Turkey says it respects Iran’s sovereignty after Erdogan controversy

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called his Iranian counterpart on Saturday evening to assure him that his country respects the Islamic Republic of Iran’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During the phone conversation, Cavusoglu underlined the close and friendly relations between Turkey and Iran, and highlighted Ankara’s definite policy of good neighborliness, the Foreign Ministry website reported.

He also assured Zarif that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fully respects Iran’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Cavusoglu was referring to Erdogan’s controversial poem that he recited on Thursday during a parade in Baku.

The poem implies that the Azeri-populated Iranian provinces of Azerbaijan were part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

“They separated the Aras River and filled it with rocks and rods. I will not be separated from you. They have separated us forcibly,” the poem says.

Aras is a border river between the Republic of Azerbaijan and two ethnic-Azeri Turk majority provinces in Iran.

Cavusoglu explained that President Erdogan had not been aware of the sensitivities surrounding the lines he recited in Baku and associated the poem only with Lachin and Karabakh, which is why he recited it in the recent event in Azerbaijan.

For his part, Foreign Minister Zarif underscored the significance of friendly relations between the two neighbors that signify mutual respect.

Zarif also expressed hopes for the expansion of bilateral relations on the basis of mutual trust.

Following Erdogan’s recitation of the controversial poem, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Tehran to protest the Turkish president’s “interventionist and unacceptable” remarks.

“Today, Friday, December 11, 2020, the Turkish ambassador in Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry by the Assistant Minister and Director General of Eurasia, and while expressing strong protest, it was underlined to the ambassador that the Islamic Republic of Iran wants an immediate explanation from the Turkish government,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Friday.

“During the summoning, the Turkish ambassador was informed that the era of territorial claims and warmongering and expansionist empires was over,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, Zarif also responded to Erdogan’s poem, saying that the poem was wrong.

“Pres. Erdogan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland. Didn’t he realize that he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan? NO ONE can talk about OUR beloved Azerbaijan,” the chief Iranian diplomat tweeted.

In another tweet, which he wrote in Persian, Zarif said: “They didn’t tell Erdogan that the poem that he wrongly recited in Baku is related to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland.”

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