Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met in Baku with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday, discussing common strategic challenges, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry. They also discussed regional security and the fight against terrorism, as well as expanded cooperation between the two.
Azerbaijan is a strategic partner for Israel, and the trip to Baku comes in the wake of Azerbaijan opening an embassy in Israel in March. The ministry noted that Azerbaijan is a Shi’ite Muslim country.
Cohen: Baku, Jerusalem strengthening political and security alliance
Heading a delegation of 30 Israeli companies at the Presidential Palace, Cohen said, “Israel and Azerbaijan are strengthening their political and security alliance. I met with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and we talked about the strategic regional challenges we share, chief among them regional security and the fight against terrorism.
“I congratulated the president on his decision to establish an embassy in Israel, the first embassy of a Shi’ite Muslim nation in the country.” He added that the embassy opening further strengthened security, as well as the political and economic alliance between Azerbaijan and Israel.
Cohen led a large delegation that included 30 companies that operate in the fields of homeland security, cyber security, water issues and agriculture, including representatives from the Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Affairs Export Institute. Over 100 meetings were scheduled between the various companies and local counterparts and government officials.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the visit “an important and successful political visit to Azerbaijan that strengthens the political-security alliance between the two countries and opens the way for the expansion of economic cooperation.” It noted, after Cohen had met with his counterparts and Azerbaijan’s president, that “Foreign Minister Eli Cohen concludes his visit to Azerbaijan this evening after meeting with senior government officials, led by the President and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economy.”
Cohen added "Israel and Azerbaijan are strengthening their political, security and economic alliance. During my visit, I met with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, and with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economy, all of whom are friends of Israel. We talked about the strategic regional challenges we share, chief among them regional security and the fight against terrorism. We signed a series of agreements between us and Azerbaijan that will significantly increase the economic potential between the countries.” He concluded his visit on Wednesday evening.
Cohen is set to travel to Turkmenistan after the visit to Baku, where he is expected to inaugurate the opening of an Israeli embassy.
Israel receives around 30% of its oil from Azerbaijan, and has viewed Baku as a key strategic partner for years. Trade volume between the two countries is expected to be around $200 million, but is estimated to grow in coming years. Azerbaijan is also an important market for Israel’s defense industry.
When Azerbaijan opened its embassy in Israel in March, Cohen hosted his Azeri counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov. At the time, the embassy opening was the first since Israel and Azerbaijan established relations in 1991. Israel considers ties with Baku as important and sees it as a key country in the Caucasus region.
“The opening of the Azeri Embassy in Israel is further evidence of the strengthening of relations between our countries. Azerbaijan is a Muslim country, and its strategic location makes the relationship between us of great importance and great potential.
“Israel and Azerbaijan share the same perception of the Iranian threat. The Iranian ayatollah regime threatens both our regions, finances terrorism and destabilizes the entire Middle East. We must act together to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities,” Cohen declared.