Ex-Russian base to become resort town

Ex-Russian base to become resort town

BAKU - Reuters
Ex-Russian base to become resort town

Azerbaijan and Russia negotiated for more than a year over Moscow’s desire to continue to rent the Gabala radar station, which was built during Soviet times. EPA photo

A radar site in Azerbaijan for which Russian’s lease has expired could be turned into a resort, officials said on Dec. 12.

Russia’s lease on the Gabala station, originally part of a warning network for the former Soviet Union, ran out on Dec. 9 and the two former Soviet republics could not agree on the rate for a renewal. Much of the Gabala region, at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, has been designated a resort area, Azeri Defense Ministry spokesman Eldar Sabiroglu said. “The radar station occupies a large area in the Gabala region,” he said, adding that the land “may also be used as a part of this resort.”

Moscow has seen its influence fade in Azerbaijan as Baku has strengthened its ties with the West. Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov said a commission overseeing the dismantling of the station would be set up shortly and all equipment would be sent back to Russia.

‘No interests so far’
“I’m not sure that anyone would want make use of this station. No interest has been expressed so far,” he said. Russia says its security will not be compromised by the loss because the area under its surveillance, which includes part of the Indian Ocean, will be covered by other stations. On Dec. 10, the Azeri Foreign Ministry said Russia had sent a note saying it would no longer use the station.

Baku had wanted to increase the annual rent for the facility to $150 million from $7 million under the current agreement.