Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

Not in all post-Soviet states persons as wise and experienced as the President of Azerbaijan immediately came to the leadership. It seems to me that this is not coincidental. Because no matter how complex the overall processes were in the post-Soviet space, the demands of our states’ people were aimed at achieving a positive result in these relations. Of course, they promote people who can solve these problems. There are traditional relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, we have talked a lot about it, and the services of President Heydar Aliyev should be properly appreciated.

It is not appropriate for me to praise Heydar Aliyev in his presence. However, I cannot help but mention his statesmanship. This is due to the fact that there was some tension in Azerbaijan- Russia relations despite the very complex processes endured after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Opportunities for the restoration of interstate relations at the previous level also the development of these relations for the benefit of our people was unleashed by Azerbaijan’s attitude towards Russian culture and the Russian language.

True concern for the progress of Russia and Azerbaijan requires not only preserving but also enriching the friendship potential between the peoples of Azerbaijan and Russia. Friendly neighborship, high morale and mutual respect are a solid basis for developing cooperation with brotherly Azerbaijan in the new millennium. When the President of Azerbaijan invited me for an official visit, I responded to Heydar Aliyev that we already meet every three months, why need to waste time? He replied, you are still young and you don’t understand, but in fact, this meeting is of great importance for both Russia and Azerbaijan. Therefore, I accepted the visit. Indeed, from the perspective of yesterday and today’s meeting, it is clear that this is not just a formality, but it can and probably will give a serious and significant impetus to the development of relations between Russia and Azerbaijan.

But I can’t finish my speech here. I accepted this invitation not only because we have great admiration for Azerbaijan and its leader, but also because Heydar Aliyev is to a large extent my compatriot – at least I think so. Actually, it is so. I think you will agree with me because, for a long time, he lived in my hometown – Petersburg-Leningrad, where he graduated from a special educational institution. I asked my colleagues to fetch some archival documents. He doesn’t know it yet, unanticipated for him as well. Here is the certificate of graduation from the special school, it is written: “Certificate of Senior Lieutenant Heydar Aliyev. May 16, 1949”. Then comes the results of his education. I will read some parts, if not all. “Dialectical and historical materialism – excellent, Chekist training – excellent, economic and political geography of the USSR and foreign countries – excellent. Criminal law – excellent, Literature – satisfactory, Military work – satisfactory, Russian language – excellent.” I think there are no other grades here. All are “excellent”.

In the end, I want to mention that if the higher education students study as the President of Azerbaijan studied at his time, the progress of the country will be in good hands.

As an outstanding statesman and political figure, Heydar Aliyev is deeply respected in Russia. Heydar Aliyev’s activities for the welfare of the people of Azerbaijan have made him famous all over the world.

We highly appreciate your contribution to the development and strengthening of true friendship, close neighborhood, and mutual trust which have connected the peoples of our countries for centuries and are still connecting them.

I am certain that Russian-Azerbaijani relations, which entered a phase of strategic partnership thanks to the personal efforts of Heydar Aliyev, will be strengthened by all means as one of the most important factors for the protection of peace, stability, and security in the Caucasus.

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Heydar Aliyev was a great statesman. Without exaggeration, he was a political giant. I didn’t just respect him, I loved him. This is a great loss.

An outstanding statesman, who gained well-deserved respect and a great reputation all over the world, has passed away. For many years, Heydar Alirza oglu Aliyev’s effective state activity had been devoted directly to the common history of our nations. He laid down the foundation of the strategic partnership between Russia and Azerbaijan and made a great personal contribution to the strengthening of our friendship and mutual understanding. His death is an irrevocable loss for the Commonwealth of Independent States and the entire international community. Heydar Aliyev was indeed a great friend of Russia, we felt it and appreciated it very much.