Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend E.Huseynov, A.Gasimova / Participating in the large-scale US-Russian missile-defense project, a project recently mentioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the summit of G-8, will increase the image of Azerbaijan in the world, according to well-known Russian military expert Alexander Golts.
On 7 June, as a result of the meeting with US President George Bush, within the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin highlighted his proposal to jointly use the Russian-leased Azerbaijan Gabala Radar Station with the US. The station is part of the Russian system which tracks the movement of ballistic missiles. In response to the plans of the US to establish missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, the Russian President highlighted the key advantage of such an approach: the system will be in maximum proximity to the object being tracked and observed. Putin said that any new situation around Iranian missiles will be possible to observe through scouting.
In his interview with Trend, Alexander Golts said on 8 June by telephone from Moscow that it is still too early to say that Russia and the US have reached an agreement on the joint use of the Gabala Radar Station. According to Golts, everything will be clear after Putin's visit to the US in three weeks time. "Of course, the possibility to reach an agreement mainly depends on Bush. Bush should decide what is beneficial and important for him - returning to a partnership with Russia or supporting countries of Western Europe, specifically Poland and the Czech Republic," the expert said.
According to Golts, if an agreement is reached, concrete work will be carried out in the joint military object and it will decrease tension between the US and Russia. Furthermore, Azerbaijan will gain larger advantages from the Station's activity. The Gabala Radar Station had been constructed during the former Soviet regime, as one of the significant elements of the anti-missile system of the USSR. After Azerbaijan regained its independence and took ownership of the station, Russia offered to lease it. A ten-year agreement was signed only in 2002. The issue of the Gabala Radar Station became a topic of political debates, including in the Parliament of Azerbaijan.
In addition, the Russian expert sees one possible problem for Azerbaijan's participation in the large-scale US-Russian missile-defense project - worsening relations with Iran which has repeatedly highlighted its negative attitude towards the participation of US in military projects in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea region.
Recently Vladimir Putin stated that consultations with Azerbaijan were held. "Yesterday I spoke of this issue with the President of Azerbaijan and the active agreement allows us to do it," Putin said.