Israeli President Isaac Herzog landed in Baku, Azerbaijan on Tuesday, for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening the decades-long relationship between the two countries.
Herzog is only the second Israeli president to visit the country, following Shimon Peres’ trip in 2009.
Shortly before his departure, Herzog said he would discuss the Iranian threat with the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
“We need to remember that beyond trade and historic ties, including with the Jewish community, that Azerbaijan is Iran's neighbor,” Herzog said. “Iran is a destabilizing influence in the region that is working continuously to act against Israel and against the developing alliance of peace and security in the region, and I will certainly discuss this.”
Herzog and his wife, Michal were greeted upon arrival in Baku by the Azerbaijani deputy prime minister, deputy foreign minister and the ambassadors of both countries.
Aliyev met Herzog at the Zugulba presidential palace with an honor guard as the Israeli national anthem “HaTikvah” was played by a military band.
I thank my friend, president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, @presidentaz, a true friend of Israel, for the warm welcome in his palace. Israel views Azerbaijan as a valuable strategic partner and an anchor of regional stability. 🇮🇱🤝🇦🇿 pic.twitter.com/OPBtI4UHTV— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) May 30, 2023
Both presidents made their remarks in English during the meeting.
Aliyev praised the defense cooperation between the two countries, saying Israeli technology helped Azerbaijan “to modernize our defense capability, and to be able to protect our statehood, our values, our national interest, and our territorial integrity.”
He also called Azerbaijani Jews “a big asset to our country.”
“Jewish citizens of Azerbaijan contribute a lot for the modern development in our country,” he said. “Jews in Azerbaijan always been an active prominent part of our society and remain that way today.”
Herzog invited Aliyev to visit Israel “as a symbol of the amazing friendship between us.”
He also praised the shared strategy and vision of Azerbaijan and Israel.
“Our shared strategy and vision is based on doing good, through honest and open dialogue between Jews and Muslims, a vision that can be dreamed about and also shown,” he said.
The Israeli president spoke about the danger of the Iranian threat and the role of both countries to bring change to the region.
“I see Azerbaijan making a big change in the world, in the Asian region, and of course in the Middle East. We are looking at the regional-security structure that is threatened by Iran, a topic we discussed in depth, and we look forward to the development of cooperation between us in many fields such as academia, agriculture, and many other fields,” Herzog said.
While in Azerbaijan, Herzog visited the grave of former President Heydar Aliyev, the father of the current president, where he laid a wreath.
Herzog attended a ceremony in Baku celebrating the 75th year of Israel’s independence.
“The relations between our governments are a role model for other countries who choose the path of peace and cooperation, and an example of friendly relations between Muslims and Jews,” the Israeli president said.
During the ceremony, Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek told reporters that the number of flights between the two countries will be increased “immediately.”
Herzog was accompanied by Interior Minister and Health Minister Moshe Arbel, as Israel and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on healthcare cooperation.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.