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Envoy Says Iran Supports Mechanism to Strengthen Peace in Caucasus

By Orkhan Jalilov July 4, 2021

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The photo has been taken during an interview with the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Azerbaijan Seyed Abbas Mousavi, with an Azerbaijani website on February 5, 2021. / Axar.az

Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, has said that his country supports the initiative to establish a mechanism to strengthen peace in the Caucasus region.

“Iran supports an initiative to establish a 3+3 format regional mechanism to bolster peace, stability & development in our region. Three South Caucasian states (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) + three regional neighbors (Iran, Turkey, Russia) can cooperate for the good of the region,” Mousavi wrote in his Twitter account on July 2.

After the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the latter's Karabakh region in 2020, Baku and Ankara suggested a new format, the “Six-Country Regional Cooperation Platform,” which would bring together Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Georgia and Armenia.

Tehran also supports a model “3 + 3”, including the three South Caucasus countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, plus Russia, Turkey and Iran, that could serve as a new post-war regional cooperation platform. During his official visit to Moscow in January, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iran was "looking to form a six-party cooperation union in the region”.

In a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on January 25, Zarif welcomed the six-party regional cooperation initiative, expressing Iran’s readiness for help and cooperation in any field contributing to regional peace, stability and calm.

The "3 + 3" cooperation plan for the South Caucasus can also include the 7,200-kilometer-long freight route International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC),” which crosses India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.

Earlier, the Iranian ambassador to Baku referred to the first train jointly operated by the Azerbaijani, Russian, and Iranian railway companies which left Finland for India’s port of Nhava Sheva via the INSTC, on June 21, and said the completion of the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway line within the North-South corridor can be kept in the spotlight as one of the main priorities of the new Iranian government.

The construction of the Rasht-Astara railway in northern Iran will be completed in 4 years, and about 80 km of this railway line will be built through a bridge or tunnel, and 80 km – on land.

Reviving the Soviet-era railroads in the South Caucasus can also help the region converge and strengthen peace building efforts between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Once completed, the multi-modal Zangazur transport corridor will restore the shortest connection between Azerbaijan's mainland and its southwestern exclave of Nakhchivan. The route will be further extended to the eastern parts of Turkey.

The creation of the Zangazur corridor comes as part of the restoration of transport links in the South Caucasus after last year’s war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The tripartite statement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020, calls for restoration of all economic and transport links in the region.

In case of the revival of transport links through the Zangazur corridor, Tehran will be provided with two new rail routes. The first route will link Iran through Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhchivan to Yerevan and Tbilisi. The second route will also connect Iran through Nakhchivan to Baku and Russia.