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Expert: Aliyev’s visit to Minsk could pursue a dialogue between Russia and Turkey at the level of junior partners

Ilham Aliyev and Alexander Lukashenko. Photo: belarus.by

The goal of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Belarus could be establishment of a dialogue between Moscow and Ankara amid the ongoing crisis in the relations of Russia and Turkey. Vadim Mukhanov, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Caucasian Studies and Regional Security, MGIMO Russia, made such remarks talking to EADaily on November 30.

The political analyst said Aliyev’s visit to Minsk was not planned. “This means that the sides did not discuss the traditional Belarus-Azerbaijan agenda. They addressed issues that are extremely pressing for the world community. Of course, in Minsk, Aliyev could not but speak of the major conflict involving the post-Soviet area leader – Russia. The Russian-Turkish crisis could not be avoided, much less after the visit of the Turkish foreign minister to Baku not long before Aliyev travelled to Minsk. In addition, the Turkish prime minister is expected to travel to Azerbaijan shortly. This once again proves that at the Aliyev-Lukashenko meeting, among others, the problems of the Russian-Turkish relations were discussed. This crisis affects both Belarus and Azerbaijan,” Mukhanov said.

The expert pointed at the official outcome of Aliyev’s visit saying it does not allow making any specific assessment. “Lukashenko has confirmed that Azerbaijan is a strategic partner for Belarus. This was clear, as Aliyev has repeatedly rendered financial assistance to Lukashenko. Of course, the Belarusian leader could have his own, very important reason to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart – to receive financial assistance like in 2010 and 2011. On the other hand, Baku is one of Ankara’s closest partners. Consequently, it is clear why Aliyev seeks to start mediating and establishing contacts with them who became a mediator for Moscow yet long ago. Well, Minsk has been mediating the talks for the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis for a long time already. In this light, Minsk has become rather popular a platform,” Mukhanov said.

One cannot say for sure that Aliyev arrived in Minsk with a mission to establish contacts between Russia and Turkey, he said. “However, a dialogue is quite possible. We will witness the results of his actions within the coming few days. AT least that visit meets Ankara’s efforts to establish bridges with Moscow. Aliyev’s visit may become one of such steps. As Moscow refuses from contracts with Erdogan, Turkey will continue its efforts to establish such a ‘bridge.’ Whether that bridge will run via Baku is not clear yet. Anyway, the visit is a kind of step,” Vadim Mukhanov said for conclusion.

EADaily reported earlier that on Nov 24, Russian warplane was shot down by the Turkish Air Forces above the Syrian territory. According to Turkey, the Russian warplane violated Turkey’s airspace and was attacked after several warnings. Meantime, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that Su-24 did not cross the air space of Syria and was attacked quite unexpectedly. President Vladimir Putin called it a “stab in the back” of Russia by “terrorism accomplices.” He blamed Turkey for trading oil with ISIL (a terrorist organization banned in Russia). Moscow imposed a series of sanctions against Ankara. Putin refuses either to talk to or to meet with President of Turkey Recep Erdogan, despite his requests.

On November 28, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev travelled to Minsk and had a meeting with Alexander Lukashenko. The two leaders discussed economic cooperation and signed a declaration of intention to boost cooperation and step up efforts towards mutual support in foreign policy field. “The world has gone mad. You see what is happening. We must live, or more precisely survive in this chaotic, unpredictable world. We should hang together to meet the challenges the world is facing now,” Lukashenko said.

It is noteworthy that Russia’s official ally Belarus has expressed its attitude to the attack on the Russian warplane. In particular, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dmitry Mironchik said: “Such tragic and very dangerous incidents cause deep regret and grave concern, especially when they occur in the region where the bloody armed conflict has been going on for a period of several years, and when the parties to such incidents are our brotherly Russia and friendly Turkey," Mironchik said. “Such dramatic turn of events is not within the interests of any of the countries involved in it and it may entail political consequences for the common undertaking of the world community in combating international terrorism. In such kind of situations, it is necessary to show self-possession, combined work to de-escalate the tension and clarify all the details of the incident in order to avoid such tragic events in the future.”

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