25/7 Tass 3
MOSCOW, July 25 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Sunday arrived to Azerbaijan on a working visit to discuss extensions of the rent of the Gabala radar station, the Defence Ministry’s press service told Itar-Tass.
“As part of the program, the Russian defence minister will have a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and hold talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Colonel General Safar Abiyev,” the ministry said.
“The two defence ministers will discuss the current state and prospects for further development of the national armed forces and military-technical cooperation, including extension of Russia’s rent of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan,” the ministry said.
The Russian military delegation will lay a wreath to the monument to the late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev in Baku.
The visit will end on July 26.
Currently, Russia and Azerbaijan are working on a new agreement on the Gabala radar rent after the rent period expires in December 2012. Azerbaijan sets forth a number of conditions. Thus, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said Azerbaijan wanted a higher rent.
Apart from it, according to Azeri diplomatics sources, Baku wants to raise the issue of “minimization of the radar’ s impact on the environment, which implies a modernization of the radar.” They also say Russia must “compensate for the environmental damage inflicted on the populations and the environment of the Gabala district.” The sides are also negotiating an increase in the number of Azeri personnel at the radar station, and the employment of Azerbaijani citizens at facilities servicing Russian servicemen at the radar station and their families.
The Gabala radar station was put into service in 1985 as an element of the Soviet missile attack warning system. Now it is owned by Azerbaijan and rented by Russia to control the southern sector of the aerospace and to warn about possible ballistic missile launches from Iran, Pakistan, India and other countries. At missile defence negotiations with the United States and NATO, Moscow has offered to use the radar station in the development of the European missile defence shield.