THE TIES BETWEEN US

Azerbaijan 2011 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, comments on the multi-faceted relations between his country and Azerbaijan.

HE Dmitry Medvedev
BIOGRAPHY
Dmitry Medvedev began his professional career as a lecturer at St Petersburg State University, while at the same time acting as an adviser to the Chairman of the Leningrad City Council and an expert consultant to the St Petersburg City Hall’s Committee for External Affairs. In 1999 he became the Deputy Government Chief of Staff, and later the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office. After working briefly as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of OAO Gazprom, he was appointed First Deputy Prime Minister in 2005. In 2008 he was elected President of the Russian Federation.

We would like to preserve the positive experience we have built up over recent years in the common space that we share—the Caspian.

The President of Azerbaijan recently described relations between Russia and Azerbaijan as warm and friendly, between two strategic partners, and I fully agree with this assessment. We see the essence of these relations reflected in all different areas of cooperation—economy, security, and humanitarian. These close ties were exemplified by the assistance that Russia received from Azerbaijan during a recent natural disaster, when wildfires burned and destroyed many villages. Helping to put out fires in several areas, we thank the Azerbaijani government for its kindness and willingness to help.

Looking at the future I see bright prospects ahead. We have some very promising projects. The two states recently signed agreements on the joint use of the trans-border Samur River's water resources. It is common assets such as this that create the need for us to reflect on how to make best use of our resources.

Of course, energy cooperation is one of our important sectors, but it is not the only important area in our relations. In the future we look forward to energy summits between the two nations in order to set our respective clocks on all the various issues at hand, all the more so as we already have rapidly growing ties in some areas—our cooperation in the gas sector, for example. Cooperation in the oil sector and the electricity sector are also areas to which we give particular attention.

Regional issues are also always on the agenda, and we have discussed challenges extensively with Azerbaijan. We would like to preserve the positive experience we have built up over recent years in the common space that we share—the Caspian. I hope that we will have many opportunities ahead to deepen this cooperation.

Humanitarian cooperation is very important. A symbolic act took place in 2010 with the handover of icons confiscated during attempts to smuggle them into Azerbaijan. It is very good to see that this kind of cooperation between our law enforcement agencies is developing. This is a gesture of friendship and we appreciate it, of course.

I think we need to be very attentive when it comes to our economic interests. We need to realize that each side has its own interests, and these interests are always pragmatic in nature. This is not like in the humanitarian sector, where we focus on ideals, but is an area in which our aim is to earn money. This is normal. We need to measure our desires against our possibilities in this area. That is the first point.

Secondly, the President of Azerbaijan and I have both noted that our countries are big players in the energy sector and we have many common interests because we both produce and supply energy resources. We therefore need to reach agreements in this sector, and we need to cooperate. The agreement increasing gas purchases signed recently was precisely an example of this kind of cooperation.

Thirdly, there are various projects underway today. Russia's position is that we cannot and will not obstruct any projects. This would not be the right course of action at all. We simply need to identify the most promising cooperation areas and demonstrate the attraction of particular joint projects. As for future projects, let the most profitable projects—the projects of greatest interest to our partners—take the day. No one is imposing anything on anyone, but at the same time projects must demonstrate their economic rationality. I would say that this is the line we should base ourselves on in building up our future energy relations.

Maintaining stability here in the Caucasus is also certainly very important for Russia. This is the main concept for building relations with our closest neighbor and friend, Azerbaijan. Thus, we are interested in maintaining peace and order in the region. The decision made during my visit to Armenia should be viewed in that light—that of extending the agreement to maintain a Russian military base in Armenia. There aren't any hidden or other considerations. The base is intended to ensure peace and order, to preserve stability, and to lessen all the complications we have today. That is precisely what we will have in mind as we implement our capabilities and powers. The duration of our stay at the base will increase for a certain number of years. I am sure that this way we will make all possible enhancements to generally improving the situation in the Caucasus, and South Caucasus. Those are exactly the instructions I will give to my subordinates, heads of the corresponding ministries, and agencies involved in the operation of the base. The frequency of meetings between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia with participation by the President of Russia has been historically high. Not so long ago when I was speaking on this matter, I said that I was not ashamed of what has been done recently. These are deep, thoughtful discussions, held with the understanding that there are some fairly significant difficulties in this kind of process. But in any case, these efforts are bringing certain results and the talks are continuing. In my view, the intensity of these contacts should not decrease. Russia is ready to meet its responsibilities within the framework of the Minsk Group and its moral obligations toward neighboring nations that are continuing to communicate on the subject. I am also personally prepared to continue these kinds of contacts, and I am ready to discuss the most difficult issues that still remain on the agenda. I hope that in the near future we will continue similar consultations with participation by our nations' foreign ministers and our own participation. Russia will strictly abide by its obligations and take every step to encourage reaching the necessary result. And this result is vital indeed as it is capable of bringing about conclusive peace and security to the region, which is, without a doubt, in the interests of the Russian Federation as well.