Russia Assures Azerbaijan on Exclusion of Artsakh in Customs Union

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in Baku

BAKU—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is on an official visit to Baku to discuss bilateral relations.

Lavrov met his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov on Wednesday. Addressing a briefing held after the meeting, Lavrov said cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia is developing intensively not only on a bilateral but also on a regional level.

“The talks were useful,” the Russian foreign minister said. “We develop relationships based on friendship and mutual understanding. During the past year, our most intense exchange of delegations has taken place with Azerbaijan.”

Lavrov said the Russian-Azerbaijani forum will be held in the near future with the participation of over 200 representatives of Russian businessmen. He noted that the humanitarian forum will also be held under the patronage of the two countries’ presidents in October, 2014.

Mammadyarov, in turn, said relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are strategic. He also added that the trade turnover between the two countries is increasing.

Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Lavrov said the OSCE Minsk Group is trying to promote the initiatives that have been previously reached by the presidents of the two countries.

Lavrov also emphasized that Armenia will join the Eurasian Economic Union according to borders recognized by the UN. Earlier, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian told local media that the country will join the organization within the borders recognized by Armenia. He made the remarks in response to recent statements by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“Integration processes are carried out on the territory of the member countries of the Customs Union. Nagorno-Karabakh is not one of them, but is the subject of negotiations, which are being held on the basis of agreed principles,” the Russian minister added.

Lavrov added that Armenia has previously stated that it is involved in the integration processes within the UN-recognized borders.

“The same thing will happen within the Eurasian process,” he said, adding that Russia as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group will continue to facilitate the resolution of the conflict in a peaceful way.

Touching upon the prospects of Azerbaijan’s accession to the Eurasian Union, Lavrov said Azerbaijan had not received an official invitation to join the organization. He added however that Moscow has always been glad to see its partners showing interest in the Eurasian space.

Mammadyarov, in turn, commented on a meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the near future.

“There is a proposal from French President François Hollande for holding a meeting between presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. We are now waiting for a response from France on the organization of this meeting,” Azerbaijan’s foreign minister said.

Mammadyarov further said Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin will visit Azerbaijan by the end of the year, adding that relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are developing in a positive way.

“We consider Azerbaijan as a serious partner in the South Caucasus. The country is interested in deepening bilateral relations. After last year’s visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Azerbaijan, the relations have expanded,” Lavrov underscored.

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