Triumvirate of presidents in Baku: results and prospects
Yesterday, the first trilateral meeting of Presidents of Russian, Azerbaijani and Iranian presidents, Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev and Hassan Rouhani, was held in Baku. The sides signed a joint declaration by its end. A senior scientist at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Pritchin, summed up the results of recent talks in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
First of all, the expert noted that the trilateral summit, held in new geopolitical realities, was quite productive. "The meeting between heads of three Caspian states was held yesterday, talks between Presidents of Russia and Turkey were held today and Vladimir Putin will meet with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan tomorrow. So there is a serious progress in regional issues," he explained.
He also noted that one of the main positive outcomes of yesterday's talks was the fact that Russian and Iranian leaders mentioned the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while speaking about problematic issues that hinder establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. "Both sides expressed their willingness to contribute to the conflict settlement. And the fact that this issue was discussed in a trilateral format suggests that all major regional players are paying a lot of attention to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict today. Especially since Armenia has constructive relationship with Iran, just like with Russia," he said.
At the same time, the expert pointed out that Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran are interested in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement above all, since there are such major infrastructure projects as 'North-South' on their agenda. "They need investments and stable political environment to implement this project, which could be endangered if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will move into next phase," the expert noted.
Nevertheless, Stanislav Pritchin continued, there are no serious obstacles to this project at the moment. "It is necessary to build a small railway section between Azerbaijan and Iran. Iranian railway is developing in parallel with it. The next step is the development of highways. The question is that in addition to construction itself, it is also necessary to establish the process of transit and create a competitive offer for potential clients. This route should become economically competitive, both in terms of time and finances," Pritchin stressed.
According to the expert, 'North-South' project will definitely be implemented, but it is unclear whether it will be successful or not and whether it will be able to compete with Suez Canal, for example.
Commenting on the possibility of creation of Russian-Azerbaijani-Iranian gas cartel, Stanislav Pritchin noted that there are no talks about this today. "Russia is already a gas supplier for southern European countries, Azerbaijan will become one after TAP and TANAP will be commissioned, and Iran may become a gas supplier in the medium term. In this situation, none of the players is interested in creating unnecessary competition and glut of gas in the European gas market," he believes.
"Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran can protect their interests only together. Brussels' positions will strengthen if they will compete with each other, and then Moscow, Baku and Tehran will suffer financial losses.