Iran’s mediation not enough to solve Karabakh conflict

Iran’s mediation not enough to solve Karabakh conflict

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 14

By Umid Niayesh, Fatih Karimov - Trend:

Iran alone can't solve Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, other states also are important, Hassan Beheshtipour, Iranian expert on international affairs told Trend Feb. 14.

Iran can play a key role in resolving the conflict, Beheshtipour said, adding, "of course, the role of other countries, such as Russia and the US should not be disregarded. The intermediation of Iran is not sufficient to resolve the problem."

Beheshtipour said that Iran's stance regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is to secure Azerbaijan's sovereignty and wants the conflict to be resolved as soon as possible.

"Iran says rights of Nagorno-Karabakh people should be met and sovereignty of Azerbaijan should be secured," the expert added.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.

While commenting on the current level of the ties between the two neighboring countries Beheshtipour said that after the visit of Iranian and Azerbaijani presidents on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos last year, relations between the two countries were improved significantly.

Visits of high-ranking officials of the two sides show that both Iran and Azerbaijan are determined to remove hurdles and expand bilateral cooperation, he added.

Beheshtipour said bilateral ties have been facing with problems over the past years, especially relations between Iran and Armenia and relations between Azerbaijan and Israel have created problems in Tehran-Baku ties.

For the time being, such sensitive issues have been alleviated and the two countries think about expanding bilateral relations far from political interests, he noted.

"There was a speculation in Iran that Israel may use Azerbaijan's territory to attack Iran, but Azerbaijani official have stressed that such a thing will not happen," the expert explained.

He further noted that the volume of propaganda against each other in the two countries' mass media has also decreased and the media have helped improvement of the relations.

Any improvement in bilateral relations will be beneficial for both people and governments, Beheshtipour said, adding that in this line upcoming visit of the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Baku will be a welcome opportunity to resolve the extant problems.

The two countries should not entwine their relations to a third country, he stressed.

The Iranian FM is scheduled to visit Baku on Feb.16 at the invitation of the Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

During the visit, the Iranian top diplomat will hold several high-level meetings and discuss the intensification of the bilateral relations.

Beheshtipour also forecasted that the lifting of sanctions against Iran within the framework of nuclear talks with the West can give Azerbaijan more freedom to improve relations with Iran.

Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) group have extend their negotiations to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal, with the aim of reaching a high-level political agreement by March 1, and confirming the full technical details of the agreement by July 1.

After the sides failed to meet the November 24, 2014 deadline they also extended the Geneva nuclear deal, which was signed in November 2013 to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities.

The US and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon - something that Iran denies.

Follow the author on Twitter: @UmidNiayesh

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