Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Atesh Sultanov
Azerbaijan TV
29 July 2007

ATV: Your Majesty, the closer relations between Jordan and Azerbaijan began to develop in 1993 by the efforts of two great politicians - late President Heydar Aliyev and late King Hussein Bin Talal. Looking back to these relations how do you evaluate the dynamic of their development?

King Abdullah: Well again as you said, we have tremendous relations built by two tremendous, courageous men that have had tremendous impact on both our countries. What I'd like to say is that, that relationship has continued very strongly, and with the visits that I've had to your country and looking forward to seeing the president on Sunday here in Jordan, this is really a new phase in the relationship between Azerbaijan and Jordan; one that I believe will take us forward together to the aspirations that both the president and I have and the people need. So I'm actually very excited about this visit because it gives us the opportunity to strengthen - we've always had very good political relationships - the economic and social aspects of our relationship, which I think is very important, and I will look forward to the future with tremendous excitement in this regard.

ATV: You mentioned the economic relations. But there are still plenty of untapped opportunities to cooperate in the field of economy. Which fields of the Jordanian economy do you think may be more to Azerbaijani businessmen?

King Abdullah: We're very interested in the issue of trade, but again for countries to really work professionally together we need to look at mutual benefits, so there are aspects of trade where I know our people are interested in pharmaceuticals, the health care sector, access of trade into Azerbaijan, but also it appears Azerbaijan is a key to the region. So we have had some delegations visit your country, there have been some Azeri delegations here in Jordan. We're also very interested in bringing our peoples closer together, so the challenge that we have is how do we get national or international flights between our two countries so that the people can access one another. My hope is that over the next couple of months we can, from both sides, continue to encourage the private sector to visit each other and identify key concerns that can move us forward.

ATV: What about the energy sector?

King Abdullah: The energy sector is one in which you have tremendous experience in, in different fields. We have natural resources here in Jordan, we are hoping that at that level also there'll be some exchanges. I think all across the board, there are so many opportunities. What I'd like to say, when I look at your country, I see such tremendous potential for the future. I think that Azerbaijan will be an example for your whole region, and I hope as a Muslim country it will be a region that is an example for all of us. So I have always been excited about the potential of Azerbaijan and I think that you are a rising star, and we are very proud to be associated with that.

ATV: Your Majesty is a good friend of the President Ilham Aliyev. Late President Heydar Aliyev had a good friendship with your father as well. How do you assess the role of these ties on the development of bilateral relations?

King Abdullah: I think it's critical, I think the two great leaders had a wonderful relationship and as a result Jordan and Azerbaijan have very close political ties. I think the role of the president and myself as the younger generation is to strengthen the economic and social bridges between our two countries, and I believe we've taken a good step in that direction. The presence of your president here in Jordan on Sunday, I think, will go a long way to cementing those ties. But really this is a new chapter of relations between our two countries where we can have these economic and social ties, which I think are equally as important, and maybe in this day and age more important, in bringing nations together.

ATV: You always supported the fair position of Azerbaijan in the resolution of Upper Karabakh conflict. We would appreciate your opinion on Azerbaijani efforts to solve this problem in a peaceful means.

King Abdullah: Well again, we have always believed that dialogue is the way forward; to be able to reach out to others. I believe there has always been a very wise policy of being able to deal with all the issues that Azerbaijan has been facing, both by the President and his late father. This is another example of what Jordan and Azerbaijan have in common; you live in a very complicated region, as we do, and that is another common factor between our two countries. But you have always tried to use dialogue to reach out, to try and solve the problems through peaceful means, and this is something that is extremely appreciated by Jordan, and by also many countries in the international community.

ATV: In Azerbaijan, like in many other countries, we highly value your efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East. We would like you to share with us your thoughts on establishing a long lasting peace in the Middle East region.

King Abdullah: Well again that is a major challenge, one that has been an obstacle for many decades to all of us in the region. But I believe that the core issue is still the Israeli-Palestinian problem, it always has been; that is the most emotional issue. And that is again the greatest challenge that we have. But at the same time we have a very limited window of opportunity to bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, simply because I believe geographically there is not much left of a Palestinian state on the ground, and if we don't achieve a future for the Palestinians in the near future then my fear is that maybe we'll resign this whole region to instability, due to the fact that Israelis and Palestinians may not take that critical vital step in the next coming months to try and solve their problems, which then allows the Israelis to solve their problems with the Arabs and the Muslim countries. So we have a lot of work ahead of us, and we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope in God that we can achieve peace and stability for generations to come.

ATV: What can you say about the recent diplomatic flurry in the region and about your visit to Washington?

King Abdullah: Well again this is part of a combined effort - a team effort - among many countries in the region, in particular between Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to try and find a common ground between Israelis and Palestinians to be able to move negotiations forward. My visit to the United States was again in this light; my discussions with the American officials and with the President, was to try and create the umbrella that allows Israelis and Palestinians to come together in the very near future and launch the peace process. Hopefully we will have a breakthrough before the end of the year; if we don't then the future brings with it a lot of problems.

ATV: As you mentioned before your visit to Azerbaijan last year was a new stage in the bilateral relations. The visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Jordan will be the next step in this stage. What is going to be discussed during this visit and what do you expect from it?

King Abdullah: Well I think it'll be a continuation of the discussions that we had last time when we were in your country, but it is just hard to strengthen the relations across the board and politics seems to be the easiest part of the discussions because our views are very close and because we've been brotherly countries; politically we've always shared the same views. But the challenge for us is how do we strengthen the economic and social bridges between our two countries, and that is by promoting our two countries in front of each other's people by encouraging the private sectors of both our countries to visit each other and understand each other more and to cut through government red tape of both sides to make sure that government to government whether it's in education, health sector, defence or other areas, that we do not waste time. But I believe that the president is a man of action and one who wants to see things done very quickly for his country. I believe that both he and I have the same aspirations for our people; we want to improve the living standards as quickly as possible. I'm extremely impressed in the very short period of time, what His Excellency the President has been able to do in his country, and I think in that respect work in good spirits and brothers in arms. So I'm excited about his visit to Jordan; this is his country, we are all his friends and we are sure that this is going to be a very positive and enjoyable visit for both of us.

ATV: Thanks to His Late Majesty King Hussein and thanks to you, can we call Jordan the bridge between West and East?

King Abdullah: I think that there are many countries that play that role between East and West, and again, I think if you look at your country, you are in a very strategic area, and your ability to bridge East and West is critical. And the more you look at Azerbaijan and Jordan, the more that you see in common. So, both His Late Majesty and the late president, I think, positioned their countries in a very important position, and it is the responsibility of the younger leaders to make sure that we push the threshold and bring these opportunities to our people.

ATV: Thank you very much, Your Majesty, for the interview and thank you very much for your attempts towards establishing peace in the region because the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an example for us too.

King Abdullah: Thank you, I'm pleased to have you here.

ATV: Thank you.