APA, Azerbaijan
Jan 13 2012

Israel's former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer: The hearings
held at Israeli Knesset on the `Armenian genocide' do not concern
Azerbaijan - INTERVIEW

[ 13 Jan 2012 15:25 ]
`This issue concerns only Turkey'

`Iran's nuclear weapon can produce undesirable consequences for
Azerbaijan, too.'

Baku. Habil Suleymanzadeh - APA. APA's interview with Benjamin
Ben-Eliezer, member of the Israeli Knesset, former minister of
defense, infrastructure and industry

-Mr. Ben-Eliezer, 20 years have passed since the establishment of the
diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel. Mutual visits have
been paid to Israel and Azerbaijan in the recent months. The trade
turnover between our states is increasing. What makes these two states
close to each other?

-First of all I should say that this is not my first visit to Baku.
This is my seventh visit to Azerbaijan. I have met with Azerbaijani
officials and I want all to know - Israelis trust Azerbaijan and
sympathize with it. There are similarities between our peoples. Both
states have unfriendly neighborhoods. Israel wishes to enhance
economic relations with Azerbaijan. We have got advanced experience
and technologies to offer Azerbaijan - agriculture, alternative
energy, information technologies and etc. There are sufficient common
moments and it is not accidental that our relations are moving

-The committee of the Israeli Knesset has recently held a hearing on
the `Armenian genocide'. Azerbaijan has a delicate approach to this
issue. How important is this issue for the Israeli political circles?
Is it realized in Israel that the recognition of the `Armenian
genocide' can damage Israel's image in Azerbaijan?

-Firstly, I must say that this issue does not concern Azerbaijan. The
essence of the issue is the following - the parliamentarians, who have
put forward this initiative, want to send a message to Turkey `Don't
teach us a lesson'. This concerns only Turkey. No one in Azerbaijan
has a reason to worry about it.

- But it is possible to hear such thoughts that hearing on `genocide'
could have a negative impact on the Azerbaijan-Israeli relations....

- I don't share this opinion because no one in Israel thinks that this
hearing could effect our bilateral relations. This is an issue caused
by the current Turkey-Israel relations, because Israel is not
satisfied with the policy of the current Turkish leadership. Frankly,
I don't like this initiative, but some lawmakers are very dissatisfied
with Turkey, but they never think to hurt Azerbaijan. I should say
again that this issue is related directly to Turkey.

- By the way, is there a chance for reconciliation between Turkey and Israel?

- I am an Israeli politician, who calls for dialogue and normalization
of the relations with Turkey. Now Israel is making all efforts to
cross the gap between us and reach an understanding. Turkey is an
important country for us due to its strategic position and economic
potential. We support the restoration of the relations and
reconciliation, but the problem is that Turkey has no such intention.
We don't see any reason to maintain tensions.

- Currently all international community focuses attention on Iran and
many hint to the possibility of war. Azerbaijan is concerned about the
war with Iran that will create difficulties for Azerbaijan. Do you
share concerns of Azerbaijan?

- The essence of the issue is that Iran threatens not only Israel and
the West, but it threatens the Islamic world and its major part -
Sunnis, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and others. Azerbaijan is
an Iran's neighbor. Iran does its best to get nuclear weapon. I was
Israel's defense minister and I guess that Iran could get it in the
next two or three years. I think Azerbaijan can not be calm in this
situation. If Iran gets nuclear weapon, it will change its attitude
toward other countries, including its neighbors. Iran's nuclear weapon
can produce undesirable consequences for Azerbaijan too. If we recall
recent threats by some forces in Iran against Azerbaijan, everything
becomes clear. Ahmadinejad always says that their goal is to destroy
Israel. How we can keep calmness?! This is a statement of insane and
inadequate person. Azerbaijan is a small country, but it can defend
itself, but it shouldn't forget that it has a neighbor, which
threatens the world.

From: Baghdasarian