azerbaijani relations have had a fairly stable and consistent tendency to further develop and build interaction potential: "The year of 2019 was crucial in some way - the record number of visits at the level of the political leadership of our countries was held. In total, there were nine such visits. I would like to note the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Russian Presidents on the sidelines of the Valdai Forum, which shows a conceptual approach in Russia-Azerbaijan relations; as well as the recent state visit of First Vice President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, the high level of meetings held in Moscow which demonstrated the nature and priorities of our cooperation."
Gulnara Mammadzade emphasized the importance and stability of the political and economic dialogue between Russia and Azerbaijan: "The economic block of issues is very important for us, as evidenced by the agenda of the 10th Russian-Azerbaijani Economic Forum and the level of companies, business circles, government structures presented at the forum. The complementarity between Russian and Azerbaijani efforts in the international direction is also important. Russia and Azerbaijan are participants in important atheistic geopolitical alliances, including with Turkey and Iran. We can talk about very serious transnational projects that are developing in this direction, in particular, the International North–South Transport Corridor project. The signing of the Caspian Convention a year ago and the progress in the processes, including with the participation of Russia and Azerbaijan, are also very important. On the sidelines of the Valdai Forum, we saw the level of communication between our presidents. In particular, Vladimir Putin emphasized the efforts have been made by Russia and Azerbaijan in building Eurasia's transport and energy framework. That is, Russian-Azerbaijani relations have gone beyond the bilateral format, having become active at the international level. The same applies to the mutual support of our countries at the level of various international organizations."
Mammadzade recalled the PACE voting when Azerbaijan supported Russia's position. "In addition, Baku provides a venue for negotiations, in particular, between the Russian military leadership and NATO. Baku is involved in the implementation of the energy corridor. Very often, analysts try to identify some competitive points, but given the development of transport and energy communications, Russia and Azerbaijan are finding more opportunities to complement their interests," the head of the Caspian Expert Club noted.