Triumvirate in Baku: why will Putin, Aliyev and Rouhani meet?
The first trilateral meeting of the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev and Hassan Rouhani, will be held in Baku today. It will be focused on the fight against terrorism and the international transport corridor North-South project. The political scientist Rovshan Ibragimov and the director of the Institute of Political Studies, Sergey Markov, shared with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, what they expect from the upcoming meeting.
According to Rovshan Ibrahimov, the implementation of the transport corridor North-South will be the main topic of today's meeting, namely, the construction of a new railway in Iran and its 8 km-long railway line in Azerbaijan, as well as the construction of a railway bridge over the Astara river. "The parties will designate time frames and discuss technical and financial issues. For example, Azerbaijan plans to issue a $500-million loan to Iran for realization of the project," he said, adding that in addition to this the leaders of the three countries will discuss the development of trade relations and a number of political issues, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The expert suggested that the presidents will also pay attention to the attempted coup d'état in Turkey and a seizure of a police precinct in Armenia. "A trilateral format has been agreed before these events. But in general, of course, the heads of states will talk about the events in Armenia and Turkey," he noted.
In addition, the expert pointed out that to date, the South Caucasus and its neighboring countries are the focus of Russian politics. He also said that Vladimir Putin's upcoming meetings with the key figures in the region will have a positive impact on the Russian foreign policy.
At the same time, he pointed out that as far as the meeting between the Russian and Armenian presidents is concerned, it is of greater interest for the Armenian side, as it will give Yerevan an opportunity to understand the direction in which Moscow will develop its relations with the South Caucasus countries.
The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, in turn, said that the North-South transport corridor will be the number one topic during the negotiations. "This applies to the railway and other communications, which would link Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia. They [Russia and Azerbaijan] would have access to the Persian Gulf via Iran and to the Northern European countries via Russia," the expert said, adding that the role of Azerbaijan as a transit country is increasing dramatically.
In addition to the transport corridor, the presidents may discuss the trilateral cooperation in the region, for example, transportation in the Caspian Sea that today is somewhat problematic, Markov said. "Russia and Azerbaijan have roughly the same position that the Caspian Sea sectors should be determined according to the coastline with a free zone between them. But Iran does not support this approach at the moment," he pointed out.
According to the political scientist, while discussing the economic cooperation in the Caspian Sea, issues of oil and gas, as well as marine biological resources arise, but there is information that Putin, Aliyev and Rouhani will talk about them. Another acute problem, which will be discussed by presidents, is keeping non-Caspian states away from the Caspian region.
The talks in Baku will also include bilateral formats, he noted. "Of course, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev will discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because this year there is a unique opportunity for a major breakthrough in solving this long-standing issue, using the Kazan formula," the expert stressed.
During the meeting of Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani the economic and military cooperation will be the main topics for the discussion, Markov said.
The director of the Institute of Political Studies emphasized that today Russia and Azerbaijan are guarantors of stability during the trouble times in the region. “The greater the instability, the more important the cooperation between Moscow and Baku becomes," Sergey Markov concluded.