Interview with Aleksey Malashenko

Aleksey Malashenko, political analyst from the Moscow based Carnegie Centre, shared his views on the agenda of the upcoming summit of Caspian states in Teheran.

Aleksey Malashenko: I think there are two purposes: an official one, this is the summit of the Caspian states, and an unofficial one, that is the meeting between presidents Putin and Ahmadinejad. So it’s very important.

Russia Today: Do you think there’ll be any progress in the Caspian dialogue? 

A.M.: I don’t believe in the progress of this dialogue because we’ve been waiting for such a progress since 1994 or 1995, and all the time it has been useless. At the same time, there are common points in the positions of Russia and Iran. What does it mean? Both countries recognise that the Caspian Sea is an internal domestic lake. And it’s very important as no one will agree – I mean Tehran and Moscow – that someone from outside, from other oceans and seas will be involved in the issue of the Caspian Sea. This is very important because the rest of the countries like Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan don’t agree. They think that on some occasions somebody could be involved in the solution of the questions related to the Caspian policy.

RT: Do you think there will be any agreements on the Bushehr station?

A.M.: I hope so, but it does not mean it will be a final solution. But anyway, I believe that progress in this direction is possible, and we will see some signatures on the conventions concerning the Bushehr station, because it is first of all an economic question. However, at the same time, it is a political question as Russia felt pressure from the outside – from Europe, from the U.S. in particular, for relations in this respect to be limited. But Russia continues to co-operate with Iran, which is ready to accept Russian assistance.

RT: How crucial is this visit for the Iranian side?

A.M.: It is very important for Tehran, for Mr Ahmadinejad in particular, on the eve of his election, which will take place next year. It shows that indeed behind Iran there two big countries – Russia and China. Despite all contradictions, Moscow continues to support the Iranians in the nuclear programme, and I think that Mr Putin's visit to Tehran will show the stability of Russia's position.

RT: Some experts say that Mr Putin may invite Ahmadinejad to visit Russia.

A.M.: I do not know whether Russia is ready for such a visit. However, Ahmadinejad seems to be ready to go to Moscow at any time.

RT: What can you say about speculation about the alleged assassination plot on Putin?

A.M.: You mentioned speculation, and I share that view. But anyway, whether these are speculations or not, after them Putin looks like a hero who insisted on his visit to Tehran despite all the rumours. As for the reason for this speculation, it is not easy to say, because there are a lot of forces interested in such an idea of an assassination attempt in Iran, and even in Russia and elsewhere.

RT: Is this visit is a kind of a diplomatic show – not one which will lead to significant change in bilateral relations?

A.M.: It is much more as you mentioned – a diplomatic show. It is a pretext to explain to the partners of Russia in Europe and in the Western world, that Moscow carries on with its line in relations with Iran. There is more and more talk in Iran that relations with Russia are strategic ones. Until recently this idea had no confirmation in Moscow, but who knows, maybe we will get this confirmation after Putin's visit to Iran.