Russia’s FM starts Azeri visit

RIA Novosti, Russia
Feb 1, 2005


BAKU, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Minister of
Foreign Affairs, arrived tonight in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, on a
two-day official visit.

The visit is coming in conformity with top-level bilateral
understandings for a dynamic political dialogue. It aims to carry on
efforts to step up bilateral foreign-ministerial contacts, says
Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s official Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Mr. Lavrov intends to discuss implementation of understandings for
extended economic partnership-in particular, in the fuel-and-energy
complex, and work for closer direct economic contacts between Russian
and Azeri regions. The visit schedule also envisages an opinion
exchange on current efforts to elaborate the Caspian Sea legal
status, and on prospects for another, second summit of the five
littoral countries, Mr. Yakovenko went on.

There are serious problems between the Caspian basin countries with
their different stances on the sea legal status. The problems forced
the five Caspian countries-Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and
Turkmenistan-to put off their summit, initially scheduled for January
2005, with Tehran for venue. Their maiden summit, of April 2002, in
Turkmenistan’s Ashgabat, was an utter failure as the Parties could
not overcome their differences for a coordinated final statement. The
work goes on now on a multilateral arrangement, having gone over to
an ad hoc team, made of Deputy Foreign Ministers and special envoys.

Russia and Azerbaijan mean, during Mr. Lavrov’s visit, to pay
particular attention to coordinating both countries’ efforts
enhancing the effect of their anti-terror alliance.

Karabakh settlement will not stay out of the agenda, added Mr.

It is up to the conflicting parties themselves to come at a mutually
acceptable way to settle the conflict. That is what Russia’s Foreign
Ministry proceeds from. Russia is willing to do as much as possible
for the cause on a bilateral arrangement and as co-chair of the OSCE
Minsk group. It is also willing to be guarantor of prospective
understandings, reassured the diplomat.

The Russian and Azeri Foreign Ministers intend to exchange opinions
on topical regional and global developmental issues. They will also
discuss the ways to promote the United Nations’ leading role, and to
step up cooperation within the CIS. The negotiators will debate the
ways to step up partnership of the two countries’ Foreign Ministries
in the Caucasus and worldwide, and to coordinate their activities in
international organizations.

President Ilkham Aliev of the host country is expected to receive Mr.

The visitor’s close schedule for tomorrow includes laying wreaths to
the monument of Geidar Aliev, Azerbaijan’s previous President, and to
the Eternal Fire memorial. He will meet at the negotiation table with
Elmar Mamedyarov, his Azeri counterpart, visit the Slav University of
Baku, and meet in conference with Abbas Abbasov, Azerbaijan’s First
Deputy Prime Minister.