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Author Topic:   Iran & Azerbaijan conflict......
posted August 03, 2001 10:04     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Iran adopts precautionary military measures in border city of Astara

BBC Monitoring Service
Aug 1, 2001

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Astara, Gilan Province, 1 August: Following military warnings issued by Iran against Azerbaijan for expanding Alborz oilfield in the Caspian Sea, precautionary military measures have been adopted in the border city of Astara.

Iran's Astara lies north of the northern province of Gilan in the vicinity of Azerbaijan's Astara city.

The city is about 160 kms from Albroz oilfield, that is the closest land point to the oil field.

Based on an official announcement by Azerbaijan, an Iranian military ship on Monday [30 July] prevented an Azeri ship from continuing its geological and exploration operation in the oilfield, that is called in Baku as Alov.

An informed security source says that over the past couple of days Azeri border guard ship was observed on the border for a long period of time. The source said the radio frequencies of the Azeri military bases were turned off.

Meanwhile, over the past couple of days Iran's border guard vessels in Astara region continued patrolling near Azerbaijan.

In the past two years, groups of senior commanders from the Islamic Republic of Iran's Army have been stationed in the region.

Two Iranian helicopters on Tuesday morning flew over the Caspian Sea territorial waters in vicinity of Astara and conducted reconnaissance flights in the region.

No Azeri border guard ship was seen in the region and according to informed sources they are not visible even on the radar screens of Iranian vessels, stationed in Astara region.

A Caspian Sea expert and an expatriate Iranian professor Jahanbakhsh Izadi said here Tuesday that the actions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the past couple of days concerning the Caspian Sea legal regime do not conform to any international regulations.

Izadi told IRNA that Azerbaijan thinks the measures are in its national interests.

Referring to the 1921 and 1940 treaties between Iran and the former Soviet Union, Izadi said that according to international regulations, as long as such accords are valid they should be respected. However, he said, Azerbaijan has defied them and has taken actions which are not in conformity even with Article 74 of the sea

Azerbaijan has basically ignored the agreement, regretted the Iranian professor. He said that any law replacing the existing one is unacceptable and such a move will prove futile.

He referred to the invitation extended to foreign powers, NATO and Turkey, to step in the Caspian Sea and even inciting Turkey as examples of Azerbaijan's ambitious policies. Through such moves, Azerbaijan has also been trying to politicize legal issues, he added.

But actions by the Azerbaijan government will never be able to influence the legal issues which are based on a series of principles pertaining to international laws, he said.

The legal regime of the Caspian sea, which is the world's biggest lake, is something that should be worked out through consensus, said the expert, adding, "This means that even if four littoral states are in agreement on an issue but it is rejected by a fifth country then the legal system thus achieved is not acceptable. This is a trump card for Iran."

He said the most suitable way to tap Caspian sea resources is through shared exploitation.

"The solution is not only useful for Iran but also for four other littoral states and will bear positive results," he added.

In that case, he pointed out, all littoral states can have a share in the entire wealth and safeguard its reserves in the best possible manner.

Azerbaijan Republic's unofficial TV network `Space' announced Monday that the British oil giant BP is not willing to lose its immense benefits in Iran at the cost of its activities in a shared oilfield in the Caspian Sea.

The BP immediately stopped its exploration activities in Iran's Alborz energy block upon receiving a warning from an Iranian navy ship.

The Azeri TV referred to an interview by a BP official in the Financial Times in which he hoped that the Caspian Sea incidence would not have negative effects on his company's vast projects being carried out in southwest Iranian oilfields.

'Space' TV's energy commentator concluded, "That explains BP's relative indifference towards the last Monday incidence."

The commentator went on to say that BP has considered the issue as one that has to be settled between Tehran and Baku, while attaching greater importance to its contracts with Iran.

Tehran-Baku relations turned tense following the warning issued by Iran's Navy on Monday.

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi here Friday welcomed a statements by Azeri President Heydar Aliyev to settle the Caspian Sea issue through negotiations.

President Aliyev is to visit Tehran in the near future according to an earlier schedule.

Kharrazi said the Caspian Sea countries should avoid any action which could create misunderstanding among the regional states adding that the Caspian Sea littoral states should wait for the determination of the Caspian Sea legal regime before conducting prospecting in the energy-rich spots.

He voiced Iran's readiness to hold talks with Azeri officials and said considering Iranian foreign ministry notes and policies would surely contribute to positive results in Iran-Azerbaijan cooperation.

Head of the Caspian Sea Research Institute Abbas Maleki on July 25 accused the Republic of Azerbaijan of taking hasty actions in oil related issues which he blamed on the country's dispute with all its neighbours.

The British government, too, has announced that the UK fully understands Iran's stance, a British foreign ministry official announced last Tuesday, adding that BP will definitely suspend its activities in the Caspian Sea as long as Iran does not permit it to do so.

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posted August 03, 2001 10:05     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Azerbaijan says Iran spat will not spoil relations

BAKU, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Azeri President Haydar Aliyev said on Wednesday he would not allow a row with Iran over ownership of part of the oil-rich Caspian Sea to undermine relations between the neighbours. But official Iranian news agency IRNA said Iran had stepped up military patrols on its border with Azerbaijan after the spat last week, when an Iranian gunboat ordered two Azeri-licensed oil survey vessels operated by British oil giant BP out of the disputed area.

Azerbaijan sent a letter of protest after the incident.

Aliyev told reporters that Azerbaijan would maintain "peaceful relations with our southern neighbour" and go ahead with a planned visit to Iran this month.

"We will never allow the deterioration of relations with Iran," Aliyev said before departing for Russia for an informal summit of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a grouping of former Soviet republics.

IRNA said Iranian coastguard boats patrolled Iranian Caspian waters on Wednesday and two helicopters conducted reconnaissance flights over the sea.

"Following military warnings issued by Iran against Azerbaijan (over an) oil field in the Caspian Sea, precautionary military measures have been adopted in the border city of Astara," the agency said.

BP has suspended exploration activities in the contested offshore block that Azerbaijan calls Araz-Alov-Sharg and Iran calls Alborz. The two countries vowed last Friday to resolve the dispute through negotiation.

But on Wednesday, Aliyev's son, Ilkham, vice-president of state oil company SOCAR, said Iran's claim to the waters was illogical and violated international laws.

"I don't think a similar incident will happen again," Ilkham Aliyev told reporters. "But if Iran tries again to apply force, then we will respond with corresponding measures."

Officials confirmed media reports that Iran's ambassador to Azerbaijan returned to Tehran at the weekend but said it was a routine visit.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Caspian's status was governed by agreements between the Soviet Union and Iran. Now there are five coastal states that have so far failed to agree on how to divide it.

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posted August 03, 2001 10:07     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Southern Azerbaijan's intelligentsia protests against Iranian claims

BBC Monitoring Service
Aug 1, 2001

Text of report by Azerbaijani TV station ANS on 31 July

[Presenter] More than 1,000 southern Azerbaijani intellectuals, who are aware of the Iranian militants' action, informed Azerbaijani President [Heydar Aliyev] about their readiness to fight against Iran.

[Correspondent over video of people in military uniforms] Arabs living in the south of Iran were urged to fought against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Perhaps, Iran, which misinformed Azeris in southern Azerbaijan about the incident on 23 July, intends to use the same method, that is, to put southern Azeris against Azerbaijan. However, Iran's strategic intention will not come true this time. An appeal signed by more than 1,000 representatives of the intelligentsia has been sent to President Heydar Aliyev which consists of a three-meter-long fax. The appeal says that the southern Azeris were subjected to moral pressure for years as a result of Iran's chauvinist policy. In addition to this, the intelligentsia is furious about Iran's territorial claims against independent Azerbaijan. The representative of the National Liberation Movement of Southern Azerbaijan [NLMSA] in Baku, Piruz Dilanci, draws your attention to the fax.

[Video of Piruz Dilanci holding the fax paper and reading it] Despite the fact that we are not citizens of independent Azerbaijan from a legal point of view, we, the Turks of southern Azerbaijan, promise that in case of a military conflict, will use any weapons falling into our hands against Iran itself, which we are citizens of.

[Correspondent over video] More than 1,000 intellectuals said that the 23 July incident was not a coincidence but as a deliberate provocation.

[Dilanci] Preventing ANS TV programmes being broadcast from Baku to southern Azerbaijani one day before [the incident], on 22 July, attests to this.

[Correspondent over video] Our intelligentsia in southern Azerbaijan write that the Tehran regime prevents ANS TV programmes being broadcast and is engaged in serious propaganda and provocation against the Azerbaijani state by means of a state television channel called Sahar.

[Dilanci] Esteemed President! Our youths are also of the same opinion and are ready to follow your orders.

Best regards,
Singed by Tabriz population.

[Dilanci adds his own statement] As I said earlier, there are more than 1,000 signatures here. The fax paper is more than three metres.

[Correspondent over video of Iran's footage] This is the result and needs no further comment. In fact, Iran will lose because of the step it took on 23 July. Our southern compatriots, who had been afraid of uttering a word against Iran, already expressed their protest with their signatures.

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posted August 03, 2001 10:08     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Azerbaijan to insist BP continues work in disputed Caspian sector

BAKU, Aug 1 (AFP) - Ilham Aliyev, vice-president of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, said on Wednesday that the oil company BP will not be let out of its obligation to search for oil in a disputed sector of the Caspian Sea. "SOCAR will insist that work continues on the Alov-Sharg-Araz structure and that the contract is honoured," said Aliyev, who is also the son of Azeri President Heydar Aliyev.

After a BP survey vessel was threatened by an Iranian war ship in the Alov-Sharg-Araz block last week, BP said it was suspending operations there until the border dispute with Iran had been settled.

"The contract can be used to bring pressure on the company," said Aliyev. "The contract specifies the research period and the company's obligations in terms of seismic testing and drilling."

He said that SOCAR would hold a meeting with BP executives in the next few days to discuss the situation.

BP was a major investor in the Azeri sector of the Caspian and was tied into a number of important contracts, said Aliyev. "Therefore we have to have talks with them."

The SOCAR vice-president also dismissed a string of drilling disappointments in the Azeri sector of the Caspian which have shaken confidence that there are still substantial hydrocarbon reserves there.

He said it was not the first time people had said Azerbaijan had no more oil and claimed the talk was driven by "political motives."

He said: "No-one can give guarantees about which block you'll find oil in and in which you'll find gas. International practice shows that only 30 percent of exploratory drilling is successful.

"If you take that into account then you can see that Azerbaijan's record is much better. It stands at about 50 percent."

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posted August 03, 2001 10:09     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Azeri minister stresses need for economic, trade ties with Iran

BBC Monitoring Service
Aug 1, 2001

Text of report by Azerbaijani TV station ANS on 31 July

[Presenter] Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev signed a decree confirming the new line-up of the state commission for cooperation with Iran in the economic, trade and humanitarian fields after an Iranian military aircraft violated Azerbaijan's air space on 23 July. The head of the commission, Farhad Aliyev, has said that it is namely the weakness of these relations that is the reason for tension in Iranian-Azerbaijani relations.

[Correspondent over video footage of Baku] Tomorrow [1 August] the new line-up of the state commission for cooperation with Iran in the economic, trade and humanitarian fields will hold a meeting. Azerbaijani Economic Development Minister Farhad Aliyev, who was appointed as head of the commission by a presidential decree, said that four intergovernmental draft agreements have already been initialed. Azerbaijan has submitted four more agreements to Iran for consideration. Seven new agreements are currently being prepared. The initialed documents are an agreement on air links between Iran and Azerbaijan, a memorandum on cooperation in the field of mining and geology, an agreement on eliminating double taxation and the evasion of profit and property taxes and an agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance. The draft agreements that Azerbaijan has submitted to Iran deal with international road transportation and cooperation in the spheres of trade, sport and education.

[Interview with Farhad Aliyev in his office] Undoubtedly these [accords] serve to better maintain trade relations between these two countries from the legal point of view. Of course, we should protect our market. At the same time time, we should protect our market without discrimination. If we live in market relation conditions, then we should adapt to market relations. There are various methods for preserving a market and we should use these methods. If we think that we should not sign such agreements, then we will not be able to be integrated into the world. Then it will transpire that we say one thing and do another.

[Correspondent over video of footage of Iran] To recap, before the Caspian incident Iran came up with some proposals. The Azerbaijani government intends to consider among others a proposal by an Iranian trade minister, Mojtaba Khosrow-Taj, to which they have not yet responded, dealing with Iranian investors taking part in projects worth 100m dollars.

[Farhad Aliyev] That project envisaged the export of Iranian goods worth 100m dollars to Azerbaijan. Those goods would be sold in Azerbaijan and that sum would be given to Azerbaijan for one year. These goods could be either equipment or other products. I cannot say precisely which specific issues will be reflected in this document since I have not received a letter regarding this question.

[Correspondent] Aliyev expressed confidence that the need and potential to expand economic and trade relations between Iran and Azerbaijan exists, despite the conflict of interests in the political sphere.

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posted August 03, 2001 10:12     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Russia concerned over Iran-Azeri Caspian Sea oil dispute

MOSCOW, Aug 1 (AFP) - Moscow has expressed concern over an incident last week in which an Iranian warship threatened an Azeri oil-research vessel in the oil-rich Caspian Sea, the Foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. The face-off occurred as Iran and its neighbor Azerbaijan are locked in a row over the Caspian Sea's oil reserves.

Iran's ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry Tuesday, the statement said.

The Azeri geological survey vessel Geophysic-3 was approached on July 23 by an Iranian warship in Azeri waters about 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

After a stand-off during which the Iranian ship trained its guns on the Azeri vessel, the Geophysic-3 turned around and returned to port in Baku, Azeri officials said.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev insisted last week that his country would not give in to Iran's claims on its sector of the oil-rich Caspian.

"We will not get into a war but we will stand up for our rights," Guliyev told AFP.

Iran wants to divide the inland sea into five equal parts, but Azerbaijan and Russia, which also controls part of the Caspian, say it should be split in line with national boundaries, which would give Iran a smaller slice.

The row between Azerbaijan and Iran comes at a time when development of the Caspian's oil resources is just starting to take off, with output set to grow and a major new pipeline from the Caspian to the Turkish Mediterranean in development.

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posted August 03, 2001 10:15     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Former Soviet leaders to tackle Caspian oil dispute

MOSCOW, Russia, August 1 (AFP) - Leaders of 10 former Soviet republics gathered Wedensday in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi for an informal "no-neckties" summit focusing on recent tensions surrounding the division of Caspian Sea oil. But underlining the Commonwealth of Independent States' diminishing regional role, the CIS gathering was snubbed by Georgian President Eduard Shevernadze and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Shevernadze has experienced strained relations with Moscow, which had set up the CIS -- which groups 12 former Soviet republics except for the three Baltic nations -- in a bid to regain its influence over the former Soviet territories.

But the CIS has instead been dubbed a "divorce court" for the former republics, with Shevernadze in particular preparing his nation for a potential alliance with the United States and NATO.

He has also been accused by Russia of sheltering guerrilla fighters from separatist Chechnya.

Turkmenistan's Niyazov meanwhile has displayed increasingly isolationist tendencies, much to the disappointment of Russia, which is hoping to tap his nation's vast natural gas fields.

The informal no-neckties affair on Wednesday and Thursday however is expected to tackle another dispute that has recently flared in the region -- the division of the Caspian Sea, and its suspected oil reserves.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran approached a crisis point when an Iranian warship approached an Azeri exploring vessel last week in disputed waters of the Caspian.

A direct confrontation was averted, but all of the other Caspian states, including Russia, have voiced concerns over the incident, expressing a new willingness to finally solve the decade-old oil dispute.

But although those talks will be on the agenda in Sochi, analysts note that little progress can be made without the presence of the principle player, Iran.

Also of concern to Russia will be recent efforts by the former Soviet republics to draw up their own, mini trade and economic cooperation accords that bypass Moscow.

In Yalta, Ukraine in June, five former Soviet republics --- Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova -- issued a statement stressing that their collective grouping, known as GUUAM, was not aimed directly against Russia.

However Moscow has been eyeing that association with consternation, repeatedly emphasizing the significance of the CIS instead.

At the last official CIS summit in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded that the organization was hurting from "contradictions" but still urged a summit here to present a united front on economic and security issues.

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