Ambassador: ‘Iranian companies will start working in the liberated territories’
Ambassador of Iran to Azerbaijan, Seyed Abbas Mousavi, gave an interview to Report:
- How do you assess the level of relations, including the state of economic relations, between Azerbaijan and Iran?
- The level of relations is very high. The two countries' presidents had two cordial meetings in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The regular meetings of officials responsible for the political, including military-security, and economic spheres of Azerbaijan and Iran indicate the expansion of friendly and fraternal relations. In January-August of this year, the trade turnover between the two countries increased by more than 23% compared to the same period last year.
- A little while ago, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to establish a new communication link between the East Zangazur economic region and Nakhchivan AR by passing through the territory of Iran. Four bridges, including two car bridges (with pedestrian crossing) and two railway bridges, communication, and energy supply infrastructure, are planned to be built over the Araz River to achieve this goal. At what stage are these works?
- As you know, during the past 30 years - starting from the first days of Azerbaijan's independence, Iran has created favorable conditions for the establishment of relations between the main part of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan AR by passing through its territory, based on respect for the spirit of good neighborliness, brotherhood, cultural and religious partnership, in support of Azerbaijani brothers and sisters. This route has always been considered the safest and most convenient land route for the movement of Azerbaijani citizens.
- In order to develop bilateral transport cooperation, in March of this year, on the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations, at the 15th meeting of the Interstate Joint Economic Commission, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the establishment of a new communication link between East Zangazur economic region and Nakhchivan AR, passing through the territory of Iran. Later, teams of technical workers were formed to determine the exact point and conduct preparatory work. Happily, on September 21 of this year, the groundbreaking ceremony for constructing new bridges was held. It was decided that a two-lane concrete road bridge with a length of 216 meters and a width of 25 meters, and a pedestrian lane on each side will be built over the Araz River in the first phase of this project. It is planned to hold a meeting of joint technical working groups soon to keep in mind the technical issues related to the beginning of the bridge's construction.
- When will the next meeting of the State Commission on economic, trade, and humanitarian spheres between Azerbaijan and Iran be held?
- According to the ongoing negotiations, the 16th meeting of the commission is planned to be held in Tehran in early 2023.
- Are mutual visits between the two countries expected in the near future?
- President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Iran by the end of this year is on the agenda of both countries. In addition, the Minister of Economy of Iran is expected to participate in the meeting of the Ministers of Economy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to be held in Baku. Of course, other programs on the agenda will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.
- Will the Iranian engineering company start production in Hajigabul? At what stage are the works in this direction?
- We have a joint project related to car production in Neftchala, and thankfully, this project was successful. However, unfortunately, the implementation of the project in Hajigabul was suspended due to several issues, including the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the restriction of visits to Azerbaijan. Due to the mentioned reasons, there was no noticeable progress. But the matter is on the agenda and under review. I have personally spoken to the parties about it. I hope that we will witness the resumption of negotiations on this issue in the future.
- Iranian companies intended to operate in the liberated territories. Is there any news in this direction? How many Iranian companies are currently working in those territories?
- Some Iranian companies, correlating with the Ministry of Economy, are finalizing their preparations and will start working soon in the liberated areas. But our expectations are more than that. The quality and competitiveness of Iranian companies are high.