Baku, April 8, AZERTAC
Following the expanded meeting with the participation of delegations, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Chairman of the government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev have made the statements for the press.
Statement of President Ilham Aliyev:
- Dear Dmitry Anatolyevich, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to warmly welcome Dmitry Anatolyevich to Azerbaijan once again. You are welcome!
We attach great importance to your visit. Today, within the framework of talks both in an expanded format and face to face, we discussed important issues of bilateral cooperation and the regional agenda. Of course, we have discussed in detail the issues related to the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, especially in view of the recent escalation in the conflict zone.
We very much appreciate the fact that Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is on an official visit to Baku today. I invited Mr. Medvedev to visit Azerbaijan. I know that this visit was planned, but we view the fact that it is taking place today as yet another indicator of the friendly and partnership attitude towards Azerbaijan. We all know that Mr. Medvedev was scheduled to pay an official visit to Armenia on 7 April, and taking into account the current situation in the conflict zone, the decision to come to Azerbaijan on 8 April is very much appreciated. This indicates again that the relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan are of great importance to Russia. It is also the case with us. For us, the relations with Russia are of great importance. We value these relations, appreciate them and try to expand and strengthen them further.
With regard to the settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, unfortunately, it has remained unresolved for many years. Azerbaijani lands have been under occupation for many years. Not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan have been under occupation for over 20 years. The entire Azerbaijani population has been driven out of there, all houses and historical monuments have been destroyed. We have more than 700,000 internally displaced persons from the conflict zone alone. If we add to this figure more than 250,000 refugees from Armenia, we had one of the highest per capita rates of refugees and internally displaced persons in 1994 when a truce was reached.
There are mechanisms for resolving the conflict. There are four UN Security Council resolutions demanding a withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory. Unfortunately, they remain on paper.
Russia as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group plays an important role in resolving the conflict. We value this role very highly. This particularly manifested itself against the backdrop of yet another armed provocation by Armenia, when they fired on our positions and causing caused to residential settlements. More than 400 homes located close to the contact line have been damaged. Of these, several dozen have been completely destroyed. We have casualties, including civilian ones.
Under these circumstances, the Russian side has taken the initiative to de-escalate the situation. Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin phoned me and the President of Armenia, expressed its concern and a desire to help the parties to de-escalate the situation. We reacted positively to these signals. Also, with the participation of the leadership of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, a meeting of the heads of the general staffs of the three countries was held in Moscow and decided to cease hostilities. We strictly abide by this decision and hope that the Armenian side will also be committed to it.
I would like to say once again that Azerbaijan is committed to the negotiation process. They have conducted fort 20 years. All accusations from Armenia that Azerbaijan allegedly initiated this escalation are completely unfounded. After all, the nature of the clashes that took place in early April suggests that there we did and do not intend to start large-scale military operations. We simply defended our positions and a peaceful life of its citizens. Therefore, a settlement of the conflict is in the interests of Azerbaijan and, I am sure, in the interests of Armenia. Also, Russia as a neighbor and friend of both countries is interested in the soonest settlement.
We will continue the negotiation process. We welcome the initiative of the OSCE Minsk Group, which recently visited the region, and we hope that the appeals of the OSCE Minsk Group that the status quo should be changed will also be heard in Armenia. The change of the status quo and the beginning of de-occupation of Azerbaijani territories are the main conditions for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict. As soon as this happens, there will be peace and cooperation in the region. This will benefit all countries in the region.
With regard to the rest of our agenda, we have discussed in detail the economic issues, trade and economic relations, energy, transport, and relations in the sphere of humanitarian cooperation. In all directions we observe positive dynamics and trends. The intergovernmental commission is working hard. It works efficiently on all directions.
We view the relations with Russia as those of strategic nature and see the same attitude on the part of the Russian government, the Russian side. Mr. Medvedev's visit reaffirms the nature of these relationships and makes a great contribution to the strengthening of our cooperation.
Once again, Dmitry Anatolyevich, thank you for being here today, and I wish you all the best. I want to express my deep respect for the Russian people and wish progress and prosperity to the Russian state. Thank you.