Azerbaijan Welcomes Cooperation With Russia

BAKU (Itar-Tass)–Azerbaijan attaches special importance to comprehensive cooperation with Russia and wants to see the neighboring country to be a democratic and prosperous state with which Azerbaijan intends to develop close contacts–said Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev in an interview with Itar-Tass Thursday.

Aliyev met a group of Russian journalists who had arrived in Azerbaijan Friday at the invitation of the Azeri official on the occasion of the celebration of a jubilee of a prominent musician and public activist–Mstislav Rostropovich.

Commenting on Russian-Azeri relations–the Azeri president stressed that the relations between the two countries were rooted deep in history. Azerbaijan had been part of Russia for almost two centuries and was a full-fledged member of the USSR in the Soviet era.

We have always had a vital interest in cooperation in the spirit of good-neighborly relations and sympathy–Aliyev said. The contacts between the two countries had recently developed despite all hardships–and in particular–in the area of exchange of spiritual values–the president noted.

In this connection–Aliyev reminded of the fact that the Days of Culture of the Russian Federation had been held with much success in Baku and other Azeri cities–and in Moscow–representatives from Azerbaijan took part in the ceremony of honoring celebrated Russian folk singer Lyudmila Zykina on the occasion of the 50th jubilee of her creative activities.

Aliyev also commented on economic relations between the two countries– saying that although economic contacts had been on the rise–the potential of economic cooperation had not been fully met. The Azeri president stressed that there were possibilities to develop bilateral contacts not only in the field of oil and gas development–but in machine-building–chemical petroleum industries and agriculture.

Aliyev took advantage of the opportunity to declare that as far as the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh was concerned–Azerbaijan would not allow any steps which might lead to the resumption of military operations in the area of the conflict. "My country sets great store by the truce reached with Armenia with Russia’s mediation on May 12–1994 and it will maintain the truce until a political agreement is signed," Aliyev said.

He pointed out that the guarantors of the peace process were Russia–the United States and France as co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh whose representatives are scheduled to meet in Washington May 5.

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