Four employees of Iran’s embassy in Azerbaijan have left the country after being declared persona non-grata and given 48 hours to leave.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that Iran’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, had been summoned to the ministry and informed of the measure.
It comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries.
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The announcement noted that the ministry had expressed dissatisfaction with Iran’s ‘provocative actions’ in relation to Azerbaijan. It added that the embassy employees had been expelled on the basis of ‘activities that are not in accordance with their diplomatic status, and contradict the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations’.
The move came a day after Iran’s parliament reportedly issued a statement condemning Azerbaijan’s opening of an embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel the previous week, which warned that ‘this step will have many negative political consequences’.
The statement reportedly added that the embassy had been opened ‘due to mistrust of the Islamic world and against its interests’, and called on Arab and Islamic nations to condemn the move.
In response, Azerbaijan’s parliament on Friday adopted a statement condemning Iran’s ‘political provocation’ and ‘interference in the internal affairs of the state of Azerbaijan’.
It added that it was Azerbaijan’s sovereign right to open an embassy, and that a number of Muslim countries, including Morocco, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey, had embassies in Israel.
On 31 March, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasir Kanani, accused Azerbaijan and Israel of attempting to create ‘a united anti-Iran front’.
‘A new state of the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the Zionist regime is a tacit confirmation of their anti-Iran position. We consequently demand an explanation from the Azerbaijani authorities’, said Kanani.