Speech at Ceremony Opening the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia 2005-02-16 23:18:00 State Kremlin Palace, Moscow President of Azerbaijan Ilkham Aliyev: Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], esteemed ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, It gives me great pleasure to be here in Moscow today and to take part in the opening of the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia. I am sure that this year will be a success. Many different events are planned to take place in Moscow and in other cities around Russia. I have no doubt that during this year Russians will have the opportunity to learn even more about Azerbaijan’s life today, how it is developing and what it has achieved. We place great importance on the holding of this Year of Azerbaijan in Russia. I am sure that our countries and our peoples will become even closer over the course of this year and that our bilateral relations, which are already at a high level, will become even stronger. Our countries are engaged in an active political dialogue and we work together on settling regional issues – regional development and regional security issues. Our economic ties are developing rapidly. Vladimir Vladimirovich and I were discussing the state of our economic relations just before and were very pleased to note that trade between our countries has increased by 50 percent in just a year. We set this goal to double our trade turnover during my official visit to Russia last February, but we did not expect that it would happen so fast. This shows that there is a great deal of mutual interest and mutually advantageous economic and trade activities. Our relations in the humanitarian area have always been at a high level. Azerbaijan has always greatly valued Russian culture and the Russian language. This has always been the case and has always distinguished our country and it is very good to see that these worthy traditions that have carried on regardless of the conditions and the social and political situation are still alive today and are developing and growing stronger. I believe that the positive experience we have in our bilateral relations will help us to continue developing these relations in the future. We have a great interest in this and it is not by chance that we call our relations with Russia a strategic partnership. We are partners not just in words, not just in declarations, but in concrete action. I hope that this Year of Azerbaijan in Russia will be a success and I am sure that this will be the case. As I said, we will get to know each other better, gain greater understanding and be able to work together to resolve many issues. At the same time I am sure that throughout 2005 we will be preparing actively for the Year of Russia in Azerbaijan, which will take place in 2006. Of course, our relations will not be limited just to the events planned as part of the Years of Azerbaijan and Russia, but will develop further, become deeper and cover ever more new areas. My warmest greetings to all of you, dear friends! On behalf of the people and the government of Azerbaijan I wish Russia and the Russian people peace and prosperity. Thank you for your attention. President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Ilham Geidarovich [Aliyev], dear friends, Today is most definitely a special day. We prepared for this day with special feeling, with feelings of warmth for our Azerbaijani friends and colleagues. Now, opening this Year of Azerbaijan in Russia, I am happy to see the participants and guests of this ceremony here in Moscow and, of course, I sincerely wish to thank the President of Azerbaijan and everyone who took part in this decision, in planning these events and in all the large amount of work that has been done so far. I am sure that work will continue just as intensively and with just as much result over the course of this year. The initiative to hold such a large-scale programme of events in Russia and then in Azerbaijan came a year ago during President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Moscow. This initiative received broad support from the public and from creative groups. I think it could not have been otherwise because both our peoples have an interest in strengthening the friendly ties between Russia and Azerbaijan, ties between peoples who share a common history and similar views on the world and whose lives and destinies are so closely bound together. Each of our peoples has their own unique life and heritage but at the same time we have always felt an interest for each other, have always been important to each other and, what is especially valuable, we have always supported each other at every turn in history and have always been reliable allies and good friends. I particularly want to note that this positive development of relations between Azerbaijan and Russia over recent years was made possible by the authority and wisdom of [former President of Azerbaijan] Heidar Aliyev. We remember him here in Russia and we honour his achievements and his memory. The peoples of Russia and Azerbaijan feel respect for our common heritage, our heritage of both peacetime and wartime. I will not list the names now of all those who made a great contribution to science and to culture in the former Soviet Union, thus contributing to our common development capital. The brotherhood between our peoples was forged yet stronger in the fire of the battle against Fascism. Soon it will be the 60th anniversary of victory and it is natural that we will celebrate this event together. I am grateful to the President of Azerbaijan for accepting our invitation to be to Moscow on May 8–9 this year. I would like to take this opportunity to send my greetings to Azerbaijan’s war veterans. We honour the courage and heroism of the 600,000 Azerbaijanis who selflessly fought on the frontlines of the Great Patriotic War and helped forge our common victory. Forty-two of them became Heroes of the Soviet Union and 12 of them were made full chevaliers of the Order of Glory. Today the political, economic and cultural dialogue between Russia and Azerbaijan is developing actively and consistently. The citizens of both our countries place a lot of hope on its development to resolve their most vital problems – issues such as mutually advantageous cooperation, employment and migration issues, making use of our common cultural and information space, including in education, and preserving the wealth of national traditions. The President just mentioned that trade turnover between our countries has increased by 50 percent over the last year. This is an outstanding result for recent years. I would like emphasise particularly that our partnership is a significant factor for regional stability. We are equally interested in making greater use of the possibilities the CIS offers in order to resolve common social and economic problems and to work together to counteract national security threats, terrorism and extremism. Russia also wants to help find an acceptable solution to the Karabakh problem and ensure reliable security in the region. We place special importance on humanitarian ties in bringing our peoples closer together and we want to preserve our peoples’ common spiritual heritage. In this context, I would like to note that the first stage of the 2004–2006 programme for humanitarian cooperation has been carried out successfully. Contacts between people are the inexhaustible strategic resource that forms the foundation of genuine interethnic and inter-religious harmony. The creative and scientific communities, religious communities, representatives of the different faiths, immigrant communities all have an important word to say in this respect. Their authority and creative energy can do a lot to enrich our dialogue. I am sure that the spirit of unity that is behind all the programmes planned for the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia will open the road to new public and business initiatives and encourage direct contact between people. We are in favour of the closest cooperation with Azerbaijan and we sense that our partners share this desire. I would like to wish both our peoples peace and prosperity and wish a warm welcome to the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia. I wish you all success.