Interview of President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev for correspondents of the "Economy World" newspaper and "Irna" agency of Iran - Tehran, 10 December, 1997

Question: What is Your opinion regarding further cooperation of Azerbaijan with Iran?

Answer: The cooperation of Azerbaijan with Iran is good. We are friendly countries and our contacts are of friendship and cooperation character. Our historical links, the historical past, belonging to a common religion and traditions have provided a stable ground for maintaining friendship relations and active cooperation between our countries - Azerbaijan and Iran. Such cooperation exists now but I think it is not sufficient. We have to enlarge our collaboration in all the areas such as economy, science, technology and culture. I hope that during our meetings with President Khatami and other Iranian leaders we will discuss these issues and outline measures on further development of our cooperation.

Question: What do You expect from the Summit?

Answer: The VIII Summit of the OIC member-states will adopt very essential resolutions and decisions on further strengthening of the Islamic world, Islamic unity and solidarity on the whole, including a number of acute issues, such as conflicts, aggressions and others touching the interests of Moslem states. I hope that it will also adopt a special resolution concerning armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20 percent of the Azerbaijan territory. More than a million Azerbaijanis have been forcedly banished from their native lands and live as refugees. I think that a resolution condemning this aggression will be adopted. I also hope that a resolution on rendering humanitarian aid to Azerbaijani refugees will be adopted too. Universal resolutions touching the whole Islamic world, as well as resolutions connected with some regional problems, including with Azerbaijan will be also adopted.

Question: What is a position and proposals of your country in respect of using mineral resources of the Caspian Sea?

Answer: The Caspian Sea is a sea with large oil and gas resources. Azerbaijan has long since been engaged in extraction of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea. We started this practice as long ago as the beginning of the century. However, 50 years ago, this work was expanded. We are carrying out work in the fields in Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea.

Question: Mr. President, what does Azerbaijan expect from this Summit?

Answer: We wish Islamic countries to be more solidary, as well as frank and friendly with each other. We also wish Islamic world to protect more vigorously Islamic culture, spirituality and religion within the processes ongoing in the world and prevent violation of rights of Moslem peoples and countries.

Question: Mr. President, What should be done in Your opinion to prevent violation of these rights?

Answer: Islam countries should be more united, they should support and care for each other maintaining at the same time strong links.

Question: What can this Summit do for settlement of armenian-azerbaijan conflict?

Answer: It can do much. But unfortunately, only resolutions are adopted. Three years ago, the resolution denouncing Armenia as an aggressor was adopted in Morocco and it was proclaimed all over the world. Of course, it has a great significance for public opinion in the world arena. Nevertheless, I think this institution can raise its voice even higher and demand indispensable pull-out of armenian troops from azerbaijani lands. And of course, if Islam countries are united, they can attain it.

Question: What can You say about contacts between Iran and Azerbaijan?

Answer: These contacts are good, but they should be better. I will meet and negotiate with President of Iran, Mr. Khatami. I am highly satisfied that the presidential elections in Iran have passed under democratic principles. As a result of democratic elections, Mr. Khatami was elected the President. I have a great interest in meeting with him. A meeting will take place and we will discuss a number of issues.