Azerbaijan hails Iran’s support for territorial integrity amid lawmaker’s controversy

November 7, 2020 - 18:1

TEHRAN – Azerbaijan once again expressed gratitude and appreciation for Iran’s expressions of support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan amid a deadly war with neighboring Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Indeed our countries [are] based on mutual respect [and] enjoy friendly relations. President Ilham Aliyev attaches great importance to our ties. We appreciate Iran's support to our territorial integrity as it was expressed at Highest Levels. Views of MP in no way official position,” Hikmet Hajiyev, an assistant to the president of Azerbaijan, said in a tweet on Saturday.

The assistant’s tweet came after an Azerbaijani lawmaker criticized Iran’s stance on the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The lawmaker, Behruz Maharramov, implicitly accused Iran of deploying terrorists in the disputed region. However, the Azerbaijani leadership was quick to distance itself from the lawmaker’s controversial remarks.

Hajiyev spoke by phone with the Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan, Seyed Abbas Araghchi, hours after the remarks of the MP went viral on social media platforms in Iran. Hajiyev told the ambassador that Maharramov has been admonished for his remarks, according to a statement issued by the Iranian embassy in Baku.

“This person has received serious and necessary admonition and the position of the Republic of Azerbaijan is to appreciate the sincere and just support and positions of the friend, brother, and neighbor of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the crisis and the Karabakh war,” the statement said. “As we have previously stated, all high-ranking officials of Azerbaijan are satisfied with the constructive and just position of the Supreme Leader of Iran, his eminence Ayatollah Khamenei, and consider it to be in good faith and constructive. The remarks of this lawmaker are by no means reflective of the position of the government and officials of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

For his part, Mousavi described Maharramov’s remarks as “empty, superficial, and unfounded.”

Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, has recently supported Azerbaijan’s right to liberate its occupied territories, saying all occupied lands should be given back to Azerbaijan.

“This war is a bitter incident and it threatens the security of the region. Of course, all Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia should be freed. All these lands should be given back to Azerbaijan. One of the main conditions is that these lands should be returned to Azerbaijan. The Republic of Azerbaijan is entitled to be in control of these lands, and therefore, all of them should be freed,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a televised speech last week.

He added, “Of course, the safety of all Armenians living in those lands should be ensured. International borders should be respected and the two sides should not transgress against the borders of the other. The integrity of international borders should be protected and terrorists should not be allowed to deploy their forces near the borders. According to the reports that we have received, although some people deny them while there are reliable reports confirming this, a number of terrorists from here and there have become involved in this war.”

These remarks were quickly welcomed by Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Baku highly values Tehran’s efforts to achieve peace in the south Caucasus region.

“We highly value the efforts of the friendly Iranian state to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, including the visit of the Special Envoy of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi to the region and the initiative on the settlement of the conflict as soon as possible,” said the statement. “We believe that the relations between our countries, built on historical roots, will continue to develop successfully and will serve to ensure peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.”

Araghchi recently embarked on a tour of four countries involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to present an Iranian peace initiative. He set off his tour by visiting neighboring Azerbaijan. In Baku, he met with several Azerbaijani officials including President Aliyev, Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, and Hikmet Hajiyev. Araghchi has said that his talks with the Azerbaijani leadership were constructive and positive.

“Introduced Iran's Regional Initiative to Help in Ending the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict to H. E. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, in a positive and constructive long meeting,” the deputy foreign minister said in a tweet, following his talks in Baku.

The Iranian peace initiative was designed to establish a ceasefire and permanently resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through dialogue. It is still under consideration.

Maharramov’s remarks raised eyebrows in Iran and Azerbaijan alike because Iran has made efforts to resolve the crisis through shuttle diplomacy while preserving the rights of both sides of the war. This may be the reason why the Azerbaijani leadership was quick to castigate Maharramov for his controversial remarks. The Azerbaijani parliament also moved to reprimand the MP.

On Saturday, the Disciplinary Commission of the Azerbaijani parliament took disciplinary action against Maharramov. The members of the commission noted that the views expressed by Maharramov about Iran at the plenary session of the parliament on November 6, 2020, contradict the spirit of friendly and good neighborly relations between Azerbaijan and Iran. They also said these views did not reflect the position of the parliament.

Azerbaijani news media outlets also criticized the lawmaker for his reckless remarks. Azerbaijani newspaper Musavat railed against Maharramov for his remarks. It said the MP’s remarks put the country’s national interests at risk.


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