Iraqi ambassador to Azerbaijan: “I appreciate the level of our political relations excellent” – INTERVIEW

Iraqi ambassador to Azerbaijan: “I appreciate the level of our political relations excellent” – <font color=red> INTERVIEW </font>
# 19 August 2010 11:10 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Lachin Sultanova – APA. Newly-appointed Iraqi ambassador to Azerbaijan Heydar Shiah Gubeyshi Al-Barrak gives an interview to APA.

- Mr. Ambassador, please speak about yourself.

- I have been in public since 1990. I joined the Government Council after liberation of Iraq in 2003. This was a council established for ruling the country after its liberation. This special council was ruling the country in cooperation with the American administration at a given time. It has 25 members and every member has an assistant. I served as an assistant to the Council member. I have started to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2004 summer. I served as an Iraqi ambassador to Bulgaria. In mid-2007 I returned to Baghdad and took the office of press and information. I am married and father of two.

- What about the level and prospects of Azerbaijani-Iraqi relations?

- Our countries have a historic relationship. This is very old relationship passing through the centuries. I can appreciate our political relations excellent. There is political coordination and joint activity between the two friendly countries in both bilateral level and within the Organization of the Islamic Conference, UN. Iraq supports all issues raised by Azerbaijan in international level. Azerbaijan also supports Iraq. Now we think to develop other spheres of the relations. Commercial and economic aspects are strengthening the political relations. But current situation, including delay of establishing the government is preventing the extension of cooperation. Both countries were expected to sign a number of very important agreements last month, but it was delayed because the government has not been established yet. These are important agreements in the fields of trade, culture and education. Baku-Baghdad, Baku-Najaf and Baku-Erbil flights are negotiated now. All of these will strengthen the relations.

- When the government will be formed?

- All political forces in Iraq are interested in establishing the government. No one would like to delay it. We are looking forward for soonest resolution of this issue.

- Does your embassy give visa to Azerbaijani citizens?

- We have been doing it for a long time. Any Azerbaijani citizen has got an opportunity to ask the consular office of the embassy to receive visa since the very beginning of the embassy’s activity.

- Both Azerbaijan and Iraq are oil countries. What stage is the energy cooperation in?

- Azerbaijani oil experts were visiting Iraq and assisting the local oil industry earlier and they continue to do it now. Azerbaijan-Iraqi oil cooperation was established long ago. A number of Iraqi oil experts graduated from the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy. There are unlimited prospects in this field. Both sides intend to strengthen and develop this sector, but it needs to strengthen this cooperation by the agreements. We are working on that and I hope we will sign relevant agreements.

- Austria proposes to transport Azerbaijani and Iraqi gas via Nabucco. What is Iraq’s opinion on that?

-There is such an idea. There is a strategic line from Kirkuk to Ceyhan. Nabucco is also to pass through Ceyhan. There is an idea to unite these two pipelines. The Iraqi side should pass a political decision about it. Iraqi Ministry of Oil can have its say concerning this issue. Azerbaijan, Iraq and Turkey should sign an agreement determining expenses, quantity etc.

-SOCAR is opening its offices in a number of countries. Is it planned to open an office in Iraq?

-These are the details of the talks, discussions. Iraq has invited Azerbaijani oil experts, drillers, oil engineers to work in the oil deposits of Iraq.

-Are there many people who wish to go?

-I can not say there are many. But I can say that there is a need for the experience of the Azerbaijani experts.

-Probably it is connected with the martial law in Iraq.

- Of course.

- When will the martial law be over?

-It will be in stages. In the first stage, at the end of this month, the US forces are to stop the military operations. The US forces will not fulfill any combat task by the end of August. In the second stage – by end of 2011 the rest of the troops will be withdrawn. In December, 2011, there will be no US force in Iraq. 300-400 soldiers will stay to secure the US embassy.

-How do you assess the participation of the Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Iraq?

-I am grateful to the Azerbaijani government for active participation in the liberation of Iraq. Azerbaijan’s participation since 2003 strengthened the relations between the two states. The most important is that the Iraqis have special attitude towards the Azerbaijani servicemen. This is caused by the religious factor and common customs and traditions.

-Will the Azerbaijani peacekeepers be withdrawn from Iraq after the US forces are withdrawn?

-Yes, they will be. At the end of 2011 there will be no foreign soldier in Iraq. Actually, the Iraqi army is defending its country. Foreign forces help when necessary. Iraqi security forces conduct battles with terrorists, detain, expel them.

-We hope the foreign military forces will leave the country, peace and prosperity will be restored in Iraq.

-We hope Azerbaijan will also restore its territorial integrity, get back Nagorno Karabakh, occupying forces will be withdrawn.