Photo Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, December 15, 2023.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met at the sidelines of the Organization of Islamic Conference on December 15, 2023, and discussed the reopening of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran.

During their meeting, the Iranian diplomat expressed satisfaction with the development of bilateral relations, saying, “Fortunately, a new chapter has opened in the relations between the two countries, promising opportunities for mutual cooperation. There are many prospects for collaboration that benefit both nations.”


This came after the Iranian authorities had held a trial for the person who waged a terror attack against the Azerbaijani Embassy on International Holocaust Memorial Day last year, which resulted in the death of a security guard and the injury of two Azerbaijani diplomats. The attacker was reportedly sentenced to death and the Iranians claimed that his motive was personal. But should Azerbaijan reopen its embassy in Tehran now?

Elnur Enveroglu, the deputy editor of Azernews, finds the Iranian claim that the attack was carried out for personal reasons to be bogus: “The camera footage of the armed attacker fighting hand-to-hand with several embassy security officers and shooting gave more reason to determine that he was a professional.”

Enveroglu did note, however: “Iran apologized to Azerbaijan after the incident, a criminal case was opened against the gunman, and a death sentence was issued. The Iranian authorities tried to show Azerbaijan that they were innocent.”

“Also, over the past year, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly made statements regarding the restoration of diplomatic relations,” Enveroglu added. “Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasir Kamrani addressed the reopening of the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran.”

However, Enveroglu stressed: “Unfortunately, following the incident last year, Azerbaijan’s National Assembly deputy Fazil Mustafa was also attacked by several terrorists with a Kalashnikov near his house. As the motives of the two incidents were the same, suspicions increased and tensions between the two countries deepened.”

Enveroglu believes that the Azerbaijanis should independently investigate whether the death sentence given to the gunman who attacked the embassy was just a show to dissolve Iran of responsibility for the crime, or should it be investigated independently by the Azerbaijanis and only then could Azerbaijan decide whether or not to reopen the embassy in Tehran.

“Azerbaijan is a neighbor of Iran, and in the end, I think this is the main factor related to Azerbaijan’s security principles in the South Caucasus. This also applies to Armenia, and today Azerbaijan is seriously focused on this issue in the direction of peace and security in the region,” Enveroglu wrote.

Tarlan Ahmadov, who heads the Azerbaijani Society of Maine, concurred: “Iran is a neighboring country. Having good relations is important. Having an embassy functioning is very important, especially considering that 35 million ethnic Azerbaijanis are living in that country. They must have some representation.”

Ahmadov also thinks that it would be risky for Azerbaijan to reopen the embassy: “The Iranian government is not going to change their view on South Azerbaijan’s independence and the development of Azerbaijan as a strong and sustainable country with independent politics, one of the most powerful countries in the South Caucuses. The Iranians cannot swallow that.”

Ahmadov thinks that the Iranians will always threaten Azerbaijan’s independence: “Azerbaijan has to be very careful with the reopening of the embassy. We have no guarantee that there won’t be another attack or provocation that will kill or harm our diplomats in that country. Their politics is also against Israel and that didn’t change. In fact, it got worse. I think that Azerbaijan will be more pressured because of that. So, there is a risk there. It is a difficult time with all of these regional problems between Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran. This is a threat to Azerbaijan.”


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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."