India to counter China’s Strategy in the Caucasus

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev at the President’s Palace on Wednesday and discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. India is trying to curtail China’s influence in the Caucasus i.e. in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan and on the other hand Chinese President Xi Jinping is attempting to gain political weight in a region that is traditionally considered to be Russia’s sphere of influence.

Ministers discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in trade and investment, connectivity and transportation, culture and tourism, pharmaceuticals, energy and other sectors.

Swaraj paid an official visit to Azerbaijan from 04 to 06 April 2018 at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan ElmarMammadyarov. Swaraj arrived in Baku to represent India at the mid-term ministerial conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) On 5-6 April. Upon her arrival, she was greeted by Indian and Azerbaijani officials respectively.

The MEA said in a statement, “As a founding member of NAM, India remains committed to the purposes and principles of the movement. External Affairs Minister’s participation in the NAM ministerial meeting will underline India’s continued active and constructive engagement within the movement with a view to further strengthen solidarity and cooperation among its member states.” Earlier, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan had paid a bilateral visit to India in May 2013.

External Affairs Minister is scheduled to call on the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mrs. MehribanAliyeva.

India and Azerbaijan enjoy warm and friendly relations based on historical and cultural ties. They have growing bilateral cooperation in many areas including energy, transportation, and capacity building. India’s ONGC-Videsh is an investor in ACG oil fields and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

China has made inroads in Azerbaijan and due to is the geographical location, Baku presents an opportunity for China and European Union to establish regional integration projects.

Currently, three major integration initiatives target Azerbaijan:

The European Union’s TRACECA project, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), and China’s recently established One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.

Beijing was involved in only a few oil projects in Azerbaijan, mostly for representation rather than economic benefits.

OBOR compliments the EU’s TRACECA project to link Europe with Asia via the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Meanwhile, China, India and other South and Southeast Asian countries have shown interest in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that will link Central Asia, Iran, the Caucasus region, Europe and Russia via a rail and shipping route.

Blog : By Arti Bali,

(Senior Journalist)

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