* * *
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Aliyev, I wish you a warm welcome.
I am happy that we are continuing our tradition of holding these wintertime meetings in Sochi. They give us a good opportunity to exchange views on how our cooperation is developing, talk about the future, and look back on the last year, which I think produced what I could call some decent results as far as our economic ties went, not to mention the several big events that took place in the humanitarian sector too. These meetings also give us the chance to look at developments in our region in general. We are not indifferent to events taking place in the Caucasus, with which our countries are so tightly bound, just as we are not indifferent to events in other neighbouring parts of the world.
“We are not indifferent to events taking place in the Caucasus, with which our countries are so tightly bound, just as we are not indifferent to events in other neighbouring parts of the world.”
Of course, our trilateral meeting with the Armenian President is very important. Many such meetings have taken place over the last years. In some areas we have made progress, while in others there are still some big hurdles to clear, but I think that this is a useful dialogue and I hope that these kinds of contacts will continue in the future.
Once again, I wish you a warm welcome to Sochi in this snowy weather, and I hope you will have the chance not just for discussion, but also to get a little rest.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much, Mr Medvedev, for the invitation to come to Sochi.
This is indeed an excellent tradition that gives us the chance to see each other and talk, even if we meet on a very regular basis, and indeed, saw each other just last month in Moscow. This all reflects the nature and spirit of our countries’ relations, the dynamism, constant consultations, and growing potential of our bilateral cooperation in all areas.
I agree that we had a successful year last year in our bilateral ties: our political cooperation strengthened, we put forward new initiatives, the increase in our trade was in the tens of percentage points, and our trade structure is improving.
We see a positive dynamic throughout the whole spectrum of our bilateral ties, which makes us very happy. We place great importance on our cooperation with Russia. Russia is our strategic partner, and in 2011 we began to bolster this relationship with even more practical acts.
I want to thank you, too, for your continued effort to find a solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Many meetings have already taken place and, as you noted, they have produced hopeful moments. There have been moments too, when pessimism got the upper hand, but the process continues and the fact that you are continuing your efforts gives us further cause for optimism. Azerbaijan seeks the swiftest settlement to this conflict in order to bring peace to our region.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for Russia’s support in Azerbaijan’s election to the UN Security Council.
Dmitry Medvedev: Once again, I congratulate you on this.
Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. Your support was very effective and sincere, and our country’s leadership and people are grateful to Russia for this.
I assure you that over these coming two years in the Security Council we will work in close cooperation with you and will strive to fulfil the hopes of the 155 countries that supported our election.
Once more, thank you for this chance. I hope that 2012 will be a very successful year for our relations.
Dmitry Medvedev: We hope so too.