Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 1 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /
Turkey is a central player in the region. It has played an important role since the end of WWII, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Italy Vagif Sadikhov said in an interview with the Italian Limes newspaper.
"Turkey is one of NATO's founders," he said. "It has always been a bastion of Western influence in the region during the Cold War. Ankara has made a significant contribution to the NATO common defense against the Soviet threat. Turkey's role has been changed but not diminished."
He said Turkey does not occupy the defensive line, but promotes political, economic and cultural interests in that part of the globe, which was closed to the world for 70 years and was called the Soviet Union.
"Of course, today it is possible to resume relations with the Turkic republics of the Soviet Union, primarily with Azerbaijan because of the geographic proximity of our countries," Sadikhov said.
He said Turkey has always been a bridge between two civilizations.
Turkey is a great country, he said. Therefore, it has its own priorities and national interests, the ambassador said.
"We must not fear when an unknown country begins to protect and promote its national interests," he said. "Problems begin when international laws and rules of fair competition are not observed."
The area where Turkey, the South Caucasus and Iran are situated is important, he said.
"We do not have any economic and transport relations because of the actual state of war with Armenia," he said. "However, we have active relations with Turkey and Georgia in many areas: energy, gas pipelines, oil pipelines, highways, railroads, so on. Georgia and Turkey are Azerbaijan's important economic partners. The same can be said about Iran. We think that it is necessary to talk about economic cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran."
He added that Azerbaijan and Iran have much in common from historical, cultural and religious points of view.
"Today, Iran and Azerbaijan have political, economic, humanitarian and cultural relations," he said. "We attach them great importance, because Iran is a great country and our nearest neighbor. Moreover, the important factor is the fact that tens of millions of Azerbaijani people live in Iran. This part of the Iranian people is well integrated. We consider it as another anchor of stability in the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan."
He stressed that the two countries have their own points of view on certain international issues.
"However, it is important that we are able to directly comment on these issues," he said. "Moreover, we have close economic ties. The trade turnover between the two countries is constantly increasing."
As in the case with Iran, an important factor in the relations between Moscow and Baku is that a million and a half of Azerbaijani people live in Russia, he said.
"Many points of view on international events are the same at the summit," the ambassador said.