Iran, Russia Deplore Foreign Interference in Regional Affairs Amid Nagorno-Karabakh Tensions
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin exchanged views on tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, and censured foreign meddling in the regional issues.
Rayeesi and Putin, in a phone call, reviewed the latest regional developments and stressed the need for resolving issues in the South Caucasus region through direct dialogue. They also opposed any foreign interference in the issues related to the region.
They advocated for dialogues in the “3+3” format Involving Armenia, and Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Russia, and Iran, stressing the importance of keeping foreign interference at bay in matters concerning the region.
The latest flare-up in the region took place last Tuesday, when Azerbaijan launched “counter-terrorism measures of a local nature,” citing an alleged Armenian military buildup in the disputed region, which Yerevan denied. On Wednesday, the authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh announced a ceasefire with Baku, following a proposal by Russian peacekeeping forces.
The military operation conducted by Azerbaijan to establish full control over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh could trigger a mass exodus of ethnic Armenians living in the area, the breakaway region’s leadership has announced.
During the telephone conversation, Rayeesi commended the progress in the bilateral relations as “favorable” and called for accelerating the implementation of joint agreements and projects in the fields of transit, transportation, energy exchange and the completion of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
The 162-kilometer corridor along the Caspian Sea coast connects India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and other countries via railways and sea and can rival the Suez Canal as a major global trade route.
Appreciating Russia’s support for Iran's membership in the BRICS group of emerging economies, Rayeesi said, “BRICS is one of the effective and nascent organizations in shaping a multipolar world, and providing suitable grounds for the expansion of bilateral, regional and international relations between Iran, Russia and other member states.”
Putin, for his part, told his Iranian counterpart that the volume of trade between the two countries hit a record last year.
Describing Iran as a “strategic partner” of Russia, Putin expressed hope for the swift implementation of the Rasht-Astara railway, which is part of the INSTC and connecting the railway lines of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia to each other.
The Russian leader pointed to the significant impact that the railway project could have on trade exchanges between the three countries.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians.
The two Caucasian nations have been embroiled in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since the late 1980s, when the predominantly ethnic Armenian region moved to break away from Azerbaijan and join Armenia. With the Soviet Union on the verge of collapse, tensions erupted into a major war in the early 1990s that claimed thousands of lives. The fighting ended with the signing of a ceasefire in 1994, although fighting has broken out sporadically since.
One of the bloodiest clashes – which is often referred to as the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War – took place in 2020 and resulted in Azerbaijan taking control of a significant amount of territory. The hostilities ended in a Russia-mediated ceasefire. Since the truce, the two sides have accused each other of breaching the peace deal.
Earlier this year, however, both sides signaled a readiness to end the long-running territorial dispute.
Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed Tehran’s opposition to geopolitical changes in the region, and reaffirmed the country is ready to use all its capacities to establish peace in the Caucasus region and its growth and development.