Answers of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyyed Mohammad Khatami to the questions of reporters before their tete-a-tete meeting - Tehran, May 18, 2002

Question: Mr. Khatami, Iran calls for the defense of the Palestinians and to put an end to the relations with Israel. Can we expect a similar position on the issue of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Mountainous-Garabagh from Iran?

Answer: Thank you for your question. But I expected that reporters will first ask a question to our distinguished guest, then me.

The position of Iran on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Mountainous-Garabagh is known. We condemned the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and declared it in various international organizations at the highest level. We believe that this conflict should be resolved through negotiations and by peaceful means.

Of course, we are concerned that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Mountainous-Garabagh is still not resolved, but the events going on in Palestine are the unprecedented inhuman tragedy. It cannot be compared with other events. The occupation of land is the one issue, but the murder of women and children living on that land is a different question. The worl community gives special attention to this event and apparently, this tragedy cannot be tolerated.

Question: Mr. President Heydar Aliyev, what is the purpose of your visit to Iran?

Answer: Thank you. The purpose of my official visit to Iran is to promote further development of the Azerbaijani-Iranian friendship and cooperation. We are neighboring countries, we have an ancient common history, our national and spiritual values ​​are similar and all of this provided the friendship our two peoples in history.

After independence Azerbaijan has established friendly relations and cooperation with many countries and develops them. Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran were established ten years ago and passed a long way. However, we believe that these relations should further expand and develop. Thus, I came to Iran on an official visit for this purpose.

Question: Mr. President Heydar Aliyev, your visit to Iran was postponed several times. What is the reason of your official visit to Tehran today?

My second question is to Mr. Khatami. Mr. Khatami, it would be better if the littoral countries of the Caspian Sea establish a joint structure for the immediate solution of the problems which emerge, would not it be?

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, we have been preparing for an official visit to Iran several times, however, it was set aside. It had objective reasons. But during the past period I visited Iran. For example, in 2000, I took part in the summit of ECO in Iran. During my visit here we had very important meetings and negotiations with esteemed President Khatami. Then I met and held negotiations with the supreme religious leader of Iran Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. That is, our communications are not interrupted. But today I have come to Iran on an official visit. It is very different from my previous visits to Iran. During the official visit we shall discuss many issues and sign a number of important documents related to the cooperation between our countries.

Mohammad Khatami: The Caspian Sea is a closed lake and belongs to the five littoral countries. The use of the Caspian Sea should be on the basis of an agreement among these countries. All we, the five countries believe that the Caspian Sea belongs to these five countries. On other issues, environment, shipping, fishing and others there should be cooperation in terms of mutual understanding. Certainly, after the collapse of the former Soviet Union the methods for using the Caspian Sea have changed. Therefore, there has emerged a new look at the cooperation in this field. Thus, this issue should be resolved peacefully and by mutual understanding.

The summit of the countries surrounding the Mazandaran lake was held in Ashgabat. It was a very important summit.

Heydar Aliyev: I did not understand the meaning of the Mazandaran lake.

Mohammad Khatami: You call the Caspian the Gazvin lake, but we call it the Mazandaran lake. But not to worry the neither side we shall call it the Caspian Sea.

Heydar Aliyev: It has been called the Caspian Sea for a long time. The name of the Caspian Sea cannot be changed.

Mohammad Khatami: Yes, in English it is called the Caspian Sea.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, Caspian sea is Khazar.

Mohammad Khatami: Daryayi-Kaspi.

Heydar Aliyev: I hear the word Daryayi-Caspi for the first time.

Mohammad Khatami: Caspian means Qazvin. Let me answer the question. The Caspian Sea belongs to five countries. We hope that the Caspian countries will conduct a brotherly and friendly cooperation in all areas and solve these issues. The Ashgabat Summit was a very important meeting.

All the littoral countries should use the rich resources of the Caspian Sea.