TEHRAN (Eurasianet)–Iran is seeking a role as a power broker in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Mohammad-baqer Bahrami, told a September 15 news conference.
“Extra-regional powers cannot resolve this problem as they are preoccupied with their own problems,” the APA news portal quoted Bahrami as saying. He was referring primarily to United States, Russia and France, the three countries that serve as co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which oversees peace talks. “An example of this is the 17 years of futile work of the Minsk Group,” Bahrami added. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Baku appears deeply suspicious of Tehran’s proposed involvement, given Iran’s recent history of warm ties with Armenian. To assuage such suspicions, Bahrami called on Armenia to return the liberated territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh proper to Azerbaijan.
One former Azerbaijani envoy to the Karabakh talks doubts that Iran’s participation would be able to advance matters. In 1992, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a cease-fire agreement brokered by then Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, but soon thereafter, “the Armenian side seized the [Karabakhi] city of Shusha,” recollected former presidential aide Vafa Guluzade.
“Iran already has a record of mediation, but this peacekeeping effort has totally flopped,” Guluzade told the Kavkazsky Uzel news portal.