Azerbaijan opens first trade office in Israel to boost economic ties

Officials talk tourism, investments, mutual trade, startup projects; Israeli ambassador to Baku says he believes bureau will precede embassy opening

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, October 11, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, October 11, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Azerbaijan has opened a trade office in Israel, its first official mission in the Jewish state, to boost economic ties between the two countries.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov inaugurated the office in Tel Aviv with Azerbaijan’s Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov. The pair discussed the economic relationship between the two countries, Israeli investments in Azerbaijan, increasing mutual trade and boosting tourism.

Jabbarov also met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman

He said that the Jerusalem-based venture capital firm OurCrowd had signed a memorandum of understanding with an Azerbaijani investment company to “attract investments in startup projects and transfer best practices of leading Israeli companies to our country.”

“The new area of cooperation will contribute to the establishment of an innovative ecosystem in our country,” Jabbarov said.

George Deek, Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, said he believes the move will presage the opening of an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel.

A secular, Muslim-majority state, Azerbaijan has long had warm relations with Jerusalem. Baku has bought billions of dollars of weapons from Israel and provided the Jewish state with oil.

The arms deals have sparked controversy and diplomatic flareups between Israel and Armenia, Azerbaijan’s neighbor and rival.

Armenia has since 2016 accused Azerbaijan of deploying Israeli-made kamikaze drones against Armenian forces. An Azerbaijani official acknowledged using Israeli-made attack drones, including loitering munitions during fighting last year.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan border Iran, which sought to broker a peace deal between them during fighting last year.

Azerbaijan is home to a small Jewish community numbering in the thousands.

Baku was also accused in recent weeks of buying controversial spyware from Israel’s NSO Group.

The ties between Israel and Azerbaijan date back to the break-up of the USSR in the early 1990s.

The two countries forged diplomatic and trade relations, as Israel sought to build bridges with Muslim countries and Azerbaijan was working to build new relationships beyond its traditional ties with Moscow.

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