President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Aliyev, friends,
Let me welcome you in St Petersburg.
The issue we will discuss today is well known, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, a problem we inherited from earlier days. However, I would like to first take this opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations.
With the St Petersburg International Economic Forum having just ended, I would like to note that, unfortunately, our bilateral trade dropped somewhat last year and this year, and this is for a variety of reasons we all know, the drop in energy prices being one. We are all aware of these factors.
I would like to make use of this meeting today to discuss this and the many other areas that make up our bilateral ties, including humanitarian matters.
We know the attention that Azerbaijan gives to the study of the Russian language, and we know how successful the branches of our universities in Azerbaijan have been. We value this greatly and we hope to continue working in this way in all the different areas.
It is a great pleasure to see you. Welcome!
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, Mr Putin.
Let me start by thanking you for this invitation to visit Russia once again. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on the success of the latest St Petersburg International Economic Forum. This year’s forum was an anniversary event. Over these years, the forum has become one of the major platforms for discussing and resolving global economic and political issues.
Azerbaijan took an active part in the forum’s work and it was particularly pleasing that you attended the signing of an agreement on building a large energy facility in Azerbaijan, a project that will be partially financed by a Russian bank.
The subject of our meeting today is, of course, settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I would like to thank you for the initiating this meeting and for the constructive role that Russia plays in the settlement process.
This has become a long-running conflict, and as Russia and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs have said, the status quo is unacceptable. However, to change the status quo, we first need to end the occupation of Azerbaijani territory that has been occupied for more than 20 years now.
We will discuss this matter in detail today and we hope that it will indeed be possible to give constructive impetus to the negotiating process, which has come to a virtual standstill over the past two years. Of course, this is also a good opportunity to discuss our economic ties and our relations in other areas too.
I think that the drop in our bilateral trade is only temporary. We will look for ways to restore and develop this trade, and I think that this will happen. We also cooperate actively in the energy sector and we have good potential for transport cooperation.
The humanitarian dimension of our ties has always been particularly important and is something that creates the closeness between our peoples essential for building good relations. I would characterise relations between Russia and Azerbaijan as a strategic partnership.
Once again, I thank you for this invitation and I hope to see you very soon in Azerbaijan.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.