Gulnara Mamedzade: "Russia and Azerbaijan have reached very serious level of partnership"
Gulnara Mamedzade, head of the Caspian Expert Club, deputy director of Trend News Agency, told Vestnik Kavkaza about priorities of Russian-Azerbaijani relations.
- Which areas of Russian-Azerbaijani relations seem the most promising to you? Are there attempts to deepen bilateral contacts even more?
- Russia and Azerbaijan are connected by extensive program of cooperation. We always emphasize strategic nature of our partnership. I think that in the future, efforts of Russia and Azerbaijan at the international level in terms of participation in various trans-regional projects affecting energy and transport communications will develop even more. Russia and Azerbaijan have a huge field of opportunities in this direction. As for issues of economic nature, there are several roadmaps until 2024. During recent visit of the First Vice President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva to Moscow new areas of further cooperation were also identified, and they are of interest to both Azerbaijan and Russia. Humanitarian exchange will continue, strengthening sustainable political foundation laid by presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan both in the medium and long term.
- What role does cooperation between universities play in bilateral cooperation?
- Interuniversity cooperation is currently at a very good level. Students and youth in general are the future of our countries. Azerbaijani students studying in Russia absorb vast experience that has been accumulated in the Russian Federation. Exchange of students of various universities is of great importance, because young people are carriers of the future, element of continuity between generations.
Russian language plays an important role in this cooperation. It's very important that Azerbaijan has great attitude towards Russian culture and Russian language both at the level of state policy and at the level of society.
- Did opening of the bridge across the Samur River have positive effect on our relations?
- The importance of bridge across the Samur River was highlighted during meetings of the First Vice President in Moscow. There's now an element of cross-border trade, element of interregional cooperation between Azerbaijan and subjects of the Russian Federation. In addition, it allows to resolve issues for small and medium-sized businesses operating in these regions. There's also establishment of trade communications at the level of those citizens who ]live in the region. All of this favorably affects political agreements. This is an indicator of how our countries can quickly and efficiently resolve topical roblems.
- Almost a year and a half ago, the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was signed. How is Caspian cooperation progressing right now?
- In first year after signing of the Convention, we observed positive dynamics. Both countries of Caspian region and other states have shown their interest in developing this area of cooperation. But right now we see that the Caspian region still has a complex of problems that need to be addressed. I think it's better to resolve them in real time. Right now consultations are ongoing at the level of working groups. It's advisable that the Caspian issue doesn't stay at the periphery.
- Russian regions are anticipating the North-South corridor to begin its operation. Azerbaijan has already fulfilled its obligations, but Iran still has a lot of work to do. What slows this process down?
- North-South corridor has a wide range of issues, not only economic, but also political in nature. It's important to take into account situation that's developing today around Iran. As for Azerbaijan, it fulfills its obligations in this direction - from investments to technical implementation. Right now we're waiting for solution to certain range of issues from Iranian side. This project is long-term, it's very promising. It’s difficult to expect any quick solutions, fast execution. But both leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran show serious attention to this project. So this project has a future.
- What trends will be relevant for Russian-Azerbaijani relations in 2020?
- The outgoing year has become pretty innovative for us, because the nature of visits that we held over the past two years give us serious expectations for the future. Russia and Azerbaijan have very serious level of partnership. Azerbaijan adheres to multi-vector policy, but the Russian vector has a stable position as the highest priority vector. This was also demonstrated by the visit of First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva to Moscow. I think that this visit should be treated with special attention, because economic block of issues that Mehriban Aliyeva is working on will continue to grow.