Top Azerbaijani official 'regrets' Iranian general's criticism

Thu 11 Aug 2011 10:01 GMT | 14:01 Local Time

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The Presidential Administration has expressed regret at what it describes as anti-Azerbaijani remarks by Iran's chief of general staff.

The head of the Presidential Administration's foreign relations department, Novruz Mammadov, commented to 1news.az about the remarks by Major General Seyyed Hassan Firouzabadi, accusing Azerbaijan of anti-Islamic policies.

"It is a great pity that we have to express our attitude with pain in our hearts on such issues. Azerbaijan always builds and develops its ties with Iran on the basis of principles of neighbourliness, friendship and mutually profitable cooperation.

"However, despite the statements of the Iranian leaders at meetings with the president of Azerbaijan, some circles in this state, conducting policy that runs counter to the interests of both Iran and Azerbaijan, openly demonstrate their cunning position. Occasionally, some religious figures distort history, or a military man, instead of fulfilling his professional duties, interferes in politics," Mammadov said.

He said such cases were gradually becoming the norm.

Mammadov told 1news.az that a group of Iranian media had recently launched a campaign against Azerbaijan. “Probably, it doesn't seem enough to them and they create new mass media,” he said.

"Given all the factors, it seems that someone in Iran does not want to understand that there is no alternative to friendly relations between our countries as stated by the two heads of our states. From this viewpoint, it should be noted that the statement made two days ago by the chief of staff of the Iranian army, Maj-Gen Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, are totally irrelevant.

"This prompts a question to you, Major-General: if you know political processes so thoroughly and are very interested in them, then pay attention to yourself, make a diagnosis and draw conclusions from your statements. If you give instructions in the tone of a military commander, trying to interfere in the internal affairs of a neighbouring, friendly state, and give advice and want to see yourselves on the level of a mojahed, or Ayatollah, it looks very funny," Mammadov said. 

"The thought also arises that a general, well aware of internal processes in his own country, may be seeking to come to political power in this way. But we don’t care about this since its is a private matter. It is unambiguously clear that a general who has a high and important office should be well acquainted with history, politics, medicine, and ethics.

"Otherwise, a general who is engaged in guessing which blood flows in whose veins, what someone is thinking and what fate awaits someone else will not go far. He probably knows that Islam does not accept fortune-telling which is considered a very dangerous occupation in Iran."

The Iranian general's remarks have prompted a storm of protest in Azerbaijan, with the Foreign Ministry sending a note of protest to Tehran.

The Iranian embassy in Baku said that the chief of general staff had not made the remarks in question and they disappeared from the websites of Iranian news agencies Mehr and Fars. However, as of 14.00 GMT on 11 August, the remarks remained on the Fars English service.

Fars News' English service quoted Maj-Gen Hassan Firouzabadi as saying: "I hope Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev would pay heed to the issues which strengthen pillars of his government, otherwise he will face a dark future since people's awakening cannot be suppressed."

The major-general also said: "People's awakening cannot be suppressed. Some neighboring and Muslim states with which we enjoy friendly relations continue to ignore friendship criteria and give freedom to Zionist regime (of Israel) to meddle in their country's affairs. They also give command to bar Islamic rules."

Fars News added that Azerbaijan does not allow girls to wear the Muslim headscarf to school.

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