The senior expert of international relations Fereydoun Majlessi gave an interview to the Iranian media Azarpajooh on the issue of the renewed military conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia and its implications for Iran.
Mr. Majlessi, what is your assessment of the latest situation in the Karabakh region? Will the current ceasefire last?
I believe that the Republic of Azerbaijan violated the autonomy of the Armenian territory of the “autonomous” Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh by annexing it. I also believe that Armenia’s attack on the Republic of Azerbaijan at the time of that country’s weakness went beyond supporting the Armenians of Karabakh, and the occupation of 20% of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan was a clear aggression and the continuation of the occupation was illusory and foolish expansionism. Armenia should have understood that the Republic of Azerbaijan, with three times the population and three times the size, and wealth beyond these, will soon and gradually regain its rightful authority and will act on its “duty” to return its “occupied” lands.
Armenia, by understanding the facts and her interests, should have entered into negotiations with Azerbaijan much earlier, and should have used the mediation of Iran and Russia for finding a practical and fair solution. Therefore, the current ceasefire will not last unless a “practical and fair” peace agreement is signed.
What is the state of situation with regards to the so-called Zangzor corridor, which links the Azerbaijani enclave Nakhichevan with the Azerbaijani mainland via Iran?
There is not a corridor named Zangzor, but if you mean to create a permanent and safe route as a legal easement between the isolated part of Nakhchivan and the main land of the Republic of Azerbaijan, if it’s not contrary to the preservation of the territorial and border integrity of Armenia, it would be legitimate and in the interests of all parties namely Iran, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan within the context of a “fair and practical peace treaty”. But if it means to occupy the border territory between Armenia and Iran on the north of Aras River, I don’t regard such a corridor which cuts the historical excess of Iran to the southern and northern Caucasia in the context of “a fair and practical peace agreement” and for the benefit of all three countries.
If the aim of the Republic of Azerbaijan is to establish some kind of road and rail access between Nakhchivan and the main territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan without harming the territorial integrity and border interests of Armenia with Iran, then, it would be a legitimate and logical solution that finally will be implemented. But if the intention is to seize a part of Armenia on the periphery at the price of Iran’s disconnection with Armenia and the North Caucasus, , Iran will consider it, logically, as a hostile action taken in the form of Turkey’s pan-Turkic expansionism and warmongering goals and an obstacle to peace in the region.
Russia is also committed and interested in maintaining the North Caucasus’s connection with Iran through Armenia. By providing a passage of road and rail connection consisting of bridges and tunnels, from the nearest distance, Baku should not interfere with Yerevan’s conventional integrity!
What are the necessary requirements for a fair and practical peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
If a “fair and practical peace agreement” is to be signed between the two countries, there will be no need for the Russian peacekeeping forces to have a plan. Besides, Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan differ from Ukraine in the sense that Russia has a territorial pretext for Ukraine, unless Moscow has a plan in mind for other neighbors. In any case, the important question for lasting peace is the “fairness and practicality” of the contract.
Sustainable peace must have conditions that in this contract, the Republic of Azerbaijan must first – accept the secession of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Republic by negotiating the borders of the Armenian and Azeri regions, second – The Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia should accept the “right of easement” of both countries in connecting the separated parts of each other’s countries to the mainland of their country, by road, bridges, and tunnels, and. It means that the Republic of Azerbaijan would have access to Nakhchivan and Armenia can have access to the Armenian part of Nagorno-Karabakh without disturbing each other’s territorial integrity.
Ultimately, there is also a third condition for peace in Caucasus. This work should be achieved in the form of a highway, railway track, oil and gas pipeline facilities, electricity and telecommunications transmission lines in the form of a combination of bridges and tunnels through the closest distance between the isolated parts and the mainland of the two countries, and do not interfere with the country’s conventional land, water and rail access!
If the two countries do not agree to these fair easements with the support of Iran and Russia, what alternative will they have other than war, killing and destruction? By benefiting from peace, Armenia and Azerbaijan can benefit from much more economic and industrial development.
Especially Armenia can benefit from the financial support and investment of hundreds of thousands of Armenians around the world and Iran should also consider the Republic of Azerbaijan and also Armenia as its relative countries and should have special relations with them and can equally benefit from trade and relations with the two peaceful and rich neighbor countries.
Russia will also gather its resources and think about the possibilities of trade development on the North Caucasus route to Iran.