Israel and Azerbaijan celebrated 29 years to the establishment of bilateral ties, Wednesday.
Senior officials from both countries, including Azeri politicians and Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek, took part in the event.
Marking the occasion, Farid Shafiyev, the chairman of Azerbaijan’s Center of Analysis of International Relations, said, “The Azeri people and the Jewish people have a long history together.”
According to Shafiyev, “Jews have lived in Azerbaijan for 2,500 years. The historic ties between the peoples are deep.”
He said this shared history was the basis for bilateral ties.
“There are Israelis that are influenced by the Armenian lobby, who think the basis for Israel-Azerbaijan ties is oil and weapons,” he said. “Factually speaking, they are wrong; the basis for the ties is historic. There’s also no doubt the economic ties are significant.”
He said, “Historians attack the image of the Israelis and the Azerbaijanis. This is antisemitism and anti-Azerbaijanism. Nevertheless, that is also what unites us. We are united, and we need to upgrade our ties. The time has come to open an Azerbaijan Embassy in Israel.”
Anatoliy Rafailov, the head of the Azerbaijan-Israel lobby in the National Assembly in Baku, and fellow lobby member Shahin Seyidzade, both members of Azerbaijan’s parliament, also took part in the virtual event.
“I represent the Jewish community in the Azeri parliament. It’s known that Azerbaijan has no antisemitism problem, and that relations between the countries are particularly strong. Israel has also supported Azerbaijan’s territorial continuity.
“A very important point is Holocaust memory in Azerbaijan, and on the other hand events marking the Khojaly massacre [of over 200 Azerbaijanis by Armenian forces in the First Nagorno-Karabach War] in Israel,” Rafailov said.
Seyidzade said, “Israel has always welcomed cooperation with Azerbaijan. I have been to Israel many times, and we took care to promote various initiatives in the fields of education and innovation. As a member of the science and education committee, we collaborated many times.”
Israel’s deputy ambassador said, “We mark our entry into the 30th year of ties between Israel and Azerbaijan. These ties are much more than friendly; they are strategic, deep, and above all, the ties are not just between the states but between the nations. Our nations share a wonderful history, religious, cultural, musical, and particularly moral ties. Both countries should continue to promote initiatives based on both countries’ shared values.”
According to Aryeh Gut, an expert on Israel-Azerbaijan ties and the executive director of the Azerbaijan House in Israel, “Azerbaijan is Israel’s strategic partner in the South Caucasus. Within the framework of the strategic alliance, Azerbaijan receives all of the technological advantages from Israel, the likes of which no other post-Soviet country gets to receive.”
Dean Shmuel Elmas