- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
You’d think Azerbaijan might have its hands full with one ongoing territorial dispute, but a group of lawmakers have apparently decided this is a good time to mix things up with Iran. EurasiaNet’s Giorgi Losadze explains:
The idea, pitched by minority lawmakers and applauded by representatives of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, spells trouble for the already less-than-neighborly relations between Azerbaijan and Iran. The name Northern Azerbaijan emphasizes the fact that the Azeri nation is split between an independent state, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and a province in northern Iran, known to many Azerbaijanis as Southern Azerbaijan.[…]
And why not?, asked Yeni Azerbaijan Party parliamentarian Siyavush Novruzov. We already have the examples of North and South Korea, North and South Cyprus, so “Azerbaijan, as a divided state, should be called Northern Azerbaijan,” he argued, Trend reported. The lawmakers have proposed to hold a national referendum on the name change.
The situation is a kind of inverse version of the ongoing naming dispute in Macedonia, which has had to labor under the ungainly name of "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" because Greece feels the name "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim on a region of Northern Greece historically known by that name.
The Azerbaijan naming dispute takes place against the backdrop of what tightened international oil sanctions against Tehran will mean for the country’s own oil market.
Hat tip: Joshua Kucera