After nearly two weeks of intense military conflict the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Moscow at midnight on Friday following 10 hours of negotiations.
Based on the reached agreement, the ceasefire, for humanitarian actions including exchange of prisoners and bodies must be established from 12:00 a.m. on Saturday. As well as a new round of peace negotiations between the two countries mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs – Russia, France and the United States, will be held in coming days. Meanwhile, reports indicate that widespread clashes continue in and around the Karabakh area.
To examine the role of Turkey, Israel, and Russia in the war between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia and review the impact of this on Tehran-Baku relations, the following conversation was held with the Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Iran, which you can read below.
Exclusive interview of AVA Diplomatic with His Excellency Mr. Bunyad Huseynov,
Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Iran
The Armenian ambassador to Iran has stated that Turkish military experts were fighting side by side with Azerbaijan and the Turkish-made weapons and equipment such as drones and military missiles were being used during the fights. Is this true?
I must say that not only the Armenian ambassador but also all the Armenian officials are fussed. They spread lies and rumors about the counter-attack operation of the Azerbaijani army for peace enforcement and liberate the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
It is clear to everyone that the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey are strategic, and according to National Leader Heydar Aliyev, we are one nation – two states. All strategic economic projects in the region either start from Azerbaijan or pass through Azerbaijan ends in Turkey. Obviously, our strategic relations with Turkey covered military relations, as well.
The military relation between Azerbaijan and Turkey is not a confidential matter, as we have recently held a joint military exercise which was covered by the media. At first, Armenia has spread the rumor that Turkey intends to build a base in Azerbaijan. But you can take the advantage of cyberspace to read the Constitution of Azerbaijan which clearly bans the establishment of a foreign military base on the territory of Azerbaijan.
Another point is that the army of Azerbaijan today is different than it was in the early days of independence. Several Armenian experts have admitted that the Azerbaijani army is the second most powerful army among the CIS countries. In addition, the weapons in the possession of the Azerbaijani army are not confidential. We have bought weapons from the countries, which we have cooperation with, as well as Turkey.
A state that wants to remain anonymous for media is also cooperating with us to liberate the lands and to eradicate the problems caused by the occupation. The government and people of Azerbaijan highly appreciate and will never forget these kinds of cooperation.
Today, the Azerbaijani army is using all its resources, including drones and missiles, to defend the lives and property of our citizens and to liberate our lands.
Does the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have control over all these resources?
Yes, the control of all the resources is in the hands of the Azerbaijani army. I will use simple statistic to clarify the subject. At the collapse of the Soviet Union, the population of Armenia was 3.6 million, the 230,000 Azerbaijanis living in Armenia, including myself, became a refugee. With the start of the war and the policy of occupation, the Armenian authorities brough the country into a dead end. The situation of Armenia’s economy is obvious. All significant economic projects in the region bypass Armenia.
The Armenian people, who are the victims of the occupation policy, were forced to emigrate to other countries. Armenia is now asking the armenians in Lebanon, Syria or Iraq to immigrate to Armenia. By doing so, Armenia is committing a new war crime.
The population of Azerbaijan at the time of the collapse of Soviet Union was 6.5 million, while it is more than 10 million now. That is, we have a country where the majority of our population is young and educated. We do not need to bring anyone to our country from anywhere. The Azerbaijani army has approximately 100,000 personal staff. Azerbaijani army officers and soldiers have sufficient experience and resources. The trainings held, enhanced the experience, strength and capabilities of the Azerbaijani army and improved their skills.
What made the Republic of Azerbaijan to accept the role of a Russian mediator in the temporary ceasefire?
Good and friendly relations exist between Azerbaijan and Russia. The presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan met six times last year. Nearly two million Azerbaijanis live in Russia. Our countries have mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields. Also, I would like to mention that at the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan, the Summit of Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran was held and the meeting is continuing on this frame. Cooperation in this framework is of absolute importance and will help to accelerate the completion of the improvement of North–South Corridor Project. Also, the electricity grids of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia will be synchronized soon. Such tripartite cooperation is very important in bringing peace, stability, security and sustainable development in the region.
Per President of Russia’s invitation and according to coordination of the President of Russia with the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia, the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia met in Moscow.
As a result of several hours of talks, a joint statement consisting of four provisions was issued by the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia. The first and second provisions are common thoughts. You know that the Prime Minister of Armenia had rejected the basic principles of the settlement of conflict, as well as the substantive negotiations for achieving peace.
In the third provision, Armenia withdrew from its destructive positions and accepted the settlement of the conflict on the basis of the basic principles of the settlement and the substantive negotiations for achieving peace.
You are also aware that the Prime Minister of Armenia had insisted that the representatives of separatist and occupant regime of Nagorno Karabakh should participate in the talks as parties.
In the fourth provision of the above-mentioned statement, Armenia confirmed the immutability of the negotiation format.
Iranian officials are closely monitoring the process of benefiting of separatist organizations by the war in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Have the Azerbaijan authorities of national security held talks with the Iranian officials to address their concerns?
First of all I should mention, Azerbaijan itself is a victim of separatism, and aggressive separatism is the first reason of the starting of Nagorno-Karabakh War.
From the point of view of the Azerbaijani government and our principled policy, separatism is condemned everywhere in the world. There have been numerous contacts between the relevant organizations of Iran and Azerbaijan, at least during the four and half years that I have been here, mutual meetings and trips have taken place. This all indicates that we are in collaboration in all areas. About the facts that some issues are being provoked in cyberspace in Iran, I have witnessed that Armenia and the Armenian origin (Armenians of Iranian descent) playing big role in fueling this kind of issues.
The reason behind these efforts is that the Armenians are not happy to see the friendly relations and cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan and are attempting to derail the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.
Recently, we have witnessed that the self-proclaimed president of Nagorno-Karabakh also referred to the ethnic groups of Azerbaijan. The people of Azerbaijan are united and all in the Azerbaijani army consider the liberation of the occupied territories as their moral and religious duty.
It was ridiculous that Armenia considered the military exercises of Azerbaijan and Turkey a threat to Iran because the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan or Iran and Turkey are higher than the level which can be damaged by such rumors. Armenians only ridicule themselves with such claims. For the Republic of Azerbaijan, the northwestern provinces of Iran are not different than the central or southern provinces of Iran, and all these provinces are considered part of a united Iran.
Azerbaijan considers the security and stability of Iran as its own security and stability, and the development and prosperity of Iran as its own development and prosperity. The joint projects of Azerbaijan and Iran have been in place in the four and a half years that I have been here, and so far I have not witnessed any doubts or concerns from the Iranian authorities about what you asked.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia has issued a statement expressing that Azerbaijan has not achieved any success on the battlefield. What is your reaction to the statement?
I do not know whether to laugh at this statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, or what else. That is, now that we live in the age of communication and there are so many videos and documents of the joy of the Azerbaijani people, the success of the army and taking so much trophies from the occupying army, how silly one can be to issue such a statement. Every day we are witnessing the interest and enthusiasm of the Azerbaijani people to return to the occupied territories, to their homeland. It is interesting that, I saw the translated and published version in Persian of the statement, and it was very comic to me.
Please provide some information about the military situation in the battlefield.
Let me answer about situation in the battlefield in this way. So far about 230 Armenian tanks, about 250 Armenian missile systems, an S300 anti-aircraft missile system based in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, 130 different vehicles and 10 Armenian command posts have been destroyed.
Has an Armenian aircraft been shot down by an Azerbaijani fighter?
The Armenians claimed that Azerbaijan had shot down the Armenian SU 25 with an F16. In fact, there are no F16 aircraft among the weapon equipment of the Azerbaijani army. Nobody sold this aircraft to us and we do not have it. It is unknown at this time whether their aircrafts collided or crashed into the mountain. I do not want to say anything about this, this is their issue. It should be noted that this conflict is taking place on the territory of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani army is liberating the occupied territory. We have had several martyrs in this days.
These martyrs fought for the liberation of their homeland, but what did these Armenian soldiers lose in Azerbaijan? Armenia now wants to involve third countries in the conflict. The city of Ganja, the second largest city in Azerbaijan, has been attacked with a missile. Several houses were destroyed and several civilians were martyred.
In the town of Mingachevir, the largest water dam and power plant in the South Caucasus were targeted by long-range missiles. The Air Force of the Azerbaijani army crashed the missile in the air. The city of Khizi around Baku was targeted by Armenian missiles which were all fired from inside Armenia.
As you know, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and thus wants to appeal to the help of its members. But Azerbaijan will not respond to this destructive approach of Armenia. The goal of the Azerbaijani army is the liberation of the occupied territories.
Can the expansion of the war zone lead to the withdrawal of the Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh?
Azerbaijan has no target or eyes on the territory of Armenia. I want to explain the reason for this situation so that you know why there was a conflict here. You know that Pashinian used populist slogans and did populist acts since he was elected Prime Minister, one of which was to send his son as a soldier to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. After Pashinian’s son completing military service, his slogans intensified and his wife came to the occupied territories and held trainings for Armenian women. Now the same Armenian women holding guns in trainings are filming in front of hospitals crying out for help and that they are being killed.
Why Mr. Pashinian did not comment on Nagorno Karabakh while his son was a soldier in the area?
Yes, that’s right. His son’s military service ended on July 1, and Armenia targeted the town of Tovuz on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border from within its territory in mid-July. The city of Tovuz is originally the transit and transport artery of Azerbaijan. That is, the east-west and south-west railways, the oil pipeline and the gas pipeline pass through that city. The protection of those areas is in the responsibility of the Azerbaijani border guards. As you know, the border guards do not use heavy weapons such as cannons and tanks. Then Armenia seized the opportunity to target the Azerbaijani city of Tovuz, which is very far from Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani army counterattacked and ruined areas from where the territory of Azerbaijan was attacked. We maintained our border integrity there and did not allow an inch of our territory to be occupied. This happened in July. It was in mid-August that the Armenians dispatched a sabotage group to Azerbaijan to bombard parts of Azerbaijan. The commander of the group was captured by the Azerbaijani army. Armenia summoned Armenians living in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and settled them in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and committed another war crime with this provocative move.
Armenians held an inauguration service for their self-proclaimed president in the city of Shusha, the cradle of Azerbaijani culture, where they wanted to build an office for him. With such actions they incited the war. The Armenians also mobilized tens of thousands of ordinary citizens and said that we were doing this to protect the country. With his statements and actions, the Prime Minister made the twenty-eight-year negotiations futile. If dialogue and ceasefire are worthless to Armenians, it has become so for us since yesterday.
As a result of such provocative actions and targeting residential and civilian areas, the Azerbaijani authorities decided to launch a counterattack operation at 7 a.m. on September 27 to inforce to the peace and liberate the occupied territories.
Afterward, the Prime Minister of Armenia called the different countries in the world and international organizations and stated that Azerbaijan had violated the ceasefire and attacked them. In fact, he was the one to blame, who is now spreading propaganda that forces are brought from Syria and other places to help Azerbaijan. I think the Prime Minister of Armenia has lost himself. As a result of his lies, the Armenian soldiers are leaving their service areas and the Armenian military police is unable to stop these. They keep soldiers in place with chaining them to the trench and cars. There are videos available in cyberspace.
It is Armenia that has brought mercenaries from Syria and other countries, and now the Azerbaijani army is clearing our occupied territories from terrorists.
That is, even the Armenian people themselves are not resisting the war.
Yes, the ordinary people of Armenia have also been enslaved by the war-prone regime and are tired of the occupation policy and its dire consequences.
You said in a statement that Armenia has reached out to Tel Aviv for cooperation and wants to benefit from them. Do you have proofs for this claim?
If you examine closely, the statements of the new Armenian ambassador to Israel are proof of this claim. The Armenians also propagandize that Azerbaijan cooperates with Israel. Let me explain this to you, 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan is occupied by Armenia. For the liberation of the occupied territories, Azerbaijan cooperates with all the countries in various fields, including military. Unlike Armenia, Azerbaijan is a powerful country with different capabilities. That is to say we pay money to purchase weapons.
Armenia, has no money to purchase weapons and has not established an embassy in Israel for the past 28 years, why they suddenly established an embassy? Recently, the Armenians have considered this issue as an achievement in diplomacy for themselves, and now they are seeing the result of their progress in diplomacy.
Rachel Avraham, an analyst at the Israeli Diplomacy Center in Safad, wrote in the “Israel Hume” newspaper in July that Israel should stand by Baku in this conflict because Azerbaijan is Israel’s eyes and ears on Iran. What do you think is the reason for such statements by Israelis?
As I said before, there are various countries and organizations that try to bring misunderstanding in the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan. You can watch two recent live interviews of Mr. Hikmat Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, on Israeli television, where he was asked questions about Azerbaijan’s relations with Iran. He clearly stated that Azerbaijan and Iran have a common history, culture, literature and personalities and have lived together in peace and prosperity since ancient times.
We are proud of these commonalities and consider it as a fortune for our cooperation and we consider the cooperation we currently have with Iran in various fields for the benefit of our country and people. I am aware of the propaganda originating from the research centers against the relations between Azerbaijan and Iran, as you mentioned.
The main objective of both of these centers – in Israel and centers in Iran affiliated with the Armenian Church is only to damage the relations between the two countries.
There is Azerbaijani proverb that says, scratching too results in wound. Now, these centers are attempting in vain to reach their goal. I am sure that with the wisdom of the Iranian and Azerbaijani officials, these attempts will be futile.
Is it possible for Azerbaijan to be connected to Nakhichevan?
No, as I said before, we are not after any land from Armenia.
Will such an approach be considered if the battlefield becomes wider?
We do not have any target in the territories of Armenia. Now that you have mentioned Nakhchivan, I should thank the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As you know, due to the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan was originally besieged by Armenia. During those difficult days, the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran extended their help and still do. Neither the people nor the government of Azerbaijan will forget Iranians help in lessening the issues of Nakhchivan caused by this war.
We made it very clear that we have no land pursuing intention in the territory of Armenia and that the occupation policy of Armenia has not only harmed Azerbaijan but also brough Armenia in a deadlock. This occupation also caused great damage to Iran. As you know, Julfa railway was one of the main transit routes of Iran. After the railway was closed, several provinces in northwestern Iran were at a standstill. Previously, several million tons of goods were exchanged from there. Interestingly, there are two cities with the name Julfa, one in Iran and the other in Nakhchivan. There is no cemetery in either of these two cities because no local lives there, residents travel by train from and to work.
Recently a military exercise with Turkey held in Nakhchivan. Did the Azerbaijani government worry about possible Armenian attacks on Nakhchivan before the start of the war?
It is true that we held a joint exercise with Turkey in Nakhchivan. In a retrospect, in the 1990s, until the ceasefire, Armenia targeted Nakhchivan. Last year, the Azerbaijani army reclaimed 11,000 hectares of land in Nakhichevan. The Armenian Defense Minister said that these lands are located at the border and are neutral territories. Where in the world, 11,000 hectares of land are unowned? Armenia is aware of the resources of the Azerbaijani army in Nakhchivan and I hope it does not fall into these delusions.
So Armenia will not take military action in Nakhchivan?
If Armenia takes action, it will get the respond.
You also mentioned the role of Israel; you purchase weapons from them by paying money. The current war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has highlighted the role of Israel as a player in the region. Why is the Israeli arms support to Azerbaijan bolder? Why no country in Eurasia has such close relations with Israel as Azerbaijan does?
We have a multicultural society in Azerbaijan. There is a mostly populated Jewish village in Azerbaijan. Their language is very close to Persian. They are also members of the Azerbaijani society. In trades, they are very active not only in Azerbaijan but also in other countries. The Republic of Azerbaijan has good relations with all countries of the world except the occupying Armenia. We cooperate as much as possible with all countries, and this cooperation is mutually beneficial and in the interest of both parties.
Well, your benefit is in the weapons you purchase. What is the benefit to the Israelis?
Their profit is the money they receive from us in exchange of the weapons.
Of course, Azerbaijan’s trade relationship with Israel is greater than that of Russia with Israel.
This is due to the purchase of oil. Currently, the price of oil has dropped and the volume of trade between Israel and us has decreased. What I want to say is what should be referenced is the actual work being done and not the propaganda. An example is Iran-Azerbaijan joint car factory and the car produced and exported to other markets. The meeting in Baku and Tehran between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia was not intended to establish a ceasefire, but to foster the development in the region and increase resources and the volume of transit in various areas. The electrical grid of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran are being connected. These are what matter and not someone’s pure ideations. I still see articles in the Iranian press, especially in those which consider it their duty to write against Azerbaijan. What counts is the collaborations that I mentioned.
The Israelis are difficult to deal with when it comes to selling weapons. Though, they sold Azerbaijan the first Lora missile that is used in their own army and now being used in the war. I wonder how you managed to be the first buyer of their best weapons because it is clear that this is not only about money.
This is ability of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a buyer.
Videos are released in Iran that show that the Lora missile system does not function well and is not effective as it should be.
You should ask the Armenians because they have felt how effective it is.
Are you using the EXTRA missile system in this war?
I do not know the technical details. What is important to me is the names of liberated territories, which are being announced by the President of Azerbaijan every night. I do not know the details of actions and means by which these lands are being liberated.
Has the President of Azerbaijan set a date for the end of the war?
The President of Azerbaijan has recently stated in interviews with local and foreign media, as well as to the people of Azerbaijan, that our ultimate goal is the liberation of our occupied territories.
Is it possible that Azerbaijan will accept the current number of liberated territories and agree to a ceasefire?
First of all, let me say that the President of Azerbaijan has not contacted any country. This is the Prime Minister of Armenia who calls from country to country. We have a simple question from these countries that call on Azerbaijan. Where were they when the crime was being committed in Khojaly and many innocent people of Azerbaijan were killed.
In the past few days, Armenia has targeted the city of Ganja, Mingachevir, Tovuz and Khizi, and has martyred several people. The Armenian side cannot claim that a single Armenian civilian was killed. The main target of the Azerbaijani army’s attacks was the areas where the residential regions of Azerbaijan were attacked from. We saw that the Iranian media stated that the rockets and mortars hit the territories of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I can certainly show you this on a map.
The target of the Azerbaijani army units in the counter-attack is the firing positions of the occupying Armenian forces in the front and on the right-hand side of the front. While the points of bullet or missile hit the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran are behind or to the left of the military units of Azerbaijan. As you know, in the region where the war is currently going on, the Republic of Azerbaijan and Iran have built a dam and a hydroelectric power plant in Khodafarin and Qiz qalasi. For several days now, the enemy has been launching missiles around these two dams, pretending that they were fired by the Azerbaijani armed forces. Khodafarin and Qiz qalasi dams are not the target of the Azerbaijani army, Azerbaijan is looking to use the resources of these two dams for the development of the region after the liberation of the occupied territories.
Have the Iranian authorities talked to you about this issue?
Of course, we have had talk to the Iranian authorities about this and fully explained the issue.
What was the reaction of Azerbaijanis following the statements by the Friday Imams of several Iranian provinces that considered the restorations of Muslim lands was considered a legal right of Azerbaijan?
The people and officials of Azerbaijan were very happy with the rightful statement of the Friday Imams in the northwestern provinces of Iran. This was also translated into Azerbaijani in Iran and was facilitating for us in the embassy. Honorable members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly also held rightful positions. The spokesman of the government did so too and the fact that the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran defended the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the sovereignty of Azerbaijan is all valuable to us, and the people of Azerbaijan are fully aware of these. Now I see that the Armenian media is trying to dig out the voice of Azerbaijanis that speak against the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan. These are people who oppose the government of Mr. Ilham Aliyev. I must say that Azerbaijan is satisfied with its cooperation with Iran. We consider the border between Iran and Azerbaijan as an opportunity for our neighboring provinces with no security concerns from Iran side. The fact that public relations are very good, and our borders are open 24 hours was all satisfactory.
Of course, these are the achievements of you and the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Iran.
No, it is not. In fact, I am just a facilitator, which means that none of these would have happened if it were not for the political will of the presidents of the two countries.
Let me say that during the four and a half years that I have been in Iran, in any meeting I have had, I have seen respect to myself, to my position and to my country. Everyone is happy that the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan are developing. During the Covid-19 situation and when the first case was announced in Iran, Armenia was the first country to close its border with Iran. The former Armenian presidents originally called that border the oxygen route. I had already said at a ceremony in the embassy that I was praying that this border would be closed, and it was closed. For your information, I must say that during the pandemic, the border between Iran and Azerbaijan was not closed to transit and trade even for an hour. Meaning, every single truck was able to pass the border. It is true that the volume of trade between Iran and Azerbaijan has decreased due to the pandemic, but the amount of transit and transport between the two countries has tripled. This cooperation was not a unilateral effort, but completely reciprocal, and according to the honorable President of Azerbaijan, we should dominate the coronavirus, and not allow it to dominate us. This was in reference to the fact that the border must remain open for transit and trade.
What is the position of the Government of Azerbaijan on the de-escalation of tensions between the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Israel?
The position of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the formation of the Palestinian state with the capital of East Jerusalem is very clear. The Palestinian Embassy is located in Baku and the Azerbaijani government is assisting them. Azerbaijan is currently involved in the issue of the occupied territories. There are one million Azerbaijani refugees and displaced people, and no government is extending help. For example, the European countries which were to host 600,000 displaced people, now hold meetings and express concern about the issue. But the newly established government of Azerbaijan passed through this and stood up with one million refugees and displaced people. This was similar to a child who has just learned to crawl but is given a heavy burden to carry. But we overcame the problems. What I mean is that our own problems are very important to us. Also know that in the foreign policy of Azerbaijan the priority is always cooperation with and support of Islamic countries.
Do you believe these Islamic countries will help the Palestinians after they have established political relations with Israel?
No, I was only talking about Azerbaijan and our problems.
So, what will be the position of the Republic of Azerbaijan towards the de-escalation of tensions between the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Israel?
This has happened recently, and I have been so involved these days that I have not had a chance to address it yet.
We have been involved in the war since July. As you can see, the members of the embassy and I are strictly involved in many issues on daily basis, and being an ambassador in a neighboring country with a broad border and various commonalities where frequent visits to and from take place require many follow-ups.
Your Excellency implies that because the Nagorno Karabakh issue is the main concern of the Azerbaijani authorities, they have not taken attention to Israel’s relations with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
Yes. That’s right. For us, the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh is the main priority. Let me also say that it has always been a question for me why the Quds Day is celebrated in Iran but the Karabakh Day is not. Nagorno-Karabakh is also an occupied territory. A few days ago, a journalist used the term “disputed Karabakh” in a conversation with me. I asked him who told you that Nagorno-Karabakh is a dispute. He replied that the Armenian ambassador had said that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh had declared their self-determination.
I asked that reporter not to use that term in their country and not to allow the spread of this poison in their country as well. Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and is occupied. This will lead to a disaster in the world if anyone wishes to hold the right to establish their own sovereignty.
Another issue that we are witnessing its negative impact on public opinion is the term North Azerbaijan and South Azerbaijan, and that part of Iran is referred to as South Azerbaijan. In fact, some groups called “Pan-Turks” and so on are taking advantage of this issue as a pretext in their separatism process. What is your view on this?
It is disadvantageous to any country where groups with prefix “pan” exist. I am aware what you mentioned. Also, some in Iran refer to the Republic of Azerbaijan as the North Azerbaijan. I do not see this in the interest of our countries and peoples. These days, we must work together especially in economic projects, to make the two countries profit. The review and analysis of what has historically happened are the tasks of historians. My job today and tomorrow as a diplomat is to plan for the future.
I emphasize that I do not see the use of such terms and slogans beneficial to both countries. Fortunately, what I have seen so far is that both parties have managed to control these issues. We must not allow others to take advantage and we must not allow others to fill the place of Iran in Azerbaijan or to fill the place of Azerbaijan in Iran. Thank God that we understand each other’s language and have a common religion, a common ideology and a common literature, which I consider valuable assets.