Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador on Friday over remarks by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a visit to Azerbaijan, which Tehran said amounted to meddling in its affairs.
Erdogan recited an Azeri-Iranian poem about the division of Azerbaijan’s territory between Russia and Iran in the 19th century. Tehran appeared concerned his remarks could fan separatist tendencies among Iran’s Azeri minority.
“The Turkish ambassador was informed that the era of territorial claims and expansionist empires is over,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website. “Iran does not allow anyone to meddle in its territorial integrity.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted earlier: “President Erdogan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas…from (the) Iranian motherland.”
“NO ONE can talk about OUR beloved Azerbaijan,” Zarif said, referring to a northwest region of Iran where many of its ethnic Azeris live.
Azeris speak a language very similar to Turkish, but most observe Shi’ite Islam, Iran’s state religion. The Iranian region of Azerbaijan borders on the independent state of Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Republic. Turkey has become a close ally of Azerbaijan, helping it make major territorial gains against Armenians in a war that ended with a ceasefire last month.
Turkey’s foreign ministry also summoned Iran’s ambassador in Ankara and protested claims about President Erdogan, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.