AZERBAIJAN FOREIGN MINISTER Elmar Mammadyarov rekindles the eternal flame during a ceremony in Jerusalem.(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
On June 2, according to The Jerusalem Post and other media outlets, Israel Aerospace Industries officially announced the successful test completion of an operational-tactical missile system with a single-stage solid-fuel ballistic missile LORA (Long-Range Artillery Weapon System).
Foreign media, with a degree of inaccuracy, pointed out that in 2018, IAI delivered missiles to Azerbaijan, which, for accuracy’s sake, were only tested in 2020.
“The new missiles have slightly different characteristics; however, did the company want to test its unchecked deadly weapon missiles in the republic at war with Armenia?” a foreign source asserted.
As my perspective goes, I need to emphasize herein that Azerbaijan became the first and only country to which Israel delivered these missiles. Israel-Azerbaijan relations are of the strategic and military-technical partnership nature, held at the highest intergovernmental level of trust and ongoing mutual dialogue.
Today, this strategic partnership is diversified into other sectors of the economy, including agriculture, hi-tech, healthcare and military-technical partnership. It should be emphasized that in the world’s marketplace, the State of Israel is one of Azerbaijan’s major strategic oil buyers.
At the same time, Israeli specialists have been working in Azerbaijan for many years in various fields. There is a large community of Azerbaijanis in Israel who are well integrated into Israeli society and represent Azerbaijan with dignity and respect.
Concerning LORA, it must be emphasized that in March 2004, the quasiballistic missile, of a slightly new modification, underwent successful tests in the Mediterranean Sea, and subsequently has been in use by the IDF. Claiming that Israel sold Azerbaijan missiles without having them properly tested is thoughtless, irrelevant and professionally questionable. Additionally, any weapon Azerbaijan inclined to purchase must pass stringent testing by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
It is necessary to remind the reader that the Israeli military-industrial establishment is made up of a very serious team of professionals, operating under the Defense Ministry’s full supervision.
Today’s Azerbaijani Armed Forces are powerful, modern and well-weaponized, and hold a disciplined combat readiness and fighting spirit of the highest standard. Moreover, let us not forget that in contemporary warfare, the winner is the one who has more advanced technological means that ensure successful military operations.
For more than two decades, the Israel-Azerbaijan partnership has evolved through the two countries’ robust cooperation in various dimensions. Israel was one of the first countries recognize a sovereign Azerbaijan. No country in Eurasia has closer or friendlier ties with Israel than Azerbaijan. One reason for these close relations lies in the longstanding friendship between Azerbaijanis and Jews living in Azerbaijan.
Today, Azerbaijan is a strong independent state, looked up to as a leader in the South Caucasus’s progress in geopolitics and geo-economics. Azerbaijan is actively conducting its own multi-vector foreign policy, independent of Ankara’s or Tehran’s foreign policy. Despite expected geopolitical obstacles, Israel and Azerbaijan have managed to build a strong and unwavering partnership.
During his December 2016 state visit to Baku, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Israel-Azerbaijan ties by saying, “something that we can show the world. The world sees so much intolerance, so much darkness, and Azerbaijan is an example of what relations can be and should be between Muslims and Jews everywhere.”
Azerbaijan is not only Israel’s ally and strategic partner in the Islamic world, but also sets an example for interreligious and interethnic tolerance.
Azerbaijan, a predominantly Shi’ite country, is also home to several other ethnic and religious groups, including ancient Zoroastrian, Christian and Jewish communities. Tolerance and coexistence among all the nation’s minorities has played a vital role in Azerbaijan’s progress from the days of the ancient Silk Road to 21st century modernity.
Unlike in many countries and ethnic groups, Azerbaijanis have never viewed Jews as alien or foreign. Relatively few people outside Azerbaijan know about the remarkable role the local Jewish community has played in Azerbaijan.
I can proudly point out that Azerbaijan’s leadership shows a great affinity and respect for the country’s Jewish community. Under the patronage of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, two synagogues and the largest Jewish educational center in the South Caucasus have been built.
In the next three months, the Mountain Jewish Museum in Red Village, Azerbaijan’s unique all-Jewish town, as well as in all of the South Caucasus, is due to open its doors. For centuries, there, hidden in the mountains, a Jewish community safely thrived amid the surrounding Muslim population.
The Qirmizi Qesebe ancient village, located in northern Azerbaijan, is the genuine pride of the country, said to be the only all-Jewish town outside of Israel and the US.
Tolerance and interculturalism are Azerbaijani society’s key foundations. The State of Israel also highly appreciates the role of the Azerbaijani leadership in relation to the Jewish community. Without this tradition of respect and partnership, close bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Israel were hardly exist.
Relations between the two, as well as between Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani Jews, cannot be explained by simple mutual interest. Common values and common history permeate modern interstate relations. Both countries are enriched with human ties and determination to live in diverse and religiously tolerant societies.
Time and again Azerbaijan has demonstrated that harmony is possible, and any rising issue can be resolved without resorting to violence or strife.