IRAN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN ARMENIA
ANI AKHVERDYAN
1st year master degree
International Relations and Diplomacy

The role of Iran in a historical retrospective of the Karabakh issue is very significant. If we look back in the early 19th century, it is necessary to note the fact that the territory of historical Karabakh, which is approximately the area on which now carries out the actual state authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, was at that time in the area of confrontation between the two powers − Russia and Persia. In 1805 the Karabakh khanate along with the vast regions of Eastern Transcaucasia, previously belonged to Persia, passed to the Russian Empire. It was enshrined in the treaties of Gulistan in 1813 and Turkmanchaisk 1828 treaties between Russia and Persia.

            Now many Azerbaijani and some Western experts qualify the cooperation between Armenia Iran as unnatural, although there is nothing more natural. Roots in history. The Persian Shah in the period of sharp confrontation with the Ottoman Empire in the region, were displacing peoples and tribes, which radically changed the demographic situation in the Caucasus. Many khans, especially in the Northern parts of Persia (present-day Azerbaijan) often took the Ottoman orientation.

            So, Nadir Shah was actively evicted from Karabakh Turkic-Muslim population to Afghanistan and Khorasan. Had the opposite happen. Many have worked in this field Shah Abbas (1571 — 1629). By the way, according to Raffi, for their active participation in the war against the Ottoman Empire, the Armenian Ministers in Karabakh have received confirmation of their title of "Melik". So, the appearance in the region of Karabakh Hamsa is a Persian project.

            Looking closer at the historical time period, not to mention well-known mediation efforts of Iran in may 1992. May 7, 1992 in Tehran signed a Joint statement of the heads of States the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia. According with this Statement, "the Parties have agreed that within a week upon arrival in the region, the special representative of the President of Iran Mahmoud Vaezi, after negotiation with the stakeholders and with the support of the heads of States of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the ceasefire and opened simultaneously all communication roads with the aim of providing economic needs".

            During a special aggravation of the Karabakh conflict, when he moved into a phase of open military confrontation, Iran, as you know, were in an ambivalent situation. Due to many reasons, the Iranian side had to show complete solidarity with Azerbaijan. In the mid 1990-ies it drew the attention of the Iranian experts at the time were prolific Iranian Newspapers. The government of Iran had to face severe public pressure, especially from its Azeri community. With this pressure reduced, but whenever the Azerbaijani army suffered defeat from the Armenians, it again emerged to the surface. However, the Iranian side initially took equidistant position in relation to all sides of the conflict. Hostilities in the conflict zone since 1992, evolved in the context of a balanced policy of Iran, which, without interfering in the conflict, nevertheless, always closely watched for its military development. The world community recognized the critical role of Iran in the most difficult for the Armenian side, the period when the narrow section of the border between Armenia and Iran has become a "lifeline" for the Armenians in the literal sense of the word.

            After the conclusion in may 1994, the ceasefire in the conflict zone of Tehran has sought to contribute to the settlement process, clearly indicating their interests. The most active he did until 1997, working through diplomatic channels with Russia. After the OSCE was formed Institute of co-chairmanship of the Minsk group with Russia, USA and France, the activity of Tehran in the issue of settlement has decreased. Can be largely because of this to the Institute of co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk group Tehran has developed a skeptical attitude.

            At the current stage, Iran is making a contribution to the non-resumption of hostilities in the conflict zone, in maintaining the balance of power and interests between the opposing parties. 19 Feb 2010 the Ambassador of Iran to Armenia Mr. Seyed Ali Saghaian made a number of important statements concerning the Karabakh settlement. Was once again confirmed Iran's position on the necessity of peaceful settlement of the conflict and the willingness of the Iranian side to contribute to the establishment of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Presenting Iran's position regarding the possible deployment of peacekeeping forces in the conflict zone, the Ambassador of Cagayan said that the fate of these territories should be left to the parties to the conflict. Stressing that Iran as a country having common border with Nagorno-Karabakh will Express their concerns and position regarding the peacekeeping forces that may be placed in these areas.

            In spring 2010, Iran actively offered to Armenia and Azerbaijan to mediate. Tehran's initiative to organize a meeting between representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan with the mediation of the Iranian side, which APR 19, 2010 said the Minister of foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki, was seen as facilitating the parties to the conflict in search of points of convergence of their positions. Trilateral meetings of the presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan was given the same meaning. Namely, assistance in finding additional to the format of co-chairmanship of the Minsk group of OSCE possibilities of rapprochement between the conflicting parties. It seems that the diplomatic initiative of Iran has an objective basis at least due to the fact that Tehran has good relations with all parties to the conflict. In addition, any discussion of possible future deployment of a peacekeeping contingent in the conflict zone considering the opinion of Iran as the composition and mandate of the mission near its state border.

            During his visit to Baku in November 2010, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated his country's keenness to such settlement, but in the course of the working visit to Iran, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on 5 August this year, in addition to other relevant issues, discussed with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani the course of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. At the end of September on the sidelines of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly, a meeting of foreign Ministers of Armenia and Iran.

            Iran's role in Karabakh settlement in General and in maintaining the status quo in the conflict zone, in particular, is seen as the role of the country, is absolutely not interested in any military escalation on its borders. Iran is not interested in a possible peacekeeping activity of NATO. It is difficult to assume that such countries as the USA, France and others would agree to the peacekeeping operation solely by the forces of the CSTO countries or just Russia. The presence of forces of NATO States in the conflict zone, even if this will be the mandate of the OSCE or UN, can't speak for Iran irritant. In the South Caucasus due to the region's many ethno-political lines of demarcation may occur large-scale destabilization in the case that a small space the implementation of peacekeeping operations will perform their functions as soldiers of CSTO and NATO. Doubts Iran, which are associated with the possible presence at its Northern borders NATO troops, an objective and can't be ignored.

            Iran's position on Karabakh settlement basically comes down in two points. First, the need for a peaceful solution and no alternative to the negotiation process. This implies that the treatment of the parties to the conflict to violence is unacceptable. And second, Iran believes the most appropriate involvement in the peace process as posredstvom of the parties exclusively of the States of the region, which should lead to the displacement of the number of intermediaries of the Karabakh settlement external to the South Caucasus actors.
            In the current position of Iran there are elements which unite it with Armenia and with Azerbaijan. The conflict needs to obtain a complete solution, based on the principle "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed up to the end." Before the release of the parties at a mutually acceptable solution to the batch properties there is no other rational way of maintaining peace in the region than maintaining the current status quo in the conflict zone. The common position of Yerevan and Tehran. Both capitals also agree that any settlement must be fair and be placed on long-term basis.

            Along with Azerbaijan the previous and current stages of the Karabakh peace process, Iran was marked by a number critical to address the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk group statements. Baku indicates a small coefficient of impact of activities of Institute of co-chairmen of the Minsk group. These statements from the Azerbaijani side are not of a systemic nature. They are most often voiced in times of cooling relations of Baku with the Western countries and the emergence of hints of disagreements between Azerbaijan and Russia. As it was, for example, in the recent past, during the period ending on the failure of negotiations between two neighbouring countries on the extension of the lease by Russia of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijani territory.

            Therefore, the strategy of Iran in Transcaucasia includes a number of components, including such as preservation of relations with Armenia, despite calls from Azerbaijan to join the blockade of the state, put forward proposals for the formation of the Transcaucasian security according to the formula "3+3" (three Caucasus States, as well as three regional powers — Russia, Iran and Turkey), but without the participation of the West. Earlier, the Russian side preferred this interaction on the system "3+1" (the Caucasus Russian), but today, this scheme can join and Iran. However, there is such a scheme, which seems to be adheres to Armenia — "3+3+2" (the States of Transcaucasia, Russia, Iran, Turkey, USA and EU).

            Iran, in its negative attitude towards the Minsk group more consistent. He was not impressed by the subjective format of the Institute, where all the work is in practice reduced to the activities of the three co-chairs from Russia, USA and France. Why extra-regional actors in the United States and France should deal with the settlement of the conflict and why in the extended format of the Minsk group, there is Iran, asking from Tehran. Iran has internationally recognized borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan and the de facto border with Nagorno-Karabakh. And it is beyond the scope of a multilateral settlement mechanisms. This is more than a reasonable formulation of the question of Tehran and did not find clear answers for in recent years. At the same time making a direct connection between Iran's desire to be presented in the format of conflict settlement and Azerbaijan's interest from time to time to send to Washington, Paris and Moscow signals his dissatisfaction. Tehran supports the idea of a regional approach to resolving any conflict and problems in the South Caucasus and in the Caspian basin. While Azerbaijan, by and large, deeply care about which States will be involved as intermediaries. For him, the main result in the form of establishing control over Nagorno-Karabakh. For Iran is no less important is the process, the change of emphasis which may become a real breakthrough in the Karabakh conflict settlement.

            Iran has invested an enormous contribution to maintaining the balance of forces between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This balance, in fact, holds the existing status quo in the Karabakh conflict zone. But to stop the Iranian side does not intend. After the settlement of relations with the West, clarification of the accession of Iran to the customs Union is possible to expect a qualitative breakthrough on the Karabakh direction, even greater leveraging of diplomatic and economic resources of Tehran. Iran can make its special contribution to building confidence in the South Caucasus. Without it, a just and lasting settlement of the Karabakh conflict is almost impossible. While the Islamic Republic is not represented in the existing formats of international mediation in the Karabakh settlement. But, nevertheless, its weight in the region, the potential to enter into economic integration schemes of cooperation with its Northern neighbors open up new opportunities to avoid war in the long-standing conflict.

            Recently, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Armenia. So Azerbaijan  visited the Israel delegation, which is not quite like Iran, and in response, he announced the visit of its President to Armenia. Thus, we observe a kind of game, and it is not known how it will end. During his reign from Rouhani has never been a visit to Armenia, it was the first time, while Azerbaijan he had visited twice already.
            It should be noted that during the time of  President Rouhani, progress in relations between Armenia and Iran was not observed: neither in the political sphere or economic. During the reign of President Ahmadinejad active cooperation of Iran and Armenia, Iran began a dialogue with Georgia, and the President of Iran twice visited Armenia (2007 and 2011). However, Rouhani relations between Iran and Armenia and Iran and Georgia was frozen. In contrast, intensified the Iranian-Azerbaijani relations. Iran began to rely more on the economic component of the relationship than the political one.
             And it can be different to explain, but in Iran's foreign policy has its own special factors. In particular, the ethnic factor influence on foreign policy of Iran and the United States and Russia, economic (transit) factor. After the lifting of sanctions, Iran seeks to become a major player in the region, but this cannot be done without a strong economy. So we can say that in the next few years, Iranian-Azerbaijani relations will be increasingly active from the economic point of view.Perhaps it will have an impact on political relations between the two countries in addressing some regional issues.

             As for Armenia, here all is difficult. As mentioned above, the most difficult times for Armenia years Iran has left us with the corridor, which, in fact, saved Armenia. Iran often holds Pro-Armenian position on many issues, particularly relating to the Artsakh Republic. But how long it will last in the conditions of intensification of Iranian-Azerbaijani relations? To answer this question difficult, so we need to do everything we can to attract the attention of Iran from the point of view of investment and the transit State.

            A look into the future opens up interesting prospects for rapprochement between Armenia and Iran in the region. And what is important to emphasize, not at the expense of Azerbaijan's interests. Iran - a regional power, with your rich diplomatic traditions and a pronounced state approach to any external issue. The Islamic Republic maintains a balance in relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Bilateral forms of cooperation are especially needed in the maintenance of such a balance. Meanwhile, would be a great omission failure to use the opening to Armenia and Iran opportunities in light of the Russia-promoted integration projects in the former Soviet Union. Experts are increasingly to enter into the discussion of the question of possible future accession of Iran to the Customs Union. This would open up prospects of growth in such important for the Armenian side of the issues as the construction of the railway Armenia – Iran. Could give additional impetus to the economic relations of Russia and Iran. A little bit complicated, but quite workable in practical terms, the geographical conjunction of Russia, Iran and Armenia can become Caspian route. Iran's accession to the Customs Union opens the way for Russia to Armenia via Georgian shortest "plot" in Russia – Kazakhstan – Caspian sea – Iran – Armenia. It is obvious that in this way there are serious obstacles. Primarily resulting from the absence to date of the legal status of the Caspian sea. But the idea has a pronounced cross-border nature, opens up the prospect of involving in its orbit more and the Caspian Republic. Including Azerbaijan.

            Iran has not only developed an active diplomacy on the priority direction of rapprochement with the Western powers. Moscow welcomes the increasing activities of the new Iranian leadership on the world stage, aimed at finding solutions to long-standing issues, including the Iranian nuclear issue, recently said the Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. A few days before the conclusion of the 24 November Geneva agreement, "Six" and Iran in the Karabakh settlement process were also recorded progress. After a break of nearly two years in Vienna on 19 November was held the meeting of presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. It's safe to assume that the success of Iran's relations with the West will give the settlement of the Karabakh conflict in a balanced manner extra boost.

            In spite of the economic sanctions deployed against Iran isolation policy, this country finds different ways to strengthen economic ties with its immediate neighbors. Are no exception in this regard, Iran's relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan. For example, Tehran is ready to expand cooperation with Armenia in the energy sector, and to accelerate the process of implementing a transportation project with Baku (railway Qazvin – Rasht – Astara). The economy must be put at the service policy in this contentious region as the South Caucasus. But not for the purpose of weakening of other countries, and with a specific focus on addressing political differences, but the convergence of the conflicting parties.

            The development of the new course of the Iranian public diplomacy was devoted to a forum conducted by the State Advisory Council (March 2008) with the participation of scientists in industry, information, journalism and diplomacy, such as K. Mohamadnejad, V. l'aquila, and V. M. Reza Gharavi. Kazem Mohamadnejad, in particular, noted that Iranian traditional diplomacy, which was characterized as secret, at this stage transformed into “public diplomacy”, noting the primary role of the media in this process. According to the rector of the Islamic University Navalakha, media have become tools of diplomacy, which contribute to improving the effectiveness of foreign policy. Researcher Mohammad Reza from the University of Shahid Beheshti noted that instead of geopolitics comes headicons, which has an impact on diplomats and public opinion.
 
 
Literature
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