Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Colleagues!
Ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to say a few words on the occasion of the visit of our distinguished guest, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Geidarovich Aliyev. First and foremost, I would like once again to welcome Ilham Geidarovich and express my gratitude for the fact that we have been able to have this consultation during a busy period in the life of Azerbaijan: the presidential elections are just beginning. We are delighted that Ilham Geidarovich found time to travel to Moscow to discuss the current situation, our bilateral relations and international issues.
We naturally talked about the development of Russian-Azerbaijani relations, economic relations, social relations and cultural and educational relations. We discussed international issues, and of course I am referring to an exchange of information in connection with the crisis that happened some time ago in the Caucasus. I informed Ilham Geidarovich in detail of the steps that Russia has taken to ensure security in the Southern Caucasus, and I believe that our active engagement, Russian-Azerbaijani cooperation on all issues, is one of the key factors for maintaining security and stability in the region.
During the talks, we naturally touched on business cooperation and on those issues which seem to us crucial in this regard. Our trade is growing very quickly, and we talked in detail about that. In general, it shows that our economic relations have hit a new level, the level of strategic cooperation. This is very useful, useful for Russia, useful for Azerbaijan and useful for our peoples. Even during the past seven months, trade has increased by more than half, by 56 percent, which shows the growth potential in this area, and we intend to give it our constant attention.
The improvement in the composition of trade is very important, as the President of Azerbaijan said at the opening of these talks. I completely agree with him on this point. Trade is simply crucial for the development of our economies.
The cultural and educational dimension is of course a separate issue. And indeed here we have also had very good results. We are grateful for the leadership shown by the President of Azerbaijan and for the efforts being made to preserve the Russian cultural and educational space in the country. In this regard we talked about opening a campus of Moscow State University, about other projects in the field of general education, and about cooperation in cultural spheres generally. I believe that of course this is the legacy that we must work to maintain and to which we as presidents must give our very serious attention.
Of course, the subject of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement came up in our discussions. I would like once again to confirm in front of this audience what I said to the President of Azerbaijan. We support the continuation of direct talks between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The position of Russia on this issue remains unchanged. In the future we will do as much as we possibly can to find a mutually acceptable solution to this complex issue. I think we are right to expect discussions on this issue to be taken up again in the very near future.
Once again, I would like to thank my colleague Ilham Geidarovich Aliyev for allowing this visit to take place today and for the constructive conversation. And I believe that the fact that we are talking and meeting so often will benefit our peoples, our nations and ultimately the security and stability in our region.
The meeting was useful and interesting, and of course we will continue discussions in the near future.
Ilham Geidarovich, please go ahead.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Ladies and gentlemen!
First, I would like to thank Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev for the invitation to visit Moscow and hold this meeting.
As Dmitry Anatolyevich has noted, we have had an intensive series of meetings, and this reflects the nature of relations between our countries. We met several times and every time have had a lot of topics for discussion. Naturally the focus has been on bilateral relations. Relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are developing very dynamically and positively, and they are also having a positive impact on regional developments.
We are enjoying very active economic interaction, very active political dialogue, and close cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres. In all these areas and in others we have seen steady development. The growth of economic potential in both Russia and Azerbaijan is responsible for the dynamic development of economic facilities and industrial companies. We have discussed mutual investment and joint projects, which of course will further strengthen our relations. We are neighbours, we have a common border both on land and at sea. And relations between neighbours are very important. Not always are relations between neighbours what we would like them to be, but in the case of relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, I believe they are exemplary and can serve as an example of how relations between neighbours should be. We are very pleased with this and look forward to continue to make every effort to develop our relations, expanding into new areas, developing new projects and thus contributing to the sustained development of our countries and the greater integration in the region.
Of course today the situation in the region raises considerable concerns, and Azerbaijan is ready to contribute in order to reduce tensions. We believe that the issues that cause disagreement in the region should be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, by finding common ground and, of course, on the basis of mutual respect.
Today, along with issues of a bilateral nature, we discussed regional developments and the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We are looking forward to Russia's continuing its active role in the settlement process as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Despite the complexity of the circumstances in the Caucasus region, we feel that there are good preconditions for the settlement of the conflict, which would benefit all nations and would be based on the principles of international law. In the event that the conflict can be resolved soon, I'm sure that this will open new prospects for regional cooperation in a broader format that will benefit all countries.
We live in this region and will continue to live in this region; we are neighbours, and no one is moving out of the region. It is therefore necessary to seek and find effective mechanisms for cooperation, good-neighbourliness and concerted action. Once again, I want to say that if relations between all the neighbouring countries in the region were like the relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, I can assure you that there would be no conflict, not even a misunderstanding. Therefore, once again I want to say that we very much appreciate the level of our relations. We intend to keep building on them. And, for my part, I will do everything in the future to achieve this goal.
Here of course issues related to the cultural sphere are very important. And Dmitry Anatolyevich noted that Azerbaijan has a very thoughtful attitude to the Russian language and to Russian culture. We don't merely pay lip service to this. Perhaps the general public is not as aware of this as it could be, perhaps we have not been actively enough engaged in what is now called public relations, but we believe that it is better to do our work faithfully and honestly, and the information in any case will find its way to the proper audience.
I want to thank the President of Russia again for the invitation and for creating an environment that, as usual, has enabled us to discuss things very openly and honestly, the way comrades do. More generally this is a reflection of the spirit and character of our relations.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.