Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday slammed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for an ‘ill-recited’ poem, seen as implying Iran’s northwestern provinces were part of Azerbaijan.
Erdogan spoke in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on Thursday during celebrations marking Azerbaijan’s military triumph over Armenia, in six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
‘Pres. Erdogan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland,’ Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Iran is home to a large Azeri community, mainly in the northwest in provinces next to Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the Aras river as a border.
‘Didn’t he realise he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan?’ Zarif added.
‘NO ONE can talk about OUR beloved Azerbaijan.’
According to Iran’s ISNA news agency, the poem recited is ‘one of the separatist symbols of pan-turkism’.
It said the verses point to Aras and ‘complain of the distance between Azeri-speaking people on the two sides of the river.’
Iran’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Tehran over Erdogan’s ‘interventionist and unacceptable remarks’, and demanded an ‘immediate explanation’.
The envoy was told that ‘the era of territorial claims and warmongering and expansionist empires has passed’, according to an official statement.
It added that Iran ‘does not allow anyone to interfere in its territorial integrity’.
Turkey later Friday summoned Iran’s ambassador in the capital Ankara to the foreign ministry, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.
The envoy was told the claims against Erdogan were ‘baseless’ and it was ‘not acceptable’ for Zarif to tweet rather than use other channels to express any ‘discomfort’.
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