President Vladimir Putin: Dear Ilkham Geidarovich, allow me to wish you a warm welcome. I am very pleased to meet with you for such a pleasant reason as the opening of the Days of Azerbaijan in the Russian Federation.
We agreed on this last year, and I would like to note that not only economic ties are developing between us quite intensively. Last year, trade turnover increased by a record level, 50%, and almost reached $1 billion – at least we will soon reach $1 billion, I am certain: turnover is around $800 million. Last year we set this level of $1 billion, and I sure we will reach it soon.
But what is particularly pleasing is that humanitarian contacts and ties between us continue to develop without a break. The Days of Russian culture were held in Azerbaijan last year. I know how they are developing, and how you feel personally about supporting the Russian language, as according to our information the Russian-speaking population of Azerbaijan comes to almost 40% – people who speak Russian fluently.
Ilkham Aliyev: I think there are more.
Vladimir Putin: And today’s event – the opening of the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia – I consider to be extremely significant. And I want to thank you for coming personally to take part in this event.
Ilkham Aliyev: Thank you very much, Vladimir Vladimirovich. I am very glad to be in Moscow once again for such an important event as the opening of the Year of Azerbaijan in the Russian Federation. We attach a great deal of importance to this, and I hope that this entire year will be held under the banner of strengthening our bilateral friendly relations, and that we will become even closer during this time.
I am also very happy about how quickly plans are being implemented that were planned exactly one year ago during my official visit to Russia. The fact that trade turnover has grown by 50% is a clear sign of mutual interest and mutual profit. On the whole, without constructive close relations in the political sphere, it would be impossible to achieve this economic breakthrough. Over the last year, we have held a major Russian-Azerbaijani business forum in Baku, and established contacts on the level of state companies and private companies – and these contacts are growing.
In the economic sphere, as you noted, there has also been great progress, but this sphere is always ahead of all other areas of cooperation, and the attitude to the Russian language and Russian culture in Azerbaijan, as in previous years, is on the highest level.
We are very happy with the level of bilateral cooperation. It has the nature of a strategic partnership. In previous years, incidentally, we probably didn’t even hope that trade turnover would grow so quickly. We set the goal to double trade turnover long-term. Now this is already reality. So this is all cause for great satisfaction, and we are very happy about this.
I thank you once more for the invitation, and today, I think, we will open the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia, and next year we will also open the Year of Russia in Azerbaijan.
Vladimir Putin: During today’s meeting I would like to discuss once more one aspect of our cooperation, investment activity. Many Russian companies plan to invest in the economy of Azerbaijan. There are quite specific projects there, and we will be able to talk about this today.
Ilkham Aliyev: Yes, we welcome this investment and hope for fruitful, effective cooperation.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.