Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran expand regional cooperation
<big>Iran’s ties with Azerbaijan, Turkey serve regional peace: Iranian FM</big>
Xinhua, April 17, 2011
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said the trilateral cooperation among Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan can “serve peace and stability” in the region, local satellite Press TV reported Sunday.
“Trilateral cooperation among Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey is not only in the interest of the three countries, but also in the interest of the entire region,” Salehi was quoted as saying.
Salehi made the remarks on Saturday at the opening ceremony of the first trilateral meeting of the three countries’ foreign ministers in Iran’s northwestern city of Orumiyeh, said Press TV.
The meeting “can lay the proper foundation for expanding cooperation with other regional countries and serve peace and stability in the region,” Salehi said, adding that “All the three countries stress the necessity of resolving regional disputes in a peaceful and just manner, and believe that expanding relations and economic cooperation in the region could help establish and guarantee peace and stability.”
The foreign minister said the meeting initiated “a new framework for trilateral cooperation” in culture, trade, industry, and investment sectors.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the trilateral meetings will boost the three nations’ relations and bring them closer together.
Turkey, Iran open third border crossing in regional cooperation effort
Hurriyet, April 17, 2011
Iran and Turkey have opened a third border crossing at Kapıköy in eastern Turkey’s Van province, in what the foreign ministers of both countries called a symbol of friendship amid increased regional cooperation efforts.
“Our prime minister has set a target of $30 billion in annual trade with Iran. That is why we are opening this border crossing,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Saturday. “We are announcing to the world that Turkey and Iran will be friends for eternity.”
Media in Iran quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying: “This border is a symbol of peace and friendship and the resurrection of the Silk Road, which for centuries played an important role in making the economy of the region flourish. It also will help the development of the border area and welfare of its residents.”
Salehi said trade between Turkey and Iran currently stands at $11 billion annually, a figure he said the two countries are trying to raise to $30 billion.
The joint border between the two countries runs for 499 kilometers and already has crossing points at Gürbulak, in the eastern province of Ağrı, and at Esendere, southeast of Van.
Davutoğlu said a fourth border crossing would be opened in June at Esendere. A fifth will follow at Dilucu in northeast Turkey, he said, without giving a date for its opening.
The opening of the border was carried out amid a summit between Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan, whose foreign ministers met Saturday in Urmia, a city in northwestern Iran and the capital of the West Azerbaijan Province.
A proclamation released following the meeting announced the establishment of a new trilateral mechanism that aims to boost trade, energy, transportation and scientific relations between the three countries.
“An economic committee will be set up for the development of economic and trade relations through joint ventures, modernization of border gates, facilitation of customs and application of preferential trade between Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan,” read the joint communiqué released following the meeting between Davutoğlu, Salehi and Azerbaijan’s Elmar Memmedyarov.
The mechanism also envisions eliminating disagreements between Tehran and Baku over Iran’s northwestern province, where a majority of the population is of Azerbaijani descent.
Every country has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, abiding by the rules of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, and the monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, the communiqué said. The statement was a clear reference to Iran’s controversial nuclear program and Turkey’s expectations that Tehran comply with international norms on the issue.
The three countries will take joint steps to strengthen cooperation in the fields of trade, industry, joint ventures, transportation, communication, energy, tourism, science and technology. They will also let their intelligence services and security units work cooperatively against terrorism, organized crime and the smuggling of drugs, weapons and humans.
Underscoring recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa, where thousands of people are revolting against suppressive governments, the communiqué called on all countries to heed the demands of their people and not commit violence against their citizens. This part of the document could also be seen as a message to the Iranian leadership, which has not refrained from violently squelching frequent protests against the country’s government.
The three ministers agreed to meet every six months; their next summit will be in November, in the Nakhchivan autonomous region of Azerbaijan.