Naira Hayrumyan

Analysis | 06.10.10 | 13:47

Iran appears to be paying closer attention to its neighbors after some
latest developments that put more strain on the Islamic Republic,
including the toughening of UN sanctions against Teheran, Russia~Rs
refusal to sell S-300 air defense systems, as well as the winding-up
of operations of several large oil and gas companies in Iran.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani is expected to pay a visit
to Armenia in the coming days. A delegation of Iran~Rs Chamber
of Commerce, Industry and Mines, headed by its Chairman Mohammad
Nahavandian was on a visit to Armenia recently. The Chamber called
for boosted cooperation in the sphere of production.

Three high-ranking representatives of the Islamic Republic are expected
to pay visits to Azerbaijan, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Parliament Speaker Larijani, and Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

The status of the visitors may indicate what Iran actually wants from
Armenia and from Azerbaijan.

~SThere is some tension in the relations between Azerbaijan and Iran.
The Iranian side is waiting for statements that Azerbaijan will
not raise the issue of Southern Azerbaijan [territory of Iran~Rs
northern provinces], that Azerbaijan~Rs territory will not be used
as a springboard for launching strikes against Iran. And Azerbaijan
wants to hear Iran publicly support the position of Azerbaijan in
the Karabakh conflict,~T writes Karabakh analyst Vardan Mamikonyan.

In its turn, independent Azerbaijani expert Togrul Sofiev stated that
~SIran is trying again and again to feel the ground in Azerbaijan to
make sure there is no threat to the security of its border from its
northern neighbor; to get new guarantees from it.~T

>From time to time Baku provokes Iran to make statements about
recognizing Azerbaijan~Rs territorial integrity. The latest such
recognition was made in Baku by Iranian Minister of Culture Ahmed Ali
Reza Beygi. He said that Iran has always supported Azerbaijan in the
Karabakh conflict.

Nevertheless, those in Azerbaijan are dissatisfied with Iran~Rs
behavior. In Baku, they say that Iran has ~Qspoilt~R the whole effect
of the blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Armenia.

~SDuring the war, Iran rendered every assistance to Armenia. And,
it was through Iran that Armenia gets a considerable part of its
foodstuffs and industrial goods, which makes the blockade imposed by
Azerbaijan and Turkey ineffective,~T says Sofiev.

The Azeri expert says that at least 20 million Iranian Azeris have
no schools to study in their native language, while 250,000 Armenians
in Iran have several national schools.

There are several large projects that exist between Armenia and Iran.
New projects are likely to be discussed during Armenian Prime Minister
Tigran Sargsyan~Rs visit to Iran due to take place later this month.

From: A. Papazian