Israel, Jerusalem, June 25 /corr. Trend E.Ostapenko/
Exclusive interview of European Desk of Trend Agency with President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres
Question: You are scheduled to visit Azerbaijan next week. What documents will be signed during the visit? How do you estimate the present and how do you see the future of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Israel?
Answer: Well, there are many things in common. First of all, Azerbaijan discovered the great wealth of gas and is head a cultural bust which is quite impressive. People don't know it, but Azerbaijan gave a right to women to vote before the Swiss and before the Americans. Azerbaijan has shown patience and respect to the place where the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians can live together without hatred, without fanaticism. So, for me it is a special country that I know I can trust in and has cultural background. Oil you can buy, but culture you have to create. And Azerbaijan created culture.
Azerbaijan is a small people. Azerbaijan and Israel have the same problem. How can small people become greater in spite of their size? You can become great irrespective of the size of your land if you adopt modern science and technology.
President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliev provokes the highest respect. I found him extremely humane, almost modest, educated, and sophisticated. It's a pleasure to talk with him. He showed interest in these domains: agriculture, water, health, and high tech. We discussed it.
Israel doesn't almost have either land, or water, or gas, or petrol. So, we have to hang in our brains, in our science and we should share whatever we have, whatever Azerbaijan wants. The great thing about Israel is that we are not dangerous. We are too small to danger anybody. But on the other hand we are developed and we are ready to share with our friends whatever we can offer in the domain of development and science and so on. In that we can cooperate fully.
We have the culture, we have the will and the readiness. I also met the father of the present president [of Azerbaijan]. I was impressed of him very much. I have met him twice. He was the man of tradition and intelligence.
I also know that Azerbaijan has problem around. Basically, the problems stem from your neighbors. Because in politics you cannot choose your neighbors, as in the family you cannot choose your parents. It is a fact of life. Israel is totally for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We don't think that one country can come and annex a part of another land.
So, even before visiting the country I have a great deal of sympathy. And also historically a profound thing for the way that Azerbaijan has handled the Jewish people. Many of them have emigrated to Israel. They carry with them very warm feeling to Azerbaijan. And they have a special flavor to your own society. So, I think that there is a collection of reasons that makes one very much interested in coming visit to your land.
Q: Do you expect expansion of diplomatic ties between the two countries?
A: I hope you will have a full embassy in Israel. It gets needed. I think more the cooperation goes up it is natural consequence of the relationship. It is going to happen, because I hope that we shall enrich our relations in this visit. There are many people coming from Israel with this matter, accompanying us in this visit. We want to establish better ties in the name of economy and in the name of science. And then the embassies will be very necessary on both sides.
Q: You said that Israel supports territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Israel has been taking constructive role in the regard to resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Is Israel prepared to more active involvement in the process of settlement?
A: We are a small country. We are not a weighty power. We can express our views and with our views we can contribute. But we are not a wealthy power, when it comes to our views, our attitudes and positions. I think else Azerbaijan would like very much to come closer not only with Israel, but with Jewish life abroad, and even in the United States of America. And we can do only what we can - to support the integrity of Azerbaijan in all domains.
Q: Israel has recently expressed its intention to get Azerbaijani gas that runs from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia. However, a pipeline that will go from Turkey to Israel through the Mediterranean Sea is needed in this respect. What volume of gas purchase is possible? And what who will undertake the expenses?
A: The minister of infrastructure is coming with me. He handles that issue and I would prefer him to answer this question, because he knows more details of it. But the purpose of his coming is really to check the real possibilities of connecting and bringing the Azerbaijani gas to Israel.