Tehran-Baku; from Threats to Common Opportunities

17 November 2014 | 17:22 Code : 1940901 Interview General category
An interview with Seyyed Ali Saghaeian, Iran’s former ambassador to Azerbaijan and Armenia
Tehran-Baku; from Threats to Common Opportunities

Mr. Rohani believes that during the period of sanctions, considering the neighboring countries is more significant. What are the potentials of the Republic of Azerbaijan for Iran during the time of sanctions?

The expansion of relations with our neighbors has always been the priority and one of the principles of Iran’s foreign policy. Furthermore, the issue of security is one of the common issues of interest between Iran and its neighboring countries. Iran has bore many damages and costs from the measures of foreign forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, due to the dispute between our two northern neighbors, Baku and Yerevan, Iran’s priority is to establish security so that energy could be easily transferred to other places. The government must make great efforts in this regard and has, hitherto, acted successfully.

Besides Azerbaijan, Iran has good relations with Armenia. How could relations between Iran and Azerbaijan impact the relations between Iran and Armenia?

The relations between Iran and the neighboring countries are based on the principle of balance and this principle has been considered in the relations with Baku and Yerevan. Last month, Armenia’s Prime Minister visited Iran and was welcomed by the First Vice-President. Economic and political agreements were signed in this visit and the twelfth joint committee will be held in the future. On the other hand, Ilham Aliyev also visited Iran and this indicates that there are balanced relations with these two countries. The Islamic Republic of Iran has never allowed such issues to cast a shadow on its relations with its neighbors. Considering the status of Azerbaijan, its area, population and its Shiite majority, strong relations exist between Tehran and Baku. Also, there are Armenian citizens in Iran and Armenia is Iran’s only Christian neighbor. These are two bold points which have caused Iran to have balanced and sustainable relations with these two great countries.

Some believe that Pan-Azeri views could challenge the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan with Israel’s pressures…

It seems that such thoughts are in minority. Certainly, the Zionist regime does not have a good reputation among the Muslims and even non-Muslims. On the other hand, the officials of Baku are aware of the sensitivity of relations and the important status of the Islamic Republic of Iran due to this country’s long borders with Iran and have a priority for their relations with Iran and make decisions on that basis. Furthermore, the Caspian Sea is an issue which makes Iran and Azerbaijan more dependent on each other. You cannot change your neighbor, thus, ethnic views have no place in the region, even though the people of the region have been greatly damaged by this issue.

To what extent does Azerbaijan feel committed to this level of relations?

This issue is related to the logical and wise outlook of the leaders of both countries. Iran has always stood by its neighbors and has proven its behavior in its relations with Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. The officials of Baku will certainly decide to fulfill their commitments as Iran has done so. This would be in the interests of the people of both countries.

There is now a dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the issue of Karabakh. What should Iran’s approach be with regard to this issue?

Iran looks at the international commitments of countries. On one hand, the Iranian officials have recommended that any dispute must be resolved through dialogue. The dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia must also be resolved peacefully. This would be to the benefit of both countries so that the trend would not lead to a dangerous path.

tags: iran azerbaijan baku armenia yerevan

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