The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Iran, Jeyhun Bayramov and Amir Abdullahian, held a phone call yesterday (8 March) to discuss the state of Azerbaijan-Iranian relations.
The ministers discussed economic ties between the two countries, including the upcoming meeting of the State Commission for Economic, Trade and Humanitarian Cooperation which is taking place today and tomorrow. They noted with satisfaction that a group of businessmen was visiting Azerbaijan with the Iranian delegation.
Bayramov and Amir Abdullahian also exchanged views on regional issues, such as the situation in Ukraine, and the progress of talks in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear programme.
According to the Iranian readout, Amir Abdullahian expressed hope that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue could be resolved “with foresight and without foreign intervention”. He also stressed the need to re-open the land border between the two countries, and expand economic relations.
Iran and Azerbaijan have a historically complicated relationship, owing to a number of factors including the large population of ethnic Azerbaijanis living in the north of Iran, diverging interests in the South Caucasus, and more recently, Azerbaijan’s increasingly close ties with Iran’s arch-enemy, Israel. Relations took a dramatic turn for the worse in October of last year, when Tehran alleged that Israel had a military presence in Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan responding with its own accusation that Iran was illegally sending trucks to Nagorno-Karabakh. This tension culminated with both sides holding war games on the Iranian-Azerbaijani border. However, efforts to de-escalate were successful, with both sides stating they were ready to overcome “misunderstandings”, and begin a “new phase” in bilateral relations. Relations have slowly improved since, thanks in part to a strong economic foundation. The Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan, Seyed Abbas Mousavi, said last month that the volume of trade between Iran and Azerbaijan was expected to more than double within the next two years.