Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 7 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /
Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vladimir Dorokhin spoke in an exclusive interview with Trend this week.
Trend : Do you think that the trends in Azerbaijani-Russian relations has changed over the last year? Have the countries become closer? In which spheres is this seen?
Vladimir Dorokhin: Azerbaijani-Russia relations are developing according to a formula of strategic partnership. The trend has not been changed. Certainly, there are no preconditions. We focus on the basic interests of the two countries and the interests of stability in the region, but not the political situation.
As to subjective feelings, I have positive ones. During my staying in Baku, I fully felt the respect of Azerbaijanis towards Russia. I think that my Azerbaijani counterpart in Moscow notes the growth of the favorable attitude toward Azerbaijan in Russia.
Q: What efforts can be made by political elites, intellectuals and media outlets to establish more understanding between our two countries?
A: More events with youth participation. Youth see Russia-Azerbaijan relations differently than older generations. Civil society is being gradually formed in Russia and Azerbaijan. Certainly, an exchange of information is useful in this regard. Perhaps, you, journalists, would win as a result of more active contacts.
We all try to promote ties via the state line. For example, a large forum of intellectuals of both countries: "Russia-Azerbaijan. Horizons of Partnership" will be held in Baku in January 2010.
Q: There is an opinion that the 2008 Georgian war has changed the geopolitical emphasis on the South Caucasus. What are Russia's chances to be a key player in the Caucasus, given its efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and improve its partnership with Turkey?
A: The so-called Georgian war has changed not only the South Caucasus, but the whole world. Everyone seems to be awakened and realized that if one political charlatan can provoke almost a universal confrontation, there is something is wrong in the world.
This understanding, in particular, lies at the basis of the "reset" of Russian-U.S relations.
You call Russia a player. But Russia does not play in the Caucasus. We realize our interests here, as other countries do. These interests do not threaten anyone, otherwise Russia would not have partner bilateral relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
We try to use the positive potential of these relations to solve regional problems, especially Nagorno-Karabakh. We do it not to put someone in checkmate on the geopolitical chessboard, but rather for peace and stability in the Caucasus. They are also vitally important for Russia.
Q: Do you think that the European Eastern Partnership initiative runs counter to agreements concluded within the CIS? Should the CIS countries participating in this program make a choice between the CIS and the EU?
A: The issue of a choice was raised by EU, not Moscow, when Brussels discussed the participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership. At the time our EU colleagues changed their position. They said they were misunderstood. Russia received invitations to take part in several projects within this program. We cannot rule it out. Let's see how the initiative will be implemented.
Q: What are the Russian Embassy in Baku's efforts to develop the Russian language in Azerbaijan? Is it possible for Azerbaijan to give the Russian language a state status in the future like Kazakhstan?
A: This is one of the most important directions of the embassy's work.
Russia has been allocating funds for this purpose recently. Corresponding organizational structures are being established. The Russian Information and Cultural Center has been set up in Baku. Support for the Russian language is important.
We closely cooperate in this field with the Azerbaijani authorities. As for the legal status of the Russian language, it is within the complete jurisdiction of the Azerbaijani state.