Iran-Azerbaijan’s 10 Agreements
Electricity transit from Julfa in Iran to Nakhchivan enclave
officially started on August 6th in the presence of high-ranking officials
from Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Iran share a common
border but this has not been enough to foster close relations between the two.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami visited Azerbaijan in early August 2004. It
was the first official visit to the neighboring country by an Iranian leader
in more than 10 years.
The three-day visit began on August 5th
and featured talks between Khatami and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Speaking after the meeting, Khatami called for closer bilateral ties. He said
history and geography have brought the fates of the two countries together.
“The border between the Islamic Republic
of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan is a border of peace, friendship, and
brotherhood,” Khatami said.
An Azerbaijani consular office will open
in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, the center of an Iranian province
where millions of ethnic Azeris live.
Iran and Azerbaijan also signed gas and
electricity swap deals, but the leaders of the two Caspian Sea states did not
give details how they planned to solve problems of disputed oilfields once
tapped by BP.
Khatami, whose long-awaited visit to
Azerbaijan had been repeatedly postponed over the past few years, and his
Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev signed a total of 10 social, cultural and
economic agreements in Baku.
“The implementation of the agreements
signed will create thousands of jobs in Azerbaijan,” he said. “And agreements
on energy and gas swaps will allow us to provide [the Autonomous Republic of]
Nakichevan, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan, with electricity and
One of the key deals signed between the
two states involves gas swaps, which will start with small volumes in 2005 and
rise to 350 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas a year by 2009. The swaps will
allow Azerbaijan to supply its remote Nakhichevan province via the Iranian
territory. Baku cannot supply the region directly as it is separated from the
rest of the country by the territory of Armenia, still formally at war with
Azeri state oil and gas company SOCAR
will sell 80 mcm of gas in the last quarter of 2005, awaiting the launch in
2006 of the large Shakh-Deniz offshore gas field, led by BP and Norway’s
Statoil. SOCAR is involved in the giant project, which will be exporting the
bulk of gas to Turkey, but the state firm wants to use its share of output for
domestic needs. It will be sending 200 mcm to Iran from 2006, 250 mcm in 2007,
300 mcm in 2008 and 350 mcm in 2009.
Iran will in exchange supply its own
volumes to Nakhichevan, keeping 15% of volumes as a service commission. Tehran
also agreed to lend Baku $75 million to build new equipment and facilitate
trade in electricity.
The sides also signed an agreement to
improve road and rail links and to fund building an electricity line between
Imisli in southern Azerbaijan and Astara at the Iranian border.
One of the key deals signed between the two states
involves gas swaps, which will start with small volumes in 2005 and rise
to 350 million cubic meters of gas a year by 2009.
Khatami said the two states were keen to
resolve all disagreements. “There is no problem which cannot be solved by
talks,” he was quoted as saying.
Azerbaijani leader Aliyev expressed
satisfaction about the agreements, saying he believes relations between
Azerbaijan and Iran are developing successfully.
On the political front, Aliyev praised
Iran for what he called its “support” for Azerbaijan in the conflict over the
Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. “We have always felt Iran’s support in the conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said. “And we are
still feeling that today.”
Khatami said Iran is ready to contribute
to a peaceful solution of the conflict. He added that Iran considers
Nagorno-Karabakh part of Azerbaijan and that the use of force in settling
international problems is “unacceptable.”
However, talks did not produce any
breakthrough on the issue of the maritime borders of the Caspian Sea, which
touches both countries. The legal status of the Caspian, which contains large
reserves of oil and gas, has been in dispute since the Soviet Union collapsed
Davood Hermidas Bavand teaches
international law in Tehran. He said the visit was important nevertheless.
“The significance of the visit is [the] development of good neighborly
relationships with Azerbaijan, bearing in mind that we have certain
difficulties with that state in connection with the Caspian Sea,” he said.
“The very objective of this visit is to [come to terms with] existing
problems. When the two parties accept this kind of communication, it’s an
indication that there is a certain intention for improvement of the existing
President Khatami believes the parliament is the cornerstone of democracy and
symbol of sovereignty and says that placing focus on parliament indicates
respect for the nation.
Speaking in a meeting with the Speaker
of Azerbaijan National Assembly Murtuz Aleskerov, he pointed to the decisive
role of the parliaments of both countries in expansion of mutual ties and
urged implementation of the mutually signed agreements, despite bureaucratic
Turning to Iran-Azerbaijan historical,
religious and cultural relations, he said bolstering of ties with the
Caucasus, particularly its Muslim neighbors including Azerbaijan was part and
parcel of Iran’s foreign policy.
Appreciating the steps taken to
establish a legal regime for the Caspian Sea, he said that the Majlis was
quite serious on the issue. The chief executive hoped that a comprehensive
plan serving the interests of all the five Caspian Sea littoral states would
soon be drawn up.
Turning to the environmental problems in
the Caspian and the health of its aquatics as a key factor to healthy life in
the region, he urged the protection of its environment considering its unique
position in the world.
“The convention on the Caspian Sea
environment inked by the littoral states will soon be examined by the Iranian
Majlis. We expect Azerbaijan National Assembly to take a similar step,” he
For his part, Aleskerov expressed
pleasure over the Iranian president’s visit and said dialogue between the
high-ranking Iranian delegation and Azeri officials will help expand mutual
ties. The speaker pointed to parliamentary relations between the two
neighboring states as a proper lawful basis for bolstering cooperation.
Conferred Honorary Doctorate:
President Mohammad Khatami received an honorary doctorate from Azerbaijan
Academy of Sciences.
Addressing the audience at the award
ceremony, the head of the academy Academician Mahmud Karimov said Khatami was
being awarded the doctorate not only because he was a great man of politics
and social life but also because of his international distinction as a great
He said the academy, by awarding him the
doctorate, recognizes his contribution to global efforts to achieve peace with
his proposal of “dialogue among civilizations” at a time when there was
increasing evidence of a “clash of civilizations”.
He also touched upon the development of
the Azerbaijan-Iran scientific cooperation including joint researches,
conferences, symposia, and scientists’ reciprocal visits. “We attach great
importance to these links; our states and people are bound up with a number of
factors such as our common history, religion, customs and traditions,” he
Today’s level of friendship and
brotherhood has been consolidated by the “Agreement on Friendship and
Cooperation” signed by President Aliyev and President Khatami in Tehran, he
President Khatami presented the Divan by
the famous Azeri poet Shah Ismail Khatai published in Iran in Latin alphabet
to the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.
Trip to Gyanja:
President Khatami also visited the historical city of Gyanja where the
mausoleum of the prominent 12th century Iranian poet, Nezami Ganjavi, as well
as the ancient Shah Ismaeil Mosque are located.
Khatami was warmly welcomed by the city
authorities and representatives of intelligentsia.
President Khatami said he was pleased to
visit the Mausoleum of Great Nizami and left a record in the Mausoleum’s
Electricity transit from Julfa in Iran to Nakhchivan enclave officially
started on August 6th in the presence of high-ranking officials from Iran and
the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Abdolreza Golkar, Director of Public
Relations Department of Azerbaijan Regional Electricity Company told
Petroenergy Information Network that the ceremony was attended by the Iranian
Energy Minister Habibollah Bitaraf and Azeri authorities.
Also, managing director of Azerbaijan
Regional Electricity Company, Fattah Qarabagh announced that the project
followed a bilateral agreement between officials from Iran’s Tavanir Company
and Azerbaijan’s Azerenergy.
Based on the agreement, Azerbaijan
Regional Electricity Company was supposed to pave the way for the exchange of
30 MW of electricity with Azerbaijan through 132-kv electricity post of Julfa
and construction of a connecting 132-kv line by late December.