Reacting to Azerbaijan’s criticism of Iran for holding military exercises near its borders, the Foreign Ministry spokesman says the Islamic Republic has only been exercising its right to sovereignty by holding the drills.
Addressing the issue of the maneuvers that were held recently in the country’s northwestern border area, Saeed Khatibzadeh called the event “a matter of sovereignty.”
The official was speaking to reporters in Tehran on Tuesday during a press conference.
Earlier, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev said he was “very surprised” by Iran’s decision to hold drills close to his country’s borders, and also questioned the timing of the maneuvers.
Khatibzadeh said Aliev’s comments ran counter to the favorable nature of relations between the two countries, underlining that the exercises had taken place towards contribution to “the entire region’s calm and stability.”
The Iranian ambassador to Baku, Seyyed Abbas Musavi, said the exercises “can’t be seen as a threat to our friends,” and that Azerbaijan had been informed about them months earlier.
Iran has been suspicious of Azerbaijan’s links to the Israeli regime, whose supply of drones and other weapons helped Baku gain the upper hand in the war with Armenia last year.
“It’s clear that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime nears its borders even if it’s just a show, and will take any action necessary to protect its national security,” Khatibzadeh said.
Aliev had also accused Iran of sending over trucks to “illegally” cross into the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The spokesman dismissed any attempt on the part of Iran to undermine others’ territorial integrity or trespass on their recognized borders.
He also urged that Iran’s neighbors too similarly endeavor to respect the principle of good-neighborliness in their relations with the Islamic Republic.