Azerbaijan has purchased nearly $5 billion-worth of defense equipment from Israel, that country's President Ilham Aliyev said on Tuesday during a visit to Azerbaijan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- WATCH: Israeli-made suicide drone used by Azerbaijan
- Nagorno-Karabakh: The Conflict No-one Wants to Solve
- Israel's New Ambiguity: Where Are Its Drones Headed?
Aliyev said the defense industry cooperation between the countries had lasted for several years and was flourishing.
“So far the contracts between Azerbaijani and Israeli companies with respect to purchasing defense equipment have been close to $5 billion,” Aliyev said. “More precisely, $4.85 billion. The biggest part of these contracts has already been executed and still we continue to work on that. And we are very satisfied with the level of this cooperation.”
According to foreign reports, Israel sells Azerbaijan radar systems and drones, and handles the collection of intelligence against Iran from the Asian nation. Moshe Ya’alon, when he was defense minister, visited Azerbaijan in 2014 for a weapons fair in which Israeli companies participated. According to other reports, an Israeli self-destructing killer drone – Israel Aerospace Industries’ Harop – was seen operating in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian rebel enclave inside Azerbaijan.
It has also been reported that Azerbaijani soldiers are armed with Israeli Tavor rifles. Its soldiers have been seen carrying the blue and white weapon. In 2014, attorney Eitay Mack and Prof. Yair Oron asked the department that supervises military exports to rescind military export licenses because of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the breakaway enclave.
Azerbaijan also has close ties with Israel in the energy field, with a significant amount of the oil consumed by Israel purchased from Azerbaijan. Aliyev noted this in his speech, saying, “Trade turnover is at the good level, but mainly because of the oil supplies from Azerbaijan to Israel.”
He added, “We need to work in order to diversify and increase it.”
“We have so many areas where we are cooperating and can cooperate to benefit of our peoples,” remarked Netanyahu. “We obviously have a robust relationship in energy. Now we are talking about not just the sale of Azerbaijani oil to Israel, which is a very important part of our oil imports. We are talking about using common facilities for the export of gas and linking Israel`s gas exports potentially to a great pipeline that is being built from Azerbaijan to Turkey.”