ISTANBUL

Iranian politicians and academicians criticized Wednesday some local authorities and media outlets over unfair accusations against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for reading a poem during a ceremony in Azerbaijan.

The controversy emerged after Erdogan read out a poem in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku last week to mark the country’s success in liberating Nagorno-Karabakh from nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that the poem took aim at Iran’s territorial integrity.

In a later phone talk with Zarif, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the poem was about Karabakh and that during his remarks, Erdogan never made mention of Iran, not even implicitly.

“There is no way that Erdogan could have intended to insult Iran’s territorial integrity,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday. 

In a press conference, Rouhani said that “based on my past knowledge of Mr. Erdogan, it is very unlikely that he had any intention of insulting our territorial integrity or insulting the Iranian people”.

Rouhani also underlined the importance of Turkish-Iranian ties, saying the two countries work together on important regional issues.

“Zarif and some others in the country thought that the poem was read by separatists, or it had a political purpose, but this was not the case,” Rahman Kahramanpur, an Iranian expert on international relations, said in an interview with Persian-language daily Aftab-e Yazd.

Kahramanpur said Zarif should have made research about the issue and asked his counterpart in Turkey before reacting.

Iranian political expert Ali Efshari said the attitudes adopted by Tehran should not harm the essence of the relations between the two countries.

Underlining that Erdogan’s remarks did not include any message of separatism, Efshari said: “Iranian Azerbaijanis are our citizens and constitute an important part of our society. They should not be hurt when reacting to an issue”.

“The chauvinism and racist attitude shown by some Iranian authorities are politically and morally wrong,” Efshari added.

Iran’s former ambassador to Baku Afshar Soleimani told Ensafnews website that it is unlikely that Erdogan was following Ottoman-era policies or seeking to divide Iran.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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