President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Mr Putin, guests, it is my pleasure to welcome you once more to Azerbaijan.
This is your third visit to our country in the past three years, which in itself reflects the high level of relations between our countries.
I also visit Russia often. We met recently in St Petersburg in June. These regular meetings give new impetus to developing our relations, which have long since reached the strategic partnership level and encompass practically all areas of our life.
We work together actively at international venues, strengthen our political dialogue, develop our economic, transport and energy ties, and we have good results in developing our humanitarian cooperation too.
Baku will host the next humanitarian forum within the framework of the Russia for Azerbaijan program in September. This offers good opportunities for developing our relations.
I would particularly like to stress Russia’s role in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. We value this role, and your personal involvement plays a very important part in the settlement process. We had a meeting in St Petersburg in June devoted specifically to this issue, and I thank you for your active participation in this process.
Today, the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Azerbaijan will hold their first trilateral meeting. This is a promising new format that has potential for bilateral cooperation as well.
We will also discuss important regional cooperation issues today. I think this will contribute not only to our countries’ economic development but also to strengthening security in our region.
Once again, let me welcome and greet you with all my heart.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for the invitation, Mr Aliyev.
I fully agree with your description of our relations, which have indeed become a strategic partnership not just on paper but in reality. It is very good to see that our ties are greatly diversified now, developing in different areas. In the humanitarian area — and you put forward the proposal to develop this dimension of our relations — we now hold a regular top-level Humanitarian Forum.
This is a top-level event taking place under our patronage. Thus, Speaker of the Russian Parliament’s upper house Valentina Matviyenko took part in the latest forum.
Close to 600 Russian companies work in Azerbaijan and direct investment comes to $1.4 billion.
There are some points I would like to note now. As we all know, for various reasons such as the crisis affecting both the global economy and our own, the drop in the prices of our traditional export goods and the related problems with exchange rate differences, our trade turnover has dropped in value terms.
It is therefore very timely that we have this chance to discuss these matters today and find solutions to these issues. We have built an excellent base in this area, and overall, we are maintaining the physical volumes of trade. I fully agree with you here.
We also have promising new projects, not only in the energy sector, of course, but in other sectors such as machine-building and high technology. I think this is very important. We continue our cooperation on the Caspian Sea, including our military cooperation.
Thank you very much for organising this trilateral meeting. This was also your initiative and we do indeed have matters to discuss in this format, new projects in the Caspian Sea, and on the broader plane, transport, the energy sector, and the development and diversification of our trilateral trade and economic ties.
You mentioned Nagorno-Karabakh. This is indeed one of the problems that we have inherited from the Soviet past. I know what a sensitive issue this is for Azerbaijan and Armenia. We have but one sole aim – for Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a solution that would be a mutually acceptable compromise for both sides, for there to be no victors in this conflict, no victors other than the peoples of both countries, and for both countries to know that they have resolved this complicated task in the interests of current and future generations.
Mr Aliyev, thank you for the invitation. I am sure that our work together today will be positive, productive, and will help to create conditions for further developing our bilateral relations and improving the situation in the region.
Thank you very much.