Herzog's visit shows - Baku not to be left alone with Tehran
Israeli experts for Caliber.Az
INTERVIEWS 31 May 2023 - 11:05
The day has come - this is exactly how one can characterise the official visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Azerbaijan.
“My visit to Azerbaijan is the dream for me and my nation that has come true,” Herzog said in a press statement after an expanded meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Herzog noted that the visit is of great importance for the people of Israel and in terms of relations between the Azerbaijani and Israeli peoples.
What kind of impetus will Isaac Herzog's visit give to the relations between the two countries? What is its significance? Israeli experts answered these questions for Caliber.Az.
According to pundit and historian David Eidelman, President Herzog's visit to Azerbaijan is very important for strengthening the favourable atmosphere in the relations between the two countries.
Here, of course, it is worth recalling the famous phrase of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who once compared Azerbaijani-Israeli relations with an iceberg, most of which is hidden underwater.
"And now that a lot of time has passed and ties have deepened significantly since Peres' words, we can say that cooperation between the countries is developing in all directions. It is worth saying that when the English-language press writes about relations between our countries, it does so as if it were gossip. It often focuses on the topic of Iran, suggesting that Israel is friends with Azerbaijan because of its strategic location and proximity to Iran. Of course, this is not true - even if Israel signs a peace treaty with Iran tomorrow, and Azerbaijan also resolves all its problems with Tehran, the friendship between our countries and peoples will not fade away. Our relations are much more global than a single Iranian problem,” he noted.
Besides, Eidelman also noted that the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel started in many respects at the initiative of Heydar Aliyev, who chose the policy of cooperation back in the 90s.
“It was a strategic choice because at the time Israel could not provide Azerbaijan with either drones or Iron Dome [a mobile all-weather air defence system – ed.], or other weapons. But it was a strategic choice for both Azerbaijan and Israel that supported it," he said.
At the same time, according to Israeli journalist and Iran-focused researcher Michael Borodkin, Israeli President Isaac Herzog's visit to Azerbaijan can be considered the culmination of a series of official events in relations between the two countries, which began with the opening of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Israel.
Herzog's visit was preceded by the visits of the Azerbaijani foreign minister to Israel, the first in ten years, and the visit of the Israeli foreign minister to Baku. Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister recently visited Israel and participated in the Herzliya conference. The pundit believes that the fact that Herzog found time to visit despite the difficult domestic political situation in Israel speaks volumes of the importance of relations with Azerbaijan for the Israeli side.
"Isaac Herzog is accompanied, among others, by Health Minister Moshe Arbel. Israel and Azerbaijan have signed a medical cooperation plan. Certainly, other agreements will be reached as well,” he noted.
As the Israeli president correctly noted at a meeting with Ilham Aliyev, the strategic partnership between the two countries shows that mutually beneficial cooperation between Jews and Muslims is possible, and it goes for the benefit of both nations, contributing to peace and prosperity, the Israeli political analyst added.
In his opinion, viewing Herzog's visit in the context of additional rapprochement between Israel and Azerbaijan, it is possible to say that "both countries are determined to develop the potential of bilateral cooperation in all areas - from energy and security to tourism, health and agriculture.
He also highlighted that the appearance of the head of the Jewish state in Baku is designed to give additional impetus to these strategic relations.
"Of course, the visit takes place in the shadow of the Iranian threat common to both states. According to the US and Israel, Iran is close to developing nuclear weapons, which is very worrying for Jerusalem in view of the constant statements of Iranian leaders about the need to destroy the Jewish state. Unfortunately, Tehran, under the current extremist regime, continues to threaten the stability and security of almost all neighbouring countries, as well as the entire Middle Eastern region. Herzog, flying to Azerbaijan, noted that Iran plays a destabilising role, and he intends to discuss this problem in Baku," the pundit noted.
Iran, for its part, has recently been making various threatening statements towards Azerbaijan, apparently concerned about the progress in the negotiations between Baku and Yerevan.
"A stable and just peace in the South Caucasus is not in Iran's interests. Tehran would prefer to keep the conflict frozen. Almost every day there are statements in the Iranian media that Iran will not tolerate ‘geopolitical changes’ and ‘violation of international borders’, by which they mostly mean the Zangazur corridor,” he stated.
In this regard, Borodkin stressed that the visit of Isaac Herzog shows Iran that Azerbaijan will not be left alone with its southern neighbour in case of further escalation of tension.
“Security cooperation between the two countries remains steadily high, and will remain so in the future," he summed up.
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