Tehran, Iran, February 29
By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:
The recent MoUs signed between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Iran in recent days can best be described as momentous, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Islamic Republic of Iran Javanshir Akhundov believes.
The ambassador presented Trend with an article, expressing his views on the signed agreements.
Below is the text of the article:
On Feb. 23 President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev concluded his official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran which took place on the invitation of President Hassan Rouhani. This high level official visit, which resulted in conclusion of 11 documents covering various areas of cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Islamic Republic of Iran preordained development of bilateral relations between friendly and brotherly countries of Azerbaijan and Iran for several decades in advance. This visit and signed documents pave way for new opportunities in future cooperation of the two countries.
First of all, I would like to underline that each of the signed documents covers specific area and contributes to reinvigoration and enhancement of partnership frameworks between Azerbaijan and Iran into a more specific and target-oriented level.
I would like to elaborate on some of the documents.
I think it would be pertinent to use a word momentous for the "Framework Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the coordination of railways of Azerbaijan and Iran" and "The Agreement between Azerbaijan Railways CSC and the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways on construction of a railway bridge over the Astara river on Azerbaijan-Iran state border" which is directly linked to the framework agreement.
For a long time, there was a need to connect railways between our countries. I would like to remind that during the Soviet Union there was a railway between Azerbaijan and Iran, unfortunately as a result of the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia during Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict, this railway ceased to function.
Railway between Azerbaijan and Iran, which is a part of the North-South transport corridor, will contribute to economic development of Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as multiplying of goods turnover from such Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf, like Bandar Abbas, Busheher, and Chabahar. Furthermore, Northern provinces of Iran, like Western Azerbaijan, Eastern Azerbaijan, Gilan, Qazvin will be able to deliver their products to the world markets, particularly, Northern Europe, Russia, Pakistan, India, as well as Persian Gulf countries in a short period of time.
Main advantage of North-South transport corridor in comparison with other routes is the fact that its transit distance and time is 3 times less and price of delivery of goods through this corridor is more competitive. Other advantages of North-South international transport corridor include the safety of the route and crossing with other international transit corridors. In general, this corridor which has annual movement of 30 million tons of goods, along with other adjacent countries (Afghanistan and others) is the most effective logistic solution from the point of transit time and price.
After finalizing Iran-Azerbaijan railways coordination, Iran will be able to get benefits of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and provide for economically more beneficial goods transportation from the south of Iran to Europe. All the above mentioned will contribute to the development of our countries with the aim of increasing prosperity of our peoples. By the way, I would also like to mention Nakhchivan-Julfa-Tabriz-Tehran-Mashhad line, which will facilitate improving economy of Nakhchivan which is under the blockade due to the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia. President Hassan Rouhani also noted that connection of Astara(Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railways will open a new page in economic relations of two countries.
Another agreement of significant importance is "The Framework Agreement on the sale of electric power between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran". As a result of this agreement electricity system of not only Azerbaijan and Iran, but also of Russia, Georgia, as well as South Asia will be diversified and a common electricity network of the region will be established. Discussions to this end were underway for a long time, since Azerbaijan has necessary powerful facilities for it.
During the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev to the Islamic Republic of Iran on February 23, in accordance with the instruction from both of the heads of states the text of the Agreement "On Cooperation in the field of continuation of the construction and operation of "Khudaferin" and "Giz Galasi" hydro-junctions and hydroelectric power plants on the Araz River, the use of energy and water resources" was agreed and the Agreement was signed.
The document was signed by Shahin Mustafayev, Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Mahmoud Vaezi, Minister of Communications and Information of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran were declared, the importance of the restoration of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations, as well as equal rights of both parties to all water and energy resources along "Khudaferin" and "Giz Galasi" hydro-junctions was stressed in the agreement.
Let me stress that signing of this important document is a bright example of rapidly developing friendly and good neighbourly relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Islamic Republic of Iran.
"The Memorandum of Understanding between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic and National Iranian Oil Company" and "The Memorandum of Understanding between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic and Ghadir Investment Company which were among the documents signed in the wake of the visit will intensify joint cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran in the field of oil and gas. It is worth mentioning that Azerbaijan and Iran have been cooperating in the energy field for a long time.
Other agreements, which I didn't touch comprehensively, including memorandums of understanding on cooperation between relevant structures of Azerbaijan and Iran will give their vital contribution to the closer collaboration in the sphere of social policy.
As a result of discussions held at the bilateral meetings during the official visit of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Iran issues of significant importance were also agreed upon. As you know, for long Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey have been conducting trilateral discussions. The first meeting of these discussions was held in Urmiya in 2011 and next meetings were held in Nakhchivan and Kars. Within this trilateral framework current level of cooperation among the countries, important issues ahead are discussed at the high level. During President Aliyev's recent visit to Iran it was discussed to broaden geography of these frameworks with the aim to contribute to deepening cooperation between the countries in the future.
It is gratifying that today Iran and Azerbaijan play a role of a stabilizers in our region. Our countries pursue peace, tranquility and cooperation in the region and in the world. The president of Azerbaijan stated in his speech, that the stronger union of Azerbaijan and Iran is, the higher level of security in the region will be ensured.
The presidents also discussed such broad scale issues, like the situation in the region, joint fight against terrorism, joint cooperation against rising Islamophobia in the world.
Like during the visit in April of 2014, President Ilham Aliyev also had a meeting with Seyyed Ali Khameni, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Broad exchange of views was carried out on the prospects of increasing cooperation ties between our countries and peoples, who have common historical, religious and cultural roots. Importance of joint efforts in ensuring security and stability in the region was stressed and the presidents' discussions to this end were underlined. It was noted that concluded agreements will serve the development of cooperation in all spheres and strengthening of ties between Azerbaijan and Iran.
The course of the visit, concluded agreements, particularly meeting of the heads of the states and their statements for the press allows one to say that existing relations between neighbourly, friendly and partner countries of Iran and Azerbaijan will continue to enhance and develop steadily. Our countries share common position on many issues in the region and the world. The presidents expressed their interest in successful development of cooperation in all spheres and highly praised existing opportunities for it.
During 2014-2015, 44 mutual visits by the high officials of Azerbaijan and Iran have taken place. This number clearly indicates the level of cooperation between our countries.
The dynamics of cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran once again highlight that ties between our countries are based on solid foundations and serve mutual interests. Bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Iran improve on various areas, including political, economic, social, cultural, humanitarian, religious and others.
The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran cooperate closely within the framework of international organizations, such as the United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Economic Cooperation Organization, Non-aligned Movement and this cooperation will continue. There is no doubt that our cooperation in political, economic, cultural and tourism areas will further improve rapidly.
Usually, after such visits one calls them historic, however in some cases this appears to be more nominal. In my turn, I would like to strongly emphasize that the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev to the Islamic Republic of Iran on February 20, 2016 was indeed of historic importance. This visit preordained development of not only relations between two countries, but the region as a whole for several decades in advance.
Besides, in the course of this visit significant documents on specific spheres of cooperation were signed which will contribute to the economic development of both countries and underline their geoeconomic importance in the world.
Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Islamic Republic of Iran Javanshir Akhundov