Rouhani Tamps Down Controversy over Erdogan’s Reciting of Poem

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Rouhani said his Turkish counterpart is extremely unlikely to have meant any disrespect for Iran’s territorial integrity by reciting a poem during his recent visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

“The relations between Iran and Turkey are very significant. We are two neighbors that have political and economic relations, hold talks on the regional issues, and are cooperating in the Astana process. Our ties are very important,” the president said.

However, he added, Iran attaches great significance to its territorial integrity and place, as the Iranian people have the right to show sensitivity to a line and express their views.

What is important is that the foreign minister of Turkey called his Iranian counterpart to give an assurance that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had meant no disrespect, an assertion that was reiterated by the Turkish presidential spokesperson and the Turkish ambassador to Tehran, Rouhani stated.

The president said the meaning of the poem that Erdogan recited in Baku would be interpreted differently inside and outside Iran.

In his remarks at the same event in Baku, the president of Turkey had emphasized the necessity for multilateral cooperation over regional issues and collaboration among Turkey, Iran, Russia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Armenia, Rouhani noted.

One must take account of Erdogan’s full speech, not the poem alone, Rouhani added.

“Considering the experience of working with Mr. Erdogan over the past seven years, the reciprocal visits and the extensive negotiations that we’ve held, I think it’s extremely unlikely that he had meant disrespect for the Iranian nation or our territorial integrity.” 

The Turkish authorities have made it clear that Erdogan had meant that people of the Republic of Azerbaijan rejoice at the liberation of their territories, Rouhani said.

Mr. Erdogan quite often recites poems from Hafez, Saadi Shirazi, and Rumi, the Iranian president stated, adding that the controversy has been resolved after explanation from the Turkish officials.

He further reasserted the right of Iranian people to have an objection, show sensitivity and express their patriotism, according to the government’s official website.

“The sensitivity from our people is extremely important. The whole world must know that we attach significance to every millimeter of our land. Everybody should pay more attention to such sensitivity in Iran and the importance of territorial integrity in their speeches and remarks,” Rouhani said.

Erdogan provoked controversy last week when he recited lines from a folk song that laments partitioning of the lands inhabited by Azeri people by the Aras river.

Erdogan was in Baku to review a military parade marking the Republic of Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in a recent war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

In a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu underlined the close and friendly relations between Turkey and Iran, giving an assurance that Erdogan fully respects Iran’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The senior Turkish diplomat explained that Erdogan had not been aware of the sensitivity surrounding the lines he recited and associated the poem only with Lachin and Karabakh, which is why he recited it in the recent event in Baku.


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