6 Apr 2019 15:22

Relations with Russia are priority for Baku - Azerbaijani foreign minister

BAKU. April 6 (Interfax) - Azerbaijan will continue to pursue a flexible and multipronged foreign policy and is not planning to abandon cooperation with Russia, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said.

"Building normal and mutually beneficial relations with Russia is a priority for Azerbaijan," Mammadyarov said in an interview with the Internet publication Moscow-Baku.

Azerbaijan and Russia have always maintained their partnership at a strategic level, he said.

"Russia is our major neighbor. If you look at the matter from the economic perspective, it's a huge market. If you look at it through the understanding aspect, we have no problems with that, as the Russian language often serves as a language of interethnic communication," he said.

It would be a mistake to assume that, by signing a new strategic partnership agreement with Brussels, Baku will reorient its foreign policy course toward the European Union, he said.

"No, this is a wrong perception. I believe no one should be frightened, and it's absolutely incorrect to interpret the matter this way. There can be no black-and-white movie in diplomacy," he said.

It is absolutely wrong to say that, "if you are not with us, then you are against us," he said.

"The world has changed. We've just listened to a wonderful lecture on the start of WWII in 1939 [the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers participants met in Moscow on April 5 to discuss, among other things, the 80th anniversary of the start of WWII and the preservation of military graves and monuments dating to the Great Patriotic War], and this is when the formula 'if you are not with us, then you are against us' was used. Now everything is different," Mammadyarov said.

He insisted that the matter should be approached the following way: "Yes, we are interested in this agreement, as we are opening the EU market to ourselves."

"We discussed a section dealing with energy at a Cooperation Council meeting yesterday. Gas from Azerbaijan will go to the Italian market in 2020. But, apart from that, as I said, there is also the Balkan market, and we've talked quite a lot about that with European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and European diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini. We have already agreed upon the political section of the agreement with the EU, and what's left is the commercial sector. We are facing quite serious negotiations with the European Union, but I am sure in principle that Russia would also find this treaty interesting," Mammadyarov said.