EghtesadOnline: Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi explained some aspects of Iran’s initiative for the settlement of the conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, saying the proposed plan aims to promote “lasting peace” and resolve the decades-long dispute between Baku and Yerevan.
Araqchi, at the head of a diplomatic delegation, arrived in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Tuesday night to explain Iran’s initiative to end the conflict between the two warring sides over the flashpoint region, IRNA reported.
On Wednesday, he held several rounds of meetings with senior Azeri diplomats. As part of his regional tour, the Iranian will also visit the Russian, Armenian and Turkish capitals.
“This trip is part of a periodic visit to those regional countries that are influential in ending the recent conflict between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the main purpose of the trip is to present the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to resolve this conflict and reach lasting peace between the two countries and the region,” Araqchi told reporters upon arrival.
“The framework of this initiative has been prepared and will be discussed with the officials of the Republic of Azerbaijan during this visit.”
Araqchi underlined that “in several stages, this plan can lead to lasting peace and end the existing conflict and, of course, the occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
Araqchi described the end of the occupation of Azeri territories as an “important element” in Iran’s proposed plan and said, "The protection of minority rights and humanitarian rights is another basis for Iran’s initiative to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."
The Iranian deputy foreign minister said ending the conflict and “starting a dialogue with the help of influential countries” with the aim of ensuring peace is another key axis of the initiative.
“We are discussing all these issues with the countries of the region and we hope that this plan can reach the desired point for implementation,” he said.
“We always support Azerbaijan’s efforts to liberate its occupied cities and areas. The territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and other countries in the region, and the inviolability of borders are an important and irreproachable principle that must be respected.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif informed his Azeri counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, during a phone call in mid-October of the nature of the proposal by Tehran for resolving the protracted conflict.
Since late September, heavy clashes have erupted between Azerbaijani and Armenian military forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both sides blame each other for initiating the fighting in the Caucasus Mountains.
For years, the two neighbors have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s region of Nagorno-Karabakh mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians. Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Baku and Yerevan continue to accuse each other of shooting attacks around the enclave.
Following the flare-up, Russia brokered two ceasefires to bring an end to the deadly conflict, but its efforts to bring peace to the mountainous region failed as Yerevan and Baku continued to violate the agreements.
Russia, a close ally to Armenia, is also in talks with Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan in the conflict.
Iran’s Ambassador in Moscow Kazem Jalali warned on Tuesday that the conflict between Baku and Yerevan would have “very serious consequences” for the two sides, as the infrastructure of the two countries would be destroyed and civilian lives would be lost during the war.
Speaking to the Russian nationwide TV network Zvezda, Jalali said Iran is doing its best to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations and expressed Tehran’s readiness to mediate peace talks between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“There is no doubt that the presence of any extra-regional force or terrorists can intensify the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and create a new threat,” the envoy said.
Jalali said the best way for regional countries is to work together and resolve the conflict so that terrorists do not find a foothold in the region.