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19 11 2008 - Tehran Emphasizes its Willingness to Contribute to Karabakh Settlement
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November 17, 2008
Earlier this year Hetq requested an interview with Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Armenia, Seid Ali Saghaian, who was appointed his country's representative to Armenia this January. At the request of the Iranian Embassy our questions were submitted in writing on August 5th and we received answers from the Embassy's Press Office on November 7th.

- What role do Armenian-Iranian relations play in the context of regional processes? What interests does Iran pursue in the South Caucasus and Armenia in particular?
- Given the existence of the Iranian Islamic Republic and that of the Republic of Armenia, their regional role and significance is unavoidable. Thus it behooves us to contemplate the development of that role and significance as well as the influence of the two parties.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, located as it is in the proximity to the Southern Caucasus and realizing the importance of the regional status of the Caucasus, attempts to convey the notion and viewpoint that the regional countries, by working harder and adopting sincere steps and approaches, can overcome regional obstacles and assist in the comprehensive development of the Caucasus region. Thus, one must not forget that the violation of the principle of friendly neighborly relations and the break-down of regional security will cause damage to all regional and neighboring nations. This is the very factor then increases the necessity for partnership and sensitivity amongst regional countries in order to avert unaccounted for damages.

- What role does Iran-Armenia-Russia cooperation play in the context of regional processes? To what extent does the Russian factor impact on Armenian-Iranian relations?

- Taking into account the answer to the second question, we believe in and comprehend the necessity of continuous and fruitful cooperation amongst all the countries in the region. Towards this end, the tri-party cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation is quite understandable and we must work towards expanding these links and relations by finding general grounds on which to develop.

- What role did the mediation mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran play in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process? What are the reasons for the failure of that mission? What role can Iran play in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process in the future?

- The Islamic Republic of Iran having friendly relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, understanding the needs of the region and adopting a neutral position, worked towards creating preconditions designed to put a halt to the war between the two nations during the early years of the Karabakh conflict by using various means at its disposal and its experience. For a short while in 1993 these efforts helped bring about a ceasefire between the two countries and an end to the bloodshed. However, due to the intervention of certain forces who didn’t want to see an Iranian brokered settlement to the conflict, we did not witness a continuity of that success and permanent peace.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, having frequently stressing and noting the necessity of solving obstacles in the region by means of regional integration, has reconfirmed its willingness and interest regarding a settlement of the conflict and achieving permanent peace between the two nations. However, once again, due to the intervention of extra-territorial forces, which were asserting their political principles and taking their national interests into account, the role to restrict the existence of Iran to the role of an observer was agreed to. However Tehran, by showing an interest in the settlement of regional conflicts, stresses its willingness to offer the experience it has obtained as a mediator in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iraq in the settlement process of the Karabakh conflict. Iran is also of the conviction that any initiative in this direction must be implemented by understanding and taking into account the sensitivities inherent in the region at large.

- Just how realistic is the possibility of Armenian-Iranian military cooperation?

- Naturally, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Armenia, located as they are in a strategic and sensitive area and sharing a common border, are obligated to develop mutual relations to safeguard their security and prevent circumstances that can negatively affect that security. In this respect, the deepening and expansion of military cooperation and the exchange of practical experience can prove to be both significant and helpful.

Annette Melikian

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