Statement of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Azerbaijani Republic in the joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation - Moscow, September 23, 2002

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

Ladies and gentlemen!

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I am thankful to you very much for your invitation to pay a working visit to Moscow. I want to declare that the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia have always been normal, but after the first official visit of the Russian President Mr. Putin to Azerbaijan these relations have developed more effectively. That visit realized on January 9, 2001 was the first foreıgn visit of the Russian President in the 21th century and he paıd ıt to Azerbaijan. But the more important is that we discussed then a number of questions on the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia. We discussed also a lot of other issues which were very important both for us and Russia.

Then a new period of our relations has begun. This process is developing very rapidly. We have succeeded remarkable results, particularly in economic, political and other fields in these two years.

Mr. Putin has already spoken about our work and the documents we had signed today. I shall not bore you once again, but it is important that I would repeat word for word the most important points that Mr. Putin reminded. It reflects our current relations.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I am grateful to you for your impetus to the Azerbaijan-Russian relations. You removed some obstacles skillfully. Thus, you could prove yourself as a prominent politician. Since then we have perceived, at first, sincere attitudes of Mr. Putin to Azerbaijan and our people, secondly, his great interest in the development of our relations,- we also are interested in it, - thirdly, his attention to Azerbaijan and our affairs.

This summer I met Mr. Putin in Saint Petersburg and we participated in the opening ceremony of the monument to Nizami, the great Azerbaijani poet. It is also of great significance for maintaining the friendship of the Azerbaijani and Russian peoples. I still remember the wonderful speech made by Mr. Putin there. Afterwards we exchanged views on a number of issues again. I was satisifed with that visit.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, at your invitations I have already been to Russia three times,- I guess, I can realize another visit till the end of this year,- so I can invite you to visit Azerbaijan at a suitable time for you. You are aware of the attitude of our people to you. I must say that Mr. Putin has gained great respect and reputation both in Russia and in our republic since the first days. Because his works and declarations show that he really wants to strengthen the relations with all the CIS countries, also Azerbaijan.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I thank you for it.

As to the main document we signed, you appreciated it highly. I completely agree with your estimation. I declare that it is a significant step. The issue on the status of the Caspian Sea and its division into sectors have been on agenda and discussed for several years. You joined this work within a brief period of time and signed an agreement with Kazakhstan. I know that you have worked on these documents with both them and with Azerbaijan. We have also worked on them for a long time. As you said, we- the three pre-Caspian countries have defined our position and it will be an example for the other coastal countries. There is no other way. We have been engaged in this issue for many years and found a lot of variants. The present variant conforms the principles of international law and the principle of middle line. Mr. Putin has also made great contributions to it.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, you organized good military trainings in the Caspian Sea. I remember you told me about it during our personal conversation in Ashgabat. I was surprised; you left Ashgabat for Astrakhan immediately, you were engaged in other affairs, called the corresponding people there and prepared well. I must say that these were the first large-scale military trainings in the history of the Caspian Sea. We participated in these trainings, we supported them and we support them now.

I want to declare again that the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are a priority of our foreign policy. We have been together approximately for two centuries and become so close to each other that it is impossible to break these ties. Independence does not mean to move away from each other, on the contrary, it is necessary to maintain and develop these relations. On our part we realize it all. Vladimir Vladimirovich, thank you again.

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