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MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. The further deepening of Russian-Azerbaijani ties is aimed at ensuring peace and security in the South Caucasus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an article published on Tuesday in Azerbaijan’s Bakinsky Rabochy (or Baku Worker) newspaper.
Lavrov pointed out that the year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Baku. "The ties connecting our peoples, dating back for centuries, have stood the test of time," the Russian top diplomat noted. "In the past 25 years, we have been able to preserve and boost the invaluable legacy of friendship and mutual trust."
"Today, we are indeed strategic partners," Lavrov wrote. "Russian-Azerbaijani relations, based on the principles of equality and good neighborliness, have been developing and reaching new heights in compliance with the Treaty of Amity, Cooperation and Mutual Security, signed on July 3, 1997, and the Declaration of Amity and Strategic Partnership signed on July 3, 2008." "Inter-parliamentary, inter-agency, inter-regional exchanges as well as contacts between people have been expanding. A trust-based dialogue between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev provide the necessary impetus to bilateral cooperation," Lavrov added.
The Russian top diplomat went on to say that boosting humanitarian cooperation between the two countries was one of the priorities as far as Russian-Azerbaijani ties were concerned. "We share a common cultural and educational space which, I am sure, we will continue to develop," he said. "We highly value the fact that the Russian language remains the mother tongue for millions of the Azerbaijani people."
"I would like to draw attention to meaningful cooperation between our foreign ministers, particularly within the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other multilateral organizations," the Russian foreign minister wrote.
"We are optimistic about the future of Russian-Azerbaijani relations as we are confident that their further deepening is in the core interest of both our countries’ citizens as it aims at strengthening peace, security and stability in the South Caucasus," Lavrov stressed. "Russia wants Azerbaijan to be a prosperous state open for broad cooperation," the Russian foreign minister concluded.
Lavrov has expressed the hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan will display political will to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
According to Russia’s top diplomat, Moscow continues to pay considerable attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. "We are sincerely interested in making sure that peace and tranquility return to the region, that people no longer die there, the borders open and economic ties resume," he wrote in an article published by the Bakinskiy Rabochiy newspaper on Tuesday. "We are doing our utmost for this. We carry out our mediation missions both on our own and in collaboration with other countries, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States and France."
"Thanks to the mediators’ assistance, the parties have been able to narrow the gap in the stances on many points of contention," Lavrov noted. "The basic settlement principles have been generally agreed on. However, Armenia and Azerbaijan have different visions of the sequence of their implementation."
The minister noted that the objective of the OSCE Minsk Group is to help the parties to the conflict find a balanced solution on the basis of the existing experience. "We expect that Baku and Yerevan will be able to show political will and readiness for mutual concessions. This is necessary to make the negotiation process meaningful," he emphasized. "Of course, an important precondition for making progress is easing tensions in the conflict zone and abandoning attempts to resolve the crisis by force."
"For its part, Russia is prepared to support the solution to the problem, which will suit all parties involved, and, if an agreement is reached, to act as a guarantor of the settlement along with other mediators," Lavrov added.