Date: 25 February 2016, 18:11, READ:
President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and a high level delegation visited Tehran at the request of Iranian president. After face to face talks, the head of the states have signed eleven documents. In addition, they hold a joint press conference in Tehran. Azerbajani president Ilham Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan had always been against the sanctions against Iran. He emphasized that he was happy the sanctions were lifted from Iran and congratulated the people and the president of Iran. President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani stated that he had met with Azerbaijani counterpart for five times in the last 2 years. According to him, in all of these meetings, achievements of mutual partnership between two friendly countries were discussed. Political analyst Gabil Huseynli answered Kaspis questions with regard to the presidents visit to Iran, the signed documents and statements made by the two leaders and its impact on regional events.
- After sanctions were lifted from Iran, the visit of Azerbaijani president to Iran caught the attention of both local and international media and political analysts gave different opinions on the issue. What do you think about the presidents trip to Iran?
- I consider it to be highly important. Firstly, because Iran is a neighboring country and it is desirable to maintain good relations between two neighbors. At the same time, millions of Azerbaijanis live in Iran, we have common traditions and religious views with the country. On the other hand, the global crisis has also affected Azerbaijan. One of the ways of getting out of crisis with fewer losses is to improve relations with neighbor countries, to develop economic and trade partnerships, to focus on transportation and transit projects and attract foreign investors. Azerbaijani president makes a lot of effort in this regards and is pursuing a clever policy. Attracting foreign investors to country and establishing better ties with them is the priority in all of presidents official visits. The issue of Nagorno-Karabagh, its resolution by upholding the principles of territorial integrity, is also brought to the attention of the international community. Those countries assure us of their support in the resolution of the conflict. Taking all these into account, I consider presidents visit to Iran to be of high political and economic importance.
- Azerbaijani and Iranian presidents signed eleven documents. What is the economic and political importance of these documents?
- The delegation staff signed important documents on emergency situations, customs, healthcare, social issues and so on. The treaties on selling of electricity and railway connecting two countries, Astara-Astara railway and rail bridge contract, the memorandum between SOCAR and Iran National Oil Company on oil and gas projects and another memorandum between SOCAR and Ghadir investment company were the most important documents signed during the official visit. Azerbaijan is very interested in launching the North-South railway corridor and doing its best in that direction. It also supports launching Great Silkway corridor. These are all viewed as steps taken to develop the non-oil sector and Azerbaijans potential as a transit country will further increase if these plans are successfully implemented. This will be economically beneficial to Azerbaijan. In addition to being a transferor of energy recourses, Azerbaijan is also becoming a reliable, safe and efficient corridor in cargo transfer. I would like to stress the importance of cargo transfer at this point. Imagine, there is a railway and a highway from China to England. Or a train departing from any station in Russia moves in the direction of Iran and this is parallel to a highway. This is very profitable and it raises the importance of Azerbaijani in the world. As for the importance of the documents signed on energy projects, Iran is aware of Azerbaijani experience in oil extraction and exploration. Therefore, for a long time, they were voicing their interest in partnering with SOCAR. For example, Iran has almost no capacity to carry out under water exploration in deep waters of the Caspian Sea. In addition to this, even if there is known oil and gas field, they dont have the necessary technology to extract those resources. But we have all of those capabilities. Azerbaijan is capable of carrying out oil exploration as deep as 10 kilometer at the Caspian sea and extract energy resources. We can share our experience with Iran and SOCAR can participate in extraction of oil in the territory of Iran. Another important point is the issue of taking Iranian gas to European market. The best way of transferring Iranian gas to Europe is through Azerbaijan. At Soviet times, there was a pipeline passing through Iran. That pipeline still exists. After slightly repairing the pipeline, Iranian gas can be transferred to Europe through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey in a short time. Iran doesn'tt have to build a new pipeline for this purpose. This is very profitable for Iran.
- In the media conference, Iranian president discussed the religion of Islam and the Syrian conflict with his Azerbaijani counterpart
In my opinion, Azerbaijani president, as always, put forth a stance based on the interest of his country and people. I watched the press conference to the end. Our president touched upon the topics of regional security and anti-terrorism efforts. He stated that, he supports the fight against terrorism, especially terrorism related to Islam and Islamaphobic tendencies. Azerbaijan is completely neutral on Syrian conflict. This stance comes from our membership to Non-Alignment Movement. In short, Azerbaijan is pursuing a balanced policy that serves national and state interest. In accordance with this principle, we dont defend one country while opposing the other. Azerbaijan respects the will of Syrian people in this matter and will support the government based on this will.