While speaking at an international conference today in Baku, President Ilham Aliyev commented on Azerbaijan’s relations with Iran and stated that recent Iranian military exercises do not scare him. His statement comes amid growing tensions between the two countries.
Aliyev explicitly noted Azerbaijan’s growing tensions with Iran, saying that “I have worked with three presidents of Iran… For all these years, a situation similar to today’s has never occurred. A hateful and threatening statement was never made against Azerbaijan. Iran conducted two military exercises on our border in a few months.”
“Therefore, we had to conduct military exercises on the Iranian border to show that we are not afraid of them. We will do our best to protect the secular lifestyle of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis around the world, including Azerbaijanis in Iran. They are part of our people,” he added. This is particularly important in regards to the ongoing anti-government protests in Iran, including the region of Iranian Azerbaijan which is populated by ethnic-Azerbaijanis.
This comes two weeks after Azerbaijan’s Parliament voted in favor of opening an embassy in Israel after years of increased security and economic cooperation. The move was not welcomed by Iran, as increased diplomatic relations with Israel will be seen as a security threat since Azerbaijan shares a border with Iran. Tensions have grown over the past two years as Azerbaijan accused Iran of supporting Armenia during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.