Iran's top official: Azerbaijan and Iran security relations develop at high level (INTERVIEW)

Iran's top official: Azerbaijan and Iran security relations develop at high level (INTERVIEW)

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 3 / Trend T.Jafarov /

Trend exclusive interview with Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, who is on visit to Azerbaijan May 3

Trend: How do you assess the current level of the Iran- Azerbaijan cooperation and prospects of bilateral relations in future?

Mohammad-Najjar: The Tehran-Baku relations favorably develop in various fields, and nothing can change that. Development, security and prestige of Azerbaijan rejoice Iran, and no forces can destroy the existing good relations between our countries.

In addition to the high level Iran and Azerbaijan political ties, cooperation and security between the countries also develop. For example, the countries have signed a treaty of cooperation between border control agencies, the cross-fertilization of prisoners.

My visit is not just a return visit to Azerbaijani Interior Minister Ramil Usubov's Iran visit, its goal is to strengthen the ties between the countries' interior ministries. During the visit we will try to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, including in the field of border police. We regard the Iran-Azerbaijan border as a friendly border and we believe that no factor will prevent our cooperation.

The peoples of the two countries have common historical, cultural and spiritual past, and from this point of view, we welcome the expansion and development of relations between the nations. We have unilaterally abolished visa regime for the Azerbaijani citizens to simplify procedures for visiting Iran from Feb.1.

The visit also aimed to develop programs and legal mechanisms to combat the spread of narcotics and counter-terrorism.

Iran, in particular the country's Interior Ministry, carries out regular operational activities to combat drug. Increased production of drugs after the intervention in Afghanistan demonstrates that those who actually produce the funds also deal with their in transit.

We believe that the presence of foreign forces in the Middle East and the Caucasus region has increased the number of political, religious, national differences and acts of terror.

Q: In which sectors today the Azerbaijani and Interior Ministries cooperate and over what projects you work to continue the discussions?

A: Compared to other countries, Azerbaijan is newly independent country that develops rapidly through the use of oil deposits and investments. Increase of revenues from international oil agreements, increasing number of foreign investments in the economy and the allocation of IMF loans improved the country's economic figures. Positive changes in Azerbaijan's relations with neighboring Turkey have become an example for Iran in need for greater development of political and economic relations.

This need is reflected in the global politics of the country to expand cooperation with neighboring and Muslim countries and programs of joint economic commissions.
Some provinces of Iran have economic, trade ties with Azerbaijan, including Ardabil (as the closest province to Azerbaijan), Gilan, East and West Azerbaijan. There are necessary capabilities and infrastructure for development of cooperation. Some events and summits are planned to be held in this regards. Conditions will be created for private entrepreneurs of the above-mentioned four provinces of Iran with the Azerbaijani Economic Chamber and the economic enterprises of the country to hold meetings.

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Azerbaijan cooperate within the Organization for Economic Cooperation, combat drug trafficking, in the area of border guards and security, exchange of prisoners, determining the status of the Caspian Sea, transport, exchange of students and teachers, arrival and departure of sports teams, the treatment of Azerbaijanis in Iran, the transit of pilgrims to Karbala and Najaf.
During the visit, it is planned to discuss cooperation in security and border cooperation, strengthening of border checkpoints of the two countries through regular meetings of heads of border services, establishment of relations between border provinces and exchange of products, the simplification of border crossing, creation of a joint Coast Guard in the Caspian Sea, the establishment of the scheme of border rivers between the two countries, the construction of Astara-Baku highway.

Q: Iran is on the transit route of narcotics from Afghanistan. What sum was allocated last year to combat drugs? What are your future plans? What progress has been achieved so far in this area?

Drugs produced in Afghanistan and their smuggling, as well as the growing number of drug addicts created numerous problems in neighboring countries, including Iran both from an economic standpoint and in terms of security. The Islamic Republic of Iran allocates huge funds to combat drugs. Moreover, thousands of policemen and security forces are making significant efforts to combat this problem.
The geographical position of Afghanistan and the lack of access of this country to the sea promotes the smuggling of narcotics from that country to neighboring countries, including Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia.

Iran strengthened the work of checkpoints to improve the monitoring of the region bordering with Afghanistan. However, the measures are taken only by the Islamic Republic. It fails to achieve desired result. We have lost more than 4,000 people in the fight against drugs. It demonstrates the seriousness of Iran to solve this problem.

Six countries bordering Afghanistan held a conference and pledged to combat drug smuggling in 2008. These commitments still remain only on paper and are executed only by Iran. Moreover, the presence of U.S., British and other countries' forces in Afghanistan contributes to the production of drugs. After the occupation of Afghanistan by the Western countries, drug production has increased several times. It shows the reluctance of the West to combat spread of narcotics.

Q: Situation in Iran that worsened after the last year's presidential election has stabilized. How do you estimate activity of the police and security forces in connection with protest actions against the election results? What damage has been caused to the state and private property during the clashes and how this damage is being removed?

A: The tension and gangsterism reigned after the presidential elections in the country, were provoked by the enemies of the Iranian Islamic regime and print media and circles, which depend on them. They have produced programs and projects for years, and waited for the moment to take advantage of the situation created after the last year's presidential elections. In these events, Iran's enemies, especially the press and the intelligence of the U.S., Israel and the UK have begun a coordinated operation and tried to cast doubt on the election results in Iran as hard as they can. As you see, due to the fact that the people who suffered minimal losses, supported the sacred Islamic regime, they failed to achieve their goals. The main power of the sacred Iranian Islamic regime is the support of the people, which destroys all the cunning plans.

The main goal of the enemies was to weaken the Iranian government, but as a result it was quite contrary and the power of the Islamic regime is growing stronger day by day, and the people of Iran once again realized the dirty intentions of the enemies.

Q: Iran is a member of the Passive Defense Organization. How do you assess the level of equipment and Iran's preparation for passive defense? What work should be carried out in the country to improve passive defense?

- As you know, due to its geographical position in the region and availability of mineral resources Iran has always been threatened. The obvious example is the attack by Iraq against Iran in the first years after the Islamic revolution. Iraq with its attacks tried to defeat the revolution in Iran. However, thanks to the defense of young people of the Islamic Republic, Iraq was forced to step back and accept defeat eight years later.

Taking into account these and other events that took place over the years, one of the global programs and goals of Iran is strengthening the infrastructure of security and national defense and increase the knowledge and power to ensure the territorial integrity and the state's defense.

Passive defense is one of the most important aspects of the security regime. The special attention has been always given to this issue in the political, military, economic and cultural fields. Iran's Supreme Leader also considers passive defense one of the important aspects of security, and requests the country's leadership to pay special attention to this issue in the country's development programs.

The Islamic Republic of Iran allocating special funds adopted the rules and laws for the development of passive defense in various spheres of infrastructure, in military and construction fields.

Currently, all agencies and ministries should focus on passive defense in their programs. The Government allocating necessary funds creates conditions for the implementation of these projects. The Interior Ministry organized special committees at the boards of passive defense of all of provinces. We plan to strengthen the foundations of the defense and security to be able to govern the country in crisis situations.

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