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Azerbaijan, Iran Discuss Military Cooperation

By Nigar Bayramli September 13, 2023

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The 3rd meeting of the Joint Commission on cooperation in the military field between Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces ended in Baku, on September 10, 2023. / Mod.Gov.Az

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran have signed the final protocol of the third Joint Commission on cooperation in the military field during a meeting in Baku on September 10.

The Iranian delegation led by Brigadier General Mohammad Ahadi, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for International Cooperation, met Azerbaijani Defence Minister Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, Presidential Assistant Hikmet Hajiyev and Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev during a visit to Baku.

The discussions primarily focused on bilateral relations, particularly in the defense and military sector, as well as addressing regional security and other matters of mutual concern.

The Iranian delegation was in Baku to attend a session of the Azerbaijani-Iranian Joint Commission on military cooperation. The two sides discussed the expansion of relations in several areas of military cooperation, future reciprocal visits by military officials and other matters, during the session held on September 10.

Azerbaijani Defence Minister expressed hope that such meetings between military officials from his country and Iran will make a "positive" contribution to bilateral military cooperation.

Hasanov said that there was an increase in military "provocations" by Armenia at the undemarcated Armenian-Azerbaijani border and by illegal Armenian armed detachments in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, where the Russian peacekeeping forces were temporarily deployed after the 2020 Second Karabakh War.

He also spoke about construction works by Azerbaijan in the country's liberated territories after the 2020 Karabakh war.

In turn, the Iranian delegation said that they were concerned about Armenia's "activities that could pose a threat to stability and security in the region". The delegation also said they were happy about construction work by Azerbaijan in the regained lands.

Ahadi described as "completely groundless" the latest claims that Iran has been amassing troops along its border with Azerbaijan, saying that "some forces are attempting to undermine the current friendly and neighbourly relations between the two countries by spreading unfounded and false information in recent days and in this regard stressed the importance of mutual visits and working meetings".

Azerbaijani Deputy Defence Minister Aqil Qurbanov also received the delegation, and said at the meeting that there was wide potential for further development of cooperation between the two states in many fields, including military cooperation.

On September 13, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani ruled out the possibility of a war in the Caucasus, amid concerns about the escalation of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. “We believe that no war will break out in the region,” he stated.

The minister highlighted Iran’s “explicit” stances on the tensions between Baku and Yerevan, saying that “we won’t approve of any changes in the borders. The process we are observing indicates that no specific happening will occur.”

On September 11, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said that Tehran was closely monitoring the situation in the Caucasus and stays in contact with Armenia and Azerbaijan to ensure peace and security.

“The Armenian officials voiced concern about the possibility of (military) clashes, but the Azerbaijani officials gave a message that they have no intention of clashing (with Armenia),” Kanaani said.

Kanaani also reiterated Iran's official stance that the Karabakh region "is a part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and the rights and security of the people of this region must be ensured within a specific framework".

Tehran and Baku have had strained relations in recent years over a number of issues, including Iran’s large-scale military drills near Azerbaijani borders and its growing support for Armenia, Azerbaijan's military cooperation with Israel, the opening of the Azerbaijani embassy in Tel Aviv, and the proposed Zangezur Corridor, a transit route linking Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhchivan.

The establishment of transport links between the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and mainland Azerbaijan was agreed as part of the Russian-brokered peace deal that ended the 2020 Second Karabakh War.

Tension between Baku and Yerevan has been growing amid the ongoing situation in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region, as the Armenian separatists refused to open the Aghdam-Khankendi road for cargo deliveries from Azerbaijan. They also refused negotiations with Baku on their reintegration into Azerbaijani society.