The Russian side confirms the plans to hold a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan in the short run, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated at a joint news conference with his Azerbaijani colleague Elmar Mammadyrov in Baku.
“This meeting will be held in the very near future,” Lavrov said, commenting on the three countries’ regional cooperation format.
“We have launched a new format of regional cooperation – Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran,” the minister said. “The three ministers met in April and we had the task to prepare a summit meeting between the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.”
The Russian, Azerbaijani and Iranian foreign ministers met in Baku on April 7, 2016. They agreed then to begin the discussion on the preparation of a trilateral summit. The parties also discussed economic cooperation and agreed to accelerate the work on the Convention on the Caspian Sea status.
The issue of the trilateral meeting of the Russian, Iranian and Azerbaijani president is being considered, and the corresponding agreement may be reached next month, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said after talks with Lavrov.
“We discussed the North-South transport corridor project. An agreement has been reached on a meeting of the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran for talks on the project. We hope to get the final approval next month,” Mammadyarov stated.
According to him, “the three countries completely share the idea that it is necessary to boost the development of the North-South transport corridor that has great economic prospects.”
Of particular importance is the Iranian factor; Iran is a neighbor of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Most Azerbaijanis are Shiites by birth, like the Iranians. A significant part of Iran’s population is ethnic Azeris. In particular, the Supreme Leader of Iran (Rahbar) Ali Khamenei is Azeri. At the same time, during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran tacitly supported Armenia. In Iran, there is an active Armenian Diaspora, which is actively helping Iran to prevent sanction mechanisms from suffocating the state economy. Iran adheres to friendly relations with Armenia, and, like Russia, is interested in stability in the South Caucasus, and has mechanisms of influence over the two powers. On the eve of the Armistice on April 5th, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the Armenian minister and stressed the need to “stop the clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh and to restore calm in the region.” He also brought “Iran’s willingness to play a role in this” to the attention of the Armenian side. Moreover, Zarif met with the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The main internal factor that provokes the inappropriate behavior of Azerbaijan is the deeply ingrained nationalist ideology and secular character of the society. Azeri Pan Turkish nationalism is anti-Russian, as well as anti-Armenian by nature, and is actively used by Western countries and Turkish Atlanticist circles. Strengthening Shiite, Iranian influence on the other hand would help to “pacify the region” and enter the country into the Russian-Iranian Anti-Atlanticist bloc.