Foreign Actors Playing With Peace in South Caucasus: Iran
Armenia and Azerbaijan ministers met for the first time in Iran for the 3+3 regional platform summit since the offensive in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh. Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said the war in South Caucasus has ended, and it’s now time for peace and cooperation.
However, the conflict which nearly broke out into a full-blown war displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Armenia accused Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing. Russia says the conflict, that is the main issue, has been resolved. “Both sides agree that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan.” But relations are very fragile.
Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said practical steps remain for a full normalization of relations. This includes preparations for a peace treaty, the demarcation of borders and the establishment of economic transport links.
Iran Fears Foreign Interference in Region
Amir-Abdollahian said the presence of outsiders, hinting at the US and the European Union, in the region will not solve any problems, but only complicate the situation. Despite having close ties with Iran, Armenia wants wider international support. Yerevan has also distanced itself from Russia saying that Moscow didn’t send assistance despite treaty obligations, and only stepped up after the US brokered a ceasefire.
Moreover, Iran on numerous occasions warned Azerbaijan not to attack Armenia. Tehran also warned Azerbaijan not to close Iran’s gateway to Europe through a narrow strip of land that connects the country through Armenia to Russia and Europe. But Armenia was also taken aback by Iran’s inaction when Azerbaijan escalated offensive last month.
However, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi brushed off Armenia’s grievances saying Iran is ready to assist in resolving the existing disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
US Igniting Tensions in South Caucasus
Russia accused the US of triggering tensions in the region through military drills in the region. 175 Armenia soldiers and 85 US personnel are set to hold joint military drills. And there’s also Armenia seeking to join the International Criminal Court. With Armenia joining ICC, it can help Yerevan can help arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There was also the visit by Anna Hakobyan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wife, to Kyiv – Ukraine, for an annual summit of first ladies and gentlemen. Tigran Grigoryan, head of the Regional Center for Democracy and Security, believes there’s a serious crisis in Armenia-Russia relations.
This is attributed to Russia’s inability to fulfill its obligations to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. It pushed Armenia to engage more with Western countries.