Azerbaijani-Israeli relations


History of relations: Azerbaijan began to draw the attention of the Jewish elite since 1810. then the first Ashkenazi Jews began to settle in Baku. In 1832 the first synagogue was built in Baku. After the production of oil in Baku in 1870, a group of Jewish businessmen came to Baku. G. Polyak, A. Dembo, X. Kagan, Baron G. Ginzburg, and A.Feigel did business in this sphere.

There are three synagogues in Baku at presenrt. Another synagogue is the ono of the Mountain Jews' in Krasnaya Sloboda settlement of Quba district of Azerbaijan. It is the only place in the former Soviet Union where the Jews live co,pactly.

There are no anti-Semitic traditions in Azerbaijan. Another factor which brings Azerbaijan and Israel closer is the Jewish Diaspora in Azerbaijan and over 80 thousand Jews from Azerbaijan living in Israel.

Bilateral political relations: On December 25, 1991, Israel recognized the independence of Azerbaijan and established diplomatic relations with it on April 7, 1992. The Israeli Embassy has been functioning in Azerbaijan since 1993.

The meetings of the Azerbaijani and Israeli presidents stimulated the development of relations between the two countries. On January 28, 1995, at World Economic Forum in Davos President Heydar Aliyev had a meeting with the Israeli minister for foreign affairs Shimon Peres. On October 22 of the same year at the UN General Assembly he met the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, on January 11, 1996 at funeral ceremony of ex-president of France François Mitterand the Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, on December 2, 1996 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed with him the issues of mutual interests.

On August 27, 1997, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a short-term visit to Azerbaijan and had a meeting with President Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev expressed his satisfaction with their meeting and talks at the Lisbon Summit and Netanyahu's statement on behalf of the Israeli government to help Azerbaijan to settle the problems facing Azerbaijan. Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict President Heydar Aliyev stressed that he is for the peaceful settlement of the conflict on the principles determined at the Lisbon Summit. They agreed to create a working group to develop the relations between the two countries.

Stressing the fact that the Azerbaijanis is a peace-loving people, President HeydarAliyev said: "The Jews have lived for centuries here together with the Azerbaijanis. They lived in peace for centuries in Azerbaijan. And today the Jews are equal citizens of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan is their homeland. All these create favorable conditions for our cooperation."

On November 18, 1999, President Heydar Aliyev met the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the OSCE Summit in Turkey. Speaking about the relations of the two countries, he said:" The representatives of the Jews living abroad frequently visit our country. We have great opportunities for developing relations between our countries, development of these relations is very important."

On September 6, 2000, President Heydar Aliyev met the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak again.

President Ilham Aliyev also attaches great significance to the relations between the two countries. He has held several meetings with the heads of Israel and mainly with Shimon Peres. President Ilham Aliyev and Shimon Peres met in June of 2006, at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, on August 10, 2008 and on January 30, 2009, at WEF in Davos.

In 2009, for the first time in the history of the Azerbaijani-Israeli relations the Israeli President together with three ministers and 50 businessmen arrived in Azerbaijan on an official visit. During the visit two contracts were signed. One of them provides the cooperation in the field of communications and the second one cooperation in the sphere of education, science and technology.

Cultural relations: Diaspora plays an important role in the development of cultural relations between the two countries. The Jewish community is one of the most active in Azerbaijan. There are three Jewish communities in Azerbaijan. Basically the mountainous Jews living in Guba (Red Sloboda) and Baku. The Ashkenazi Jews live basically in Baku and Sumgait, the Georgian Jews live in the border of Georgia.

The Jewish agency 'Sohnut", "Joint" and " Vaad-L-Xetxola" are engaged in the preservation of the Jewish traditions and customs. The Jewish community has also a cultural center, a women society "Yeva", a charity society "Hesed-Qershon", clubs "Alef"and "Kilel" for the youth, a videoclub by name of "Mishpaxa", and religious schools-"Xabad Or-Avner".

The synagogue opened in Baku in 2003 is considered to be one of the largest ones in Europe. There is a synagogue and mikvah in the Red Sloboda in Guba to perform religious rites. Newspapers "Az-iz", "Qulle" and "Amishav" in Jewish are published in Azerbaijan. The Jews from Azerbaijan living in Israel are very active in maintaining cultural ties.

A center of the Azerbaijani culture in Afula and a center of the Israeli culture function in Azerbaijan. The society of "Haifa-Baku" was established by the Jews from Azerbaijan in Haifa in Israel in 1991.

On May 25, 2005, the famous jazz pianist Leonid Ptashka together with his colleague Shlomo Gronix gave a concert at Baku Philharmonics named after Muslim Magomaev.

Founded in the April of 2007, the Azerbaijani-Israeli International Association (Aziz) plays a significant role in the development of scientific, economic and cultural relations between the two countries. The organization has more than 50 thousand members in Azerbaijan. In the November of 2008, a meeting to commemorate Magomaev was held in Israel by Aziz. On June 21, 2007, a concert dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Israeli Azerbaijani diplomatic relations was organized in Baku.

Economic relations: Israel is one of the biggest purchasers of Azerbaijani oil. Israel satisfies 30% of its oil needs at the account of the Azerbaijani oil. At the same time, Israel imported a huge quantity of oil products from Azerbaijan. At present Israel is interested in purchase of the Azerbaijani gas.

Since 1993, the Azerbaijani company AZAL has flights between Baku and Tel -Aviv. In the field of mobile phones the first investment was made by an Israeli company "Bakcell", and it was the first mobile operator in the market of Azerbaijan. In the February of 2007 the first economic paper-"Agreement on the Protection and Promotion of Investments" was signed between the two countries.

On July 7-8, 2009, the Israeli -Azerbaijani Construction Forum was held in Baku. Six companies from the Israeli side and Presidents of the both countries participated at the forum.

The Israeli company "Binui" and "Shikun" take part in the restoration of the Mughanli-Yevlakh part of the highway between Baku and Yevlakh. At the moment, dozens of the Israeli companies are operating in Azerbaijan. The trade turnover between the two countries is $ 4 billion.

The Azerbaijani -Israeli interparliamentary working group is operating. Israel supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and supports the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

General historical reference was compiled on April 9, 2010