Sergei Markov: "Baku can become a Caucasian diplomatic Geneva"
Today, the first official meeting of the Russian Armed Forces’ Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, with a high representative of NATO, the head of the Military Committee of the Alliance, Peter Pavel, was held in Baku. The director of the Institute of Political Studies, Sergei Markov, told to Vestnik Kavkaza about the reasons for choosing the capital of Azerbaijan as a platform for the regular meetings between Russian and Western military forces, as well as about the agenda of the dialogue between Russia and NATO.
- Sergey Alexandrovich, in your estimation, what motivates the Russian and Western military to choose Baku as a platform for their dialogue?
- First of all, we should admit that Azerbaijan has a very good infrastructure as a venue for meetings - a great airport, beautiful hotels. But the main thing, of course, is that Azerbaijan has a clear, neutral position in this dialogue. President Ilham Aliyev is known as a man with genius diplomatic competencies. He conducts a respectful, accurate and well-balanced diplomacy. Due to this, the both sides, even if they are hostile to each other, feel comfortable both from the point of view of logistics on the territory of Baku, and from the point of view of the certain formats in a dialogue with the leadership of Azerbaijan. NATO and Russia know that they will be shown a calm, balanced, respectful attitude, without wiretapping and leaking of information.
- How does Baku position itself in the international community?
- Baku positions itself as a potential peacemaker, very balanced, respectful and respected partner, whom it is pleasant to deal with. In the future, Baku can turn into a kind of Caucasian Geneva in the diplomatic field, and Azerbaijan, respectively, into the Caucasus Switzerland.
-What was the atmosphere during the talks between Gerasimov and Pavel?
- There was an atmosphere of misunderstanding on the both sides. In fact, the coalition of the NATO member countries has been forcing Russia to subordinate for several years, and Russia refuses to obey. As a part of this coercion, NATO seeks unequal relations, arguing that the alliance is much stronger than Russia. In particular, we are talking about the problem of transponders over the Baltic Sea. NATO is speaking about the danger of collusion, which requires the transponders to be turned on. Russia, in turn, offers to conclude a treaty requiring the transponders of all countries to be turned on, and the alliance responds: "We are not seeking negotiations, we just tell you to turn on the transponders, and then we will decide what to do.’’ Of course, Russia underlines, that either everybody flies with transponders turned on or with transponders turned off, but the NATO officials say once again, that they will not negotiate this issue. This process reminds a dialogue by correspondence.
In addition, Russia is strongly displeased with a deployment of the NATO military contingents in the Baltic countries, as it violates the primary agreement that after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the Alliance's infrastructure would not move eastward to Russia's borders.
- In this case, what are the efficient results of this meeting in Baku?
- As far as strictly military specialists spoke in Baku today, their meeting will not lead to the settlement of the political differences. But despite the political disputes and accusations, it should result in the militaries agree there should not be military consequences of these disagreements, so that the aircrafts do not collide over the water areas and the dialogue on the military-technical level should continue. These are the main issues for Russia and NATO, which can be resolved by negotiations in the capital of Azerbaijan. As for Syria, since NATO does not act de jure there, it necessary to negotiate not with the Alliance, but directly with the United States and Great Britain.