Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev embarked on an official visit to neighboring Iran on February 23.
A guard of honor was lined up for President Aliyev at Iran’s Mehrabad airport decorated with the national flags of the two countries. The Azerbaijani president was welcomed by Iran’s high-ranking officials. Azerbaijan and Iran, the two strategic partners and two neighboring countries with historically close links, enjoy significant prospects for further developing cooperation in various sectors.
President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Iran, which will take place on February 23, will give a definite impetus to rapprochement of Baku and Tehran on a number of political and economic issues. Baku and Tehran are engaged in the implementation of several oil and gas projects. In particular, the Islamic Republic participated in the development of Azerbaijan’s giant Shah Deniz gas field in the Azerbaijani section of the Caspian Sea.
The two countries also carry out gas swap operations: Azerbaijan supplies its fuel to Iran’s northern provinces while Iran ensures the gas demand of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Currently, the possibility of transporting Iranian gas through Azerbaijan to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor is high on the agenda of talks between the two governments.
President Aliyev’s visit to Tehran can become fruitful in terms of resolving several problems and boosting multilateral ties. In particular, Baku and Tehran can reach an agreement on unresolved status of the Caspian Sea. The two countries, based on the best practice of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan [these two Central Asian counties have an agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea for developing the offshore fields], can make a decision for significantly speeding up the process of resolving the status of the sea.
Also, it is high time for Baku and Tehran to boost trade ties and take decisive steps for involving the Iranian companies to Azerbaijan and vise versa. In recent years, Azerbaijan and Iran have become very important partners of the North-South transport corridor. Iran, located in the Middle East region, has land borders with the South Asian, Central Asian, and Middle East countries, with access to the Gulf and Indian Ocean.
Azerbaijan, in the cradle of the Caspian Sea, is settled in between the West and East. The country plays a gateway role between not only the east and west, but also the north and south. The Land of Fire is positioned on one of the most important trade and transit routes to Europe. In this regard, the transportation sector is one of the main areas of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran.
The construction of the railway’s Iranian section has already started. Therefore, the visit of Azerbaijan’s president to Iran suggests that the project’s implementation can be even more accelerated. In his recent interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, President Aliyev expressed confidence that his visit to Tehran will create a solid foundation to develop and achieve a qualitatively new level of relations between the friendly and the neighboring Iran and Azerbaijan.