Proposal for Russian Consulate in Khankendi Seen as "Probing," Says Azerbaijani Deputy

Proposal for Russian Consulate in Khankendi Seen as "Probing," Says Azerbaijani Deputy

Rasim Musabekov, a deputy of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament), has described the recent proposal to open a Russian consulate in Khankendi as a "probing" measure. This suggestion, made by Grigory Karasin, head of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, caught Musabekov by surprise, indicating it was not a widely discussed intention within Russian diplomatic circles.

In a Facebook post, Musabekov expressed astonishment at the unexpected move by the Russian side to establish a Consulate General in Khankendi. "I was not aware of such an intention from the Russian Federation," he wrote. During a meeting with the Milli Majlis delegation in Baku, Karasin announced the Russian Foreign Ministry's plan to open the consulate in Khankendi within the current year, 2024. He justified this by stating that it would "eliminate the disparity in mutual consular presence."

Musabekov questioned the necessity of such a consulate purely for the sake of balancing consular presence. "The opening of the Consulate General only to eliminate the disparity does not seem justified," he noted.

"Grigory Karasin is a very experienced diplomat and has held senior positions in the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, his statement on the Consulate General in Khankendi should not be taken as official. It is rather probing in nature," Musabekov explained. He emphasized that Azerbaijan's stance would be determined only after the Russian Foreign Ministry formally submits a proposal.

Musabekov outlined the established diplomatic practice that would follow such a proposal: meetings, negotiations, and correspondence between diplomats to assess the possibility and advisability of opening a consulate in Khankendi. An agreement in principle would be needed before deciding on the time, location, and appointment of the Consul General.

Currently, Azerbaijan maintains two consulates in Russia, located in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, to serve the large Azerbaijani population there. In contrast, Azerbaijan is a smaller country, and its consular services have been effectively managed from Baku.

Musabekov highlighted the unique conditions in Khankendi post the withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces. "There are no Russian servicemen or their families in Khankendi and its surroundings. Access is restricted and regulated. Azerbaijani citizens are returning after past exiles. There are no Russian companies, and aviation and rail links are not yet restored. It is unclear what consular activities the Russian Foreign Ministry intends to carry out here," he stated.

Musabekov offered his interpretation of the situation, noting that many Armenians with roots in Karabakh now reside in Russia. "If the Russian consulate in Khankendi is meant to facilitate their travel to Karabakh as Russian citizens, this is premature. Entry of persons of Armenian ethnicity into Azerbaijan has not been allowed for known reasons. Without a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia, this policy is unlikely to change, leaving the consulate with no work," he commented.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has yet to express its official stance on Karasin's proposal. As diplomatic discussions continue, the implications of opening a Russian consulate in Khankendi remain uncertain, reflecting the complexities of regional politics and the delicate balance of international relations in the South Caucasus.


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