Zakharova: Relations with Azerbaijan a foreign policy priority for Russia
“Russia considers its relations with Azerbaijan as a foreign policy priority,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday
Zakharova said Russia and Azerbaijan have strategic partnership relations, noting the growth of bilateral relations in the economic, political and humanitarian areas.
“This cooperation is based upon the principle of equal rights, good neighborliness and centuries-long friendship. The two countries enjoy mutually beneficial and reliable relations at the levels of heads of state, governments and parliaments. Just last year our heads of state met twice. There is a close relationship between Russia and Azerbaijan. 17 Russian entities have an agreement on cooperation in economic, trade, scientific-technical and cultural spheres with Azerbaijan,” she said.
Zakarova said economic relations between Russia and Azerbaijan have improved.
“The volume of trade turnover between Russia and Azerbaijan in 2017 increased by 29 percent to $2.6 billion compared to 2016. The mutual investment between the two countries has also increased. There are more than 600 Russian-Azerbaijani joint ventures in the Azerbaijani market, of which about 200 are Russian capital. Direct Russian investments in Azerbaijan account for $1.5 billion. There is mutual interest in the development of joint bilateral energy projects," she noted.
She also added that bilateral relations are developing in the field of education as well.
"About 15,000 students from Azerbaijan study in Russia. Some of them study at public expense and others receive education on a commercial basis. There are branches of Moscow State University and First Moscow State Medical University in Baku. We are considering opening branches of other influential Russian universities in Baku as well. The two countries have agreed to mutually hold a year of culture,” Zakharova said.
Zakharova also said that Baku will host a joint Russia-Azerbaijan historical-documentary exhibition dedicated to the 95th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev’s birthday on May 10. Noting that Heydar Aliyev is the founder of Azerbaijan’s strategic partnership with Russia, the spokeswoman said the presidents have a great role to play in strengthening friendly relations between the two countries. According to her, Russia views these relations as a top foreign policy priority.
"We believe and are confident that Ilham Aliyev's convincing victory in the presidential election is the key to the continuation of this course,” she stressed.