TEHRAN—The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Tehran to protest an anti-Iran conference held in Baku, official IRNA news agency reported.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Oceania, Abbas Araqchi, conveyed Iran’s protest against the Azeri government for what he called the failure of Iran’s northern neighbor to take suitable measures to prevent convening the anti-Iran meetings in Baku, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry Media Diplomacy Department.
Speakers at the conference, held last week at a hotel in central Baku, said Iran is in the throes of a deep economic and political crisis because of western sanctions against the Persian Gulf state’s nuclear program. Ethnic Azeris were urged to seize the opportunity to build a state in the northwest provinces bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan, reported the Associated Press.
The conference was organized by the so-called South Azerbaijan National Liberation Front, bringing together groups and organizations seeking greater rights and independence for a community that makes up about a quarter of Iran’s 75 million population. The event also featured academics, Azeri parliament members and former officials, including Nasib Nasibli, the country’s ex-ambassador to Iran. No current Azeri government officials took part, the AP added.
“While Iran has made all efforts to help consolidate bilateral ties, such moves can deal a serious blow to the development of relations,” Araqchi was quoted as saying.
During the meeting with Azeri ambassador Javanshir Akhundov, Araqchi slammed the distribution of “fabricated” articles and offensive caricatures against Iran in the conference, the semi- official Fars news agency reported.
“The move only serves the interests of Israeli circles and violates the agreement on friendly relations between the two countries and is totally unacceptable,” Araqchi said.
For his part, Akhundov said Tehran’s message would be conveyed to Baku as soon as possible and a response will be relayed back to the ministry.
On Sunday, the Iranian embassy in Azerbaijan strongly condemned the anti-Iran conference, saying that “Despite Tehran’s policy of bolstering friendly ties with Baku, respecting Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, and not interfering in the domestic affairs of the country, certain anti-Iran elements have regrettably carried out aggressive and offensive actions in Azerbaijan and have made unfounded territorial allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Fars reported.