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Iran and Karabakh Four-Day War: Positive Neutrality and Mediation Initiative

The four-day war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh Republic created a new reality in the region, causing serious concerns in neighboring countries. Unlike Turkey, Armenia’s Southern neighbor Iran avoided expressing support to any of the conflicting sides.

All the signals from the Islamic Republic of Iran indicate that official Tehran has a clear understanding of the logic of the events and tries to face the challenges arising from the current situation and to use the given opportunities.

It should be noted that due to economic and security reasons Iran is interested in the stability of the region. Isn't it the case, that during every escalation there is a risk of activation of Azerbaijanis in Iran (Azerbaijanis in the Islamic Republic of Iran are the second ethnic group) and disruption of transport and energy infrastructure? Besides, in case of military actions Iran will inevitably face with the flow of refugees.

Iran’s position on April events as well as the Karabakh conflict in general is based on two key factors: positive neutrality and mediation initiative. By the way, today’s Iranian mediation initiatives are quite different from the attempts in previous years. This is largely due to the new situation resulting from the exemption of international sanctions. Iran now has a real chance and measures to involve in regional developments.

Generally Iran maintains good relations both with Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time it should be noted that the expectations of both sides from Iran are much more higher than the Iranian side demonstrates in its approaches.

On April 5 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a telephone conversation with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian emphasized the need for a peaceful settlement of the crisis. At the same time Zarif noted that "Iran is ready to help restore peace in the Karabakh region".

On the same day during the meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Mevlut Elmar Mammadyarov Iranian Foreign Minister declared "Iran's full readiness to contribute to the peaceful settlement of the crisis".

In his turn Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani during the telephone conversations with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts again underlined Iran's readiness to take an active role in the Karabakh conflict settlement.

Meanwhile, Iran has always been against the interference of foreign powers in regional affairs, especially in case of security issues. Iran’s ambitions for assuming the role of mediator are largely based on this fact. Islamic Republic’s aspiration to avoid foreign powers interference is conditioned by the need to keep the Iranian influence in the region (especially in case of Azerbaijan).

It is noteworthy that in regard with these both factors Iran's approach intersects with the position of Russia. This means that in case if Iran’s mediation efforts will not lead to significant changes in the settlement process, Iran’s involvement in the Karabakh conflict will at least be seen through close cooperation with Russia.

It is not by chance that Ali Akbar Velayati, advisor to Iran's supreme leader recently announced that "the Armenian-Azerbaijani military actions have been incited by external forces", adding that "Iran can establish peace in the region with Russia’s help".

In any case it is obvious that Iran is a very important partner for Armenia, one of our gates to the world. Armenia appreciates the balanced position of Iran and its readiness to contribute to the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Armenia expects that Iran, which has come out of international isolation, will contribute to the process of ensuring regional security.

On the other hand Iran-Armenia cooperation is one of the best examples of civilization dialogue that once again proves that the attempts of Azerbaijan and its allies to give religious coloring to the Karabakh conflict are doomed to failure.

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