Turkey, Iran calm down tension regarding poem
Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart on late Dec. 12 over a recent dispute regarding the Turkish president’s recitation of a poem on a visit to Azerbaijan, which Tehran deemed as support for the secession of Azerbaijani ethnic parts of Iran, and the Iranian side said the parties “resolved a misunderstanding.”
An anonymous Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Çavuşoğlu told his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, that public statements coming out of Tehran aimed at the Turkish leader were “baseless” and unacceptable when other channels of communication were available between the two governments.
Reminding of Turkey’s support for the country during the most difficult periods “when everyone turned their back on Iran,” he said that forgetting this increased the disappointment.
Çavuşoğlu also gave an assurance that Erdoğan fully respects Iran’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to Iran’s state-run news agency. IRNA added that the Turkish diplomat explained his president had not been aware of the sensitivities surrounding the lines he recited in Baku.
The Iranian embassy in Ankara on Dec. 12 stated that the recent misunderstanding has been resolved during the phone call between Çavuşoğlu and Zarif. “The parties emphasized the importance of strengthening and expanding the relations between the two countries,” the embassy tweeted.
The diplomatic spat between the neighbors Iran and Turkey began earlier this week when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who strongly backs Azerbaijan, read parts of a poem during a parade in the Caucasian country’s capital of Baku. The verses that Erdoğan read included lines about how a border tore apart ancient Azerbaijani, or Azerbaijani, lands “by force.”
Erdoğan was attending a victory parade ceremony in Baku on Dec. 10 to mark the country’s recent military success in liberating Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions from nearly 30 years of the Armenian occupation.
The next day, Zarif wrote on Twitter that “President Erdoğan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland.”
According to IRNA, the poem is “one of the separatist symbols of pan-Turkism.”
Iran summoned Turkey’s envoy to the country on Dec.11. Ambassador Derya Ors was summoned by Iran’s deputy foreign minister to be conveyed Tehran’s “harsh condemnation,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a written statement.
In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Dec. 11 summoned the Iranian ambassador to Ankara over Iran’s “aggressive” reaction to the Turkish president’s recitation of the poem.
In a statement on Dec.12, Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Iran had distorted the meaning of the poem “to fuel senseless tensions.” The poem “passionately reflects the emotional experience of an aggrieved people due to Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands. It does not include any references to Iran,” Altun said.
Iran’s three northwestern provinces — West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan and Ardabil — have a predominantly ethnic Azerbaijani population that speaks a Turkic language.