Skip to main content

Signaling Iran, Israel's FM visits Azerbaijan, will open embassy in Turkmenistan

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen is holding meetings in Azerbaijan before traveling to Turkmenistan, where he will inaugurate Israel’s embassy.
An Azerbaijani national flag flies next to the mediaeval Khudaferin bridge in Jebrayil district at the country's border with Iran - the territories recaptured from Armenian forces in fierce clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region that were under Armenian separatists' control for nearly three decades, on December 9, 2020. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

On an official visit to Azerbaijan, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met in Baku with President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday, ahead of his trip to Turkmenistan where Israel is expected to open an embassy. 

A statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry after Cohen’s meeting with Aliyev said that the two countries are strengthening their diplomatic and security alliance. The two also discussed deepening economic and tourism ties, with Azerbaijan being seen by Israel as a critical access point to Eurasia.

Cohen congratulated Aliyev on his decision to open an embassy in Israel last month after 30 years without diplomatic relations. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov inaugurated his country’s embassy in Tel Aviv on March 29, prompting Tehran to complain of the “anti-Iranian orientation” of Azeri diplomacy.

Cohen arrived to Baku on Tuesday at the head of a large economic delegation of some 30 companies in the fields of homeland security, cyber security, water management and smart agriculture. More than 100 meetings were set up for the different Israeli representatives with local companies and Azeri officials.

Israel has been investing great efforts in recent years into nurturing its ties with the Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, mainly because of its long border with Iran, extending at 765 km (428 m). Reports over the years have indicated that Israel has been supplying weapons to Azerbaijan, including drones apparently used in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Karabakh region, though Israel has officially never acknowledged doing so. 

A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on weapons used at the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict said Israel was the second-largest supplier after Russia, delivering weapons to Azerbaijan in the years 2011-2020.

Cohen is expected to travel to Turkmenistan on Wednesday night. He will meet with Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdymukhamedov and the country’s foreign and agriculture ministers and will inaugurate Israel’s embassy Thursday morning. It will be Israel’s closest embassy geographically to a border with Iran at just 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.

Israel and Turkmenistan have maintained diplomatic ties since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords. In 1994, then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Turkmenistan, cementing the newly established relations. Since then, no Israeli minister has visited the country. Pressured by Iran, Turkmenistan refused to accept Israeli ambassadors for several years. Unlike with Azerbaijan, bilateral ties between the countries are limited, focusing mainly on agriculture cooperation. Israel participated along with other Western countries in efforts to reconstruct the country’s largest oil refinery.

Cohen's visits to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan come on the backdrop of growing tensions with Iran

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in