Iran, once again, challenged Baku’s ongoing insistence to create a land corridor through Armenia to Nakhichevan, saying that preserving the territorial integrity of countries in the region is of utmost importance.
In an interview with Armenia’s Public Television, Iran’s Ambassador to Armenia Mehdi Sobhani emphasized that Iran’s position on regional developments has not changed.
“We are against any geopolitical changes in the region. Changing borders is a ‘red line’ for us, which was announced at the highest level in Iran and no one can deviate from this position,” the ambassador said.
“An extraterritorial corridor through the territory of one of the countries in the region makes no sense. Transport routes in each country are that nation’s sovereign affair. I believe that the establishment of an extraterritorial corridor on the territory of Armenia has nothing to do with international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states,” Sobhani said when asked to clarify Tehran’s position on the continued insistence by Ankara and Baku on the so-called corridor.
At the same time, Sobhani wondered whether those states that are talking about an extraterritorial corridor through Armenia are really ready to allow similar routes to be laid through the territory of their country.
“I think that the answer can only be no. Therefore, they should not expect from others what they would not want in their case,” Sobhani added.
The Iranian ambassador also discussed Tehran’s position on the forced displacement of Artsakh Armenians, and categorically condemned military responses to regional problems.
“We share the same opinion regarding the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. We believe that military action cannot solve fundamental regional problems. To solve them, it is necessary to identify the roots of the conflict, and this can be done through dialogue and peaceful communication,” added the Iranian diplomat, expressing his conviction that the best mechanism for solving existing problems is dialogue.
Sobhani said that to achieve a common understanding on all issues, Armenia and Azerbaijan should talk to each other.
“This is a package within which they must be able to reach mutual understanding that will ensure the establishment of a stable peace. This can be guaranteed by the participation of the countries of the region, a striking example of which is the holding of a meeting in the 3+3 format in Tehran. When the countries of the region support the agreements reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan, this could become the biggest guarantee of achieving permanent and stable peace in the region,” the ambassador said.
Referring to the humanitarian assistance provided to refugees from Artsakh, the diplomat noted that this was the least that a neighboring country could do. According to him, there is no religious, ethnic or other context in this either.
“In Kapan, I met with Armenian settlers to understand why and under what conditions they left their homes. Their clear message to me was that they want the necessary conditions to be provided in Nagorno-Karabakh to return to their homes. I asked them why they left their homes, they responded that they had to do so because they did not feel physically safe,” Sobhani said.
He also said that Iran’s newly-opened consulate in Kapan in Armenia’s Syunik Province has played an important role in simplifying traffic, helping drivers resolve emerging issues and increasing trade turnover between the two countries.
Sobhani said that the Syunik region is of strategic significance for Armenia, and added that the opening of a consulate was of vital importance.
“We can say that this diplomatic establishment has continued the path to developing relations in this region,” Sobhani added, expressing hope that it will soon be possible to open an Armenian consulate in Tabriz.