BAKU (Combined Sources)—The Azeri Ambassador to Mexico has threatened that should a statue of Azeri dictator Heydar Aliyev be removed from a popular park in Mexico City then Baku will close its embassy in Mexico.
“If the monument is removed, it will undoubtedly lead to a sharp deterioration in relations between Azerbaijan and Mexico, including closure of investments and the most extreme measure – closing of the embassy itself,” Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Mexico Ilgar Mukhtarov stated.
He also was quick to claim that the Armenian community of Mexico was marshalling the opposition to the statue.
Over the summer, Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard unveiled the statue at the main park in the city after Baku reportedly paid $10 million for renovation and landscaping.
The large bronze statue has not only been an eyesore for many Mexicans, but also a source of contention for activists and press who have objected to having a statue of a known despot adorn their city and in the very park that also houses monuments to Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln.
After complaints from citizens, the mayor appointed a committee to probe the matter. The committee recommended on Friday that the stature be removed.
“In addition to Mexico, I represent Azerbaijan in six other countries of the Latin American region, I can theoretically move to one of these states, in the case of the decision to move the monument,” explained Mukhtarov.
He said if another location if offered by the government, there will be room for discussion.
“If we are suggested a better place, then we can agree, but currently we are acting in a lawful manner, as the agreement on the placement of the monument to Heydar Aliyev on the boulevard was signed by the federal government, city authorities and the Embassy,” Mukhtarov said.
Muktarov also said Azerbaijan would cancel $4 billion in investment projects for Mexico.
Ebrard, for whom the entire episode has been a major embarrassment, said he would study the recommendations, according to Los Angeles Times.
“If Ebrard decides to remove the monument, we will cancel the projects, close the embassy, it would hurt the relationship between the two countries, and it would not be good for his image to be the person who prevented a $4-billion investment,” the ambassador was quoted as saying.
The issue of the statue, as well as an earlier Mexican Senate decision to adopt pro-Azeri legislation was a topic of discussion when Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian made his fist visit to Mexico.
In talks with federal authorities, including the foreign minister, Nalbandian raised Armenia’s concerns over these developments.