6 Apr 2023 21:38

Four Iranian embassy employees in Baku declared personae non gratae - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry

BAKU. April 6 (Interfax) - Four employees of the Iranian embassy to Azerbaijan have been declared personae non gratae and told to leave the country within 48 hours, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Seyed Abbas Mousavi was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry to be informed of Azerbaijan's strong dissatisfaction with Tehran's provocative activities, the ministry said.

"The ambassador was made aware that the Azerbaijani government declared four employees of the Iranian embassy personae non gratae over their activities, [which were] inconsistent with their diplomatic status and [which] went against the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," the ministry said.

"These individuals have been told to leave the country within 48 hours," it said.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran started worsening in 2022. In particular, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused the Iranian authorities of taking purposeful steps leading to a crisis in bilateral relations.

The Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran was targeted by an armed attack in January 2023, which Baku qualified as an act of terrorism and put the blame on Iranian special services. Following the incident, Azerbaijan evacuated all of its employees from the embassy in Tehran. The only Azerbaijani diplomatic mission currently operating in Iran is the consulate general in Tabriz.

Iran also conducted major military exercises near Azerbaijan's borders in early 2023, which Baku described as an unfriendly step aimed at deteriorating bilateral relations. Baku has also accused Tehran of close ties with Yerevan targeted against Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador last week to present him with a protest over what Baku described as an anti-Azerbaijani campaign in Iranian media.

Azerbaijan has also accused Iranian special services of arranging an armed assault on parliamentarian Fazil Mustafa near his home outside of Baku at the end of March.

Since early 2023, Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies have conducted a series of operations to detain and arrest individuals suspected of belonging to an Iranian spy network and pursuing anti-Azerbaijani activities.