Iran is unable to “target Azerbaijan” in its relations with Israel for fear of its own Azari population, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Referring to a journalist’s question on whether recent Iranian military maneuvers “would degenerate into a searing crisis” in the Caucasus, Erdogan said he had “no such expectations”, according to one government. Press release in English.
Due to Baku’s relations with Israel, “Iran will not be hostile to Azerbaijan and will not put Azerbaijan on the target list” because its own Azaris were “notable,” the president said.
During the 2020 conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, some of the Azaris of Iran, around a quarter of the 80 million inhabitants, expressed their sympathy for the cause of Baku.
But Erdogan, speaking to reporters on a plane returning from an African tour, also downplayed tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan, which eased this week with Thursday release of two Iranian truck drivers arrested on a transit route to Armenia now under Azerbaijani control.
“It is not that simple,” said the president. “What has been done so far [by Iran] is inappropriate, and I think the new Iranian administration will not repeat this misstep.
The first to fall
Iranian authorities have not commented on Erdogan’s remarks, the first by a senior Turkish official on Iranian military exercises near the Turkish border and the recent standoff between Tehran and Baku. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on October 3 highlighteda reported Israeli military presence in Azerbaijan and seems to refer to Turkey’s role in warning that “the person who digs a well [to trap] for his brothers are the first to fall into it. “
Iran is also concerned about the report presence of jihadist fighters from Syria into Azerbaijani territory allegedly recruited by Turkey to aid Baku in its war against ethnic Armenians in and around Nagorno-Karabakh during last year’s conflict. Turkey and Azerbaijan have denied the allegation.
The Turkish president’s comments came as tensions between Tehran and Baku appeared to have eased since. last week’s phone call between Iranians and Azeris foreign ministers. In a meeting with lawmakers from the eastern and western provinces of Azerbaijan on Thursday, President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) stressed that good relations with neighboring countries are a priority for the government and that the Iran would not allow Israel to sabotage them.
In a speech delivered in December 2020 at a victory parade in Baku after the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia,
Erdogan recited a folk poem, popular both in Azerbaijan and the Iranian provinces of Azari, lamenting the division of the Azari ethnic group by the Aras River separating Azerbaijan and Armenia from Iran.
Sultan of Illusion
Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish Ambassador, while Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reacted with unusual vigor. Much of Iranian media dubbed the Turkish president the “Sultan of illusion”.
Erdogan also referred to in the speech âone nation, two statesâ, citing the common linguistic heritage of Turkey and Azerbaijan. “One nation” is often used by Panturites to express the unity of the speakers of all Turkish languages, across Central Asia and including Azerbaijan and northwest Iran populated by Azari.
Panturcism has been on the rise among Azari (Torki) speakers in Iran over the past two decades. Separatist groups call the northwestern regions of Iran “South Azerbaijan”. The Turkish languages ââspoken in northwest Iran and other parts of Iran fueled a movement advocating the unification of speakers in Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, whose territory was part of the Iran until the beginning of the 19th century when it was ceded to the Russian Empire.