IRAN'S OFFER TO MEDIATE ON KARABAKH A PR MOVE - ANALYST
Leyla Tagiyeva

news.az
March 1 2010
Azerbaijan

Leyla Aliyeva News.Az interviews Azerbaijani political scientist
Leyla Aliyeva.

The Iranian ambassador in Azerbaijan has said that his country is
ready to help the Karabakh settlement. How would you comment on this?

The interest is caused not by the Iranian initiative to participate
in the settlement process, as its purpose in this case is clear. By
doing so, Iran is trying to soften the position of the world community
against itself. Tensions and concerns over Iran's nuclear program are
increasing on the world stage. Russia has already voiced its concern.

Meanwhile, by proposing itself as a peacekeeper in the Karabakh
conflict, Iran is attempting to find opportunities to play a positive
role, that is, to play a peacekeeping role. The main interest is
caused by the fact that our president has been positive about this
initiative. Iran has already been a mediator on Karabakh, but its
mission was not successful. Since then, Tehran has repeatedly proposed
its services as a mediator on the Karabakh conflict, but Iran is
always perceived by the Azerbaijani side as a state sympathizing
more with Armenia than Azerbaijan. Baku has always had doubts about
Iran's mediation. Meanwhile, I think Azerbaijan's current agreement
on Iranian mediation is an attempt to manoeuvre by our state.

Does Iran have potential as a mediator on Karabakh?

Any regional state is involved in this conflict anyway. Each of them
takes sides and can offer mediation However, everything depends on
how effective their efforts are. I think there must be a balance
of power that would promote the conflict settlement rather than a
separate power which has proposed its services. All countries in the
region have their interests, so none of them can be considered an
ideal mediator, including Iran.

What can Iran propose as a mediator that has not been proposed by
the Minsk Group co-chairs in the past 18 years?

I think the resolution of our conflict does not depend on the
mediator. The mediator does not play any role here, so it does not
matter who offers their services.

How can the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs that have strained relations
with Iran treat this initiative from Tehran, especially since
Azerbaijan has agreed to Iranian mediation?

The co-chairs can merely ignore it, because Iranian mediation cannot go
beyond words. Certainly, Azerbaijan may join any other format. It may
try to use its agreement to Iranian mediation as a means of pressure
on the United States. On the other hand, I do not think that anyone
seriously thinks Iran's efforts will be effective.

The Minsk Group has not found a Karabakh settlement in 18 years,
while Iran thinks the problem can be settled only with the direct
participation of regional states. Do you share this view?

The Minsk Group co-chairs can easily settle the conflict if they want.

But what if they do not want to? The same refers to the regional
superpowers that may not be interested in the conflict settlement
either. As for Iran, if it offers its mediation services, probably,
at the current stage it is interested in the settlement. But I think
the peace process on Karabakh is not a priority for Iran. It is rather
interested in the processes around its nuclear program. In particular,
Iran wants to soften the alliance that may speak against it. This is
the alliance of the United States and Israel which may also include
Azerbaijan.