Baku, September 27, AZERTAC
An official opening ceremony of the 9th Azerbaijan-Russia Interregional Forum has been held at the Heydar Aliyev Center.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin attended the ceremony.
The Azerbaijani and Russian presidents made speeches at the event.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, I would like to welcome the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, as well as the delegating accompanying him to Azerbaijan. You are welcome! We are always very glad to see you.
Today's participation of the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan in the Interregional Forum is evidence of the great importance we attach to this forum. This is the ninth forum, and there will be an anniversary next year.
We are pleased that the first forum was held in Azerbaijan in 2010, giving an impetus to active inter-regional cooperation. And the fact that this hall, which seats 1,000 people, is full today shows that there is a great interest in this forum.
Vladimir Vladimirovich and I meet quite regularly. Not so long ago, in early September, I paid an official visit to the Russian Federation. We had very fruitful negotiations and a very thorough exchange of views on all the issues on our agenda.
And the fact that less than a month later the President of Russia is visiting Azerbaijan attests to the level of relations exist between us. A total of 16 documents were signed during my visit, covering many areas of activity. They will predetermine the development of our relations for many years to come.
I should also note that this is President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin’s fourth visit to Azerbaijan in the last five years. I also regularly visit Russia, which is also a clear testament to our partnership, to the friendly and good-neighborly relations between our countries. As for trade and economic relations, we see dynamic growth, and it is very impressive. There is a progressive trend: the turnover increased both last year and this year.
Russia is number one partner on imports and number one partner on exports of non-oil products for Azerbaijan. We are also implementing projects related to mutual investments, and we see positive dynamics there too.
There are very strong ties in the energy and oil and gas industry. During my official visit to the Russian Federation, we signed an important document - an agreement between Rosneft and SOCAR on cooperation in the oil sector. LUKOIL has been successfully operating in Azerbaijan for more than 20 years and is an important investor for us.
In the power engineering sector, our energy systems operate in a parallel mode. During my September visit, we discussed issues related to the construction of the second phase of the high-voltage power line, which would allow us the opportunity to enhance energy exchange and also to expand cooperation with third countries in this area.
We cooperate very actively in the transport sector. The North-South project we are implementing together is already yielding results. This year, compared to last year, we see a more than 100-fold increase in the transportation of goods along this corridor, and this is only the beginning.
We expect this corridor to become one of the most important transport arteries of Eurasia which will bring between our countries even closer together and increase our transit potential.
I would also like to note that the Azerbaijan national airline alone performs more than 50 flights to various cities of Russia every week. If we add Russian air carriers, we will also see how extensively our people communicate with each other and how busy our ties are.
In the tourism sector, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of Russian people visiting Azerbaijan. In less than nine months, about 700,000 Russians have visited Azerbaijan. I am sure that this figure will also grow in the future.
There are very good prospects and cooperation in the banking sector. Such a large Russian bank as VTB operates in Azerbaijan. In fact, Azerbaijan is the biggest foreign shareholder of this bank. Gazprombank has relatively recently financed a large industrial project worth more than $400 million in Azerbaijan. So these are all important elements of our cooperation.
A relatively new area of cooperation is the automotive industry. KamAZ and Ural trucks are already produced in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of these trucks have already been produced. Agreement has also been reached on the production of GAZ vehicles in our country. We are seeing effective dynamics in all areas, and this shows both the spirit and nature of our relations.
Of course, our relations are underpinned by historical ties, cultural relations, the closeness of our peoples, and, of course, we are working hard to further develop humanitarian ties.
The next Baku humanitarian forum under the patronage of the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan will be held in Baku next month. This international forum has already become the most important global platform for the discussion of issues of humanitarian nature, intercultural dialogue and interfaith relations.
There are 341 Russian-language schools in Azerbaijan, two branches of leading Russian universities – Moscow State University and the Sechenov Medical University. We also interact very actively in the cultural sphere. We can talk a lot about Russian-Azerbaijani relations, but because of the format of today's forum, it is impossible to cover everything. But we aim for a further development of our relations. I also think that the opening of the Azerbaijan pavilion at the Exhibition of Economic Achievements planned for next year will be an important step in furthering our cooperation. This historic building used to be the Azerbaijani pavilion in the middle of the 20th century, and we are restoring it now. So we will be present there and demonstrate our achievements at such an important international exhibition platform. We also have very close relations with Russian regions. About 20 subjects of the Russian Federation have agreements with Azerbaijan. We are opening trade missions in the regions and Russian regions are doing the same in Azerbaijan. In other words, I am sure that inter-regional cooperation will organically complement the entire range of friendly and good-neighborly relations between our countries.
I would like to thank President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for visiting Azerbaijan today. It is very valuable for us. We view this as a sign of friendship and as a sign of respect for our country. Of course, the fact that we are speaking to you emphasizes the importance of the work you are doing. I wish the forum success and further achievements for the benefit of the prosperity of our countries and peoples. Thank you.
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