By Nigar Orujova
Speaking about relations with Iran during a visit to Baku by President Hassan Rouhani, President Ilham Aliyev said Iranian-Azerbaijani friendship is unbreakable and no extraneous force can split it.
“These relations have risen to a new level in recent months," the president said after the signing ceremony of Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.
"Regular contacts, mutual visits of high-ranking officials, the support rendered to each other in international organizations clearly shows the high level of our political relations," he said.
President Aliyev said that there are excellent opportunities on the economic front.
“An intergovernmental joint commission actively works, producing excellent results,” Aliyev said. “There are tremendous opportunities in the field of oil and gas, electric power engineering, and gas exchange. Several projects have been already implemented. New projects are expected to be implemented.”
The president also said the sides held broad discussions on transport issues. “Creation of the North-South transport corridor is in the interest of both sides.”
He stressed the North-South transport corridor is of great importance not only for Iran and Azerbaijan, but also for the whole region.
“In general, I would like to say that our political and economic relations, the implementation of concrete projects will strengthen and is strengthening stability in the region,” said the president. “Unfortunately, the situation in the region is tense enough. Bloody clashes and wars break out, stability is disturbed.”
However, Iranian-Azerbaijani friendship and partnership are stabilizing factors here, he added, expressing confidence that stability will be restored in the region in the future as a result of joint efforts of Azerbaijan and Iran.
“Given that no country can develop without stability, and no foreign investments will be made in such a country, economic development is out of the question,” Aliyev said. “With our efforts we make contributions to regional cooperation as well.”
Good cooperation has been established in the humanitarian field and that is not accidental, since Azerbaijani and Iranian people have lived and worked together for centuries, the head of state said.
“We are working on concrete projects. Implementation of infrastructure projects, cooperation in the banking sector and other projects are under consideration,” Aliyev said.
Azerbaijan always feels Iran’s support in the settlement of the most important problem for the country – Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, President Aliyev said at a joint briefing with his Iranian counterpart.
“Iran’s position is based on the international law and justice. This conflict hasn’t been resolved for many years,” Aliyev said. “Azerbaijan’s historical, native land – Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts – are under the occupation of Armenian armed forces. The international law is being grossly violated.”
The settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will naturally bring peace to the region, Ilham Aliyev said.
During the visit, the two sides signed agreements on cooperation in energy, economy, communications and information technologies, as well as cooperation in regulation of border rivers and coastal management between the two countries.
Moreover, Azerbaijan and Iran signed a joint declaration on friendship and cooperation, which will serve to strengthen trust and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.
After the signing ceremony President Rouhani thanked Ilham Aliyev, saying he was happy to arrive in brotherly, friendly, neighboring Azerbaijan, accompanied by a large delegation.
"While developing our relations, we are working for our interests, stability, security and more rapid development,” Rouhani said. “The development of the countries will contribute to the economic development of each other.”
He added, that the two countries have come to an agreement at the extended and one-to-one meetings to further develop the relations, as well as to do this in a more open and transparent manner.
Rouhani said Iran and Azerbaijan must establish relations in power engineering, trade, industry, construction of dams and power stations, the delivery of new technologies, scientific and research centers.
“We can reach Europe through Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. Azerbaijan can reach the southern corridors and oceans through Iran. Our countries must use this corridor better, take advantage and further expand it,” he noted.
Touching upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Iranian president said his country is not satisfied with the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We wish there would be justice, peace, stability and friendship in this region,” Rouhani said. “We are ready to make every effort, to take necessary steps for establishing friendship, security, stability and justice between all the countries.”
The president said Iran regards this as its task within international organizations, and that the Karabakh issue should be resolved through political means.
Rouhani further said both presidents, at the one-on-one meeting, agreed that the two countries will not allow any outside forces to damage their relations.
“Our path is friendship, brotherhood and unity,” Rouhani said, adding that Iran has always defended and supported Azerbaijan in all international organizations - UN, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, ЕСО and other organizations.
On the second day of the visit, an Azerbaijani-Iranian business forum has been held with participation of the presidents at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku.
The Iranian president completed his visit to Azerbaijan on November 13.