On August 8, 2016, Baku hosted the first-ever trilateral summit of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. According to experts, this meeting shows the real interest of Baku, Moscow and Tehran to bring the relations between three countries to a new level of strategic cooperation.
"Leaders of the three countries held a really important meeting on burning issues of contemporary agenda, useful both economically and politically," - said Vladimir Sazhin
, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, in an interview to valdaiclub.com.
"I would not talk about the creation of an axis Iran - Azerbaijan - Russia. The summit was not aimed at creation of any new organization. "- the expert said.
According to him, these three countries play a huge role in the development of the situation in the Middle East and are important factor not only in regional, but also in global politics. So the trilateral summit was of strategic importance, beneficial to all parties. "Everybody was interested and everybody got preferences," - the expert said.
A meeting was held in Baku for the first time on the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Previously, the implementation of this idea was problematic due to the sanctions against Iran. Farhad Mammadov
, Director of the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) under the President of Azerbaijan, noted that Baku attaches utmost importance properly to the regional cooperation. "The present trilateral format "Russia - Azerbaijan - Iran" is the first and only one vector which provides cooperation in the North - South direction," - the expert said.
According to Vladimir Sazhin, one of the main areas of the negotiations are economic issues. Leaders of the three countries discussed the development of the flagship North-South International Transport Corridor project , cooperation in energy sector, legal status of Caspian Sea.
According to Farhad Mammadov, the North-South International Transport Corridor project will be an important part of integration processes in Eurasia. "The North-South Transport Corridor has been discussed for a long time and is practically operational to the borders of Azerbaijan. A railway line from Azerbaijani border to the city of Rasht is left, which will be built in the coming years, and Azerbaijan will be a major investor. <...> Since the beginning of this year the President of Azerbaijan adopted several decrees that facilitate and accelerate international transportations in the territory of the country, which is essential for the competitiveness of the transport track, "- the expert said.
Talking about the Caspian Sea problem, Mammadov expressed hope that "a qualitatively new format of strategic partnership between the [three Caspian] countries will positively influence the negotiations on the Caspian Sea status".
The final declaration, signed by Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev and Hassan Rouhani, mentions also security issues, which, according to Mammadov, "are the cornerstones, because without them it is impossible to implement fully the economic projects."
In particular, this means security cooperation in the Caspian Sea, joint efforts to combat terrorism, as well as the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, whose recent escalation alarmed the world community. According to Mammadov, the "atmosphere of cooperation between Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran will have a positive impact on the negotiation process, as the main neighbors in the region - Russia, Iran and Turkey - are beginning more to cooperate than to compete in the region."
"President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev called last meeting of presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran historical, - said Farhad Mammadov. - Azerbaijan puts into this cooperation a concept of constructive pragmatism, when each of the parties benefits from the cooperation, meets its obligations, which result in interdependent, equal and mutually beneficial relations. This process allows the participants to gain momentum and put forward new initiatives. "