By Ayya Lmahamad
President Ilham Aliyev has said that no country can or should try to impose its will on Azerbaijan, Azertag reported on October 13.
He made the remarks in an interview with the Italian La Repubblica newspaper on October 7 while commenting on the latest developments between Iran and Azerbaijan.
“No other country can or should try to influence Azerbaijan’s decisions. Decisions are made here in Baku, by me, based on the national interests of Azerbaijan. Whoever tried to use artificial pretext and blame Azerbaijan for kind of relations with some other countries, failed. This is not the right path. It will lead to deadlock,” he said.
Speaking about the latest escalation of Iran-Azerbaijan relations, the president stated that “the reason for what is happening is not because of our relations with some other country, it is because our foreign policy is very open, transparent, stable and as I said independent”.
Noting Iran's illegal cargo transportation to Karabakh using the road passing through the Azerbaijani territory, he underlined that Azerbaijan wants respect to its borders.
“We do not violate any other country’s borders illegally. So, our message was very simple-stop it. We made a very friendly communication, not public communication, but friendly communication to stop it because it is not right,” he said.
Aliyev recalled that after this warning was not adequately responded to, Azerbaijan handed over a diplomatic note to Iran. He emphasized that after that the number of trucks from Iran to Karabakh increased, which Azerbaijan considered "as an assault, as a deliberate disrespect".
The president noted that the measures taken lately were absolutely legitimate, but created big turbulence in the neighboring country accompanied by inappropriate statements, threats, military drills on the border.
“Because it was strange that first it was said that these military trainings are planned, but then it was said that they were in order to demonstrate us something. No one can impose its will on us. We want to have friendly relations with all the countries, in the first place, with our neighbors,” he stated.
Aliyev stressed that during Hassan Rouhani's presidency, Azerbaijan and Iran signed many agreements and bilateral relations elevated to the highest possible level.
Aliyev recalled that Azerbaijan sent a major delegation to his inauguration led by the parliament speaker and deputy prime minister to the newly-elected Iran president's inauguration.
“They delivered my message of friendship to the Iranian president directly. At the same time, and the other message which was delivered particularly what I said before ‘please, pay attention to this illegal business activity in Karabakh by Iranian businessmen’. We were not in a position to accuse the Iranian government. We understood that it’s some private companies who do it. But we asked to stop it. What happened in return, everybody sees,” he emphasized.
Aliyev rejected Iran's Israel-related accusations leveled against Azerbaijan.
“First, we reject all the accusations about Azerbaijan bringing Israel to the liberated territories. That is absolutely nonsense. It is just a pretext aimed at the domestic audience in order to demonize Azerbaijan. Everybody can go and see that there is no life there. Everything is destroyed. Second, that we demand respect to us, the same respect which we show to others,” the president underlined.
New gas deposits
Speaking about the opportunities of TAP, Aliyev noted that Italy has already started to receive gas from Azerbaijan. He recalled that the SGC will deliver to Italian markets eight, or more, billion cubic meters.
“Now, we need to look to the future, because we have discovered new gas deposits. From existing gas fields we plan to extract more,” he said.
Commenting on cooperation with the EU, the president noted that “now EU is very actively involved and shows a big interest in our transportation potential because we are transforming Azerbaijan into an important Eurasian transportation hub with modern infrastructure which has very diversified routes of communication with the neighborhood”.
Russian peace mediation
Speaking about the Russian peacekeepers, that are deployed in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh, the president expressed satisfaction with the Russian peace mediation.
“During this period of time, with some exception of minor incidents the situation is stable, and in general we are satisfied. Of course, there are some issues which are still to be resolved, particularly, the permission of Azerbaijan to foreign citizens to visit our territory which is now in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers,” he said.
Reconstruction of liberated lands
Aliyev stated that a special investment program for liberated territories has been adopted, noting that for this year the total investments amounted to $1.3 billion. He stated that the electric power of liberated lands will be totally completed by late 2021. Moreover, he said that the first airport in Fuzuli is already ready and two more are now in the phase of construction.
Noting that the city planning of two cities has already started, he underlined that the plan is to return the former IDPs as soon as possible to their homelands.
Speaking about the involvement of companies from friendly countries in the reconstruction work, the president stressed that several Italian companies already are involved in different projects, including the creation of memorial museums, museums of occupation, victory museums.
“One Italian company has already signed a contract with us on the issues related to energy supply to the whole region. Also, one Italian company has already started investing in the manufacturing of agriculture products. So, Italian companies are highly welcomed in Azerbaijan, and in this reconstruction work there will be a lot more Italian companies to come,” he said.
Asked if Azerbaijan is ready to recognize Talibans in Afghanistan, Aliyev said if Azerbaijan sees positive tendencies and signs of potential cooperation, it will respond adequately.
“The main principle in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy is independence. Our foreign policy is absolutely free from any foreign dominance. The second is pragmatism. So, we will make our mind based on that,” he said.
He stressed that the Azerbaijani military servicemen were among the last to leave Kabul airport and implemented their mission with maximum efficiency.
“Our involvement in Afghanistan was only limited to our peacekeepers. By the way, Azerbaijani military servicemen were among the last to leave Kabul airport. Our military servicemen left Kabul airport one day before that blast which took place there. So, until the end we were implementing our mission with dignity and maximum efficiency,” he said.
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