BAKU: Azeri paper plays down no problem assessment of ties w/Russia

Azeri paper plays down “no problem” assessment of ties with Russia

Zerkalo, Baku
3 Feb 05

Excerpt from R. Mirqadirov’s report by Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo
on 3 February headlined “No problem”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was received by Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliyev yesterday [2 February].

[Passage omitted: reported details of Lavrov’s meetings with President
Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov]

So, another visit by a high-ranking official from the neighbouring
superpower has finished. Judging by official statements, the journey
has been a success and bilateral relations keep on developing. It
might seem that there is no reason to be displeased.

However, something alarming is noticeable against the backdrop of all
these optimistic statements. And it boils down to the fact that our
relations with close neighbours are often seen through rose-tinted
glasses and every time “no problems” statements are being made. This
assessment has been used when talking about Azerbaijan’s relations
with Georgia, Iran and Russia.

And then after the assessment the railway communication with Georgia
was closed and law enforcers of this country fired on ethnic
Azerbaijanis at point-blank range.

Meanwhile, Russia cut off natural gas supplies in the middle of
winter, leaving 40 Azerbaijani districts without heat and
electricity. At the same time, the chairman of the Russian State Duma
described Armenia as Russia’s outpost in the South Caucasus. If we
were to follow the same logic, it would appear that there were no
“serious problems” also between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which would
mean that we were surrounded only by friends.