Caspian countries must prefer joint cooperation: Iranian Foreign Minister (Interview)Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki spoke with Trend News Persian Desk in an exclusive interview.
Trend News: How can you assess the Iranian-Azerbaijani relations at the moment?
Manouchehr Mottaki: Iran’s relations with Azerbaijan are close, serious and developing. These relations were built on a political will of both countries’ heads. Necessity of economic cooperation between the countries reflects interests of both nations and states.
Economic relations of two countries in trade, energy, industry and transit supplement each other. Azerbaijan’s economic projects are developing swiftly and seriously. At present goods turnover between Iran and Azerbaijan amounts to $700 million and will be upped to $1.5 million. The Iranian entrepreneurs are received in Azerbaijan at a high level. We thank senior official for such an attitude.
Iran is proud of Azerbaijan’s development, power and security. There is a great potential for development of the Iranian-Azerbaijani relations in economic field in future. Both countries’ cultural relations are conditioned by closeness of history and faith from ancient times. Closeness of two cultures forms a base to expand economic and political relations. Iran’s relations with Azerbaijan are multilateral.
We hope these relations will develop and expand in future, as well. We will cooperate in energy and oil and gas field, as well as in offshore and onshore while providing both countries’ interests. We need joint investment in energy field. Iran supports investing in development of Shah Deniz field.
Q: Recently, Turkey has offered Caucasus Security & Stability Platform to solve problems in the Caucasus region. What does Iran think of this project and what does Tehran offer to solve conflicts in the Caucasus region?
A: After crisis in Caucasus, Iran has offered an idea which had much in common with the Turkish project. We have offered to hold multilateral negotiations. After creating conditions which are necessary to hold multilateral negotiations, we can discuss process in Caucasus. From this point of view, Iran supports all projects to establish peace and security in the Caucasus region.
Q: The Russian Foreign Ministry’s official noted that Moscow considers possible to form Kasfor efficient security forces organization without regional countries’ navies and to conduct work in this direction. What does Iran think of this proposal?
A: Of course, every country can fulfill its ideas. We believe that countries with access to the Caspian Sea should prefer joint action. We discussed economic and ecological situation of the Caspian Sea, combating smuggling and security in the region the Caspian littoral states’ Tehran summit. We decided to hold a meeting in Azerbaijan and Russia to discuss economic and security issues concerning the Caspian Sea.
Q: Problems in Afghanistan and Iraq can be discussed by the United States and Iran. What Iran can offer to the United States to start talks?
A: We must not offer anything. It is the other side [the United States] which must offer. We think that if they have disputes in the region, dialogue on disputable issues must be held on right principles. These principles must be based on reason, justice, stability and security and should not go to extremes. Iran will support those who will act in our region based on these principles. However, the U.S. position on situation in the region is vague. We do not know which project the new U.S. administration will implement concerning Afghanistan. The wrong policy the U.S. pursued on Afghanistan for seven years was failure. New policy on Afghanistan must be well-defined. This region is very vulnerable. We watch ongoing events closely as changes in the region impact security.
Q: What is the current state of discussions on canceling visa regime between Azerbaijan and Iran?
A: Chairman of the National Assembly [parliament] of Nakhchivan Vasif Talibov paid a visit to Tehran. He raised the question of canceling visa regime between the two countries as Azerbaijani pilgrims head for Iran in large numbers. In an official response, I said that we are prepared to cancel visa regime with Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
I raised this issue at a meeting with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and said that we are prepared to cancel visa regime. Iran has canceled visa regime with Turkey and the countries freely exchange dozen of thousands of visitors every year. We are ready to cancel it with Azerbaijan as well. We will fully cancel visa regime if our Azerbaijani friends wish us to do so. If not, we will cancel it for people who use air transport. I described Iran’s position to Mr. Mammadyarov. /Trend/