Following talks, the two heads of state signed the Declaration on Allied Interaction between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In addition, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev made statements for the press.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: It is a pleasure to see you. Thank you for accepting the invitation.
Your visit is taking place prior to a landmark event in our bilateral relations, the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. Today, we will sign a declaration on allied interaction, which will obviously become a new stage in the development of our relations, and it has been made possible after making headway in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, although not completely settling it.
Despite all the problems that we still have, I think that we can be satisfied with the level we have reached. We will discuss this in detail today. But in any case, there are certain agreements, not only in connection with ensuring the safety of local residents, but also those related to the development of trade and economic ties and enabling transport communication.
I know that there are still some disputes, things to work on. But we are going to do everything in our power to ensure that the process moves forward using peaceful means and to attain satisfaction for all parties involved.
By the way, I know that both the Russian Federation and your other neighbours are interested in dealing with these issues, including those regarding transport. Not only Azerbaijan and Armenia are interested in this, Russia and your other neighbours are interested as well.
As for trade and economic relations, they have been developing progressively: despite the pandemic, our trade increased by more than 16 percent last year, which is a very good result. We appreciate that you support our interaction. We have very serious plans in this regard. Our economic ties are quite diversified and this lays the groundwork for further progress.
We also appreciate the resolution of humanitarian issues that are quite sensitive for us and, in my view, also very important for Azerbaijan, above all, the support for the development of the Russian language. I know that there are 300 schools in Azerbaijan that teach Russian and it is quite popular. We will support this in every possible way in the future.
Our regional ties are developing quite effectively.
And, of course, I would like to take advantage of this opportunity, your visit, to inform you about what is taking place on our Ukrainian track. As you know, Russia decided yesterday to recognise the sovereignty of the two people’s republics in Donbass.
I would like to say right away that we can see, and we predicted speculations on this subject, that is, Russia’s alleged intention to reinstate the empire within imperial borders. This has absolutely nothing to do with reality.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia recognised all the new geopolitical realities, and, as you know, it is working actively to strengthen our interaction with all the countries, the independent states that emerged in the post-Soviet space. We have always exercised great care, even in tense and very serious situations, like the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, we proceeded from the interests of all states involved in this process, and we have always tried to reach mutually acceptable solutions.
Unfortunately, we do not see such a level and quality of interaction with Ukraine following the coup there; such interaction has disappeared. I would like to note that this happened precisely after the coup and the illegal seizure of power by those who had done this.
I have just spoken with the President of Kazakhstan, shortly before your visit today. I believe that this is the second very good example of the fact that Russia wholeheartedly supports the sovereignty of its neighbours, and that it strengthens such sovereignty in every way.
As you know, we supported Kazakhstan at the request of the Kazakhstani leadership within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in connection with the external aggression by international terrorists. We withdrew all our armed forces, part of the CSTO contingent, at the request of the Kazakhstani leadership as soon as this problem disappeared, and we continue to cooperate with Kazakhstan in all spheres of our work that, certainly, benefits Russia and Kazakhstan and strengthens the sovereignty of Kazakhstan.
We intend to continue acting in the same manner with regard to all our neighbours. I repeat, the situation with Ukraine is different, and this is related to the fact that the territory of this country is, unfortunately, used by third countries to create threats against the Russian Federation. This is the only explanation.
We will now be able to discuss everything in greater detail. I will inform you of the details.
In any event, I want to say that I am happy to see you.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, Mr President. First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to Russia on an official visit.
I am happy that we remain in contact regularly. We met less than three months ago, in late November , and today I have come to the Russian Federation again. This is evidence of the dynamic development of our relations.
We maintain regular contact, make telephone calls, and our in-person meetings are especially important, of course, in particular ahead of signing a vital document between our countries, as you have pointed out. It is symbolic that this is taking place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, as you mentioned. I believe that this document will definitely have a very positive effect on our countries, our cooperation and on regional security.
We appreciate the friendly and good-neighbourly relations between our countries, which we continue to strengthen. The signing of the Declaration of Allied Interaction is graphic proof of our active relations in recent years and the build-up of the potential of bilateral cooperation. We have not merely made declarations or expressed intentions but we have translated them into action.
The Declaration is a comprehensive document with over 40 clauses. It covers the main areas of cooperation and, as I have pointed out, it will be extremely important for the future of our bilateral relations. Overall, political relations between our countries have been developing positively in recent years and are reaching the highest level ever now.
I would like to say that I share your opinion regarding the positive development of trade and economic ties. Bilateral trade has exceeded $3 billion, growing by 16 percent, as you have said. It promises to grow this year as well, as is evidenced by the January figures. We are implementing many practical projects, which we will talk about today as well, of course.
And thank you for your high appreciation of what we have been doing in the humanitarian sphere. I am grateful because you always note this and appreciate our efforts. And, as you have correctly noted, this is important for both Russia and Azerbaijan.
As for schools, I would just like to clarify something: there are about 340 schools in Azerbaijan with instruction in Russian, with more than 140,000 students. More than 15,000 Azerbaijani citizens are enrolled in Russian Language departments at Azerbaijan universities.
So, I think this is the most important and fundamental aspect of our relations and the future of our ties, because the Russian language has always united the countries of the former Soviet Union, and the next generations will find it difficult to establish communications without speaking Russian. Therefore, as I said, this is a very important factor in our life.
As you noted, today we will certainly talk about the situation in our region, the post-conflict situation. The Russian Federation has played a very important role in ending the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and in shifting the settlement process from the hot phase towards the political and diplomatic plane. The tripartite statement signed in November 2020, with your personal participation, was what helped us finally resolve this long-term conflict.
The current situation is different – today the new geopolitical realities in the region are accepted by the international community. Russia also plays a very important role, I would say, a leading role in creating opportunities for the normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, for reopening transport routes, and establishing normal, neighbourly tires. We greatly appreciate this role and hope that the Armenian side will fulfill all the provisions of the November 2020 statement, just as we have.
So, we have an extensive agenda, and this visit is special. This is my 48th visit to Russia as President, but it is also a special occasion, because today we are signing such an important document – once again – one of a historic nature.
Thank you again for the invitation.