The visit by a Russian delegation to Baku concluded yesterday (see Monitor, January 7) following the signing of several agreements. They included two protocols: one on the mutual delivery of products in 1997 and another on transport development. A number of draft agreements prepared during the visit are also expected to be finalized during the first quarter of this year. But, despite offering a generally positive assessment of the results of the mission, the delegation’s head — Russian deputy prime minister Valeri Serov — observed that several key disputes remain unresolved. They include an agreement on a regime regulating resource exploitation in the Caspian Sea, and one on mutual debts. The Azeri parliament has yet to ratify an agreement of October 21, 1994, which set Azerbaijan’s state debt to Russia at around $80 million. Azerbaijan has demanded that this debt be reduced, taking into account the balance of mutual debts of enterprises and the results of the demonetization of the Russian ruble in July, 1993.
Serov noted that a mutual understanding on the transport of Azeri oil through Russia has been achieved. A final decision on the transport of oil is to be taken during a session of the Russian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental commission, scheduled for February in Moscow. Vitali Chernyaev, chairman of Transneft — the Russian company controlling the oil pipeline network — declared that he does not foresee any problems with the transit of Azeri oil through Chechen territory. After the presidential and parliamentary elections in Chechnya, scheduled for January 27, the Russian government will consider various aspects of this question (Itar-Tass, Interfax, January 7)
Inter-Tajik Talks Resume Amid Major Differences.