BAKU: Azeri pundits assess Iranian leader’s visit differently

Azeri pundits assess Iranian leader’s visit differently

Ekspress, Baku
5 Aug 04

Text of Xazar Altay report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekspress on 5
August headlined “What does Khatami’s visit promise?”, subheaded
“Politicians think differently”

“One cannot expect any sensational development or turn in
Iranian-Azerbaijani relations in the near future,” ex-presidential
aide and political analyst Vafa Quluzada told Ekspress yesterday 4
August , commenting on Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s visit to
our country today.

He said that Tehran had always established cooperation with Azerbaijan
on the basis of “mutual principles defined by Tehran” which are
unacceptable to Baku.

“We can never be the country which Iran wishes us to be. Under such
circumstances, Tehran has never accepted us, is not accepting us and
will not do so in the future either,” Quluzada said.

The political analyst, who touched upon the current
Iranian-Azerbaijani ties, said that cooperation in the economic, trade
and transport spheres are good.

“However, the political and military and technical ties have no
prospects. Iran is playing double games with us. We should either
stand this or protect ourselves,” Quluzada said.

He described Khatami’s visit to our country this time as a “tactical
and farsighted move”.

“The Iranian leadership wants to get Azerbaijan’s consent so that
official Baku establishes its relations with the West in line with
Tehran’s interests. In exchange, the mullahs will review their
cooperation with the Armenians,” political analyst Rasim Musabayov
told Ekspress.

He thinks that Khatami agreed to visit Azerbaijan after a long pause
because of “the new realities in the region”.

“Tehran simply wants to restore its presence in the region and counter
the anti-Iranian threats,” he said. Musabayov spoke about “the
existence of multilateral cooperation ties” between Baku and Tehran,
but added that Iran is not capable of compromising on the Caspian
status and cooperation with Armenia. As for the opening of the
Azerbaijani consulate in Tabriz, Musabayov regarded as impossible a
practical solution to the problem in the near future.

AMIP Azarbaycan Milli Istiqlal Party Chairman Etibar Mammadov thinks
that the Iranian president’s visit to our country will play an
important role from the viewpoint of mending bilateral ties. He thinks
that the progress in the resolution of contentious issues between the
two countries will depend on the results of the negotiations. “Iran is
a neighbouring country and it should have normal relations with its
neighbours,” Mammadov said.

Mubariz Qurbanli, an MP from the NAP ruling New Azerbaijan Party ,
described Khatami’s visit as a new stage in bilateral relations. He
added that the documents which are to be signed will strengthen the
political, economic and trade relations with Iran. He expressed the
hope that differences of opinions about some issues will be resolved
as well.

The DPA Democratic Party of Azerbaijan secretary-general, Akif
Sahbazov, said that Azerbaijan and Iran should have normal relations
since they are neighbours.

“I assume that the documents to be signed will have a positive impact
on the development of bilateral ties,” he said.

“President Khatami’s visit to Baku promises no good and this is
because the Iranian leadership is insincere in its relations with the
Republic of Azerbaijan,” according to the statement by the defence
committee of the National Revival Movement of South Azerbaijan NRMSA .

The statement says that the Iranian leadership has been preventing
Azerbaijan from opening its consulate in Tabriz. Turks of South
Azerbaijan northern Iran who are struggling for respect for their
national rights are being arrested, subjected to assimilation and are
not allowed to have schools in their mother tongue.

“This shows that Tehran applies double standards in its relations with

The authors of the statement, who demand an explanation from the
Iranian president over the arrest of the national movement’s activists
and the prominent Azerbaijani figures during their march to Fort Bazz
last month July , also think that Khatami’s intention to visit Azeri
poet Nizami’s grave in Ganca is not desired.

“As his predecessor Rafsanjani, Khatami also wants to gain ground by
saying that he visited ”the grave of the great Persian poet in
Azerbaijan”, the statement by the NRMSA defence committee said.