Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 24
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
Following the visit of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev to Iran on Feb. 23, it became clear that Baku is turning into one of the main political players in the region thanks to its balanced policy.
This fruitful visit of Azerbaijan's president to Iran, during which the sides signed 11 documents, is the result of Baku's thought-out policy pursued all the time when Iran was under international sanctions.
The fact that Baku didn't support Tehran's international isolation became the most important element in developing the relations between the two countries in the post-sanctions era.
Now, while western countries seek to create relations with Iran, the country's President Hassan Rouhani invited namely Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to the country and made it clear that Azerbaijan has become one of the priorities of Iran's foreign policy.
It is clear that the two neighboring countries have a solid foundation of relations based on history, culture and religion. As a result of the policy pursued by Azerbaijan, the relations between the two countries have grown into strategic cooperation. Azerbaijan has always opposed the sanctions against Iran and supported this country in the international organizations where they cooperate.
All these factors played an important role in Iran's desire to strengthen relations with the country which it has trusted over the years.
Undoubtedly, the economic relations between Azerbaijan and Iran and mutually beneficial cooperation also played a role in strengthening the relations in another sphere.
The framework agreement on linking the two countries' railways, as well as the document for a border railway bridge between Iranian Astara and Azerbaijani Astara are among the most important results of the visit.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the railways of the two countries will be linked by late 2016. It means that the two countries will become the most important link between East and West by late 2016. This will pave way for trade turnover between Northern Europe and South-East Asia.
Undoubtedly, this project will be beneficial for both countries. Given that this road will play a role of a railway bridge between Europe and Asia, investors will be able to benefit from these transit opportunities to export their products on reasonable terms which will bring considerable dividends to both sides.
Moreover, the memorandum of understanding signed between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and National Iranian Oil Company became another important result of the visit. This document has great prospects in the oil and gas sector.
Iran participates in developing Azerbaijan's largest Shah Deniz field and has even expressed intention to increase its share in the project, which means additional investments.
Additionally, the two countries have gas swap infrastructure via which Azerbaijan supplies its fuel to Iran's northern provinces. Iran, for its part, ensures the gas demand of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
Currently, the sides discuss the possibility of transporting Iranian gas through Azerbaijan to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor.
Moreover, Iran has already started to make investments in Azerbaijan's oil and gas fields. During the visit of Azerbaijani president, the sides discussed the joint development of oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea which can bring huge benefits to both sides.
During the visit, they also discussed the issues related mutual investing which creates great opportunities for the two countries. Baku can propose Tehran investment projects in various spheres to attract Iranian companies and businessmen to working in Azerbaijan.
Taking into account the economic reforms carried out in Azerbaijan, the investment promotion measures, including tax and privileges and in general, the improvement of the business environment, Iranian investors will be very interested in making investments in Azerbaijan's economy.
During the visit of President Aliyev to Iran, the sides discussed bilateral cooperation in financial, banking spheres, insurance, tourism and pharmaceutics. Azerbaijani businessmen were also invited to participate in joint activities in Aras, Anzali and Maku free trade and economic zones.
Following his high-level meeting, the two countries can also take relevant measures which will allow to increase the mutual passenger flow in maritime transport.
Aside from bilateral relations, the two countries also discussed cooperation in trilateral format (Iran-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan, Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia, Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia and Iran-Azerbaijan-Turkey).
Alongside with joint projects in the sphere of economy, fighting terrorism and ensuring security is the most important issue of cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan.
Saying the positions of Azerbaijan and Iran coincide on many issues, President Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan and Iran are a model of stability, despite the tensions in the region.
Today, Iran and Azerbaijan play a stabilizing role in the region and namely the fruitful cooperation between the two countries will make it possible to ensure security in the region.
The unity of Iranian and Azerbaijani positions on the conflict in Syria, territorial integrity and many other issues of the international agenda are the guarantor of success and development of these relations which are important for the region.
Edited by SI