MOSCOW (Armenpress–RFE/RL)–Azerbaijan’s President Haydar Aliyev–who is in Moscow on a four-day state visit–and Vladimir Putin are set to discuss the possibilities of strengthening the "Caucasian Four" (Russia–Azerbaijan–Armenia and Georgia) with the aim of stabilizing the region and establishing a cooperative atmosphere to ensure regional cooperation.
A senior Russian official said that the two presidents will discuss "the possibility of making more substantial efforts for regional cooperation–within the framework of the Caucasian Four–although the situation within the Caucasian Four has become more complicated because of several unresolved conflicts."
The two countries took on Friday more steps contributing to a thaw in their relations. An agreement signed during Aliev visit allowed Russia to lease a major Soviet-built radar station in Azerbaijan for 10 years. Putin said the deal on the Gabala radar station shows a "new quality of relations" that allows the two nations to "work cooperatively on other issues."
"It is…the first time in many years that we have been cooperating in the military sphere–and this is a very positive development," Putin said.
The radar facility was built by the Soviet military to track missiles in the southern hemisphere and is considered a key part of Russia’s early warning system.
Analysts say it has become increasingly important given the US military campaign in Afghanistan and the station’s position as a strategic lookout over a region including India–Pakistan and the Gulf.
Remarks by some of the staunchest advocates of Russia’s close military alliance with Armenia also reflected the change of mood in Moscow. Vladimir Zhirinovsky–an ultranationalist Russian politician who has called for Azerbaijan’s partition in the past–said having a good rapport with Baku is important for his country.
"The ideal option is to maintain a balance so as to have good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan and at last reconcile them," he told RFE/RL in Moscow.