Iran rejects Azeri president’s ‘astonishing’ claims

October 16, 2021 - 18:12

TEHRAN – Iran has responded to latest remarks by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev who accused Iran of drug trafficking in collaboration with Armenia amid ongoing tensions between Tehran and Baku.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh strongly rejected the astonishing new allegations made by the Republic of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev against the Islamic Republic of Iran at the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, calling them fabricated, the Iranian foreign ministry said. 

Khatibzadeh said such media accusations are only in the interests of the Zionist regime to affect the brotherly relations between the two nations of Iran and Azerbaijan.

Emphasizing the leading role of Iran in the fight against drug trafficking, Khatibzadeh stressed that thousands of martyrs and wounded Iranians during the past four decades in the fight against this ominous phenomenon is just a part of the committed and continuous efforts of the Islamic Republic on this path which have been approved by relevant international institutions over and over again.

While emphasizing the strong brotherly relations between the two nations, Khatibzadeh said, unfortunately, it seems that despite the private and positive messages received from Baku in different calls, there is an intention on the part of Baku to make baseless media statements, which, of course, will be answered in due manner.

The Azeri president has accused Iran of aiding Armenia in drug trafficking. In addition, he also went so far as to accuse Iran of playing a role on destroying Shusha city in the Nagorno-Karabakh region when it was under Armenia occupation. 

“In the city of Shusha, Armenia has destroyed 16 out of 17 mosques that existed there before the occupation. One mosque was left to demonstrate ‘tolerance’, and there was an attempt to portray it as Persian with complicity from so-called specialists from Iran,” Aliyev claimed. 

He added, “Houses and public buildings were taken down brick by brick and sold to Armenia and Iran…. Also, immense damages have been caused to the nature. About 60,000 hectares of forests have been cut down, sawn and sold to Armenia and Iran.”

Iran has strongly rejected the Azerbaijani allegations that it sided with Armenia during the wars over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Iran says it supported Baku in its efforts to liberate its occupied territories.

The remarks came against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Tehran and Baku. The episode began in early August when social media users in Iran reported mistreatment of Iranian truck drivers by Azerbaijani forces along the Goris-Kapan Highway which links Iran to Armenia through the newly-liberated Karabakh region. The Iranian trucks were carrying Armenia-bound goods from Iran but due to the change in Karabakh’s borders during a 2020 war had to pass through a road curve into Azerbaijan’s territory. 

Azerbaijan also reportedly imposed a staggering tax on Iranian commercial trucks which drew criticism from Iranian merchants.

“Beware of the devil's costly traps”

Since then, tensions have been on the rise between the two neighbors. On Friday, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani warned about the “costly traps” that could be set for Baku. 

“Ignoring the neighborhood principles & making false statements can’t be a sign of a tact. Accusation against a country that the world recognizes as a hero in the fight against drugs has no effect other than invalidating the speaker's words. Beware of the devil's costly traps,” Shamkhani said on Twitter. 

Last week, the foreign ministers of Iran and Azerbaijan held a telephone conversation to defuse tensions. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov have discussed the latest developments in bilateral relations in a telephone conversation.

While emphasizing the need for mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, Abdollahian added that Tehran and Baku have a long-standing relationship with each other.

He stressed that the two countries must prevent misunderstandings in their relations and it is worthwhile to continue their ties in the right and growing direction quickly.

Abdollahian also said Tehran expects that the problem of transit traffic of Iranian trucks in the Azerbaijan Republic will be solved, the Iranian foreign ministry said. 

The foreign minister spoke of the depth of relations between the two nations. He said Tehran and Baku have enemies and the two sides should not give the enemies the opportunity to disrupt relations between the two countries and concerns should be allayed through dialogue and cooperation.

The Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov also called relations with Iran friendly and added that ties with friendly countries are a priority for the Republic of Azerbaijan.

He emphasized the need to resolve the differences through dialogue and in a calm and sincere atmosphere. Jeyhun Bayramov suggested that the two countries' customs officials hold talks to solve the problem of the transit of Iranian goods.

He stressed the pursuit of the release of two Iranian truck drivers detained in the Azerbaijan Republic.

The foreign ministers of the two countries invited each other to visit Tehran and Baku.

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