President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Declaration on Allied Interaction between Russia and Azerbaijan, which has just been signed, marks the transition of our interstate relations to a qualitatively new level. This strategic document has become the centrepiece and the key result of today’s talks.
It is highly symbolic that the Declaration on Allied Relations was signed in the year when we mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Azerbaijan. Russian-Azerbaijani cooperation has grown stronger and expanded over the past decades, and now includes many concrete, mutually beneficial projects in the political, economic and cultural spheres. We are firmly committed to further developing our truly close allied interaction based on solid traditions of friendship, neighbourly relations, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.
Today, we have had a detailed discussion of the entire range of current issues on the bilateral agenda. First of all, we discussed the opportunities and prospects for building up mutually profitable trade and economic ties. I will note that our bilateral trade in 2021 rose by 16 percent to reach almost three and a half, US$3.4 billion, whereas the flow of reciprocal capital investments stands at about US$6 billion.
The Russian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental commission will hold its regular meeting soon. We also plan to send Russian business missions to Azerbaijan to study the prospects for developing cooperation in energy, agriculture and a number of other areas.
Russian businesses are interested in collaboration with Azerbaijan in electric power engineering and are ready to assist in upgrading Azerbaijan’s power grids and to join in the renewable energy projects.
Effective partnership has been arranged in industry, too. GAZ Group and Azermash launched a joint plant last year to produce commercial and special-purpose automobiles. The rolling stock of Azerbaijan’s railways and Baku underground is being renewed with Russian participation. A KAMAZ service centre is under construction in Azerbaijan.
We think it important to further enhance the interaction of our two countries in finance. A more active use of national currencies in mutual settlements and Azerbaijan’s banks joining the Russian Central Bank’s System for the Transfer of Financial Messages would obviously contribute to that.
Russia and Azerbaijan’s cooperation in medicine and pharmaceuticals is on the rise. Our countries act as partners in countering the spread of COVID-19. At the peak of the pandemic, teams of specialists from Russia’s leading medical institutions were sent to assist Azerbaijani doctors, and deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccines were organised.
Cooperation in the cultural area traditionally proceeds at a high level. The Days of Azerbaijan started in Moscow recently, with exhibitions, concerts, literature readings and many other exciting cultural events to be held. In turn, Azerbaijan will host the next Youth Forum of the two countries in early March.
We are grateful to Azerbaijan’s leadership for the support and promotion of the Russian language and culture in the Republic. Let me remind you that the country has more than 300 schools with teaching in Russia while most universities have Russian-language faculties. During the talks, the President reminded me that there are 340, not 300 schools – we are very grateful for this as we attach great importance to it, we have been unable to follow up and count. Let me say that at present over 11,000 Azerbaijani students are studying in Russia with more than a thousand of them funded by federal grants.
Naturally, we paid special attention to the issues of normalising relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. You are aware that yesterday I had a telephone conversation with the Prime Minister of Armenia. We reaffirmed the importance of the full-fledged implementation of all trilateral agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh reached by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia.
We feel it is important that life in the region is being normalised and is becoming peaceful. Over 50,000 refugees have already returned to their homes. Practical issues of infrastructure restoration and protection of the sites of historical heritage, religion and culture are being addressed.
The Azerbaijani side praised the activities of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and Russia’s overall contribution to stabilisation around Nagorno-Karabakh. Our peacekeepers monitor the situation round-the-clock, ensuring that ceasefire regime is maintained, conduct mine clearance operations, take part in humanitarian actions and render assistance to the local population. Russian military doctors are taking measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including by providing Russian jabs.
We have agreed to continue efforts to unblock all economic and transport links in the region as soon as possible. This involves restoring the full volume of passenger and cargo traffic between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as the other countries of the region and drafting concrete collaborative projects for implementation in such areas as trade, industry, agriculture, and infrastructure. The immediate participants in the process, Azerbaijan and Armenia, are interested in this, as are all their neighbours, of course.
Another priority is the launch of the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Russia has worked hard to achieve the above tasks and targets and will carry on with this. We will certainly continue to give every support to settling any controversial issues including those of the borderline, and to help in solving the current burning problems.
In general, today’s talks have clearly indicated that Russia and Azerbaijan are both interested in ensuring stability and security in the Caucasus and Caspian regions and promoting integration processes throughout the entire Eurasian space.
To conclude, I would like to express appreciation to the President of Azerbaijan for our productive joint work today. I believe that the agreements reached today will serve to further strengthen the whole range of Russian-Azerbaijani relations for the good of both countries.
Thank you for your attention.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Mr President,
First of all, I would like to thank you for your invitation to pay an official visit to Russia. I am delighted to revisit Moscow.
We meet on a regular basis. We also met less than three months ago and discussed important items on the bilateral agenda and regional matters. The intensity of our meetings highlights the dynamic nature of our expanding ties.
Russia and Azerbaijan are linked by age-old bonds of friendship and neighbourliness. As the President of Russia has noted today, they are being elevated to a qualitatively new level. We have a very broad contractual legal framework. Although 245 documents have been signed, the Declaration that has been signed today has particular significance and stands out among them.
This Declaration elevates our relations to an allied level. This is a great privilege and a great responsibility. We have moved persistently towards this event, we expanded the potential of our cooperation and built upon our relations that are based on sincerity, neighbourliness, pragmatism and consideration for each other’s interests.
Practical work on the Declaration on Allied Interaction was launched just over a year ago. Since then, the relevant expert groups from both countries have coordinated a very large document with 43 clauses, which encompasses virtually all the main spheres of our activity.
The Declaration’s first clause states expressly that the parties shall build their relations on the basis of mutual respect for independence, state sovereignty, territorial integrity, the inviolability of borders and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs.
This clause notes the nature of our relations and states that these relations have withstood the test of time and are based, as I have already said, on friendly feelings, mutual interests and aspirations for the future. Consequently, this document sums up the result of many years of joint work and opens up tremendous prospects for the future.
We will strengthen our political interaction. As before, we will support each other at international organisations, we will expand mutual trade, the volume of mutual trade, and we will address all matters on the agenda.
Today President Putin and I spent over five hours together and the time flew. Five hours of intense communication in itself is an indication of how close and sincere our ties are.
We believe that new opportunities are opening in the trade and economic sphere. The President of Russia noted a significant growth in our trade. I am sure that positive trends will increase this year.
As you know, this year marks the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations: in April we will celebrate this date. We approach this landmark with good potential.
We have very promising opportunities in growing mutual investment. Today we also discussed in detail the possibilities for cooperation and deepening cooperation in the transport sector, and not just in a bilateral, but also in a multilateral, regional format.
Considering the new developments in the region and the new geopolitical situation, there is a platform for cooperation, called ”3+3“ scheme. I am sure that after the first step, the members and participants of this platform will continue to cooperate, in this sphere, too. The issue of opening communications in the region was also discussed today and, I think it has very good prospects.
I would like to thank Mr President for praising our joint activities in cultural cooperation. This sphere is always a focus of the President’s attention; we can say we are giving a boost to the development of this sphere. The figures the President of Russia cited about the number of schools teaching in the Russian language and the number of students from Azerbaijan studying in Russia speak for themselves.
I would like to add that over 15,000 students are studying in the Russian departments of Azerbaijani universities, and the interest in courses given in Russian is growing. There are also offices of Moscow State University and Sechenov Medical Academy in our country, and we hope to increase the cooperation potential.
This year we also plan to restore the regular sessions of the Baku Humanitarian Forum that were suspended because of the pandemic. The forum has been and will be held under the patronage of the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan.
Today we also discussed issues related to the involvement of Russian companies in operations in liberated areas. There is a lot of interest, and even today we have received 14 applications from Russian companies, which we are looking at closely. I believe that this new sphere of our cooperation will be useful from the practical point of view, too, and that it will promote the level of our cooperation.
And, of course, we discussed in detail the post-conflict situation in the region today. We are grateful to Russia and President Putin personally for their role in ending the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as for their efforts to attain a post-conflict settlement.
I believe that, given it has been such a long-standing confrontation that has lasted for about 30 years and given that Azerbaijan sustained such huge casualties, the fact that Azerbaijan and Armenia have now been involved in at least two international formats for over a year highlights our intentions. These formats include a working group at the level of Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian deputy prime ministers, as well as the “3+3” platform involving Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
And, of course, we are expecting the Armenian party to completely fulfil all clauses of the Declaration dated November 9–10, 2020, as regards the withdrawal of all Armenian armed forces from the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the reopening of lines of communication between mainland Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. This is the Armenian party’s legally binding obligation. But, unfortunately, work is proceeding very slowly in this direction.
As I have already noted, President Vladimir Putin played an important role in ending the war and in transferring the settlement from the heated phase to the political settlement phase. Today, Russia is our main partner in the search for ways of normalising relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Opportunities exist for this. Azerbaijan has repeatedly voiced its readiness to launch work on a peace treaty that would also encompass matters of specifying borders and other matters required by any countries wishing to settle relations between them.
I am confident that new regional realities will provide new opportunities. Azerbaijan aspires to a peaceful future, and we do not need a war. We have never needed a war. The liberation of Azerbaijani territory and the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity by military means was a forced measure. And our readiness to address this matter by political means during the post-war phase serves as yet another confirmation of our intentions.
I am confident that Russia and Azerbaijan will continue to make a substantial, and I would say decisive, contribution to strengthening peace in the Caucasus, to strengthening cooperation in the Caspian region and in Eurasia through joint efforts.
Mr President, thank you once again for your invitation and hospitality, and I would like to use this opportunity to wish new successes and new achievements to the friendly and allied people of Russia.