Tofig Abbasov

April 21 2010

What can you say about the statement of Iranian FM Manuchokhr Mottaki
that Azerbaijan has already given a positive response to Iran's
mediation in the Karabakh conflict?

Since the beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict, Iran has begun to offer their services as a mediator to
resolve the problem. The then Iranian leaders believed that they are
able to reconcile Azerbaijan and Armenia. In May 1992, when acting
president of Azerbaijan Yaqub Mamedov and Armenian President Levon
Ter-Petrossian had to sign a ceasefire agreement in Tehran, there came
news about the capture of Shusha by Armenians. After these events,
the signed document turned into a sort of a stillborn child, and a new
round of military confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia started.

And now, years later, I am inclined to believe that the capture
of Shusha has largely occurred because superpowers, and, primarily,
Russia, decided to derail Iran's peacemaking initiative. Then, and now,
too many people believe that the fall of Shusha was Tehran's gift
to Armenia. But which smart peacekeeper would take such an absurd
step? I can not judge ...

What has dictated the current Iranian initiative on the resolution
of the Karabakh conflict?

The "Black PR" against Iran, used by some states, has put this
country into a very difficult situation. Because, in my opinion,
Tehran's initiative to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is
dictated by a desire to demonstrate its love for peace and prove at
least at the regional level that it does not want any conflicts with
neighboring states. On the other hand, Iran also wants to demonstrate
their ability of become a regional leadership. But we should admit
that Iran's desires are a lot more than real opportunities to
achieve their goals, especially since it comes at a time when few
if not one country in the region and the world have a monopoly on
peacekeeping. These states will not allow either Iran or Turkey to
accomplish the peacekeeping initiative.

Is it possible to expect a kind of a geopolitical triangle
Baku-Tehran-Ankara to change the situation in our region against the
position of the peacekeeping monopolists whose efforts on the Karabakh
conflict settlement are ineffective?

I do not think so. If we are talking about the creation
of a geopolitical triangle, it may rather look like this:
Baku-Tehran-Moscow. The matter is that Turkey conducts a regional
policy that does not meet the expectations of Azerbaijan. And Iran
also does not fully rely on calculations of Ankara. Under these
circumstances, our country has to reorient its foreign policy towards
Iran and Russia. Moreover, Iran has originally recommended Azerbaijan
and Armenia to distance from the OSCE Minsk Group, since this structure
will never create the conditions for resolving the conflict between
our two countries under mutually acceptable terms. Time and results of
the European peacekeeping show that Iran is partly right in this issue.

You consider that Turkey currently conducts regional policy that does
not meet Azerbaijan's expectations. But what to do with the statement
of spokesman for Azerbaijan's FM Elkhan Polukhov that Azerbaijan
welcomes Turkey's position supporting Azerbaijan in the resolution
of the Karabakh conflict?

No country in the world, including Turkey itself, was able to convince
Azerbaijan that after the opening of Turkish-Armenian border, official
Yerevan will take a constructive position in the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. Armenia needs the opening of borders with Turkey for at
least partial settlement of its economic problems and unlocking their
downtrodden state. But there is no guarantee that, having achieved
the task, Armenia will release 5, and then 2 other occupied regions
of Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh. I absolutely do not trust the
statements of the leadership of Turkey, which claims that without the
liberation of Armenian-occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the opening
of Turkish-Armenian border is impossible. The primary stage of the
process of normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations was considered in
isolation from the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It
was only after Azerbaijan's spot diplomacy, which was a big surprise
for Turkey, that Ankara had to change its original position and link
normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations to the settlement of
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. And then, why are Armenians shying away
from the Madrid principles, and intermediaries, together with Turkey,
turn a blind eye on this? This is because the first point envisions
the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani territories.

Now, influential powers are playing a smeary game behind Azerbaijan's
back. Such actions will not lead to an atmosphere of trust between
the countries that are still referred to as fraternal.