Statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the press conference in Tehran - July 2, 1994

Ladies and gentlemen, dear members of the press,

This is the fourth day that I am in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the invitation of Mr. President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The visit comes to an end and in a few hours I shall leave Tehran. I can say that this visit is a new stage in the further development of friendly and fraternal relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.

Speaking about the visit, I want to note that the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian people are our neighbors of a friendly and brotherly country. Therefore, we believe that the relations between this country and Azerbaijan should always be sincere and friendly. Our cooperation should develop intensively in all areas.

I came here for this purpose and I can say that in the days of my visit I had fruitful meetings with the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, esteemed President Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Iranian parliament, Natig Nouri, foreign minister Ali Akbar Vilayati, minister of Cooperation Ghulam Reza Shafei and other officials. During these meetings we held discussions on the development of cooperation between the two countries and two peoples in the areas of economy, trade, culture, science, technology and others. Documents agreed on the results of these negotiations will be signed today. I believe that this issue is not limited with these documents, but our relations have much broader limits than those documents.

Certainly, we had an exchange of views on all the negotiations. In fact Azerbaijan lives in hard conditions of war in the recent years, because of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan. As a consequence 20 per cent of our territory has been occupied, over one million Azerbaijanis have been expelled from the occupied lands.

In conditions of severe social and economic crisis, in the state of war in which Azerbaijan is at present as a result of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan we have always felt the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We had discussions on this issue in our present negotiations. I expressed my gratitude to the leaders of Iran for the assistance, solidarity and for protecting our interests in the international arena.

I would note it once more that these meetings are a new stage of friendly and fraternal relations between Azerbaijan and Iran, they also create a good environment for the rapid development of these relations and the Azerbaijani side will try to effectively use this situation in future. Due to lack of time, I conclude my speech with this brief information.

Question: Israel, as well as Armenia occupied Muslim lands. How is it happened that you decided to establish relations with Israel?

Answer: First, I want to say that Azerbaijan has always observed and will observe the international principles and sacred international norms. One of the most important of these principles is the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of countries and prevention of the seizure of one country by another country. By following these principles, we stand in defense of the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of all countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran. Azerbaijan does not claim to other countries, never will be on the path of occupant, has always condemned and will condemn the occupation. Armenia is a neighbor of both Iran and Azerbaijan. The aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan continues for more than six years, it is a big problem both for Azerbaijan and Iran. The Armenian armed forces destroy Muslim monuments, monuments of history and culture in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Thus, it does not concern only us, but also all the Muslim nations.

Azerbaijan is an independent country, builds its foreign policy on democratic principles and establishes mutual relations with all the countries of the world in order to strengthen its independence.

Question: In one of your speeches you said that Azerbaijan wants to benefit from the support of major countries of the world. Can you tell what countries did you exactly mean? Do you observe the same principles in your relations with Russia?

Answer: I noted that we want to establish mutual relations with all countries. Russia is the biggest country in the north of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was part of Russia for about two centuries. Great economic potential of Azerbaijan developed in the time when it was a part of the Soviet Union for 70 years, it is closely connected with Russia. Speaking about the establishment of mutual relations of Azerbaijan with all the countries first of all, I mean the neighbors.

Of course, Azerbaijan should continue to maintain good relations with Russia and we conduct our foreign policy in that direction. The Russian troops are placed in Georgia and Armenia. There are no Russian troops in Azerbaijan. In all the Muslim republics of Central Asia there are also the Russian troops. The borders of these republics, as well as of Georgia and Armenia with foreign countries, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan are protected by the Russian troops. The borders of our country with Iran and Turkey are guarded by our own troops in Azerbaijan. If Armenia has large Russian military units then you have to think for yourself what that means. Russia tries to provide mediation in ending the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. International organizations, in particular the CSCE and its Minsk Group also work on this issue. We want to put an end to war, to save our people from this disaster and to liberate our occupied lands. Therefore, we certainly cannot refuse all these possibilities of mediation.

Question: Mr. President, was the status of the Caspian Sea formally raised at the high-level meetings held in Iran?

Answer: A few days before my visit to Iran the special representative of the President of Russia on the Mountainous Garabagh, Vladimir Kazimirov visited Tehran. Returning from Tehran, he came to Baku where he met me and gave information about his visit to Iran for consultations with Iran on the Mountainous Garabagh and some other issues. In regard to your question I can say that you touched on the problem not discussed during my visit. Thus, I cannot say anything about it.

Question: On what principles and criteria does the Republic of Azerbaijan establish its relations with Tehran, Ankara and Moscow?

Answer: Let me repeat that we are willing to establish friendly relations with the neighboring countries. Therefore, Iran and Turkey are friendly and brotherly countries for us. I have given you broad information on relations with Moscow, Russia and therefore there is no need to repeat it.

Within the framework of the program of the visit there very short time was allocated to the press conference. I ask you to come to Baku where I shall have more time to answer your questions. Thank you.