Azerbaijan and Iran are not only neighbors, but part of the historical territory of Azerbaijan is also in Iran. Thirty million Azerbaijanis around the world live in this area. Besides, the Iranian population is Muslim and is a close relative of Azerbaijan.
Thus, we are important for each other. In this sense, Azerbaijan has tried to maintain close relations with Iran since independence. Unfortunately, the other side did not respond adequately. During and after the occupation of Azerbaijani lands, Tehran has always provided moral, military, and political support to Yerevan. These issues have never escaped the attention of the Azerbaijani leadership. We have expressed different levels of reactions.
Although we expressed a covert attitude to Iran’s aid to Armenia during the occupation of Karabakh, Tehran did not assess it correctly. Iran considered deceiving Azerbaijan. Then, President Ilham Aliyev commented on Iran’s activities in the territories of Azerbaijan, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed. The head of state stressed that he was aware of what had happened, nevertheless, Iran resumed its activities. Finally, what happened on the Goris-Gafan road revealed the face of our southern neighbor. Iran tried to cover up its illegal actions. They said that there were terrorist groups in Azerbaijan. When asked for proof, they could not say anything. This time, they tried to use our relations with Israel as an excuse. However, we do not condemn Iran for its choice of Israel and the United States as its enemies and for its brotherhood with Armenia, and we do not interfere in their internal affairs.
Finally, each state chooses its own friend. We respect Iran’s sovereign rights. Our criticism is related to Iran’s support for the aggressor and its anti-Muslim actions. Iran does not have to be friends with Azerbaijan’s friends and enemies with its enemies. Also, Tehran cannot interfere in the internal affairs of Baku. It is just that these relations should not undermine regional security and the commitments of states. As it is said, your liberty ends where my rights begin. In other words, Iran’s friendship and enmity are limited to the border of Azerbaijan’s friendship and enmity.
So far, the illegal actions and crimes of Iranian officials on Azerbaijani land have been covered up. At present, officials and individuals are making public statements in this regard. Drugs are smuggled from Iran to Azerbaijan. A few months ago, Azerbaijani border guards became victims of drug smugglers. The Iranian government does not prevent drug smugglers from entering Azerbaijan.
On the contrary, there is an influx of drug smugglers from Iran to Azerbaijan. Even when our lands were under occupation, there were reports that separatists and Iranian nationals were engaged in drug cultivation in Karabakh. Even a large amount of drugs is smuggled from Iran to Armenia. In short, Iran is poisoning the entire South Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, with drugs, and these illegal actions are not prevented. The perpetrators easily cross the Iranian border. This means that Iran’s state border is open to smugglers.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed a meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in a video conference on October 15: “Over the past year, after Azerbaijan had regained control over the 130-kilometer section of the state border with Iran which was under the control of Armenia for about 30 years and thereby blocked a drug trafficking route from Iran through Jabrayil district of Azerbaijan to Armenia and further to Europe, the volume of heroin we have seized on other sections of the Azerbaijani-Iranian border has doubled compared to the same period of previous years. This suggests that for about 30 years, Armenia, in collusion with Iran, used the occupied territories of Azerbaijan to carry out drug trafficking to Europe.”
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