Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin six times this year, expressed the opinion that the Russian-Azerbaijani relations have developed very rapidly in 2018.
Summing up the results of 2018 in an interview with Russia 24, he said that bilateral relations are characterized by very dynamic development, stability and predictability: "We are good neighbors and reliable friends. This has been proven more than once, and this high level of trust and, first of all, political interaction contributes to the implementation of many projects. President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and I have met six times this year, including during my official visit to Russia and his visit to Azerbaijan. We have also met at international events. Each of these meetings produced results. We approach the issue of increasing our turnover very seriously and have adopted roadmaps for the development of different areas of cooperation. I am glad that both Azerbaijani and Russian businessmen are investing in the economies of our countries. Favorable conditions are being created for increasing the turnover and for the creation of joint productions. Russian banks are financing important industrial projects in Azerbaijan worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This is an indicator of our relations and also of the fact that Azerbaijan is a country in which banks are not afraid of losing money. We always honor our obligations."
Ilham Aliyev said that plans for 2019 had already been defined. "Recently, a regular meeting of the Russian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental commission was held in Moscow. Also this year, a Russian-Azerbaijani interregional forum was held in Baku in the presence of the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan. This is also an important area of our cooperation - active cooperation with Russian regions and building trade and economic relations with them. I think that our joint transport initiatives will give a serious boost to bilateral trade. The North-South project is already being implemented. This year alone, we are seeing a tenfold increase in transit of goods from Russia through Azerbaijan and to Russia. Our shippers are also using this transport artery very actively. So we have a comprehensive approach to our relations. The foundation is our historical friendship. On this foundation, we have built a strong basis for political relations and have a clear understanding on the development of trade, economic, transport, energy relations and, of course, relations in the humanitarian sphere. I must also say that Russians are ranked first for the number of tourists to Azerbaijan. This year, more than 800,000 Russians have visited our country. They feel very much at home here. In other words, our relations are quite extensive and, I think, are a good example of how neighbors should build relations," Ilham Aliyev noted.
According to him, Baku has very close and friendly relations with the absolute majority of Eurasian Union member-states, including those in the trade and economic sphere: "We have free trade agreements with these countries. Of course, our main trade and economic partner is the Russian Federation. We also have a free trade format. Therefore, we will certainly expand the potential for cooperation. At this stage, this cooperation is more bilateral, sometimes trilateral, but not broader. Time and specific results will show how events will unfold next year. But, ultimately, as a country chairing the Non-Aligned Movement, we will increase our role in the international arena and, of course, strive to ensure that Azerbaijan’s partner-countries receive the same level of support from us that they are providing us with."