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Azerbaijan Protests Iranian Official's 'Irresponsible' Statements

Major General Hassan Firouzabadi
Major General Hassan Firouzabadi
BAKU -- The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has formally protested anti-Azerbaijani statements allegedly made by an Iranian official, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Iran's Fars news agency on August 9 quoted Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, the chairman of Iran's joint chiefs of staff, as having criticized Azerbaijan's government "for taking measures that go against Islamic principles."

Mehr news quoted Firouzabadi as saying Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev should know that "the people's awakening" cannot be suppressed, and that "Ilham Aliyev will face a grim fate if he does not heed this warning."

Firouzabadi reportedly expressed regret that certain neighboring countries do not feel bound by the principles of friendship with Iran.

Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mammadbagir Bahrami was summoned today to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry and handed a protest note. The note called the statements attributed to Firouzabadi "irresponsible."

"Information [directed] against the Azerbaijani people, state, and state security contradicts friendly mutual ties between the two countries," the note reads.

The Foreign Ministry demanded the Iranian side counteract such biased statements against Azerbaijan and take steps to preclude any further such statements in the future.

The head of Azerbaijan's border service, Lieutenant General Elchin Quliyev, told APA news agency that Firouzabadi "should concentrate on neutralizing groups that smuggle drugs and other commodities" into Azerbaijan from Iran rather than "make such illiterate and nonprofessional statements."

The Iranian Embassy in Baku issued a press release today denying that Firouzabadi made the statements attributed to him. It said the reports are "a media misunderstanding."

Read more in Azeri here