This statement sounded unwarrantedly optimistic and was seen as disingenuous in the Azerbaijani press. In Iranian media, it was met with harsh criticism.
For example, the article “Iran’s problem with Baku is not a misunderstanding” on a website affiliated with the country’s diplomatic circles objects to Ghalibaf’s statement, stressing that Iran’s policy regarding Azerbaijan over the past thirty years has been completely wrong, and putting forward a number of proposals to reform it, including support of ethnic separatism in Azerbaijan and speeding up the opening of an Armenian consulate in Tabriz.
In an extensive article of the semi-official Mehr News Agency on this subject, the statement of the speaker of the Iranian parliament is described as contradicting reality. The article claims that “we are currently witnessing the presence of ISIL, Takfiris, Zionists, pan-Turkic separatists, the British and NATO forces in Azerbaijan, and these groups have acted and will act against Iran’s national security”.
In this situation, Mr. Ghalibaf should first of all clear the “misunderstandings” in his own country, and ascertain from where and from whom the so-called incessant accusations against Azerbaijan are coming. As for Azerbaijan, the military exercises conducted by the Sepah on the border, the illegal arrival of about thirty Iranian citizens in Karabakh following the opening of the Iranian consulate in Kafan, the missiles gifted by Iran to Armenia, Iranian special services recruiting citizens of Azerbaijan in illegal armed groups… these are real facts, not misunderstandings, and official Tehran must clear up these issues in order to normalize relations with its northern neighbor.
The truth is that there are real contradictions in the relations between the two countries, not some misunderstandings, and statements like the one made by Ghalibaf will not be taken seriously until the will to resolve them is demonstrated. No, if the Iranian authorities want to use Ghalibaf’s mouth to achieve specific tactical goals, as they did before, with pretty words, they must know that neither the situation nor Azerbaijan are the same.
This is also confirmed by the subtle messages the Speaker of the Milli Majlis Sahiba Gafarova voiced at the meeting with Ghalibaf, which were highlighted in Iranian media. The Madam Speaker said: “It is not only geography and common borders that make our two countries close, but also the fact that both of our countries are Muslim, and a large part of Iran’s population speaks the Azerbaijani language.” Translated from the diplomatic language, the message is as follows.
1) Azerbaijan and Iran are Muslim countries, so Iran, which calls itself an Islamic Republic, must renounce its friendship with Azerbaijan’s non-Muslim enemy (Armenia);
2) the Iranian authorities should remember that Azerbaijanis make up a large part of the country’s population, and, as our head of state said, the Azerbaijani side does not intend to give up on their rights.
These factors, as Sahiba Gafarova stressed, create a broad framework for cooperation between the two countries, but the Iranian side tends to take the path of turning common ground into a source of disagreement. However, the changing reality and the situation in which Iran finds itself demand that the Iranian authorities stop using the language of pressure in the dialogue with Azerbaijan and sincerely join the format of cooperation proposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Otherwise, its further isolation in the region is inevitable.