President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Thank you for coming – many questions have piled up.
Of course, we will focus on our trilateral meeting on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
I have just spoken with my colleagues – with the Deputy Prime Minister, you know him well. He deals with resolving economic issues and unblocking transport corridors. I have also spoken with the Defence Minister and with the FSB Director who is in charge of the Border Guard Service that is making a tangible contribution to settling the problem. In short, there are many issues to resolve.
However, I would still like to start our bilateral meeting by saying that next year we will mark the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. This is certainly a landmark and I suppose we should celebrate it befittingly.
I would like to say in this context that our strategic partnership is making steady headway. It is enough to say that despite all the problems with the pandemic and the related economic restrictions, our trade in the first nine months of this year has still increased by 11 percent – this is a good figure. There are 900 Russian companies operating in Azerbaijan and US$4.5 billion worth of direct Russian investment in its economy. Russia is one of Azerbaijan’s leading trade and economic partners.
Naturally, we continue our humanitarian contacts against this backdrop and first, as I always say at our meetings, I would like to thank you for the attention you attach to the development of the Russian language. There are 304 schools, or maybe even more – about 340 that teach Russian. At any rate, 34 percent of schoolchildren in Azerbaijan either receive instruction in Russian or study the Russian language.
This is a good figure that points to the striving of the Azerbaijani leaders to maintain close and diverse contacts with Russia. They are indeed diverse – we are developing both humanitarian relations and youth exchanges. We support many events at the universal human level – all this is creating a good atmosphere for developing relations in the future.
With regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, we will continue this discussion in a trilateral format after the Prime Minister of Armenia joins us. I think our peacekeepers play a positive role there, and the Russian-Turkish centre for monitoring the ceasefire is fully operational as well.
Unfortunately, there are problems, incidents and casualties. But this is precisely why we have gathered – in order to see what has been accomplished and what needs to be done by everyone to make sure that nothing of the kind ever happens again and to create proper conditions for calming the situation in the region so that people live in peace and countries continue to move forward.
I am delighted to see you. Welcome!
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much, Mr President.
First of all, thank you for inviting me. I am glad to have the opportunity to meet with you again. During this year, we maintained a steady dialogue, met and often called each other on the telephone. Our bilateral relations are very satisfying.
But first, I would like to personally express my condolences to you in connection with the tragedy that occurred at a mine in the Kemerovo Region. Unfortunately, many people died. I sent a message yesterday, but today I would like to express condolences from the Azerbaijani people to you and all Russian people.
We have resolved many issues in a bilateral format, and we are calling our relations a strategic partnership. This is not just a phrase. It is a fact, and we are committed to further raising the level of our relations across all areas.
As you noted, trade is on the rise. Mutual interest in economic cooperation, including on the part of the business communities, is vast. Of course, we are very pleased with the fact that our relations cover many areas. We are now implementing seven roadmaps on the most economic spheres, transport, and humanitarian cooperation.
Thank you for your assessment of our efforts to promote and preserve the Russian language in Azerbaijan, including through tuition processes.
I would also like to thank you for creating conditions for Azerbaijani students to study in Russia. I looked up the latest data before this visit: over 15,000 Azerbaijanis, citizens of Azerbaijan, are studying at Russian universities, or as many as the number of students at a university. They are receiving a very good education and will automatically become a bridge connecting our countries.
This week illustrated the development of our relations. This week I met with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Overchuk.
Ilham Aliyev: Yes. Yesterday evening I met with the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Your Special Representative for International Cultural Cooperation was in Baku during the past week on an extremely important mission: to develop contacts between the intellectuals and cultural figures of Azerbaijan and Armenia, with Russia’s active involvement. Another event this week was a large business conference of the Russian Export Centre and the Eximbank of Russia, in which over 30 Russian companies took part. In other words, this week provided a good example of our relationship in only some of the areas of our cooperation.
Of course, this evening we will have a detailed discussion on Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. I would like to point out that during the past year, since the deployment of the Russian peacekeeping forces [in Nagorno-Karabakh] on November 10, 2020, no serious incidents, no armed clashes or any other serious incidents took place in their zone of responsibility. There were sporadic incidents, but they did not amount to a systemwide crisis. There were clashes on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, but it is not a zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers. Nevertheless, this makes us take a closer look at the developments. We need to talk, including in the trilateral format, about controlling and minimising risks and coordinating a comprehensive settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.
We appreciate the role you are playing personally in this matter, the role of the senior officials of the Russian Government and, of course, the role of the Russian peacekeeping forces in maintaining peace in Karabakh. We hope that these efforts will continue next year and that they will produce equally good results.
Therefore, I would like to thank you once again for this invitation.
I would also like to say once again that I admire the breath-taking nature of this region. I believe that it is a real gem not only of Russia but of the world as a whole. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.