Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon meeting with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev..
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon touched down in Azerbaijan on Wednesday for the first state visit by an Israeli defense minister in that country.
Ya’alon met with the Azeri President Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev, Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, as well as senior officials from the Azeri government.
During his visit, Ya’alon will discuss ways of continuing to strengthen Israeli-Azeri relations and regional-strategic developments, and also meet with the heads of local Jewish communities.
“I’m happy to visit here on the first and historic visit of an Israeli defense minister in Azerbaijan,” Ya’alon said after landing in the Azeri capital, Baku. “Cooperation between the countries is flourishing. There are strategic relations between the countries and cooperation in a number of fields. Here in Azerbaijan, there is a Jewish community with a magnificent history, which enjoys extraordinary treatment allowing it to live honorably.
We very much value that.”
Ya’alon also will unveil the Israeli stall at the Adex 2014 International Defense Industry Exhibition to be held in Azerbaijan at which Israel will be represented by the International Defense Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Defense and 15 defense corporations.
The stall is “another opportunity to show the world the powers and abilities of the Israeli defense industries and their contribution to defense and economy,” the minister said.
In February 2012, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called in Azerbaijan’s ambassador and demanded answers regarding a $1.5 billion arms purchase from Israel. Iran, Baku’s southern neighbor, also has repeatedly accused the country of allowing its territory to be used by Israeli intelligence operatives.
“There is no military alliance.
But there are naturally shared interests. Azerbaijan is an enlightened, secular, advanced state,” former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh, who was instrumental in forging the first links between Jerusalem and Baku two decades ago, told The Jerusalem Post at the time.
The country sells Israel a third of its oil, and cooperation on technology and trade is well developed, Sneh said.