Normalization of ties between Azerbaijan and Armenia was in focus as President Ilham Aliyev held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the capital Baku.
“Russia, as our friend, ally and neighbor, has a special role in helping regulate interstate relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Aliyev said during the meeting on Monday, according to a statement by the Azerbaijani presidency.
“Last year, a substantial effort was made in this direction, and documents defining the conceptual nature of the future peace agreement … have laid the foundation that can be used for reaching a peace agreement.”
Aliyev said he remains hopeful that “2023 will be a year of progress in the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” thanking Russia for its “active involvement.”
“We are determined to do positive and constructive work together with the Armenian side and … Russia to quickly turn the page of this hostility and return peace to the South Caucasus,” he added.
Referring to the normalization efforts, Lavrov emphasized the importance of regional security and stability.
He said many global actors “including those located far from this region, are showing great interest in creating conditions for progress in the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
“As (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin has repeatedly said, we welcome all efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation and creating conditions for all countries located in this region to have the opportunity to cooperate in the interests of their countries and peoples based on mutual respect and mutual benefit,” Lavrov said.
Aliyev hailed the “dynamic” progress on bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Russia.
“Our relations are fully developing, critical issues are being addressed, and we have gotten off to a good start this year,” he said.
He noted that there are still certain areas where cooperation “is not so active yet.”
“This is why we hope for serious mutual steps in the fields of traditional interaction – political dialogue, energy, transport, trade, humanitarian cooperation and alliance, which we need to bring to the level of interaction,” said Aliyev.
For his part, Lavrov said practical cooperation between Baku and Moscow is developing “efficiently and extensively in all directions.”
“The turnover of goods, an indicator of our economic cooperation, is also reaching record levels, and this is not the limit,” said the minister.
He pointed out that Aliyev and Putin have held discussions on “several mega-projects that will be not only bilateral but also regional and even global in substance.”
“You and many of our partners are interested in these projects. This shows how promising the interaction with the participation of Russia and Azerbaijan as leaders of this region is,” said Lavrov.