Aliyev Criticism of Russian Peacekeepers and Iran Elicits Strong Reactions

By Asbarez | Thursday, 10 November 2022

Moscow, Tehran and Stepanakert reacted to a speech made by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan who on Tuesday downplayed the role of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Artsakh and also criticized Iran for forging close relations with Armenia and conducting military drills on its borders.

Saying that Russia’s allies, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both appreciate the role of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Artsakh for its role in ensuring regional security, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova blasted efforts by Azerbaijani circles to discredit its peacekeeping efforts.

While not directly addressing Aliyev’s remarks, Zakharova took aim at the rampant criticism of the peacekeeping contingent on Azerbaijani social media platforms.

Zakharova referred to Azerbaijani criticism of Russian peacekeepers.

She said Russia views any propaganda campaign, be it in the media or in politics negatively when asked about the increasing posts appearing specifically on the Telegram social media platform from Azerbaijan.

“Regarding the role of Russian peacekeepers and the assessment of their activities, the leaders of the three countries (meaning Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia) noted at the summit held in Sochi the significant contribution of the Russian military contingent to providing security and emphasized the need for efforts to stabilize the situation in the region. Any positive, constructive and creative initiative always creates a negative wave. Unfortunately, that is the rule of the world,” said Zakharova.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign ministry found Aliyev’s remarks against Tehran’s policies incomprehensible, saying Iran has always supported a resolution between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Our principle policy has always been based on good-neighborly relations and expanding those ties with all neighbors, and strengthening relations with a neighbor does not mean that these relations are directed against another neighbor,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani emphasized.

He said Iran has always emphasized the protection of the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the peaceful resolution of their differences by adhering to international legal norms.

In his speech on Tuesday, Aliyev scoffed at Iran’s relations with Armenia.

“For nearly two years now, the officials of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been holding bilateral and multilateral meetings at various political, military and security levels, on the path of permanent peace and reconciliation, which Iran supports. But the reasons for Baku’s concerns regarding the neighboring meetings are incomprehensible,” Kanaani explained.

Speaking about the military exercises of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran near the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Kanaani said they were routine and pre-planned, adding that two neighboring countries were informed in advance through official channels.

The Iranian spokesperson said that the way to resolve the Caucasus issue goes through the capitals of the countries of the region, not by turning to outside forces.

Iran, Kanaani added, once again declares its readiness to support the resolution of unresolved issues between Azerbaijan and Armenia in various formats, including bilateral and trilateral formats, as well as the cooperation mechanism in the so-called “3+3” format in which the three countries of the South Caucasus—Armenia , Georgia, and Azerbaijan—plus Russia, Turkey, and Iran will take part.

Artsakh Foreign Minister David Babayan directly attributed the Azerbaijani attacks on Khramort to the propaganda campaign waged against the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

He explained that because Russia’s defense ministry had confirmed reports of Azerbaijani forces firing at Artsakh civilian targets, the Azerbaijani smear campaign escalated.

“Various Telegraph channels in Azerbaijan are controlled by the state. So we not only see violations of the ceasefire, which is shooting at peaceful citizens of Artsakh as well as at Russian peacekeepers, but we also see bombardment in the information arena, which is also important and dangerous,” Babayan said.