From the conversation of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev with the Minister of Industry of Islamic Republic of Iran Gulamrza Shaphei - April 29, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Dear Aghai Shaphei!

Dear guests!

I welcome you in Azerbaijan once again. I am very glad for your visit. Today we were together for two hours, took part at the opening of the VIII exhibition of Iran in Azerbaijan. The exhibition made fine impression upon me. You achieved great successes, in particular, in some important fields - in manufacture of cars, buses, other machines and in all other fields. Therefore, I consider that your exhibition will create a good impression here and promote the further development of economic relations between Azerbaijan and Iran. I am very glad. Please.

Gulamrza Shaphei: First of all, I express my gratitude to you for receiving us and participating at the opening of our today`s exhibition. The president of Azerbaijan has no opportunity to visit all exhibitions. But today you made a great honor for me, for Iran and came to our exhibition. Thank you for it.

Mister President, I had no opportunity to meet you for some years. Of course, each time, when I meet Mister Yashar, Ambassador Abbasali Hasanov, our ambassador, I sent my regards to you by means of them, asking about your health. However, the meeting is absolutely another matter, and here, at last, I saw you, you look well. I am very glad to see you in good health and good mood. Today, at the opening of the exhibition you spoke about an hour, stated very valuable ideas. Thank you for it as well.

My visit to Baku has several reasons. The first is to take part in the exhibition and also to present you the invitation of mister Hatemi. In this invitation it is marked that the session of ECO will be held in Teheran on 21 June.

Heydar Aliyev: ECO?

Gulamrza Shaphei: Yes. The president of Iran mister Hatemi has invited you to take part in this session. I should also say that Azerbaijan will preside over it, carry out works very closely and sincerely. Ambassador Abbasali Hasanov actively works in Iran. Together with ambassadors of ECO countries, he carries out detailed work.

Mister President, let me give you this invitation.

Today you touched upon many subjects at the exhibition. There is a question which is interesting for representatives of companies participated in the exhibition, it seems to me that it can be discussed at the session of ECO. It consists of that considering close relations of our countries, committees, ministries will discuss tax and other questions among themselves. The CIS countries have agreed in this sphere. According to this agreement, when goods are exported from Azerbaijan to these countries, taxes are not taken from it, and also taxes are not taken from these countries exporting goods to Azerbaijan. It allows these countries to trade among themselves. To my mind, this condition can be created among the ECO countries.

Heydar Aliyev: Do you think this principle can be applied as well as to ECO countries?

Gulamrza Shaphei: Yes, this principle can be applied as well as to them. So, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and countries of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and others can come to the certain decision among themselves. Some of these countries are members of CIS - Azerbaijan, countries of Central Asia.

Heydar Aliyev: Azerbaijan and all countries of Central Asia are members of the CIS. The Commonwealth does not include Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Gulamrza Shaphei: Yes, it can be made within the limits of ECO. I suggest discussing this question, if you advise, at the session of ECO.

I want to tell you one more request. Certainly, you have found time, shown respect to us and come to our exhibition. However, there were also other spheres of services which you have not seen. I would like to tell about these spheres.

For example, different factories, companies producing medical devices were presented there. Their representatives said that it was possible to expand relations between Azerbaijan and Iran in this field even more. There were companies, engaged in manufacturing of food stuffs, household things too. There was no time to organize their meeting with you.

As you saw at the exhibition, Iran has received essential development in comparison with the last years. On holiday Novruz our five years` plan has come to the end. The growth in industrial branch has made 11 percent.

Heydar Aliyev: That is the development.

Gulamrza Shaphei: Yes. Now we have an opportunity to establish communications in manufacture of cars, other spheres - from oil to the construction of factories - and to use them effectively. It depends on you. It is possible to create a condition for Azerbaijan to use from opportunities of Iran.

I know that Azerbaijan has been under the power of Russia, communist party for 70 years, and now it has found independence. We want its development. First of all, it is necessary to restore everything.

There are some factories in Iran where twenty, ten, five thousand employees work. If you find it necessary, we are ready to cooperate with you in this field. We can render any help.

The Caspian Sea is the sea of friendship. Iran and Azerbaijan can cooperate in the field of oil, gas, navigation. We should carry out this work, define duties of everyone. We should cooperate in this field.

I have a personal offer concerning motor car industry. It is also connected with the teamwork of participant-countries during the session of ECO. At the previous meetings the decision was accepted on manufacture of planes by Pakistan and some countries together with Iran, Turkey. But this work was not developed, because companies, which should buy planes, are dependent on the state. However, car business is not so, they are bought independently. The automobile market is wide enough. In this area it is necessary to carry out teamwork. It is not necessary to establish this business only in one country. It is possible to construct factories for manufacture of cars, to carry out work. This is my offer, and if you agree, it is possible to achieve certain successes by carrying out bilateral work. Of course, some companies from the Iranian and Azerbaijan party have established communication, cooperation. But it is necessary to expand this business.

Other offer consists of that Iran and Azerbaijan should conduct teamwork in the third markets. That is both parties should start business by creating a joint consortium or company. The field of its activity is wide enough. It is possible to construct a factory, to work together in the field of oil and gas. With participation of both parties it is possible to carry out the certain work in other countries.

I am sorry for taking your time. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. First of all, I accept the invitation of Mister President Hatemi. I will come to Teheran by all means, and together we will hold the summit of ECO. Because we should strengthen this organization and try take advantage of this organization effectively for development of all our relations, in particular economic relations.

It was spoken at the exhibition, now you also raised this question on taxes, duty. It seems to me, if we apply the principle, which is available now between the CIS states, this variant will be quite comprehensible to the states of ECO. I will give instruction to our prime minister, ministries connected with it. Let they thing about it. We have other offers. They are connected with the double tax. We suggest facilitating this business in the certain degree. Anyway, considering your offers, I will give instruction that our representatives present their proposals. I think that in Teheran we can come to the certain agreement on it and a number of other questions.

Other questions, which you raised and yesterday the prime minister informed me that you spoke him about them in details and I approve all these questions and we should cooperate in many fields. Now I just don`t want to answer each of questions put by you. However, I wish to say that I accept these offers basically. I give instruction to the prime minister and ministries to study all these proposals separately together with your representatives, to analyze and to put forward our offers. Today I said at the exhibition and I repeat now, our policy is directed on strengthening, development of all communications with Iran. Economic relations take here a special place. As it seems to me, it is possible to carry out big works as well as in the Caspian Sea, - you name it daryayi khazar.

For example, our prime minister has informed me that you wish to cooperate as well as in the field of navigation and shipbuilding. It is possible. We have opportunities for this purpose, we have ship-repair factories and these can be used too. As to your two offers on teamwork of your motor car industry with our some organizations, - I immediately support them and from my part I will take necessary measures, I will give instruction on their realization.

In a word, I stated my some ideas today at the opening of the exhibition. I do not want to repeat. The Iranian-Azerbaijan relations should extend, develop, and we should prevent separate ill-wishers, forces, which try to damage our relations, or forces, which wish to show it in negative form.

You know, today our region draws steadfast attention all over the world. Iran as the big state, the country possessing powerful economic potential, also draws a big attention. Iran has friends, but there are also ill-wishers.

After Azerbaijan became the independent state, naturally, interest to it has increased. Because, first, Azerbaijan takes extremely favorable strategic position, that is, it is a country which is between the East and the West, Asia and Europe, and in particular, the shortest way for vehicles between Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan takes a special place here. Besides, the development of power resources of Azerbaijan, their future prospects. There are also other features. Therefore some forces in different countries try to create such an opinion that relations between Iran and Azerbaijan are ostensibly cool. It is not cool, it is good. However, it should become even better.

As the President of Azerbaijan, as the person who defines and carries out the policy of Azerbaijan, I have such opinion. But extraneous people can say everything. Now we live in such a period that everyone is free and has a right to express his opinion although it is true or lie. However, we should not pay attention to them. We should develop our relationships.

My official visit to Iran is also on the agenda. Because I received the invitation from Mister President Hatemi. Probably, this year I will visit Iran twice - once to the summit of ECO and once for the official visit.

Gulamrza Shaphei: Iran is your native home, whenever You like, you can come.

Heydar Aliyev: And after this, I will wait for the visit of mister Hatemi to Azerbaijan. All these - for example, arrival of such a delegation as yours in Azerbaijan, our delegation`s visit to Iran, our Minister for Foreign Affairs recently was in Iran, held meetings, your Minister for Foreign Affairs recently came here, now Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Iran and Azerbaijan met in New York. When he leaved for New York, I gave charged him to meet there with Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs by all means, despite numerous meetings in New York. He met, had conversation, after returning he will inform me, - that is, I consider that both parties should take advantage of these means for extension, strengthening our relations.

Mister Shafei, you are my old friend.

Gulamrza Shaphei: From Nakhchivan.

Heydar Aliyev: Now I remember eight years ago when we met in Nakhchivan and celebrated there the first construction of an electric line to Nakhchivan. You remember in what heavy conditions we lived? However, at that time we have constructed an electric line from Iran which has very much helped us. We have constructed an electric line from Turkey, then from Iran and we have met with you.

You remember how we have opened Poldesht bridge in Shakhtakhty and tried to organize there the frontier market. I can not forget these days because these days were very heavy for Nakhchivan and for me as the person supervised Nakhchivan, these were very heavy days for us. But we have gone through them.

For example, now a condition in Nakhchivan... However, now the communication between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan are carried out by air and by means of motor vehicles, cars which pass via Iran`s territory. We have no other communications. However, communications between Iran and Nakhchivan - trade communications, communications of peoples - all these are now at a high level and I am glad for it. I consider that it also promotes the development of Iran-Azerbaijan relations too.

I remember, when I came to Iran in 1994, you were accompanying me. We were traveling together in Iran, Teheran. I remember all these, therefore besides all of official attitudes, friendly attitudes and personal attitudes have been established as well. I am glad that you are again minister in Islamic Republic of Iran - in the past minister of cooperation, now minister of industry. I wish you to reach higher posts. As I know, you make your best efforts to make the Iran-Azerbaijan relations healthy, to develop them. It is necessary both for Iran and Azerbaijan. Once again I welcome you, I want to express once again my pleasure for our meeting.
Thank you.