Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador on December 11 to protest remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a visit to Azerbaijan.
Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Turkish Ambassador Derya Ors was summoned following Erdogan’s “meddlesome and unacceptable” remarks in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.
“The Turkish ambassador was informed that the era of territorial claims and warmongering and expansionist empires is over,” the ministry posted on its website. “Iran does not allow anyone to meddle in its territorial integrity.”
During a visit to Baku on December 10 to attend a parade celebrating Azerbaijan’s resumption of control over parts of its Nagorno-Karabakh region and adjacent districts following a military conflict with neighboring Armenia, Erdogan read parts of an Azeri-Iranian poem about the division of Azerbaijan's territory between Russia and Iran in the 19th century.
Turkey has become a close ally of Azerbaijan, helping it in the war with Armenia that ended with a cease-fire last month.
Iran’s three northwestern provinces have predominantly ethnic-Azeri populations, and Tehran has been concerned about separatist tendencies in the region. Azeris speak a language very similar to Turkish, but most observe Shi'ite Islam, Iran's state religion.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif posted on Twitter that Erdogan “was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas…from [the] Iranian motherland.”
Iran’s state ISNA news agency said the poem Erdogan recited is “one of the separatist symbols of pan-Turkism.”
Turkey's Foreign Ministry also summoned Iran's ambassador to Ankara and protested the claims about Erdogan, the Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.