Israel diplomat lauds good relations with Azerbaijan

Politics Materials 16 July 2014 19:43 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 16

By Sabina Ahmedova- Trend:

Israel and Azerbaijan have good relations almost in all spheres, Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Rafael Harpaz said on July 16 in an interview with Trend.

The ambassador mentioned that President Ilham Aliyev met Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in Davos, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Agriculture Minister Heydar Asadov went to Israel. And there are numerous other visits by parliamentarians, ministers, etc., including Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was just recently in Baku.

On Azerbaijan, the ambassador said it is "a country of tolerance."

"There is a big Jewish community in Azerbaijan, there is a big community of Israelis which originate from Azerbaijan. Jews live here always peacefully and quietly. We highly appreciate that Azerbaijan is a role model for all the countries of the world for its relations toward Jewish communities."

Speaking on relations between Turkey and Israel, the ambassador said "Turkey is a very important country. We are in the process of reconciliation..."

"I think there are a lot of problems in the world and Israel and Turkey have a lot of joint interests."

He added that trade and tourism has increased "dramatically" over the last year, adding that Turkish Airlines is the biggest foreign airline in Israel.

The ambassador stated that "there so many common interests of those two important countries to overcome our differences."

Relations between Israel and Turkey sharply deteriorated after an Israeli special mission unit seized the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was included into the so-called Freedom Flotilla moving into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Ten participants of the voyage were killed, dozens were injured, while hundreds found themselves behind bars and later deported.

Seven Israeli commandos were injured as a result of the activists' fierce resistance. The interception of the Freedom Flotilla seriously damaged relations between Israel and Turkey, which were formerly closely cooperating in the military and political areas.

Nine Turkish citizens were killed during the attack on the ship. Israel insists that its military acted in self-defence.

Following the incident, the Turkish Defence Ministry decided in July 2010, to abandon joint naval exercises with Israeli Defence Forces.

Turkish and Israeli ambassadors were mutually recalled in September 2011.

However, it was reported that Turkish embassy will resume its activities in Israel after the government of this country pays $21 million compensation for the attack on the flotilla.

Ambassador Harpaz also said that there is a lot of excitement for the upcoming European Games next year. Israel has strongly supported Azerbaijan in hosting it and will send a strong delegation.

"We think it is great opportunity to expose Azerbaijan to Europe and we are really, really happy and satisfied," ambassador said.

It should be noted that Baku 2015 will be the first ever European Games, an exciting and innovative new multi-sport event for the continent that will take place from June 12 until June 28, 2015.