During their meeting, Vladimir Putin awarded Azerbaijan's First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva with a Russian state order, the Order of Friendship, for strengthening and developing relations between the two countries.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms First Vice-President,
Allow me to welcome you to Moscow as First Vice-President. This is your first visit in this status.
I know that you have a busy schedule. Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev has already informed me about your meeting. I know that you had a lot to talk about, including the increasing volume of trade and economic ties. Over the first nine months of this year, trade grew by 26 percent, which is a serious indicator.
We support relations in practically all areas, between parliaments and public organisations. I have good, trust-based relations with the President of Azerbaijan.
I know that you and [Federation Council Speaker] Ms Matviyenko will also open the tenth [Russian-Azerbaijani] Interregional Forum. I believe this is a vital area of cooperation, because a large share of cooperation happens between regions.
I would like to thank you for accepting our invitation and for visiting Moscow.
First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva: Mr President,
First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for inviting me to come to Russia on an official visit. I am very happy to be in Moscow again; Moscow for me is a close and dear city, where I spent my student years, and I am happy to see Moscow every time.
I would also like to thank you for awarding me with a Russian state award, the Order of Friendship.
This is a high assessment of my activities aimed at promoting friendly ties between Russia and Azerbaijan.
I would like to take this opportunity to convey to you greetings and best wishes from the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, who highly values relations with you and attaches special importance to bilateral ties. Regular meetings between you and Mr Aliyev determine the versatile and dynamic nature of our bilateral relations. I would also like to pass on to you a proposal from the President of Azerbaijan to visit our republic at your convenience.
Relations between our countries are based on firm, good traditions of neighbourliness and friendship. Relations with the Russian Federation hold a very important place in the foreign policy of Azerbaijan. As you noted, we are seeing positive dynamics in all areas. We maintain regular political dialogue at the level of heads of state. Azerbaijan and Russia support each other in the international arena. As you pointed out, economic cooperation is already bearing fruit, and this is gratifying.
I would like to note that tourism from Russia to Azerbaijan is constantly on the rise. Last year, 900,000 Russians visited Azerbaijan, and this year we expect the number to increase.
Naturally, I would like to make special mention of our relations in education and culture. I think they are truly an example to follow. You know that Azerbaijan has deep respect for the culture of the people living in Russia, Russian culture as such and the Russian language.
Branches of Lomonosov Moscow State University and Sechenov Medical State University are operating successfully in Baku, our capital. This year, we launched the joint implementation of the dual master’s degree programme at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
In Azerbaijan 338 schools offer instruction in Russian, and 14 state universities have Russian-language departments. About 11,000 Azerbaijani students study in Russia.
And, of course, the many-thousand-strong Russian community of Azerbaijan is making a befitting contribution to the overall development of our country.
Thank you again for your invitation, warm reception and hospitality. I am confident that Russian-Azerbaijani relations will develop successfully for the benefit of the people of both countries.
Vladimir Putin: Madam First Vice-President,
I had planned to proceed to ceremony at once but I cannot fail to react to what you have just said, especially about our humanitarian ties and the attitude towards the Russian language in Azerbaijan.
Indeed, this is a former Soviet republic where Russian culture and the Russian language enjoy respect and we feel this. I know that you personally and the President of Azerbaijan take an active part in supporting this.
We appreciate this very much because this is a foundation that allows us to develop relations in other areas, including the economy and humanitarian ties, on a large scale. We are very grateful to you for this and will do everything to support this trend towards appreciating our common asset. After all, this is what allows us to communicate with each other without barriers and obstacles and to develop personal and political relations.
Mehriban Aliyeva: This goes without saying, Mr President. This is government policy in Azerbaijan, and I think in the future we can devote even more attention to this area with respect to younger generations. Our generations have common roots, a common history. The younger generation is growing and we must maintain and consolidate personal contacts, humanitarian ties between the younger generations.
Vladimir Putin: Please convey my best wishes to the President of Azerbaijan. I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting with him on December 20 in St Petersburg.
Mehriban Aliyeva: Thank you for the invitation.
Vladimir Putin: Let me move on to this pleasant ceremony that I mentioned and that you know about. But first I would like to say the following: this is, of course, a government award, the Order of Friendship. In a way, this is a formal acknowledgement, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this was a conscientious decision. It was not made simply because you have come to see us and you are one of the top officials in Azerbaijan. No, this is not the case. It is related to your work, to your activities, and to your efforts to keep inter-governmental ties at the current high level, and we appreciate this very much.
The very name of the order reflects what you are doing in developing relations between Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. This is exactly what it is called: the Order of Friendship.
Thank you very much for your efforts and your friendship. (Vladimir Putin confers the Order of Friendship to Madam Aliyeva.)
Mehriban Aliyeva: Mr President, I would like to express to you once again my deep gratitude for this order.
In your letter of greetings, you referred to me as a genuine friend to Russia. I must say this is a great honour for me to hear these words from the President of the Russian Federation. I am happy to say that I have made a modest contribution to the consolidation of our strategic partnership.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.