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Iran Urges Regional Cooperation for Peace in South Caucasus

By Nigar Bayramli April 12, 2024

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Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani warned of “geopolitical rivalries”, commenting on a recent high-level meeting between Armenia, the European Union and the United States. / Eurasia Diary

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani warned of “geopolitical rivalries”, commenting on a recent high-level meeting between Armenia, the European Union and the United States.

On April 5, Brussels hosted a trilateral meeting in support of Armenia, attended by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The meeting ended with minimal results for Armenia, but affected the peace process in the South Caucasus, as Armenia’s military activity on the borders with Azerbaijan increased with the deployment of troops along the border.

The Iranian spokesman emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in establishing peace and stability in the Caucasus, and stressed that "the Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the South Caucasus should not become an arena of geopolitical competition," according to a statement published by Iran's Foreign Ministry website on April 9.

"Strengthening economic cooperation and expanding communication play an effective role in establishing peace, stability, and economic development in the Caucasus region. In this regard, it is necessary to utilize the capacity of regional structures, including the 3+3 consultative mechanism, for a peaceful settlement. Differences should be addressed, peace and stability consolidated, and cooperation strengthened based on mutual benefits," Kanani said.

Iran promotes the "3+3 platform" as a mechanism against "foreign interference" in the region, referring to Western presence in countries neighbouring Iran. The platform includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia as well as Türkiye, Russia, and Iran. However, only two meetings have been held as part of platform since it was proposed three years ago, with Georgia refusing to participate.

Russia, Türkiye, and Azerbaijan issued critical statements about the Armenia-EU-US meeting held on April 5. Meanwhile, Tehran chose to remain silent, echoing its past responses to similar diplomatic moves by the Western nations in the region.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed concern about the trilateral meeting, saying, "We interpret this as being against Azerbaijan and cooperation in the South Caucasus. Its aim appears to be the establishment of divisive lines and the isolation of our country."

The criticism comes amid recent allegations that Iran has been dispatching military cargo to Armenia in recent days. According to the Baku-based APA news agency, an Iran Air Boeing cargo plane, which was previously used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for carrying military cargo, undertook at least five flights from Sarab and Tehran to Armenia from March 29 to April 4.

Iranian arm supplies to Armenia are no secret to the Azerbaijani public as Tehran was concerned about Azerbaijan's victories during the 2020 war and reportedly dispatched various types of military equipment to Armenia from the ports of Anzali and Nowshahr.

According to some experts, Iran sees the strengthening of the Azerbaijan-Türkiye alliance, and the Azerbaijani-Israeli partnership in the region “as a threat”, therefore, Tehran is rendering military and political support to Armenia intending to use Yerevan as a tool against Baku.