President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met with Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov.
President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Dear Sergei Viktorovich, I am very glad to see you. You are welcome!
Baku will host a meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan tomorrow. We are very pleased that this meeting, the first such meeting, is taking place in our country. I believe that this is the beginning of a very serious process of regional cooperation between our countries.
Azerbaijan is the only country in the world which borders both on Russia and Iran. This geography, the history of relations among the peoples of the three countries and the current cooperation among our states, of course, necessitate the deepening of cooperation also in a multilateral format. These are issues related to the fight against international terrorism, drug trafficking, political engagement, transportation issues, energy, etc. In other words, there are many themes which I am sure will be discussed in a spirit of mutual understanding and constructivism tomorrow.
Also, of course, your visit is a good opportunity to discuss bilateral issues. We are very pleased to see how the relations between our countries are developing. These are high-level relations and the relations of strategic partnership which covers almost all spheres. Russia and Azerbaijan are two friends and two neighbors. We value these relations and try to strengthen and develop them. This is also political cooperation, humanitarian cooperation, economy, energy and, of course, the issue of settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
As everyone knows, in recent days there was a deterioration of the situation on the line of contact, which led to the loss of human life. Of course, this is a matter of concern in the world, in the region and for the public in general. Russia has once again taken the initiative, and a ceasefire was agreed with the mediation of the Russian side. We believe that this is the only way to prevent an escalation in the region. The ceasefire was observed, but unfortunately, the Armenian side violated it tonight. We are committed to continuing the negotiating process. Today I received the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and Ambassadors of the OSCE Minsk Group countries. I said to them and I want to say to the press now that Azerbaijan is committed to the process of negotiations. We want to settle this conflict peacefully, on the basis of norms and principles of international law, and I think that all these years, more than 20 years that have passed since the ceasefire, suggest that we seek a political settlement.
Of course, we will discuss all these issues today, and I am sure that your visit will be yet another important step in strengthening our relations. Welcome again!
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
- Thank you, dear Ilham Heydar oglu. Indeed, the visit is a result of your agreement with the presidents of Russia and Iran. Your initiative was to establish such a trilateral format, which is important, as you rightly said, from many perspectives: from the standpoint of closer trilateral political cooperation, security cooperation, cooperation in the fight against terrorism given that the territories of the three countries, as well as other neighboring countries, are used as supply routes of terrorists, the insurgents traffic, and it is important to establish cooperation to combat this phenomenon together.
In addition, we have common interests to use our geo-strategic and geopolitical situation in the interests of transport routes, to develop economic ties, energy cooperation, and these issues have been discussed in a variety of formats, but in a rather isolated manner. And I hope that tomorrow, guided by your agreement with President Putin and President Rouhani, we will be able to create a political framework that will enable ministries to work more specifically on the implementation of relevant transport and energy projects.
Of course, our bilateral relations, the relations of strategic partnership will also be considered. We have scheduled a meeting with my counterpart tomorrow, and we will abide by the agreements you have reached with President of Russia Vladimir Putin when he was on a visit to Baku in June last year. Incidentally, he sends his warmest greetings and reminds that you have an invitation to visit Russia. Of course, this is a self-sufficient direction of our foreign policy. And it so happened that the settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which we have been and continue to be engaged in as a country, the closest country to Armenia and Azerbaijan, and as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, has faced a serious challenge due to the circumstances you mentioned – a resumption of hostilities which have probably been the worst in the last many years.
Thank you for the kind words about the Russian Federation. Indeed, we, at the level of President and Prime Minister, at the level of our ministry and at the level, of course, of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff, have undertaken everything necessary to help the parties reach an agreement on a ceasefire. We are ready to help ensure that this arrangement will not be breached. And, of course, as you said, Ilham Heydar oglu, it is important to calm down the situation in this particular issue. I also hope that remembering the events of the recent days, we will engage more actively in a political settlement. We have proposals that we, together with the co-chairs, are trying to engage more actively in order to achieve an agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I do hope that we will be able to pay attention to these issues in the medium and long term, and talk about that today and tomorrow.
We fully support the initiatives undertaken by the co-chairs. They have visited Baku. Tomorrow they will visit the line of contact and the day after tomorrow they will travel to Yerevan. And with the help of the OSCE, it seems to us, and, of course, the International Committee of the Red Cross, it is important to take some confidence-building measures as soon as possible and create the necessary prerequisites for a resumption of the political process. Thank you for this welcome. Once again, I look forward to productive discussions during this visit.