The Azerbaijan State News Agency


President Vladimir Putin: Relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are evolving successfully, reliably and very pragmatically

Russian President responds to question by AZERTAC Chairman of Board

St. Petersburg, June 6, AZERTAC

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin met Wednesday with the heads of international news agencies and answered their questions on the sidelines of the traditional St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The heads of news agencies of more than 15 countries, including Chairman of the Board of Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) Vugar Aliyev participated in the meeting organized by Russian News Agency TASS.

President Vladimir Putin also responded to the question by AZERTAC Chairman of the Board Vugar Aliyev.

Vugar Aliyev: Mr. Vladimir Putin, thank you for the time you have given us. Today, relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are developing dynamically, and President Ilham Aliyev’s recent visit to Moscow gave a chance not only to celebrate a memorable anniversary, 50 years of the BAM railroad, but also to discuss bilateral relations. What is your take on the future outlook for bilateral cooperation, and in particular, the development of the international transport corridor North-South.

President Vladimir Putin: Our relations are evolving successfully, reliably, and very pragmatically. We feel the stance of the leadership of Azerbaijan, which is building interstate relations based on mutual interests and, I would say, in a certain degree on mutual sympathy. Because otherwise, it wouldn't be possible to explain the presence of 300 schools in Russian language in Azerbaijan. And I know that President Ilham Aliyev is fully supporting the study of the Russian language in Azerbaijan, and we can see that in all aspects, in all spheres, which tells us that the leadership of Azerbaijan believes that the Russian language is going to be something the Azerbaijani citizens are going to need. And they will need that language for further developing our bilateral ties, which are developing. Our trade stands at 4.5-4.6 billion US dollars. And the pace of this development is very good, very steady, and we are increasingly diversifying our relations.

I am confident that should we manage to maintain these good intentions on both sides, and in Russia, we share those intentions, then the outcomes will be great. Of course, there are still a lot that needs to be done. And you are absolutely correct in saying that we need to further develop the logistics not just the North-South corridor but also there are other dimensions to that such as setting up logistics hubs at the Azerbaijani-Russian border, at the Dagestan stretch where the works are currently underway. It also applies to other directions. We have quite a big number of students studying at Russian universities receiving scholarships from the budget. And we see there is a very big interest in receiving further education.

As far as the North-South corridor concerned, it can turn into an international corridor, which is in high demand. Because right from here the cargo where we are located, from the port of St. Petersburg will go through the European part to Azerbaijan, then to Iran, then onwards to the coast of the Persian Gulf. Maybe 10 days or so faster than the Suez Canal. We are not saying anything bad about the Suez Canal. It is very good for the world trade. But this route will be very good for one for shipping goods from the North to the South, and vice versa, ten days faster will help us save a lot. This is a very economical, effective, profitable route. But there is a lot that needs to be done. We are working with both sides. I am aware that President Ilham Aliyev supports this project. We have spoken with him about that on many occasions. The leadership of Iran is also in support of this project. And since this project promises to be very beneficial there are other foreign investors that have expressed their interest in that route. Not regional investors but investors from other, say the sovereign wealth funds of the Arab countries because they're always searching for possibility to invest money and reliable endeavors. This is one of the reliable investments, because its profitability is guaranteed.

There are still issues that need to be studied further. In particular, what stretches and where and how they're going to be funded. Is it going to be based on loan or there's going to be direct funding from Russia? How this is going to fit with the streams that are going to have westwards across the territory of Azerbaijan. We need to finalize some issues with our Iranian friends and partners, or whether it's going to be a narrow gage or wide gage road. I mean, the one that's going to be built on the territory of Iran, but the crux of the matter is, everyone is determined to implement this project. We have actually solved the management regarding this issue. The VTB is actively involved in this. I am confident that we will complete this project. Well, it is going to take some time. There are some issues about funding, but this is not the only project we are pursuing together.

Apart from that, Azerbaijan is a Caspian state. It is one of the five Caspian states and that means we have got many joint interests, including regarding the environmental issues in the Caspian Sea.

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