Free Trade Zone for Karabakh Proposed

TEHRAN (IRNA)–It is regrettable that Baku has placed at the disposal of foreigners–all oil resources of the Caspian sea–said Zartosht Alizadeh–co,-chairman of the Azerbaijan Republic Social Democrat Party.

In an interview with the English-language daily Iran News published Tuesday–he added ”although we believe that the oil contracts signed for exploitation of the Caspian Sea resources are in line with our national interests–we are of the opinion that Baku should adopt policies to lessen the negative impact of the presence of western oil companies in the region.”

Stressing that Baku must not sell its oil at low prices he added that it should not either resort to improper oil production in the short run.

Since Baku’s cooperation with western oil companies is aimed to elicit new technology–it is enough for Baku to enter into contract with foreign oil companies to undertake oil exploration and drilling in one part of the sea only because Azerbaijan possesses good technicians who are capable of running its oil industry–he stressed.

As for Azerbaijan’s cooperation with the US and NATO–he said ”we are not against NATO programs but we are opposed to its interference in the affairs of other countries.” He added that the presence of the US and NATO in the region was the extension of the presence of American oil companies in the Caspian.

Furthermore–it must be borne in mind that NATO enjoys special relations with Russia and is not ready to impair its good ties with Moscow for the sake of Azerbaijan whose position with regard to Karabakh differs with those of NATO and the West.

Regarding Tehran’s mediation in the Karabakh conflict resolution process–he said that Russia and a number of European countries do not allow Iran to mediate in that matter–when in fact–they did so in 1992 when Iran decided to mediate between the warring parties.

Karabakh should be converted into an autonomous zone–he believed and added that it be ruled by both Azerbaijan and Armenia jointly.

Under such circumstances–Baku would provide guarantee for the well being of the Armenia’s in the area. he said adding ”should the Armenia’s resort to foreign powers for assistance–Baku is prepared for a war.”

Since the Azeri government is unable to resolve the Karabakh dispute it is better that both Armenia and Azerbaijan march toward peace and friendship jointly.

”Conversion of Karabakh into a free trade zone and demilitarization of the enclave is another suggestion put forward by our party,” he concluded.

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