The four diplomats had been working in Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northwestern city of Tabriz. Tehran’s move came after Baku arrested six Azerbaijani nationals, whom it claimed were linked to Iranian secret services and were plotting a coup in the Caspian nation, and subsequently expelled four Iranian diplomats on April 6.
On April 7, Iran said it will take “diplomatic countermeasures” in response to Azerbaijan’s radical and unconstructive positions against Iranian diplomats.
According to Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani, Tehran believes that such moves by the Azerbaijani government are in contradiction to the neighborly principles.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran, on the one hand, emphasizes the [importance of] observing the principles and basics of the neighborhood policy and paying heed to the sinister goals of the Zionist regime (Israel) in creating differences and tension in the relations among Muslim countries and, on the other hand, has diplomatic countermeasure on its agenda,” Kanaani added.
Relations between Tehran and Baku have been tense after a gunman stormed Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Iran’s capital in January, killing its security chief and wounding two guards.
Azerbaijan closed its diplomatic mission following the incident and evacuated staff over what it called a “terrorist act”. This is while an initial investigation pointed to “personal and family-related problems” as the motive of the assailant.
Azerbaijan’s decision in March to open an embassy in Israel has also contributed to tensions between the two neighboring countries.
Iran has repeatedly opposed the improvement of relations between Azerbaijan and Israel.
Iran, which has a large population of ethnic Azeris, has strongly criticized Azerbaijan for moving closer to Israel, with its Foreign Ministry saying it sees the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel as “anti-Iranian”.