BAKU: Azerbaijan urges Russia to step up efforts at settlement

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
Aug 26 2004

Azerbaijan urges Russia to step up efforts at conflict settlement

The Upper Garabagh conflict was in the focus of Foreign Minister
Elmar Mammadyarov’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei
Lavrov in Moscow last Wednesday. Lavrov said following the meeting
that “Russia is interested in a peace settlement of the

Upper Garabagh conflict, but the problem will be resolved only if the
parties come to terms”. The Russian minister said his country
approaches the talks both as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and
as a friend and supporter of Azerbaijan. He also gave a high
assessment to the numerous meetings held by the two conflicting
sides. Lavrov also pointed out the developing relations between
Russia and Azerbaijan. Mammadyarov, in turn, said Baku considers
Russia a strategic ally and pointed out that both countries are
interested in the economic and political stability in Azerbaijan.

Also discussed were issues related to fighting terrorism, weapons of
mass destruction and the Caspian legal status. Minister Mammadyarov
told a press conference upon completion of his visit to Moscow on
Thursday that Azerbaijan believes Russia should step up its efforts
in settling the Upper Garabagh conflict. “We believe Russia should
step up efforts at settling the conflict based on international legal
norms. We expect the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to express their view
on the conflict settlement,” the minister said. Mammadyarov
emphasized the principle of territorial integrity. “Other issues,
such as the self-administration principle, could still be discussed”,
he said. The minister added that the Azerbaijani side does not
believe in the “frozen conflicts” idea. He reiterated that Azerbaijan
adheres to a peace settlement of the conflict.

Statements on NATO bases ‘naive’
Mammadyarov termed the statements on a possibility of stationing NATO
bases in Azerbaijan as “naive”. “It is naive to believe that such
bases would appear overnight”, he said. The minister also pointed out
that coordination of the issue was a complex process and that
stationing of NATO bases requires a decision by parliaments. “I
believe that the issue of bases in the current situation is naive”,
Mammadyarov said. Touching upon the issue of Azerbaijan’s admission
to NATO, he said it should be addressed by the organization’s

Solution of Caspian status ‘around the corner’
With regard to the Caspian legal status issue, Mammadyarov said
Azerbaijan hopes for a speedy resolution of the problem. “Solution of
this problem is around the corner”, he said. Touching upon the
outstanding discrepancies among Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan on
a number of oil fields, the minister said this was not a serious
problem. “The talks are underway. We have to be patient and allow
experts and diplomats to continue their work”, he said. Mammadyarov
added that the meeting of deputy foreign ministers on the Caspian
status issue scheduled for September in Moscow will be held as

Azerbaijan involved in Russia-Persian Gulf link project Azerbaijan is
involved in a number of projects on building a transport corridor
from Russia to the Persian Gulf via Azerbaijan and Iran, Minister
Mammadyarov said. Both Russia and Iran support funding the
construction of the North-South railway corridor, according to the
minister. He said Azerbaijan has completed construction of the
railway branch in Astara, on the Azeri-Iranian border. Iran is
building a railway line to link with Astara, Iran. “When a railway
bridge between these districts is built, the corridor will be put
into operation. The agreement on building the bridge has been
reached,” the minister said. Mammadyarov said Russia supports
Azerbaijan gaining access to the Persian Gulf. This will enable to
deliver cargo from Northern Europe through Russia and Azerbaijan via
the shortest route. Russia’s link with Iran through Azerbaijan was
used till the 1990s, when the volume of railway transit between the
two countries reached about 3 million tons. Experts’ estimates
confirmed that inter-regional transportation through this route may
yield considerable profits to all parties involved. Moreover, the
North-South corridor is more economical and reliable from the
viewpoint of ensuring the security, compared to maritime and other
types of land transport.