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Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry Summons Iranian Ambassador Amid Tensions

By Nigar Bayramli April 4, 2023

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Tensions have been rising between Azerbaijan and Iran, with Tehran perceiving Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation as a security threat. Iran also opposes Azerbaijan’s plans to launch the Zangazur corridor, a transport link between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave via southern Armenia. / Minval.az

Aykhan Hajizada, the spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, has announced that the ministry has summoned Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, the Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, following the receipt of a note verbale from Iran.

The note verbale, which was sent on April 3, reportedly urged Azerbaijan to take appropriate measures to prevent anti-Iranian broadcasts and articles in the Azerbaijani media.

“In response, a note verbale emphasizing that the information in the Iranian note verbale about the Azerbaijani media does not reflect objectivity, as well as a list of a number of articles published in the Iranian media against Azerbaijan were presented,” the foreign ministry’s website quoted Hajizada on the same day.

“Ambassador of Iran to Azerbaijan was informed that the insulting, false, defamatory and biased information about the Republic of Azerbaijan and its government officials regularly spread in the Iranian media, as well as well-known Iranian public and political figures’ statements and speeches undermine relations between our countries and further deepen misunderstandings,” he added.

It was also noted that “the misunderstandings arising in our relations constantly caused by the unilateral behavior and steps of the Iranian side, as well as the inadequate reciprocation by Iran of consistent and well-intentioned steps of the Azerbaijani side.”

Earlier, Baku had reacted to the comments made by Nasser Kanani, the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, on March 31 about Azerbaijan. Kanani had stated that the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov’s statement on the establishment of a “new stage of strategic partnership” with Israel indicated Baku’s “implicit approval” of an “anti-Iranian stance,” and had called for an explanation from Azerbaijani officials. Kanani referred to the press conference in Israel that took place on March 29 following the meeting between Minister Bayramov and his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen. During the press conference, Israeli Minister Cohen declared that Azerbaijan and Israel share threats caused by Iran, which “creates non-stability in the Middle East by supporting and financing terrorism,” and called for joint action to prevent Iran’s nuclear expansion.

Hajizada issued a strong condemnation of Kanani’s remarks, emphasizing that Minister Bayramov had not made any anti-Iranian statements during the joint press conference, as had been claimed by Kanani.

Hajizada further characterized Kanani’s remarks as “another anti-Azerbaijani move” and “a step towards causing a crisis” in the relationship between the two countries. He affirmed that Azerbaijan has consistently refrained from allowing its territory to be used against any other country, unlike instances of threats and provocations that have originated from Iran towards Azerbaijan. He cited multiple instances of Iran’s threats against Azerbaijan, including military drills near the border, military flights over the state border, and threatening statements by Iranian officials. Hajizada also mentioned the terrorist attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran and videos originating from Iran containing threats against Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Hajizada also said that the preliminary investigation into the armed attack on Azerbaijani parliament member Fazil Mustafa on March 28 also points to the Iranian trail.

Several individuals were detained on April 3 by the Interior Ministry, State Security Service, and Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan, on suspicion of attempting to assassinate MP Fazil Mustafa. Operational data indicates that the suspects had made over 40 trips to Iran in different years.

Tensions have been rising between Azerbaijan and Iran, with Tehran perceiving Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation as a security threat. Iran also opposes Azerbaijan’s plans to launch the Zangazur corridor, a transport link between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave via southern Armenia, worrying that the establishment of the corridor will sever its land border with Armenia. The establishment of the corridor was agreed upon as part of the tripartite statement that ended the 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reportedly supports proxy groups which recruit radical Muslims and frequently issue threats towards Baku. On April 1, Huseyniyyun warned Baku of the “consequences of its engagement with Israel,” while Iranian MP Ruhollah Mutafkerazad accused Azerbaijan of being “an instrument” of Israel on the same day.