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Azerbaijan Officially Inaugurates Embassy in Israel

By Nigar Bayramli March 31, 2023

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Foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Israel, and Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Tel Aviv inaugurate the plaque with the name of the Azerbaijani embassy to Israel / Azertag

The official inauguration of the Embassy of Azerbaijan to the State of Israel took place in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, with both Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister, Jeyhun Bayramov, and Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, in attendance. 

“History in the making,” Mukhtar Mammadov, Azerbaijan’s first Ambassador to Israel, wrote on Twitter. 

During the inauguration ceremony, Minister Bayramov stated that the opening of the embassy would provide a fresh impetus to the development of relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, as well as facilitate the activities of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Israel. Minister Cohen, in turn, hailed the embassy’s inauguration as a historic occasion that indicates the depth of strategic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, showcasing their 30-year-long flourishing cooperation. He noted that the embassy's presence demonstrates Azerbaijan’s significance as a strategic partner to Tel Aviv and will pave the way for further enhancing their long-standing bilateral relations.

On November 26, 2022, President Ilham Aliyev issued an order to establish the Azerbaijani Embassy in the State of Israel, signaling another important step forward in the diplomatic relations between the two countries. On January 11, the President appointed Mukhtar Mammadov as the first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Israel, marking another significant milestone in the bilateral relationship between the Muslim-majority nation and the Jewish state.

Ambassador-designate Mammadov arrived in Tel Aviv on February 28 and presented his credentials to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on March 26. He previously served as deputy education minister and relocated to the new Azerbaijani embassy building in Tel Aviv from the trade office.

Israel established its embassy in Baku in 1993, a year after the two countries established diplomatic relations. After the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Israel was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence.

In addition to diplomatic and policy ties, Israel and Azerbaijan have established cooperation in various areas, including defense and economic spheres.

Israel buys around 40 percent of its oil from Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan is the second-largest buyer of Israeli arms, contributing to its military modernization. The contracts between the two countries for defense equipment purchases reached $4.85 billion in 2016. Between 2011 and 2020, 69 percent of Azerbaijan’s total arms imports came from Israel. From 2018 to 2022, Azerbaijan accounted for 9.1 percent of Israel’s total defense exports, according to the Stockholm Institute of Peace Research.

Growing cooperation and partnership

Prior to the opening of the Azerbaijani embassy, Foreign Minister Bayramov met with several top Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Gallant and Prime Minister Netanyahu. The meetings focused on expanding bilateral cooperation, addressing regional challenges, and promoting business ties. Bayramov noted an 85 percent increase in trade between the two countries in 2022, adding that 114 Israeli companies are currently operating in Azerbaijan.

“We have important strategic relations with Azerbaijan. I will personally visit Baku in April and chair the meeting of the intergovernmental commission. I think there is a wide potential to further strengthen our relations,” Cohen said following the meeting with Bayramov.

Cohen also mentioned the Azerbaijan-Israel Intergovernmental Commission meeting scheduled for April 19 in Baku, where he plans to lead an economic delegation that includes representatives from cybersecurity, agriculture, and innovation sectors.

Minister Bayramov’s meetings with Israeli officials also addressed the shared threats posed by Iran. Minister Cohen said Azerbaijan and Israel share threats caused by Iran, which “creates non-stability in the Middle East by supporting and financing terrorism.” He further called for joint action to prevent Iran’s nuclear expansion.

The relationship between Baku and Tehran is currently deteriorating, largely due to Iran’s activities in the region, including its large-scale military drills near Azerbaijani borders and growing support for Armenia. Iranian authorities, in turn, believe that Azerbaijan is responsible for “bringing Israel to the region,” a claim that Azerbaijan strongly denies. The relations between Tehran and Baku have been further strained by a recent armed attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, which resulted in one death and two injuries among employees of the embassy.

President Ilham Aliyev has called for the Iranian government to conduct a transparent investigation into the attack on the embassy, to inform Azerbaijan of the results, and to punish the perpetrators.

“Most importantly, those behind the terrorist, those representatives of the Iranian establishment, who perpetrated this brutal act against Azerbaijan, must be brought to justice. It is only then that we can talk about any normalization,” President Aliyev told journalists.