Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen!
Mr. President, first of all let me once again sincerely welcome you to Azerbaijan – you are welcome! Taking this opportunity, I would like to cordially congratulate the Iranian people on the recent Novruz holiday, and wish the brotherly people of Iran peace and prosperity.
Novruz is our common holiday. It is widely celebrated both in Iran and in Azerbaijan. This demonstrates yet again how close and attached our peoples are to each other. We share history and a common culture. Iranian-Azerbaijani interstate relations are successfully built and developed today on the basis of these lasting historical and cultural roots.
This meeting with President Rouhani is 11th in the last four years. This figure is an indicator in itself. Over the past four years, I have made four visits to Iran, and this is the third visit of Mr. Hasan Rouhani to Azerbaijan. We also met within the framework of international events, and all our meetings carry great meaning and importance. The agreements reached during the meetings are being fulfilled and producing good results. Many important documents have been signed over the past four years, giving a great impetus to the comprehensive development of Iranian-Azerbaijani ties.
We also actively cooperate with each other in the international arena and always support each other. We always support each other within the framework of the UN and the Organization for Economic Cooperation.
Iran constantly supports the fair position of Azerbaijan in connection with the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, on the basis of the norms and principles of international law, and votes for the resolutions adopted by international organizations. We are very grateful to Iran for this. Azerbaijan always stands by Iran in all international issues as well.
We are deepening our cooperation in the economic sphere, have started the process of mutual investments, and a presentation on this issue will be held at the business forum due to be held tomorrow. Iran makes investment in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan invests in Iran, and this investment serves the interests of both sides. I am sure that after the current visit – as we also discussed today – additional investments will be envisaged. Relevant bodies were instructed today to further increase the turnover, and I hope that we will witness this.
Many documents were signed today. Among them, I would like to specifically note two documents. These documents are related to our joint work in the Caspian Sea and the construction of the Astara-Rasht railway. They are of historic importance because as a result of the implementation of these documents, our cooperation both in the Caspian Sea and the transport sector will rise to an even higher level. At the same time, it will have a very positive impact on regional cooperation.
We also successfully cooperate in the field of energy. The documents signed in recent years, in particular those related to the operation of the hydro power facilities “Khudaferin” and “Giz Galasi”, as well as the construction of the Ordubad and Marazad hydroelectric power stations, will deepen our cooperation in power engineering. Today we reached the decision to develop a format of multilateral cooperation in the field of energy.
In general, I want to say that our relations are not limited only to the bilateral format. We already successfully operate in trilateral and quadrilateral formats of cooperation. Two meetings between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia in Baku and Tehran, the meetings of foreign ministers and other ministers of Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey, the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia and Turkey in Baku – all these support regional cooperation, stability and peace. By successfully cooperating also in the regional format, our countries are making a great contribution to the common cause.
We have made great strides in the transport sector. When I visited Iran last year, we marked the arrival of the first train from Azerbaijan in Iran. The first train entered Iran through the bridge built over the Astarachay River. And today we signed a very important and historic agreement on the construction of the Astara-Rasht railway. I am sure that the outstanding section of the North-South transport corridor, the Astara-Resht railway, will be built in a short time, which will usher new opportunities for the entire Eurasian region. As a result of the joint efforts we have been taking together with neighboring countries, the North-South transport corridor is already being implemented. In parallel, we have started extensive work on the South-West transport corridor, and the North-South and East-West transport corridors will join in the future. Our countries are playing a very important role in this. I can say with full responsibility that the agreement on the construction of the Astara-Rasht railway signed today has a historic significance, and I believe that all this will be witnessed by everyone in the coming years.
We also cooperate successfully in the military sphere. Our cooperation in the military-technical field is deepening. There are permanent consultations in the field of security. This issue is always in the spotlight.
Following the decision made in Azerbaijan recently, two weeks ago, Iranian citizens will receive visas to Azerbaijan at airports. This process has already begun. On the one hand, a simplified visa regime reflects our friendship, and, on the other, paves the way for the influx of tourists. Hundreds of thousands of people travel from Azerbaijan to Iran every year. I am also glad that the number of Iranian visitors to Azerbaijan has recently increased. Whereas 240,000 Iranian citizens visited Azerbaijan in 2016, this figure reached 360,000 last year. So there are many factors playing a role here, of course. First of all, we have friendly and fraternal Iranian-Azerbaijani relations, our very strong historical ties, political relations, and today we are demonstrating an example of a very positive neighborhood to the world. These factors play a role. At the same time, the simplified entry and exit procedures lead to an influx of tourists.
We have also exchanged views on cooperation in other areas today. We have had a lengthy discussion of the so far outstanding issues, including further steps for cooperation in the banking sector and other areas. However, our joint activity over the past four years demonstrates that we are fulfilling all the decisions that have been made, which is why Iranian-Azerbaijani relations are at the highest level today.
Dear Mr. President, let me once again cordially welcome you and your delegation to Azerbaijan. I am sure that the visit will have excellent results. Thank you.