Arrest of Azerbaijani poets in Iran
The case of two Azerbaijani poets, who were arrested in Iran, still remains at the center of public attention.
Two Azerbaijani poets, Farid Huseyn and Shahriyar Hajizade, decided to participate in the first international conference of poets held in Iran at the beginning of May. They have been missing since the end of the event. Their friends said that the men were arrested by the Iranian security services.
Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has sent five notes to Iran's Foreign Ministry demanding clarification of the situation with the two missing men. The Iranian Foreign Ministry finally confirmed the arrest of two Azerbaijani citizens. According to its response to Azerbaijan's note, two Azerbaijani citizens are accused of attempting to commit a crime. The Iranian side did not specify the crime.
In addition to this, the Iranian authorities did not allow the Azerbaijani Consul to visit the arrested men, which is a severe violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention. As a result, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called on citizens to be cautious while travelling to Iran. "The latest incident with the detention of Azeri poets in Iran is vivid proof of this. Why do citizens of Azerbaijan have to deal with such cases in a country that calls itself friendly towards us?" foreign ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev said. "Nobody can be immune to the fact that tomorrow he will be detained in that country [Iran], and absurd accusations will be put forward against him," Abdullayev said.
State-run Iranian media outlets reported then that the Azerbaijani citizens were accused of spying for Israel. It's quite common for Iran to blame 'the Zionist regime' for every trouble. The country has always been criticizing Azerbaijan for 'too close' relations with Israel. However, it seems perfectly clear to Azerbaijani experts that this case is nothing but a provocation. Moreover, there was no official statement saying the Azerbaijani poets were accused of espionage.
The Azerbaijani authorities are doing their best to free the young poets, but their efforts seem futile. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who received Iranian Minister of Education Hamid-Reza Haji Babaee on Thursday, stressed that the detention in Iran of the two young poets, who are citizens of Azerbaijan, creates serious concern in the society of the country, and demanded that conditions be created for a meeting of the representatives of the Azerbaijani consulate with these individuals. Mammadyarov also asked the Iranian minister to bring to the Iranian leadership's notice the serious concern of the Azerbaijani government on this issue.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also met with the Iranian minister. The Iranian official invited the Azerbaijani leader to Iran for the coming meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. The president reportedly received the invitation and agreed to meet with his Iranian counterpart. It seems probable that Iran will free the Azerbaijani poets on the verge of this meeting. Perhaps the Iranian authorities will agree to trade them for Iranian prisoners kept in Azerbaijan. In any case, it's quite obviuos that the two Azerbaijani men have become part of a very complicated diplomatic game.