MOSCOW, June 17, /ITAR-TASS/. There is a fairly realistic prospect that Azerbaijan will join either the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec) or the CIS Customs Union, which embraces Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia at present, Russia’s Regional Development Minister Igor Slyuniayev says in an interview published Tuesday by the Russian Business Gazette.
The interview is published on the eve of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Azerbaijan.
“Eurasec is a strategic project - on the economic and political plane likewise and that’s why Azerbaijan’s association with either Eurasec or the Customs Union is quite a realistic prospect,” Slyuniayev says. “I wouldn’t even rule out this course of evens
He recalls that Russian President Vladimir Putin had called Azerbaijan a longtime, traditional and reliable partner of Russia while making a visit to Baku last year.
Putin said then Russia and Azerbaijan were cooperating closely in the Caucasian and Caspian region, in the CIS, in leading international organizations, adding that this cooperation was based on the traditions of friendship, mutual respect between the nations and states.
Slyuniayev also recalls the words of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that bilateral cooperation is developing dynamically and successfully and it meets the aspirations of both countries and their peoples. Azerbaijan safeguards carefully all the positive traditions of the past linked to the Russian language and Russian culture, Aliyev believes.
“A huge number of Azerbaijanis in Russia and Russians in Azerbaijan feel being members of a untied family and we must keep this feeling up in every possible way,” Slyuniayev says, expressing the hope that the 5th Russian-Azerbaijani inter-regional forum, which opens June 23 in the Azerbaijan town of Gabala, will work towards this end.
“The forum is due to become and efficient floor for dialogue between the federal and regional agencies of power of the two countries,” he says. “Meeting of business partners have been scheduled. They will look into the prospects for a variety of Russian-Azerbaijani projects.”
“A steady growth of trade is one more proof of durable ties between the two countries,” he says. “In 2013, it grew 4% versus in 2012 and totaled $ 3.5 billion.