Azerbaijan’s Presidential Aide Visits Israel and Emphasizes Strong Shared Bond
Author: Josephine Freund
Sep 8, 2023
Azerbaijani-Israeli relations are reaching new heights as the Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan’s Head of the Department of Foreign Policy Affairs of the Presidential Administration, Hikmet Hajiyev, met with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv. Their talks focused on enhancing Azerbaijani-Israeli relations, and recognizing the historical bonds between Azerbaijani and Jewish people.
As part of their travels to Israel, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, hosted Hajiyev and his delegation to discuss the growing engagement between the two nations. Defense ties have particularly been a driving force promoting their strong relationship. In an interview Hajiyev conducted with the Israeli news agency I24 News, Hajiyev emphasized the importance defense cooperation plays toward strengthening their bilateral ties: “We are thankful to the State of Israel for defense cooperation. It is one of the signs of confidence and trust between our countries that we are cooperating in such a specific area…. Defense cooperation with Israel, in particular the Israeli defense equipment, plays a crucial and important role and we are thankful to Israel and the Israeli people. It is very much inscribed in the memory of Azerbaijani people.”
During the same interview segment, Hajiyev stated, “Azerbaijan and Jewish people have centuries-old traditions of the bonds of friendship and partnership, and currently Israel and Azerbaijani have that cooperation in many spheres, developing dynamically- we have been making really great progress now that Israel’s embassy is also in Azerbaijan. What we see with the establishment of the embassy in Israel is that we are entering a new level of cooperation between the two countries.”
Azerbaijan and Israel have enjoyed a strong partnership for quite some time now, and this has become even more so since Azerbaijan opened its embassy in Tel Aviv in March 2023. Hajiyev detailed the recent progress between the two countries since the opening of the embassy, stating, “Indeed, in bilateral relations, high-level visits are crucially important, and we are also pleased that the incumbent prime minister in his previous capacity and Israel’s president and also cabinet ministers are regularly visiting Azerbaijan. As such, Azerbaijan’s cabinet ministers and high officials are also regularly visiting Israel. Such a dynamism between cabinets of two countries and high-level official visits are important component of Israel and Azerbaijan cooperation.”
Staunch ally of Azerbaijan, Türkiye, has also recently begun to repair its ties with Israel, which have been shaky since 2018. Israel and Türkiye resumed diplomatic relations in August 2022 and have since been making strides toward greater understanding through high-level visits. Hajiyev, in his interview with I24, mentioned how Azerbaijan could help Israel-Türkiye relations moving forward: “We would like our friends to be friends among themselves. Azerbaijan is glad to see a friendship and mutual understanding between Israel and Turkey and would be happy to further develop communication between the two countries, perhaps in a trilateral format.”
Also, while in Israel, Hajiyev met with Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s National Security Adviser, and Ronen Levy, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel. According to a tweet from the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Israel, Hajiyev and Hanegbi discussed “bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional matters.” While the contents of the meeting remain vague, it can be assumed that Iran was a topic of conversation, as the neighboring country to Azerbaijan remains resentful and suspicious of the outpouring of collaboration between Azerbaijan and Israel. With Ronen Levy, Hajiyev also discussed expanding bilateral cooperation.
Hajiyev’s trip to Israel demonstrates an ever-strengthening bond between Azerbaijan and Israel, which has gained particular significance in the past year. As Iran’s relations with Azerbaijan flounder and as Iran doubles down on its ill will toward the Jewish state, Azerbaijani and Israeli relations have blossomed. Not only have the two nations collaborated in defense and energy, but the expansion of their ties has also encouraged collaboration in the fields of tourism, economy, education, agriculture, and more.