“Iran’s policy on Azerbaijan is not a policy of friendly neighborhood”

“Iran’s policy on Azerbaijan is not a policy of friendly neighborhood”
# 21 February 2012 12:24 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Ramil Mammadli – APA. APA’s interview with chairman of All Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, MP Gudrat Hasanguliyev

- 20 years have passed since the Khojaly genocide. How do you assess the work done on the eve of its commemoration?

- The government, NGOs and political parties have done a great work toward the recognition of the tragedy in the world. I think we should acknowledge it. This issue began to attract more attention when Heydar Aliyev Foundation started “Justice for Khojaly” campaign led by Leyla Aliyeva. This campaign plays an important role in recognition of the genocide in the world. Our Diaspora organizations in the world, as well as societies in Europe joined this action. UK-based The European Azerbaijan Society has done much work and campaigned for recognition of the genocide in the world. Milli Mejlis also focused attention on this issue and established working groups. It brought results. The parliaments of several countries officially recognized Khojaly genocide and several countries adopted official documents. I hope the work will continue and the number of countries recognizing the genocide will increase. I would like to underline the role of the press in this field. Azerbaijani press was very active to keep the issue on the agenda.

- What do you think about the action to be held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on the day of genocide – February 26?

- I would like all political circles of Turkey, both government and opposition to support this action that it will be a grandiose event echoing throughout the world and involving hundreds of thousands of people. It will depend on heartily support giving by all political parties of Turkey. Azerbaijani state, people and society set great hopes on Turkey. Every time, when Azerbaijan says “it will liberate territories by all means, including military way”, there is a Russian general who responds that “if ceasefire is breached in the region, Russia will take measures to reach forcible peace”. Privately, I expect from Turkish officials to say that “if ceasefire is breached and Armenia continues its destructive activity, Turkey will not remain indifferent to the interference of a third country when Azerbaijan has to liberate its territories”. Such response of Turkey will force Armenians to think seriously about the peace. Taking all of these issues into account, I consider the Taksim action very important and wish to continue.

By the way, I do not accept the authorities-opposition approach to this action. Regrettably some forces attempt to cast shadow upon this action, or take advantage of it for the political purposes. I think that we should call on the Azerbaijani authorities, opposition, the Azerbaijanis living in Turkey to support this action. We should address the political circles of Turkey and say that this is the nationwide issue. This is the tragedy of the Turkic people. All efforts should be mobilized in order to inform the world about this tragedy. They should invite their supporters to Taksim square. We have the right to ask this. If thousands of people gather in the squares with the slogan “We all are Armenians”, hundreds of thousands of people should gather in this square. On February 26, Taksim square will be the test of our unity.

-How right is it to politicize it?

-This is a protest against a humanity crime. It would not be right to approach this problem in the context of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. Irrespective of nationality everyone must condemn this act of genocide. The action that will be held in Taksim is not a political one, it serves the protection of human values.

-Iran is one of the most discussed issues. The number of Iran’s threats has increased. This country openly accuses Azerbaijan of hiding terrorists. Ordinary citizens face problems on Azerbaijani border. We would like to know your opinion.

-First of all I must say that the problems created by the Iranian side for the ordinary citizens are not new. Simply, they have been complicated. I have repeatedly said at the Azerbaijani Parliament that the documents of the Azerbaijani citizens traveling to Nakhchivan through Iran or in the opposite direction are taken away and held there without showing any reasons. Our citizens undergo oppression. As we do not have other way, our citizens are obliged to use it. The problem has recently become more complicated. Iran’s policy on Azerbaijan is not the policy of friendly neighborhood. One should speak openly about it. Iran’s policy with respect to Azerbaijan is against the Islamic community and tramples down the Islamic values. If Islam suggests that Muslims are brothers, how it can be that your brother’s lands are occupied and you support the state that has done it. For example, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has no embassy in Armenia, it has recognized Khojaly genocide. Iranian officials use groundless articles as a pretext. According to the article published in The Times, Israeli intelligence services carry out some activities against Iran in the territory of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan has allowed this. I read this article attentively. Even a person, who is not a politician, knows that a secret-service agent would not publicize his identity or intention. The whole world, including Iran knows that the British media publishes articles against Azerbaijan. The boxing scandal, the articles against The European Azerbaijan Society and the campaign against Eurovision show that the country’s media has biased approach to Azerbaijan. I am sure that Iranian intelligence services are also observing this process. The campaign against Azerbaijan started by Iran due to the article published in the British media is nothing but pressure. 30 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran. There are people among the Persians, who also want normal relations because we have historical relations and share the same tradition. I regret that the Iranian president’s brother expresses opinion on this issue and accuses Azerbaijan. The purpose is to pursue hostile policy against Azerbaijan. They want to establish theocratic regime under Islamic state governing by Iran in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani society rejects it and will never receive. Ministry of National Security prevented terrorist act. To pursue such policy against Azerbaijan is wrong. Iran must change its policy against Azerbaijan, because more than 30 million Azerbaijanis live in this country and the hostile policy against Azerbaijan will cause a protest by 30 million people. It will create serious decomposition and national confrontation in Iran. That’s why Iranian officials must think seriously about this. They also must consider that Azerbaijan told powerful countries that it is neighbor of Iran and Azerbaijan will never allow using of its lands against Iran. Iran must estimate Azerbaijan’s position.

- You put forward a proposal in the parliament to rename our country as North Azerbaijan. You make this proposal when the tensions were escalated.

A group of Iranian MPs raised an issue to reconsider Turkmenchay agreement. They even said that Azerbaijan was ancient Iranian lands. But my proposal wasn’t a response to this statement. Thus issue was reflected in my election platform during presidential election campaign in 2008. Azerbaijan’s territory was occupied by Iran and Russia when its territory was in the form of khanates. It became official with Gulustan and Turkmenchay agreements. Today Western and Eastern Azerbaijan provinces were kept as an administrative territory in Iran. Iran confessed that this territory is Azerbaijan. If a place has a south, it also has a north. It is an undeniable and unavoidable reality. Iran officially recognizes the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Republic of Azerbaijan forms one third of entire Azerbaijan’s territory, one third of its population. In this case, it will not be right to be named as Azerbaijan only. Every nation has a chance to change the name of its country. The recognition of our country under the name of North Azerbaijan will be approval by UN and the world that our nation was divided. Those who oppose my statement couldn’t find serious argument. There were narrow-minded opinions as well. A scientist, whom I respect, said that the founders of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic were not uneducated than the authors of this idea… That’s why it is impossible to change the country’s name. You know, the unpleasant situation is that he assesses the issues not as historian, but as politician. In addition, every period has its political realities and according to the political realities, education and patriotism are not on the agenda during the decision-making processes. Approaching with this logic, were the persons leading the country in that period careless that they agreed to give Iravan to Armenia as a capital? There are documents. Of course no, but the political realities of that period demanded it. But the political realities of present period is that today divided nations unite and declared that they were divided. We must work in order to inform the world that we are divided nation. Some assess it as a political conjuncture. It proceeds from the national interests. Irrespective of the way of approach, we must include this issue in the agenda.

- Speaking about South Azerbaijan, there was a serious polemics in the press about Babek and Shah Ismayil. What is your opinion on this issue?

- I condemn the attack on Babek. If you investigate the life of any historical figure, you can find there something private. But one needs to consider that Babek turned into the symbol of unity of our people in the South Azerbaijan. Millions people march to fortress of Bazz every year. I also condemn such approach against Shah Ismayil Khatai who established a state in Azerbaijani lands.