By Rashid Shirinov
Russia and Azerbaijan are linked by strategic partnership relations, Maria Zakharova, Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a briefing on April 19.
"Russian-Azerbaijani relations are based on the principles of equality, good-neighborliness, centuries-old traditions of friendship, a common history, culture and intertwined fates of millions of people," she said.
Zakharova noted that extremely intensive, mutually beneficial, and at the same time warm, trustworthy contacts are maintained at the level of the heads of states, governments, relevant ministries, departments, representatives of science and civil society.
"In 2017 alone, our presidents met four times. Very close contacts were formed through the parliamentary line. A very strong interregional cooperation has been formed," Zakharova said.
She added that 17 federal subjects of Russia presently have agreements on trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation with Azerbaijan. The spokeswoman further noted that enterprises and companies from 70 Russian regions carry out export-import operations with Azerbaijan.
"The situation in the trade and economic sphere is improving. In 2017, the bilateral trade turnover increased by 28.58 percent compared to 2016 and amounted to $2.6 billion," she said, adding that the investment cooperation is gaining momentum. "More than 600 joint Russian-Azerbaijani companies, including about 200 companies with 100-percent Russian capital, operate in the Azerbaijani market."
Zakharova also mentioned that Russia's direct investment in Azerbaijan is about $1.5 billion.
The spokeswoman noted a serious mutual interest in implementing large-scale bilateral projects in energy, transport, innovative technologies, agriculture and other spheres.
"The bilateral cooperation in the humanitarian sphere remains an unchanged priority. We are satisfied with the dynamics of cooperation in the field of education. An average of 11,000-15,000 students from Azerbaijan have been studying in Russia in recent years both at the state's expense and on a commercial basis," Zakharova said.
She added that the branches of Moscow State University and the First Moscow State Medical University are successfully operating in Baku, while the issue of opening branches of several other leading Russian universities in Azerbaijan is under consideration. The spokeswoman further noted that the two countries have agreed on resuming the practice of holding mutual years of culture, which have already proved successful.
"I cannot but mention a special event scheduled for May 10 in Baku. This is the opening of a joint Russian-Azerbaijani historical and documentary exhibition dedicated to the personality and role of Heydar Aliyev," Zakharova said.
She noted that the exhibition will be dedicated to the 95th birth anniversary of the outstanding statesman, who played a decisive role in the formation of independent Azerbaijan and laid the foundation for the strategic partnership policy with Russia.
"Such a return to the origins of our relations is very symbolic. This is a reminder of the colossal joint work aimed to strengthen and develop the friendship between our countries and peoples, which was and is carried out by the leaders of the two states and which is viewed by Russia as one of foreign policy priorities," Zakharova mentioned.
The spokeswoman added that Ilham Aliyev's recent confident victory in the presidential election in Azerbaijan is an important guarantee for continuation of this trend.
Last year, Azerbaijan and Russia marked the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. Presently, Russia is one of the main economic and trade partners of Azerbaijan. More than 170 documents were signed between the two countries, including about 50 documents on economy.
Moreover, Russia, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, is making much efforts aimed at the early settlement of the long-standing Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Russian Foreign Ministry has many times noted that assistance in the settlement of the conflict is one of the country's priorities.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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