Ambassador Vladimir Dorokhin: “Azerbaijan is not well known in Russia” - INTERVIEW - PHOTOSESSION

Ambassador Vladimir Dorokhin: “Azerbaijan is not well known in Russia” - <font color=red>INTERVIEW - PHOTOSESSION</font>
# 18 September 2009 14:13 (UTC +04:00)
-How do you assess the state of political, economic, humanitarian relations between Azerbaijan and Russia within the eight months of 2009?

-The results are good. The relations are developing. We cal each strategic partners and it has been proved in practice. Our presidents met four times within the past period, political dialogue was dynamic. Days of Azerbaijani Culture were held in Moscow and Kazan, we are making arrangements for the Days of Russian Culture in Azerbaijan in autumn.

-Has the global financial crisis affected the economic relations between our countries? Will the trade turnover reach the planned level by the yearend?

-The crisis has had a negative influence. Fall is observed in Russia-Azerbaijan trade relations. The level of this fall is less compared with the falls in Russia’s trade with other CIS countries. According to our calculations, trade turnover fell by 20 percent within the eight months, according to Azerbaijan’s calculations trade turnover fell by 12 percent. We will likely fail to reach the last year’s figure – $2.4 billion. We suppose that the mutual trade turnover will make up $2 billion.

-How are the documents signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s June visit to Azerbaijan being implemented? We particularly mean division of the Samur river, delimitation of borders, purchase and sale of Azerbaijan’s gas and location of diplomatic offices.

-Agreement principle was reached on all these issues in Baku. There is an agreement in principle on the line of border line. I reiterate that this agreement in principle was reached due to Azerbaijan’s constructive position in the division of the Samur river. Azerbaijan made a wise proposal on joint use of the river and it paves the way for the compromise in the border issue. Work continues on giving mandate to the delegations for holding negotiations. The aim is to prepare the necessary documents by the yearend. Anyway, in the fourth quarter the sides must report to the presidents about the stage of the work.

As regards the gas, Gazprom and SOCAR are having talks. This is an economic issue, not a political one. SOCAR says the contract will be signed soon.

Agreement was reached to hold the meeting of experts in connection with the location of diplomatic offices. I hope the draft documents will be on the table.

-On what stage is the establishment of Economic Cooperation Organization of the Caspian States? Which littoral states supported this idea?

-The establishment of the organization is on the initial stage, even at the stage of initiative. Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran support this initiate. Azerbaijan has also expressed its support. Only Turkmenistan remains. I think this idea will be realized, because economic cooperation covers the interests of millions of people. It means new jobs, money, profit. There is an opinion that it is early to establish an organization determining the legal status of the Caspian Sea. It is hard to protest against it, but on the other hand, one can think the other way: if the organization is established and the cooperation has practical results, it may give stimulus to the determination of the status.

-May four littoral states of the former USSR introduce a unique concept concerning the status? Why wasn’t Iran invited to the informal summit of the Caspian states in Aktau?

- It was not a Caspian summit, but an informal meeting of four presidents. Probably Caspian issues were also discussed there, but they didn’t address any issue related to the Caspian status. Everyone considers that there are five littoral states and all five have to make joint decision on this issue. Iran had certain questions. I think participants of Aktau meeting gave quite enough answers to its questions. The negotiations are conducted within format of five and it will continue so. No one proposed four sides to be united against one. The work is done between five countries and everyone is satisfied with that.

- Are the reports true that Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Yuriy Merzlyakov will be replaced with Grigoriy Karasin?

- Merzlyakov is expected to be appointed to new office by the end of year. The reports about Karasin were officially denied. Russia will announce its new co-chair when he is appointed. The versions are speculations.

- Parts to Nagorno Karabakh conflict, international mediators say that the negotiations are in final phase. Is Chisinau meeting of the presidents expected to bring results?

- I can’t say anything on behalf of the parts of conflict. As a representative of mediator country, I would like to say that Russia doesn’t prefer thunderous statements and prognoses. I think the mediators should be calmer to do fruitful work. We will make all efforts to reach positive results in Chisinau.

- Azerbaijan doesn’t like participation of neighbor countries in the peacekeeping forces to be deployed in the conflict zone. How is Russia reacting to that?

- I read statements and opinions of political analysts in Azerbaijani newspapers. Russia relies on the official statement of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this issue. The Foreign Ministry’s officials said that peacekeeping mission, its mandate and authorities were complicated and long-prospective issue and it is not on agenda today.

-How the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations will impact on the solution of Nagorno Karabakh problem?

- Russia supports Turkish-Armenian relations in the context of contribution to the regional peace and stability and prevention of new tensions.

- Some political analysts consider that protocols to be signed between Turkey and Armenia will annul 1921 Kars treaty. Is it possible legally?

- The scientists and analysts have a large imagination and earn money on that. Russia recognizes the Kars treaty. It is a document of international law in force and we are not going to refuse that.

- Is it true that Russian citizens living in Uryanoba and Khrakhoba villages of Khachmaz region are going to receive Azerbaijani citizenship? How many homes and population in those villages?

- Azerbaijani newspapers pay great attention to this issue. They are writing such things that can be called an insinuation. There are five homes in one village and 60 – in other one. 300 people are living there. The status of those people who are living in Azerbaijan’s territory with Russian passports was not determined yet. We highly appreciate tolerance of Azerbaijani government. Those people were allowed to determine their status. The embassy officials visited those villages recently. I talked with the prime minister of Dagestan on that issue. He intends to help those people in calmness and non-political atmosphere.

- You are working in Azerbaijan for six months. What can you say about the country?

- There are few ideas about Azerbaijan in Russia. I realized for myself in the past six months that we know few things about your country and don’t give necessary appreciation. It is not good for us. Russia must adequately appreciate its close neighbor and partner.