A ceremony to commission the “Khudafarin” hydroelectric complex and inaugurate the “Giz Galasi” hydroelectric complex on the Araz River was held on May 19 with participation of Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The heads of state launghed the “Khudafarin” and “Giz Galasi” hydroelectric complexes.

Subsequently, a video presentation related to these hydroelectric complexes was held.

Constructed on the Araz River, at the border between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, these complexes were built for the dual purposes of electricity generation and irrigation. The projects for these hydroelectric complexes were developed based on an agreement signed between the Soviet Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran in October 1977. While the construction of these complexes, which underwent renovation in the early 1990s, was halted due to the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia, subsequent construction work were solely undertaken by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Construction works of the dams of the “Khudafarin” and “Giz Galasi” hydroelectric complexes have been completed. Currently, the “Khudafarin” water reservoir holds 503 million cubic meters of water, while the “Giz Galasi” reservoir holds 42 million cubic meters, constituting 40% and 85% of their total capacities, respectively.


Opening ceremony continued with speeches by Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov and Iranian Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian


Then, the heads of state delivered their speeches

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

– Dear Mr. President.

Dear friends.

It is a very special day today. I believe that the opening of the “Giz Galasi” hydroelectric complex and the commissioning of the “Khudafarin” hydroelectric complex are historic events. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all Iranian experts, workers and friends who participated in the construction of this huge facility. It was also mentioned here that Iran had vast opportunities and extensive experience in implementing such projects. Today, we clearly saw that this project really requires great knowledge, competence and experience.

Today’s ceremony is yet another manifestation of our friendship. Today, the whole world can see how strong Iran-Azerbaijani friendship is. This friendship has deep roots and a deep history. For centuries, the peoples of Iran and Azerbaijan have lived and created together, and I think that the interstate relations built on this solid foundation have reached the highest level.

The historic significance of today’s ceremony, among other things, consists in the fact that the Presidents of Iran and Azerbaijan are meeting at the border for the first time. This once again shows that this border is a border of friendship and brotherhood. The feelings of mutual respect, understanding and support stemming from long-standing history are manifested today in this huge project, the negotiations and agreements reached, and will be also manifested in our future plans.

Today, the Honorable President and I discussed a lot of issues and once again made sure that our opinions coincide, whether they are related to international issues or regional security. This is a very important factor. Iranian-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood are an important factor for the stability of the region and for the strengthening of future security. We support each other in all international organizations we are members of, and we will continue to do so. By supporting each other in the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the ECO and the UN, we, at the same time, pursue our own policies and express our own intentions.

Of course, transport projects play a special role among the projects that unite us. Today, joint efforts have been made in connection with the creation of the North-South Transport Corridor, which is of great importance not only for our countries, but also for the wider geography. The efforts made so far have already turned into real projects. The creation and modernization of modern railway infrastructure both on the territory of Iran and on the territory of Azerbaijan will turn the North-South Transport Corridor into the most important transport artery in the world in the future. Both countries have combined their efforts here. I must state that the volume of cargo transportation along the North-South Transport Corridor increased by more than 50 percent last year and further increased in the first three months of this year. Overall, the growth of cargo transportation between Iran and Azerbaijan constitutes more than 50 percent, and this is only a beginning. These numbers will increase even more after the railway becomes fully operational.

Today, a new automobile bridge is under construction in the direction of Aghband. Once this bridge has been built, it will also become part of the North-South Transport Corridor. It is not just a bridge connecting the main part of Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is an integral part of it, it is also a part of the international transport corridor. As I mentioned, it will become a part of both North-South and East-West Transport corridors.

Today, large-scale transport projects are in progress in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. Roads, airports and a railway to Aghband are under construction, and it will be put into operation in the near future. Thus, with joint efforts, we will ensure the future development of our countries, and at the same time, contribute to transport security of many countries.

We have major plans in the field of energy. As already mentioned, the construction of two 280-megawatt hydropower plants is scheduled here. Equal distribution of energy capacity will bring additional benefits to both countries.

I must inform that the liberated Karabakh and Eastn Zangezur regions, as well as the Nakhchivan region, have been declared “green energy” zones in Azerbaijan. These regions make up about 25 percent of our territory. The creation of “green energy” sources in these regions will benefit the entire region. In the last three years, hydropower plants with the capacity of 270 megawatts have been built on the liberated lands. We have a specific program to increase the capacity of these plants to 500 megawatts, and this will be resolved in the next two to three years. Given the fact that the issue of upgrading the power lines between Iran and Azerbaijan and mutual supply issues have already been resolved, these will be projects that will bring a great benefit to our countries and other countries as well.

Our cooperation in other areas also strengthens our countries and benefits regional cooperation. Increasing trade turnover, creating new joint ventures – all these can be clearly seen. Of course, in order to implement all our plans, there must be peace, tranquility and stability in the region where we live. Unfortunately, for many years, the situation here was developing in a completely different direction. As you know, the territories of Azerbaijan recognized by the international community were under Armenian occupation for nearly 30 years. These territories, the lands in this vicinity were under occupation. Approximately 20 percent of our lands were occupied, the Azerbaijani population was expelled from there, a policy of ethnic cleansing was carried out against us, and a million Azerbaijanis were left homeless. The OSCE Minsk Group and its co-chairs who were dealing with this issue for many years worked to freeze the conflict, not to resolve it. The complete abolition of the Minsk Group, which was had been for 28 years but actually remained inactive, is Azerbaijan’s legitimate demand. Let me say this again – for 28 years, they tried to freeze the issue, not to resolve it.

Azerbaijan has resolved the issue with Armenia, the issue of restoration of its territorial integrity, through military and political means, within the framework of international law and international humanitarian law in 2020, and also fully restored its state sovereignty in 2023. Now the process of defining the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan is underway. We are seeing the initial positive results of this process, the process of delimitation and demarcation has already started in the northern section of our border. I believe that this is reassuring because it gives hope that finally, after a long break, a peace agreement can be signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

We welcome Iran’s support on this issue, and today, during a conversation with Honorable President Raisi, I once again saw that Iran is making very important and valuable efforts towards ensuring peace, stability and security in the region.

The development of the region must be secured through the will of the peoples living in the countries of the region. The interference of non-regional countries in our affairs is unacceptable. As Azerbaijan, we establish relations with all countries on the basis of mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s affairs and mutual benefit, and we will continue to establish them like this in the future. If anyone – leaders of countries thousands of kilometers away from here – want to achieve any results in this region, let them talk to us. Inappropriate and unnecessary intervention has not brought about and will not bring about any results. I believe that Armenia should not take a wrong step. Regional issues should be resolved with the direct participation and determination of regional countries. For many years, Armenia relied on the protection and support of countries located far from here. What was the result? The result was not very reassuring for them. So, they shouldn’t make yet another mistake. The peoples living in the region have historically lived here. The states of the region are strong states, they are states that conduct an independent policy. No outside force has ever succeeded in influencing the determination of these states, and they will not. I do hope that Armenia contributes to regional cooperation, not damage it, by conducting the right policy.

The future development of Iran-Azerbaijan relations is also very positive. Today, I invited the Honorable President to the climate conference to be held in Azerbaijan this year. Honorable President Raisi has invited me to Iran. I am grateful for this invitation. I am sure we will have a lot of meetings onwards, this is our fifth meeting in recent years, but the first one at the border. There will be many more meetings in the future. These meetings are of great importance both in terms of their essence and a serious message to our peoples, the region and the world. The Iran-Azerbaijan unity and friendship is unshakable. No one can drive a wedge between us. These efforts are in vain, and we are proving it again with today’s ceremony.

Once again, dear friends, I congratulate you on this wonderful event – the opening and commissioning of these huge facilities. I wish the people of Iran and Azerbaijan continued prosperity and progress. Thank you.


Speech by President Seyyed Ibrahim Raisi

– In the name of Allah.

Praise be to God, who created the earth and the world. I congratulate you on the birthday of Imam Reza alayhissalam. I convey my greetings and respect to the dear people of Iran and Azerbaijan. I do hope that we will benefit from the mercy and grace of Imam Reza.

It is indeed a very auspicious day, full of blessings. It is the opening ceremony of “Khudafarin” and “Giz Galasi” dams. It is a very important and very blessed day. This is a very memorable and historic day for the dear and valuable people living in Azerbaijan and Iran, especially for our peoples living in the East Azerbaijan province, in Ardabil, Tabriz and border regions. I hope that our citizens will benefit from this project.

The Araz River has always been a bond between Iran and Azerbaijan, between our peoples. The province of East Azerbaijan has, particular, always been a bond between Azerbaijan and Ardabil. This bond was created 50 years ago as a result of cooperation between two countries and two peoples, and it continues to this day. The “Khudafarin” dam with a water capacity of about two billion cubic meters is starting to operate, and we will all benefit from it. At the same time, more than 40,000 jobs will be created for citizens here. It is also a source of water for agricultural fields and a source of drinking water. This, of course, is a symbol of development in the region. At the same time, this project is an indicator of the political cooperation between the two countries in the region. This project is of tremendous importance and, of course, it creates a great hope between the peoples of the two countries. At the same time, it makes our enemies envious.

We, of course, are brotherly, neighboring and friendly countries. As the Supreme Religious Leader stated, Iran’s relationship with Azerbaijan is more than a relationship with a neighbor. It is a kinship. This connection and bond is a very strong, it is a very deep bond. This bond, this relationship is based on the deep historical, cultural and religious ties between the two countries. Of course, this connection brings our peoples together as a historical connection between our countries. This connection is in the hearts, it comes from the hearts, and it is unbreakable. The relationship between the two countries will not be damaged or shaken no matter what. These relations will grow and strengthen day after day.

In my meeting with Mr. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, I stated that within the framework of other contacts in the region, in our bilateral meetings, we have always emphasized the importance of further development of relations in the economic-commercial and political-cultural fields. The relations between the two countries should be stepped up, especially in the field of security and defense. Our political will is also in line with this, aiming for further expansion of relations. Thankfully, there is great potential in the relations between our two countries. As a result of the political will of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the will of the Supreme Religious Leader, there has been a lot of progress in our relations. Of course, as a result of the sanctions imposed on us, they tried to slow down our development, but they failed. We have achieved great development thanks to our young people, as a result of their work in the field of science and technology. As we all know, the Iranian people have created a very strong and developed country in the field of science and technology. In this regard, I told President Ilham Aliyev that there were no obstacles hampering the development of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Our relations must be at the highest level in all areas.

This dam shows the engineering competency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is actually another indication of the skills of our engineers and the technology the Islamic Republic of Iran possesses.

Of course, as a result of the hard work and education of our engineers, this has made Iran one of the top four countries in the world in the field of dam construction. This also leads to the development of Iran’s relations with neighboring countries, especially Azerbaijan, in this and other fields. And at the same time, it is important for cooperation in Karabakh.

Taking this opportunity, we would also like to congratulate our Azerbaijani friends on restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We were one of the first countries to explicitly state that Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan. I want to state again that we are always ready to show our cooperation on the basis of the revival program in this region, in Karabakh. The 140km railway and bridges over highways under construction in the Kalalah-Aghband region are also strategic projects. We are pushing this project forward very fast. I stopped over there on my way here. Work is continuing very fast in six directions there. I persistently said to my team and the minister of urban development that we should finish and put this project into operation ahead of time – sooner than 36 months. Because this is a very important corridor for the relations between the two countries.

We think this is very important for us. We want not only the development of relations between the two countries, but also the further strengthening of our cooperation in and outside our region, in international institutions, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Of course, we would very much like to deepen cooperation in international organizations and show solidarity on some special issues, including the issue of Palestine. We, the people of Azerbaijan and Iran, do not hesitate in supporting the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza. We have no doubt that they despise the Zionist regime. We are sure that cooperation between Muslim countries in solving problems in the Islamic world is of great importance. The relations between the two countries should be transformed into regional cooperation and, of course, should be continued in international organizations.

Finally, I want to note that some powers may not be impressed with the development of relations between our two countries. But the main thing is our own interests, and the relations between our two countries are very important for us. The relations in the fields of energy, transport, culture, economy and trade should serve the interests of the peoples of our countries. The most important issue for us is the interests of our countries. The enemies do not want to see the development of either Azerbaijan or Iran. We think that the development of Azerbaijan is our own development. Any issue that threatens the security of the border between the two countries can also pose a threat to us. We try to turn our borders into borders of hope. We try not to be concerned about borders. The borders should create opportunities and hopes for us. We try to turn borders into opportunities. We want to turn it into hope for the citizens of border regions in terms of economic and commercial development.

By God’s permission and for the sake of Imam Reza, we have gathered here today for the launch of two big dams – the “Khudafarin” and “Giz Galasi” dams. I think that God will help us, and our citizens will benefit from this. At the same time, our cooperation and friendship will become even stronger after this.

This meeting with Mr. Aliyev is held at the zero point between the two countries – the border. Our honorable ministers, the representative of the supreme religious leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the governors of border regions are also taking part here. I am sincerely grateful to them today. I want to thank them for making this project a reality and organizing today’s event. Thank you very much.