Iranian Foreign Ministry summons Turkish envoy over Erdoğan’s comments

(Updated with remarks from Erdoğan aide)

Turkey’s Ambassador to Iran Derya Örs was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Friday over comments made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his recent visit to Baku, Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Friday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s advisor and managing director of Eurasia department summoned Örs and briefed him that Iran was seeking an urgent response, according to IRNA.

The era of territorial claims, warmongering and expansionist empires is over and Iran won’t allow any interventions on its territorial integrity or compromise on its national security, Iranian officials told Örs.

The comments that prompted such a response came in the form of a poem Erdoğan recited during Thursday’s celebrations in Baku for Azerbaijan’s military victory over Armenia in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The poem laments the separation of the River Aras, which flows from Turkey, passes through the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, and Iran, and joins the River Kura back in Azerbaijan. While reciting it, Erdoğan said, “The Aras will sing stronger, those singing the Karabakh Shikeste will breathe stronger,” in reference to a traditional Azeri song.

Erdoğan “was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland,” Zarif said in a tweet earlier on Friday. “Didn't he realize that he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan?”

On Saturday, Turkey’s presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun released a statement, doubling down on Tehran.

“We condemn the use of offensive language towards our president and our country over the recitation of a poem, whose meaning has been deliberately taken out of context,” Altun said on Twitter.