|government building in baku, azerbaijan_370.(Photo by: Reuters)|
Liberman may visit Azerbaijan amid Iran tensions
By HERB KEINON
FM's expected visit comes as bilateral ties with strategically important country on Iran's northern border are blooming.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is expected to visit Azerbaijan by the end of
the month, in a trip indicating the flourishing of ties with the strategically
important country on Iran’s northern border.
According to the Vestnik
Kavkaza website, which covers the Caucasus region, Liberman is expected to visit
Baku on April 23 to discuss all aspects of bilateral relations.
schedule for the visit “remains secret,” the website said.
for Liberman would neither confirm nor deny the visit.
developing ties between the two countries was thrust into the headlines late
last month when Foreign Policy magazine ran an article claiming that Israel had
gained access to an Azerbaijan airfield to facilitate a possible attack on
“The Israelis have bought an airfield, and the airfield is called
Azerbaijan,” the report quoted an unnamed US official as
Azerbaijani and Israeli officials denied the report. Israeli
officials suggested it was intended to derail any possible attack on
In any case, ties between the two countries are
Azerbaijan supplies a large percentage of Israel’s oil needs,
and Israel – according to foreign reports – recently inked a $1.6 billion arms
deal with Baku.
In March, Azerbaijani officials announced the arrest of
22 people on suspicion of spying for Iran. The 22, according to the Azerbaijani
national security minister, were said to have received orders from the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards to “commit terrorist acts against the US, Israeli and other
Western state’s embassies and the embassies’ employees.”
Iran has accused
Azerbaijan of helping Israel assassinate nuclear scientists inside the Islamic
This week, Agriculture Minister Orit Noked visited
In November, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau visited the
country, as did Communications and Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe
Liberman last visited Azerbaijan, which now is a member of the UN
Security Council, in February 2010.
The Azerbaijani website News.AZ
carried an interview earlier this month with Yevda Abramov, an MP for the ruling
New Azerbaijan Party and chairman of the Azerbaijan- Israel interparliamentary
working group, who said the relationship between the countries has reached the
level of a “strategic partnership.”
Abramov said that Israel has provided
support to Azerbaijan in “creating a military and industrial complex,” and that
Israel “sells modern military equipment to Azerbaijan.”
“Today, there are
100,000 former Azerbaijani citizens in Israel. This is a large diaspora,”
Abramov said. “Therefore, Azerbaijan lays big hopes on its diaspora in Israel.
This diaspora plays a very big role in bringing Azerbaijan’s position to the
Azerbaijan will continue developing close ties
Asked about how Tehran viewed his country’s relationship
with Israel, Abramov said that while “Azerbaijan does not depend on Iran,” the
fact that there is a massive Azerbaijani population in Iran obligates Baku to
“use diplomatic ways to explain to the Iranian side that the Israeli arms
purchased by Azerbaijan do not target them.”
At the same time, he said,
“Tehran should realize that Azerbaijan is disappointed with Iran’s close ties
“Iran provides vital assistance to Armenia,” he
“Had it not been for the Iranian assistance, the Karabakh conflict
would have found its solution in a very short period.
In other words,
Iran feeds vitamins to the exhausted organism of Armenia. Azerbaijan has more
grounds for complaint than the Iranian side.”