I- The Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran toward the Caucasus

The history of the relationship between Iran and the Caucasus is one of subjugation and rebellion, coupled with the search of other paths facing Iran.

Until before the beginning of the rule of Qajar's dynasty, the Caucuses Region was subject to the Iranian Court. All the kings and rulers of this region were appointed and dismissed by the king of Iran. In this period of Iranian history, under Safavid, Afsharid and Zand dynasties, Iranian sovereignty over the Caucasus were undeniable and unchallenged.

The Ottoman government, even with its great interest in the Caucasus, could not undermine this sovereignty. Russia, however, was expanding as a regional power. Although the new developments and the growth of Russian power tempted local rulers to free themselves from Iranian sovereignty and thus paying tribute to Iran, at the end of this period of history, harsh reaction and repressive policy of local rulers in the Caucasus and, particularly in Georgia, entailed outcomes contrary to what Iranian rulers might have expected. The decline of power and consolidation of Iranian presence derived from weakening political power in Iran rather than Russia's efforts to conquer the Caucasus. In fact, local rulers in the different parts of the Caucasus, depending on the political weight and credit accorded to the dominant power obeyed Iranian rule and paid tribute to it.

However, the first and second wars between Iran and Russia, in 1813 and 1828, totally transformed the regional situation and the traditional Iranian presence and influence, which was a factor contributing regional stability and peace, was removed from the region. However, cultural — ethnic relations and dependencies developed during Iranian sovereignty and authority in the Caucasus still continued. While maintaining good relations with the Muslims inhabiting the Caucasus, relations with Armenians and Georgians continued on the bedrock of the mutual favorable opinion, frequentations and long residence. Armenians living in the north and south of Iran were among quiet ethnic groups under Iranian sovereignty and Georgians whose number was very little integrated into the Iranian society.

However, in examining Iranian political power in the region, in no period as the last years of Qajar rule did the region witness such political neglect. Nations in the Caucasus including Muslims, Armenians and Georgians pioneered in the reform movements in the early 20th century in Russian Empire.They promoted the idea of modernism along with many other European ideals, which brought about major transformations in the early years of this century in Iran during the constitution movement derived from the events occurred in the Caucasus.

The First World War compounded previous situation for Iran. Intentions and goals held by the Ottoman Empire with the coming to power of Young Turks were not only oriented towards the Caucasus. Rather, they included great parts of the northwestern territories of Iran. Russians created a major vacuum in the region by their short — term withdrawal. Political - military pressures exerted by the Ottoman Empire on Armenians and the drawing of conflicts into the sphere of differences between Muslims and Armenians in the Caucasus had relatively strong political and social influences within Iran. Iranian society tends to favor Muslims, naturally, due to its religious ties. However, at that period an intelligent insight prevented the adverse impact of these developments on Iranian society.

This inference that the developments of the regions situated beyond our borders should not hurt the security of all people, including Muslims and Armenians within Iranian borders, and influence internal social relations, was a principle observed by the government and religious clerics. This political orientation had been taken up, despite the assistance made by people to Muslims inhabiting the Caucasus.

But political understanding of the related adverse influence on Iranian society the unity of which had remained intact due to the longstanding coexistence of different peoples and clans was to such an extent that the two sides (government and religious scholars on one hand and Armenians inhabiting Iran on the other hand) were led to this conclusion that they should prevent from spilling over of the development in Caucasus into the Iranian borders. Iranian Azeris were strongly impressed when the situation in Caucasus deteriorated and Muslims and Armenians confronted violently each other over the disputed regions of Karabakh and Zangezur. But, in this case one of the Muslim religious leaders was working hard to protect Armenians.

This behavior annoyed Caucasian people and the newspapers slandered him. Also, Armenians treated Muslim community intelligently, due to the fact that they were in minority and fully understood the sensitivities existing among Muslims.

If we consider internal situation in Iran in that period, we see that the decline of political power, particularly during the last years of Qajar dynasty rule had made it very difficult to provide security throughout the country and even in capital, the political behavior of rulers and local clerics in Azerbaijan province of Iran appears very wisely. Furthermore, Young Turks regions would have benefited politically if the situation in Iranian regions neighboring the Caucasus had worsened.

Iranian behavior during a half decade of turbulent situation governing the Caucasus from 1917 to 1922, which determined the destiny of its people and its political geography, was based on pure observation.[1] In fact, what hampered Iran's influence on the region was the lack of a coherent central power and a plan for pursuing its goals in the Caucasus.

One of the adverse efforts of the lack of a wise central power in Iran stemmed from the events in a territory which later in 1918 called Azerbaijan. This territory which called Albania, Aran or Eran, according to various historians and experts from different nationalities was only named Azerbaijan when a government called Musavat was established in the Caucasus.[2]

This move was prompted by the time. This action by Musarat government was the result of a kind of consciously political calculations rather than showing historical ignorance.[3] This option for a territory situated beyond real and historical Azerbaijan which is placed within Iranian borders, created various problems for Iran in later years.

During near 70 years of Soviet rule over all the Caucasus, this region experienced an apparent stability and peace without bloodletting and coerced exiles. All the three countries in the Caucasus became apparently independent republics and the Soviet Republic of Trans Caucasus, which was not a successful experiment, before joining the Soviet Union, disappeared.

However, political - social challenges within the Soviet system and continued in the Caucasus amid covert and intrasystemic confrontations. As for Karabakh conflict, Armenians who hardly had accepted its new situation in 1923 were seeking an opportunity to change it in the framework of the Soviet regime. These challenges, which had intrasystemic nature, continued.

The problem of nationalities was a dilemma which could not be solved by the Tzarist regime. As studied in the first part of the third chapter, the Soviet leadership’s policies towards nationalities, the Soviet system, could not solve this problem despite various political, social and economic preparations supported by Marxist theoretical advantages. Various nationalities in the Soviet Union not only didn't integrate into the Soviet system, but also entered the post - Soviet era with their own independent idea, historical feeling and identity.

The collapse of the Soviet Union brought about two developments in the Caucasus from security and strategic dimensions. First, an essential vacuum of power created in theregion derived from the disruption in the order of main system that was the Soviet Union. [4] Second, the situation potentially contained national confrontations and hostilities, which could be a threat for the national security of Iran in the future. To understand better Iranian behavior in the new era, first it is necessary that the importance of region for Iran and the importance of Iran for the region are examined.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran tried to enter into the region through establishing direct contact with the Caucasus nations and to obtain sustainable presence and influence in this region. To this end, Iran recognized new independent states including three countries situated in the Caucasus in its first move after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran began to establish its diplomatic representatives in these countries immediately after that they declared their independence.

Efforts made by Iran were carried out under completely different situation. Iran was no longer preoccupied with internal affairs and enjoyed a period of political unity and coherence. A united political authority allowed Iran to play an effective role in the scene of regional developments. The Caucasus region was important for Iran in several respects.

1- Security Perspective

The Soviet regime was considered a threat for Iran from the standpoint of security. Iran had been threatened with occupation and has been occupied two times during its history from its northern borders. In the first case, in 1813 and 1828, Iran lost its Caucasian territories and in the second case (1941 to 1945) threats by its northern neighbor directed at Azerbaijan province. Now, with the collapse of the Soviet, the threat by Russia pushed back beyond of Caucasus Mountains and this was viewed as a strategic and security advantage for Iran. The existence of the Karabakh Dispute within the borders between Iran and Azerbaijan has introduced a new factor in security considerations of Iran.

2- Regional Political Perspective

Establishing relations and trying to play a political role in the region could create a political advantage based on increasing Iranian presence and influence in these countries. The collapse of the Soviet Union was welcomed in Iran and was considered an opportunity for consolidating relations with the countries situated in the buffer zone separating Iran from Russia, as well as a chance to increase its presence in the other republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The Caucasus had been always important for Iran, but after the independence of three new countries in the Caucasus and developments after the Cold war, the importance of this region has been increased, to the extent that some experts have called the Caucasus the geopolitical complementary of Iran. Stability and security of these republics in the period after independence is important for regional countries and Iran. Iran itself believes that its interests have direct relation with the stability of the Caucasian countries.

In fact, reaching this goal was itself valuable and could be a compensation for past events when the regimes governing Iran were only watching developments taking place beyond their borders with mere indifference. This perspective, in addition to meet Iranian political interests, could neutralize political - security plots

against Iranian national security. On the other hand, this perspective could enhance Iran's position in regional power equations.

3-Economic Perspective

The Iranian economy is complementary with that of Caucasian republics; they could cooperate with each other in oil and gas.

The Caucasus is one of the North/ South transit axes and is considered one of the arteries for transportation and transfer of energy to Europe. The Caucasian transit route to Europe has more comparative advantage for Iran versus the traditional route passing Turkey. This route makes Iran closer to some European markets reducing its distance about 1000km .

Economic development and prosperity in the Caucasus countries are consistent with regional economic policies, and this would be a good news for Iran. Iran believes that economic prosperity in these countries will create a new market for Iranian companies .

4- Cultural Perspective

Iran enjoys good situation in this region due to its historical background. Azeris, Armenians, and Georgians are familiar with Iran and its culture, and are interested in Iranian culture.

Furthermore, the second Shiite nation in the world is Azerbaijan and the close relationship between the two nations of Iran and Azerbaijan could further their mutual interests.

5- Importance of Iran for the Caucasian Countries

One of the commonalities of these three countries in their attitudes towards Iran is their political outlook and taking balance into account in their foreign relations. All of them try to diversify their foreign supporters to reduce their dependence to Russia through developing their relations with influential countries particularly regional countries. This was agreeable to Iran and other regional countries in the initial period of independence.

On the other hand, Iran is a bridgehead for these countries to have access to the Persian Gulf and Middle East. Although the beginning of political - social turbulences in these countries severely transformed these approaches and forced them to take onother obligations, these perspectives were potentially maintained in these countries and provided a base for mid -term cooperation. The Islamic Republic of Iran serves as the main link between the Caucasian countries and the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

Transit routes of Iran link the Caucasus to the rest of the Asian countries. Existing facilities in Iran are one of the complementary factors of infrastructure needed for the economic development of regional countries, in which energy is one of the most important issues. For Azerbaijan which is a producer of oil and gas, the transfer of energy to consumption markets is very important. The Iranian route, compared with alternative routes, is one of the most secure, short and economically advantageous routes for transferring oil . Also, until the construction of a pipeline, the SWAP program could be implemented for internal consumption. For energy consuming countries such as Armenia and Georgia, Iranian oil and gas are a good advantage.

II- The Karabakh Dispute before Iran’s Mediation

1- Crisis of Karabakh before the Process of Mediations

As said in previous chapters, the Crisis of Karabakh had embarrassed Moscow's government. Armenians and Azeris alike expected Moscow's authorities to settle the crisis of Karabakh based on their respective demands. With the independence of the republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the crisis of Karabakh entered into a new phase of developments. After the independence of the two Azeri and Armenian nations, they expected that their fledgling states met all their historical demands regarding the problem of Karabakh; at the same time political groups complicated the situation by giving unrealizable promises aimed at bringing them to power. The problem of Karabakh in both countries gained such an importance that the survival of the governments had a direct relation with its success and failure regarding this problem.

In the spring of 1988, when the first marches and demonstrations began in Stepanakert, nothingsuggested that after four years the region would witness bloody disputes between Azeris and Armenians leading to the displacement of so many people and the abandonment of Azeri populated villages and cause serious changes in the demographic situation of Karabakh due to the flow of refugees from these one republic to the other republic.

Since September 1991, Azerbaijan besieged Karabakh and cut its connection with the outside by closing roads and railroads. In early November of the year, Karabakh's telecommunications were also cut. The main goal of Azerbaijan was to capture Stepanakert.

In early 1992, Karabakh forces began a new round of their attacks on Azeri's positions. Azerbaijan dominated Shousha, the second large and important city of Karabakh, and from there they could fire on the capital of Karabakh enjoying the benefit of its higher position than Stepanakert. One of the strategic objectives of Karabakh was to capture Shousha and to make Stepanakert out of the reach of Azerbaijan's artillery. A more strategic objective of Karabakh was to capture Lachin outside of the autonomous region and in the halfway of the road leading to Armenia. Until this time, Karabakh was supported and fed by Armenian cargo and combat helicopters. Karabakh tried to open a ground route to Armenia to meet its old wish:connecting to Armenia while breaking its siege.

In early February, Azeri forces began their attacks on the two fronts: Asgaran and Martakert . While fighting continued in these fronts, Armenian forces captured some of the villages of Stepanakert which was the place of Azerbaijani forces' concentration. Since November 1991, when sporadic disputes began, some important points shifted into hands several times, but, in general, Armenian forces had complete superiority. At the same time, another battle was under way in Baku between people Front and President Motallebev's.

Motallebov's position was increasingly weakened due to the frequent defeats in war fronts. Principally, due to the nature of Karabakh war, most of Azeri forces consisted of volunteers and civilians. The People Front was one of the major organizers of this public mobilization in Azerbaijan. The People Front also had an important role in victories and defeats in war because they sent its supporters to the in war fronts, forcing them to resign if they refused.

a) Political Consequences of Khowai’s Fall:

In large demonstrations took place during the first week of February in Baku, the resignation of Mehdior, minister of defense in Motallebor's cabinet was one of the essential demands of their organizers which was accepted by the President and the minister of defense was deposed after a week.[5] Such political disputes in Baku lowered the spirit of Azeri forces in fronts on the one hand and prompted Armenian forces to exploit fully the opportunity resulted from differences in Baku. In these circumstances, Armenian forces prepared another attack and at the dawn of February 26, they surrounded Khoujali and wanted the surrender of Azeri forces. In Khoujali which was one of the most important military bases of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces surrendered the city.

The fall of Khoujali began a new period in Karabakh's crisis and was considered a turning point for Azerbaijan and regional foreign relations and in terms of internal political developments. With the fall of Khoujali, the government of Ayyaz Motallebov was also placed on the verge of collapse.After several days of demonstrations and negotiations, finally, on March 6, 1992, the first president of Azerbaijan and former leader of its Communist Party resigned. A council consisting of Hassan Hassanov, prime minister, People Front leaders, under the supervision of Yaghoob Mohammadov, head of High Council of Azerbaijan came to power as a caretaker president. This council should have implemented the tasks of government until the formation of a coalition government with the membership of Communist Party and People Front.[6] The most important point in the internal politics arena was that Karabakh and political groups in Azerbaijan tested the first impact of Karabakh developments on the internal and political situation of Azerbaijan in the form of the fall of Khoujali leading to the change of government in Baku.

From foreign relations point of view, the event of Khoujaloo gave a regional dimension to the crisis of Karabakh due to the numbers of victims and refugees and created an opportunity for some regional and trans-regional powers to play some role in the developments of the Caucasus. Before these developments, all developments in the Caucasus had been under the control of Russia and there had been no connection between foreign countries and regional and international organizations. After the event of Khoujali, the UN, EU, Turkey and Iran each with their own objectives and policies began their activities focusing on Karabakh issue.

Iran, which was so preoccupied with its own problems since 19th century after the war between Iran and Russia, never had any opportunity to adopt active policy toward the events occurring in its neighboring region of the Caucasus and then under the Soviet rule, there was no ground for activity. Now, given the new situation in the Caucasus, the first essential step taken by Iran after the recognition of the independence of these republics was to transform the Islamic Republic of Iran Consulate in Baku into an embassy and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran Embassy in Yerevan, to provide necessary conditions for conducting activities in the region to end military disputes and to settle the disputes peacefully through dialogue and direct negotiations between the two sides.Initiatives for the Peaceful settlement of the Crisis Before Conducting Mediation by Iran.

Under the Soviet rule, Moscow's efforts to solve Karabak problem had no positive result; but Moscow's policies had a determining role in preventing disputes in Karabakh from erupting intoa military confrontation. After the independence of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the monopoly of Russia in the developments of Karabakh was removed, and an opportunity for regional and trans-regional powers to settle peacefully the Karabakh Conflict was provided. Despite the fact that Russia, in these new circumstances, still had a strong influence in these two republics and Russian military forces had military presence in some of the bases in the region, they could not play the same role as they had in the past. Therefore, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Crisis of Karabakh entered fully into the military phase and Moscow's efforts to reduce tensions had no significant result .

In Late November 1991, some negotiations were heldbetween Ter-Petrossian, President of Armenia, and Motallebov, President of Azerbaijian, through consultation with Moscow which apparently had some relatively positive results. During this meeting Ayyaz Motallebov declared his readiness to restore the autonomy of Karabakh to facilitate the trend of negotiations.

Also, some agreements facilitated the lifting of economic sanctions on Armenia and Nakhchivan.[7] Terpetrossian, returning to Moscow, said that it was agreed that the autonomy of Karabakh was to be restored, but opposition groups did not welcome these negotiations. Jamshid Nouriev, one of the leaders of an organization named "Popular Aid to Karabakh" emphasized that the Karabakh Conflict is a domestic problem of Azerbaijan, condemned any interference by foreign powers in solving this problem. Also, Faraj Gholiev, one of the members of "Democratic Union for Independent Azerbaijan" regarded the agreements made by the President in Moscow as "something beyond his authority." Opposition continued to such an extent that Vaghef Azar Narimanoghlu, press advisor of Motallebov condemned the restoration of the autonomy of Karabakh.[8] In fact, agreements made in Moscow had no practical result.

In late January 1992, member countries of CSCE, which had already accepted the membership of Armenia and Azerbaijan in a meeting held in Prague, approved that a delegation was to be sent to the region for studying the situation in Karabakh, establishing ceasefire, and deploying observer groups. The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia who were present in this meeting agreed with the visit of the CSCE's observer groups delegation. This delegation traveled to the region in mid-February. [9] Given the opposition stance of political rivals of Motallebov in Baku and the intensification of Armenian's military operations, this visit had no concrete achievement.

2- Regional Developments before the Beginning of Iran's

Mediation Effort

When in winter 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the region confronted with a great political vacuum , Iran regarded Central Asia and the Caucasus in the post - Soviet era as an arena for its diplomatic movements, due to its regional situation in one hand and its willingness to break its imposed diplomatic restrictions by the West, on the other. The post – Soviet era witnessed the continuance of the conflict. The form and situation of this conflict could respond in some ways to Iran's policies in this era.

First, Iran was in the neighborhood of the environment of conflict. Karabakh is situated only 40 km distance from its borders. At that time, this possibility raised that the boundaries of conflict extended to the beyond of Karabakh. Since them, Iran's consideration was based on security perceptions.

Second, regional situation was in a large vacuum. This resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia as the immediate successor of it could not restore its traditional influence on these regions. Although Iran faced an important and major rival such as Turkey in these regions, Iran enjoyed better conditions. One of these conditions was having relationship with Armenia of which Turkey was deprived. This situation allowed Iran to adopt an active policy toward the region.

These two approaches have an important role in the formation of Iran's regional policy and the beginning of its mediatory efforts. Iran tried to institutionalize and sustain political presence in the region. This perception was based on political objectivity. Azerbaijan and Armenia were engaged in a complicated and wearying conflict which, in the final analysis, could not be settled up in a manner that could be acceptable for both of them.

In these circumstances, Iran's mediation was put forth as an approach for the settlement of conflict between two sides. However, a deep deviation emerged which mostly derived from the speed of developments and Iran's diplomatic stance. The speed of regional developments attracted foreign elements. At that time, states and international organizations tried to engage themselves in the conflict.

This deviation derived from this fact that should Iran seeks the settlement of conflict through mediation or by having active political presence and expanding its political influence in the region. Thus, Iranian diplomacy was faced with a behavioral option, which ensured negative political implications. These implications were mostly based on adopting a political behavior that relied upon intensive diplomatic activity. Finally, Iran opted for mediatory approach.

The mediatory efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran include a six month process. This process began from January 1992 and ended September of that year, during this period some developments occurred including relative capturing of Karabakh and occupation of Shousha and Lachin, two strategic cities, one in Karabakh and other outside of it in Azerbaijan's territories. This process marks the most difficult period in the trend of events in Karabakh conflict. This period coupled significant and extensive military and political transformations. Examining political and military developments at the beginning of Iran's pacifist efforts makes clear the complicated situation of conflict and Iran's difficult situation for alleviating the intensity of the crisis.

Agreements made at the meeting between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held in late November in Moscow not only took effect, but also complicated the situation in Baku, due to the existence of political rivalries. The decision taken by CSCE in its session in late January to settle peacefully Karabakh conflict and the visit of its delegation to the region in mid February had no results. The defeat of Azerbaijani forces in the areas around Stepanakert and the seizure of most areas in Karabakh by Armenians on one hand and the fall of Khoujali in February 26 on the other hand promoted political developments in Baku leading finally to the resignation of Moltallebov, President of Azerbaijan on March 6 and the appointment of Yaghoub Mohammadov as caretaker President and head of Azerbaijan's National Council.

One of the main tasks of Azerbaijan's National Council was to form a coalition government consisting of Communists and People Front members. However, despite the fact that negotiations between Communists and People Front leaders lasted for more than one month, the inabilityof government to give key positions to the individuals favored by People Front led these talks to a deadlock. In early April 1992, the spokesman of People Front declared that the defeat of negotiations implied the beginning of street fighting.[10] An important part of People Front forces required for street fighting were in Karabakh warfronts.[11]

The situation in which Iran began its efforts for the settlement of Karabakh conflict could be analyzed from two points of view. From military point of view, an imbalance created in fronts, political differences and power struggle in Baku had negative impact on war fronts, while political groups exploited war and military forces in favor of their factional interests. On the contrary, Armenian forces were hopeful about the future due to their successive victories.

From political point of view, the transitory and shaking government of Baku could not make essential decisions about the settlement of conflict in an atmosphere replete with political differences. Contrary to Azerbaijan, where existed no political unity, in Armenia there was relative stability and political unity. Armenian political parties and groups did not allow their existing differences to compromise the political stability of the republic.[12] Karabakh leaders did not show any political flexibility for the settlement of crisis because of their success in the war front. Also, Armenia's authorities either had no influence on them or agreed with rigid policies adopted by Karabakh leaders. In this period, military developments had influenced political approaches and for this reason peaceful attempts which had been already made had no success. In this unsuitable atmosphere, the Islamic Republic of Iran began its mediatory efforts for the peaceful settlement of Karabakh Dispute which will be studied in several stages.

III- Mediation of the Islamic Republic of Iran

1- First stage of Iran’s Mediation: Consolidation of Mediation

The stabilization of mediation came with the culmination of dispute and the emergence of the first sign of tiredness and exhaustion.

Of the two sides, the importance of the roles played by the third parties and mediators increased Russia, Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the UN and Iran each began  their activities for the settlement of dispute. Peace efforts made by Moscow and the delegation of CSCE could not diminish military clashes between Azeris and Armenians. With the fall of areas surrounding Stepanakert and important and strategic city of Khoujaloo by the attacks of Armenian forces, intensified fighting and it was expected that in new circumstances the number of casualties and displaced people would increase. Under the conditions of increased military activity the region was awaiting bloody and extensive events. Dr. Veayati, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in February 1992 made negotiations with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia about the peaceful settlement of Karabakh Dispute and declared the readiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran to provide any assistance necessary for decreasing tensions.

Following these negotiations and the declaration of the Iranian Foreign Minister showing the readiness of Iran, high ranking representatives of the two sides visited Tehran in August at the Top of their relevant delegations, for negotiations and consultations with Iranian authorities. The head of Armenian delegation was Papazian, an advisor to the president, and the head of Azeri delegation was assumed by Albert Salamov, deputy foreign minister. They negotiated directly with Vaezi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister during several sessions. These negotiations were very important for Iran, because after the passage of a difficult period replete with military clashes, an evaluation of the demands put forth by the two sides and of their interests for the peaceful settlement of conflict could be made.

One of the formal challenges creating a serious obstacle in this round of negotiations was the presence and participation of Karabakh forces in the next round of negotiations to implement future understandings and decisions. The Armenian delegation believed that the main party of negotiation about the settlement of Karabakh Dispute were the Karabakh authorities themselves, who had to participate personally in negotiations and decide their own future. The role of Armenian government would only be to facilitate the advancement of negotiations. The Azeri delegation believed that first, since Karabakh was a part of Azerbaijan’s territory, the presence of Karabakh authorities as a party to negotiations implies the recognition of their claims for obtaining independence. Second, Karabakh fought against Azarbaijan as the proxy of Armenia and if not for comprehensive Armenian support, the conflict would not expand to such levels. Therefore, the main party to the Karabakh dispute was Armenia itself, and if an agreement was made with Armenia resulted in the non — intervention of Armenia in Karabakh affairs, an adequate solution for this conflict could be found. The Armenian delegation did not deny its moral and political support for Karabakh and believed that if Armenia stopped its support, Azerbaijan's hostile policies towards Armenians inhabiting Karabakh would become so harsh that no individual Armenian would remain in Karabakh. Given the serious differences between the views of the Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations, the Islamic Republic of Iran proposed that the two sides would determine the legal status of Karabakh involving its autonomy in the future through negotiations to solve this problem.

As a result of these negotiations, a 14-point statement was formulated. In this statement many issues such as the removing of the blockade, the return of refugees to their country, as well as the overall settlement of dispute coupled with a general formula for different stages. It was agreed that after the approval of the two presidents this statement would be issued as the Tehran Statement. One of its paragraphs stipulated that the two sides should determine the legal status of Karabakh involving its autonomy in the future through negotiations. This paragraph was rejected by President of Azerbaijan and consequently the agreements made in Tehran were not realized.

After the opposition of President of Azerbaijan to that part of the statement which was about the legal status of Karabakh, presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia during their talks with Iranian foreign minister, declared their willingness for the continuation of efforts made in Tehran, including Iran's mediation in Karabakh Dispute. This request, which is considered as the main and most important factor in every effort for mediation, set the stage for the Iranian official mediatory efforts to enter a new stage. Given Iran's situation, the two sides expected that Tehran's lead could provide for an effective compromise.

After the visit of Iranian foreign minister in March 1992 and the official declaration of mediatory activities by Iran in the Karabakh Dispute, Dr Velayati, in a letter to the UN secretary General on 8 March 1992, outlined objectives, actions and efforts envisioned by Iran. In part of this letter, he noted that the efforts made in his recent visit to Baku and Yerevan entered into its practical and serious stage, underscored the interests of Iran’s government to maintain stability and peace in the region and throughout the world.[13] Efforts made for informing international bodies, particularly the UN, about Iran's activity aimed at showing the effective and efficient role played by Iran in the scene of regional politics. The Iranian foreign minister, in another part of his letter to Boutrous Ghali wrote;"The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran committed itself to respond positively to the requests made by Armenian and Azeri authorities for conducting mediatory efforts to solve Karbakh dispute."[14]

Following Azeri and Armenian willingness to comply to and demands for Iran's mediation of for, Vaezi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister was officially introduced as the mediator to continue previous efforts. Given the experience obtained from negotiations between Azeri and Armenian delegations in Tehran, the Iranian Mediatory Delegation still needed to become more familiar with regional realities particularly stances taken by Karabakh leaders, whose presence at that time in negotiations was impossible. They also needed to ensure that decisions and agreements conformed with the views of high ranking authorities, and thus adopted a plan of periodical visits and shuttle diplomacy as an adequate method for overcoming existing problems.

2- The Second stage of Iran's Mediation: Shuttle Diplomacy

The second stage of Iran's mediation began in March 1992. Iranian delegation headed by Vaezi visited Baku, Yerevan, Stepankert and Nakhchivan several times. During these periodical visits intensive and working negotiations were carried out with most of qualified and relevant authorities about Karabakh conflict, including high ranking individuals such as the presidents, prime minister, foreign minister, minister of defense, national security advisors and speaker of Parliament from the two republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia. These negotiations aimed at making closer the stances of the two sides and set the stage for further improvement of relationship between concerned parties in Karabakh Dispute.

During these visits and negotiations with the different levels of authorities of the three involved parties, stances, views and the degree of flexibility of all concerned parties were closely examined . As a result before holding direct negotiations between Azeri and Armenian delegations, their views have relatively come close to each other, and, in fact, mediatory delegation knew that involved parties were ready to what extent adjust their positions and managed the trend of affairs based on these data.

The Iranian mediatory delegation tried to use every means for making closer the positions of the two sides. Under the Soviet rule, there was a direct communication line among the Communist Party's leaders which continued to exist after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Iranian mediatory delegation, in addition to consultation and arrangements of direct negotiations, used this valuable communication line when the situation was complicated or an important problem required the exchange of views at a higher level.

The Iranian mediatory delegation was aware of the negative and positive role of Russia in the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh dispute, given its vast influence in military and civilian bodies of both countries. Therefore, the Iranian delegation visited Moscow for conducting consultations, completing its efforts and probably attracting Russian cooperation for improving common efforts in the future; thereby Russian officials became aware of previous attempts and also future plans about the Karabakh dispute. In these negotiations, efforts made by Iran to end the Karabakh Dispute were appreciated. Although Russian officials, particularly the Russian foreign minister, welcomed the activities of Iranian mediatory delegation and expressed their best wishes for the success of its mediatory efforts, they did not go further. Meanwhile, given the geographical situation of Georgia in the region and the influence of its positions in the settlement of dispute, Iranian delegation visited Tbilisi and informed Georgian officials about attempts made by Iran. The officials of the Iranian foreign ministry and the ambassadors of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a similar attempt, consulted with the authorities in the countries which were somehow interested in the future of the Caucasus developments.

a) Plan of Iranian Mediatory Delegation for the Settlement of Karabakh Dispute:

Iran's attempts initially were focused on reducing the intensity of war and setting the stage for reaching an agreement on transitory ceasefire. One of the other plans of the mediatory delegation was assuring that involved parties did not use the opportunity to arm themselves. Azerbaijan was reluctant to even include the representatives of Karabakh in negotiations which was considered an implicit recognition of secession of Karabakh from Azerbaijan. Armenia believed that without the presence of Karabakh leaders in negotiations, decisions would not have any sanction and would be fruitless.

Mean while, Karabakh representatives did not agree to participate in the meetings as observers or at the lower political levels. This problem has been always challenging in the way of negotiations and reaching agreement.[15]

The Iranian mediatory delegation presented its suggestions after preliminary negotiations with the leaders of the three involved parties aimed at obtaining more information about their positions and limitations. These suggestions contained a general plan for reaching a settlement. Although these suggestions were formulated given the possibility of admission by the involved parties and their limitations, they were accepted by the involved parties in general. However, it could not be expected that all of them would be enforced in a short period of time, due to the fluidity of events, existence of domestic pressure groups, interventions by some regional powers and parties non -compliance with their pledges. The most important suggestions to reach compromise or breaking initial formulated in a 13 — point plan are as follows:

- Transitory and then permanent ceasefire

- Deployment of observers to monitor the ceasefire and to comply with agreements;

- Exchanging prisoners and the bodies of killed soldiers;

- Removing economic sanctions imposed on Karabakh by Azerbaijan

- Opening of transportation and communication ways of Karabakh

- Forming Committees for the return of displaced people concurrent with the removal of sanctions;

- Humanitarian aid to Karabakh

- Beginning negotiations for the determination of Karabakh’s legal status.[16]

b) Establishment of Transitory Ceasefire:

The first round of establishment of transitory ceasefire which took place with the agreement of three involved parties in Karabakh Dispute, was enforced from March 21st 1992 (concurrent with Nowrouz). The emphasis made by temporary ceasefire by the mediatiory delegation, due to its importance on establishing confidence between parties and providing an opportunity for cooling down the dispute.

Efforts made by the Iranian mediatory delegation to transform transitory ceasefire to permanent one had little success, because of concerns expressed by both sides about the creation of an opportunity to rearm and strengthen their forces. Iran's plan was devised for maintaining ceasefire, using peacekeeping forces consisting of Iranian and Russian forces to monitor ceasefire in the region and their cooperation with OSCE's peacekeeping forces and the UN which was not materialized due to the failure in obtaining permanent ceasefire.

One of the effective attempts made by Iranian delegation was to deploy some representatives in Yerevan, Baku and Stepanakert to monitor ceasefire and coordination with the officials from three parties to implement agreements.

Mr Alireza Sheikhattar, the former Iranian ambassador to New Delhi as its representation in Baku, Mr Behzad Mazaheri, former Iranian ambassador in Kief as its representative in Stepanakert and Mr Bahram Ghassemi, Iranian ambassador in Rome as its representative in Yerevan began their work. They reported regularly and quickly to the mediatory delegation about the happenings, their activities and also violations of ceasefire.

The establishment of the first ceasefire after a round of bloody fighting created hope for the returning of peace and stability among warring parties and civilians in the region. The most important message of the ceasefire was the formation of the opinion among involved parties that reaching an agreement on the important issues of dispute would be possible through negotiations. The establishment of ceasefire, from the Iranian delegations point of view, was one of the most important factors for building confidence in the relationship between the involved parties and could play a major role for the future missions of the mediatory delegation.

3- Third Stage of Iran's Mediation: Tehran Summit

The Iranian mediatory delegation, after achieving some success in the second stage of mediation regarding the reduction in the intensity of fightings, produced a transitory ceasefire and prepared plan agreed upon its generalities by all the parties, visited the region in May 1992 and had meetings with the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia, including their presidents, during which it emphasized finalizing and operationalizing Iran's plan prepared in the second stage of mediation. As a result of efforts and negotiations made by the Iranian delegation, the presidents of the two countries agreed to visit Tehran to participate in a trilateral meeting with the presence of the Iranian president. Also, it was agreed that the second transitory ceasefire to be established in May 1992. Mechanisms predicted for implementing this ceasefire was identical to the first one.

Azerbaijan's opposition to the presence of Karabakh leaders in Tehran Summit Caused that Armenian delegation expressed the views of Karabakh leaders.

The Iranian mediatory delegation believed that for obtaining essential results for the settlement of dispute it would be necessary that decisions were approved officially and publicly by the leaders of both countries to begin a new phase to settle up Karabakh Dispute, For this reason, Armenian President Terpetrossian, and Yaghoub Mahammadov, caretaker president of Azerbaijan visited Tehran in May 1992 at the invitation of Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Iranian president, to participate in a trilateral meeting. Negotiations held in Tehran, which lasted two days, were very intensive and during which an agreement was signed by three presidents on May 7, 1992 which was called Tehran Summit declaration (Annex l) .

The Tehran Summit can be analyzed from different perspectives. First, it culminated Iran's political efforts to reach an agreement, however transitory and short lived.

Second, it reflected Iran's efforts in the regional and international levels to establish peace and stability commensurate with the greater role of Iran in the region. Third, the Tehran Summit was the first diplomatic effort of this kind being held at the highest level between the mediator and the authorities of two involved countries . Later, this procedure repeated frequently, particularly in Moscow.

a) Tehran Summit Declaration:

The Tehran Summit Declaration contained delicate points mentioned by the mediatory delegation. Meanwhile, because of the presence of two leaders, its signing could increase its credit and weight. The main points of this declaration were as follows:

- Appreciation of the efforts made by the IRI and other countries and international organizations to establish peace

- Regular and continuous meetings between high ranking military officials to create regional security arrangements

- Emphasis on the settlement of all bilateral problems based on international law and the principles of OSCE:

- Finding a solution for the problems of Azeri and Armenian displaced people

- Emphasis on observing human rights as well as the rights of minorities in both countries

- Emphasis made by two sides on peace and stability in the fronts as well as in Nagorno Karabakh:

- Requesting the Iranian side to again send Mr. Vaezi, in order to continue mediatory efforts:

- Two leaders support for enforcing ceasefire

- Expressing hope by the two sides for the continuation of Iran's mediatory efforts aimed at obtaining full peace and security in the region until reaching a final result.[17]

b) Appraisal of Iran’s Mediation:

The Tehran Summit, which culminated in Iran's efforts to end one of the most complicated disputes within the former Soviet Union, despite effective preparations, could not materialize its positive results and achievements due to the unilateral action of Karabakh Armenians in capturing Shousha. However, in spite of this unforeseen development in the scene of military operations, positive efforts of the IRI continued. However, the close relationship between problems relating to dispute and the new military developments relating to dispute and new military developments, changing military forces formations influencing the two sides, the changes created in the occupied regions, the increasing number of displaced people, prisoners and casualties, uninterrupted flow of weapons to the disputed region and most importantly, full non — confidence of Azerbaijan in Armenia, had made the situation far more difficult for continuing mediation. In these circumstances, every mediatory effort faced with limitations. Meanwhile, the Tehran Summit proved a political point that was Iran's concern over developments occurring in neighboring regions.

The seizure of Shousha happened several hours after the signature of summit declaration while two Armenian and Azeri high-ranking delegations were staying in Tehran, and faced with consternation. The primary perception suggested thenon-adherence of Armenian side as a whole including Armenians inhabiting in Karabakh and Yerevan at that time.

This inevitable development, influenced by the logic of war, transformed the war situation. The seizure of Shousha led to that of Lachin and this finally led to the opening of the famous corridor of Shousha - Lachin - Goris which links directly Karabakh to Armenia.

The other side of this development was Azerbaijan's particular political situation. In Azerbaijan, Karabakh's developments have been always a factor for transforming internal situation. The period leading to the seizure of Shousha and the Lachin was a suitable period for the People Front to leap at political power. The withdrawal of military and paramilitary forces from Shousha, which was Azeris' strategic trench in Karabakh and their point of military reliance, caused political damage to the People Front government, making them unable to compromise.

When the Tehran Summit was progressing, the main goal of designers of the fall of Shousha at that critical period was to defeat Iranian mediatory efforts. In this regard two points of views are worth of mentioning. Some believe that Russia's plot with the help of Karabakh forces set the stage for the fall of Shousha. Others believe that the treason made by Azerbaijan's people Front with Turkey's more assistance paved the way for losing Shousha. After the seizure of Shousha, it was made clear that Azerbaijan's military forces which were mostly proponents of People Front, due to the fact that only one day before the fall of the city had deserted their positions and fortifications and withdrawn. Yaghoub Mhammadov, Azerbaijan's caretaker president, in his report to Azeri people about the causes of the fall of Shousha said that an important sector of defense forces had left the city on March 7, one day before the Armenian Attacks. [18] Given these events, the agreement made at Tehran summit was not applicable. Thereafter, Iran's approach to mediation is distinguished from the previous period prior to the Tehran Summit.

This distinction was derived from both domestic impact of dispute and political behavior after the Tehran Summit in the region. Its distinguishing feature, in both the external and internal dimension, was the lack of vitality, given the speed of the trend of events. In fact, developments after the seizure of Shousha and the Lachin were so fast and serious that the form and nature of conflict totally changed. As a result, Iran could not keep up with these developments as the previous period. This development in Iran's political behavior stemmed from political impact of the seizure of Shousha and Lachin, which caused Iranian diplomacy to become inactive.

When Karabakh became an important and determining factor in the domestic scene of Azerbaijan, it was no longer able to deal with the dispute. Due to this fact that the political focus was no longer to end the non-obedience of separatist Armenians. Rather, it centered around internal disputes involving rival political groups.[19] The fall of Shousha and shortly afterwards that of Lachin set the stage for the overthrow of unstable government of Yaghoub Mohammadov, and the People Front's coming to power. After the fall of Shousha, the mediatory delegation continued its activities, but with the formation of a government by People Front and, given the vast influence of Turkey on this group and the opposition of the People Front to Iran, there was no longer any chance for the continuation of Iranian mediatory delegation activities. After 6 months of peace - seeking efforts, these activities stopped.

4- Political Consequences of Mediation for Iran

Iran's mediation, in addition to its direct influence on the dispute itself, and the relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia, was a beginning for other peaceful efforts made by other countries, as well as regional and international organizations.

It had political impact and consequences for Iran, which could be studied from internal and external aspects, and form an internal policy aspect, two subjects that are concrete results of mediation. In other words, prevention of unfavorable impact on national security and effective control of domestic political issues. From the foreign policy aspect, two general subjects that are instruments of political confidence expressed by involved parties towards Iran and assertion of Iran's role and influence in the developments of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which is a perception beyond the framework of mediation, are worth mentioning and will be summarily analyzed below.

a) Impact of Mediation on the Relationship between Iran and Regional Countries:

After the independence of the republics in the Caucasus, negative propaganda regarding Iran increased significantly. As for Azerbaijan, the propaganda was directed to increasing power of Islamic groups and their intervention in their internal affairs. The revival of historical background suggested that most of the cities in the republic of Azerbaijan had belonged to Iran and that country was trying to recapture them was a single propaganda effort among many that was against Iran's policy in the region. On the other hand, as for Armenia, the propaganda formulated in a manner that implying due to this fact that Azerbaijan is both a Muslim and Shiite country like Iran, the IRI policy was to support Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia. It was natural that political consultations against Iran regarding these incorrect subjects could have very negative impact on the relationship between Iran and two neighboring countries in their early years of independence; also, its negative impact on the relationship between Iran and the Central Asian countries were serious, and therefore, mediation could make clear Iran's policies towards the two involved countries and Central Asia based on mutual respect and neutralized some of the propaganda.

While major political efforts and propaganda were underway to contain Iran's influence in the Caucasus, regulating suitable relationships with Iran’s two neighboring countries and obtaining the confidence of involved parties, were two of the most important achievements of Iran in the process of mediation. This political confidence began during the negotiations of high ranking representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Tehran by agreeing on the Tehran Declaration, continuing with several rounds of direct negotiations at different levels and then the reduction of the intensity of clashes and exchanging a number of prisoners and finally two rounds of transitory ceasefire and the signing of the Tehran Summit Declaration. The authorities of both countries in different levels as well as Karabakh officials, in their negotiations with the head of Iranian mediatory delegation, expressed their confidence and trust in Iran's policy towards the Karabakh Dispute. This was mostly due to this fact that Iran never had a hostile and dominating behavior towards them for as their historical and political memory suggested.

Continuous negotiations and efforts made by Iranianmediatory delegation for the settlement of the dispute and the reduction of the intensity of clashes had positive effects on the public opinion of the two nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and made clearer Iran's good faith reflected in its policies towards two neighboring countries, to the extent that this behavior had a determining impact on the expansion of bilateral relations with both countries. At that time, one of the problems was to open the IRI's embassy in Yerevan and sending an ambassador there which was predicted to be a difficult step for Iran given the intensive clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia and faced with the reaction of the republic of Azerbaijan and some of internal groups in Iran, but with Iran's mediation in the Karabakh Dispute, opening an Iranian embassy became natural and those who opposed having relations with Armenia regarded it as an instrument for mediation.

The willingness of the Karabakh leaders to open the doors for cooperation with Iran, expressed since the first political contact between the two parties during mediation. Although Iran could not have a formulated relations with Karabakh because of its principled policies, interest and good faith showed by one of the major actors in the dispute towards Iran could be considered an important factor. One of the most important points in expressing political confidence in Iran was that various commonalities between Iran and Azerbaijan had no effect in Armenia's policies towards Iran. In fact, Armenians had accepted that Iran had a special relationship with Azerbaijan due to their religious and cultural commonalities. For this reason, during the period of active Iran's mediation, Armenians never protested it. In practice, Iran's apparent policy in its bilateral relation tilted somewhat towards Azerbaijan, but regarding issues related to mediation, it acted out of justice and neutrality.

For the first time in contemporary Iranian history, mediation opened a window for more diplomatic mobility in a region which has been a traditional arena for Iranian interests and influence. In comparison with early years of World War I when Iran experienced a decline in its political power, the new period (with all its shortages which will be explained in the section of results and consequences) suggests an active role in the field of diplomacy. Except for Russia, Iran was the first country in the region, and at international level, which entered into the process of mediation by the request of both parties. Although the settlement of a dispute with such a record and history was not expected in a short period, it provided an opportunity for Iran to enter the arena of regional politics and to obtain a relatively favorable position given its assets and potential.

The assertion of the role and influence of Iran was very important for the actors, for Iran enjoyed a traditional and powerful position in this region, and also had great influence on Iran's political behavior in the region. It could be said that Iran, by doing this, despite the major propaganda against regional policies, could build confidence and enter into the field of developments and event of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Future events in the region showed that Iran could have an effective power in the region.

Contrary to the previous period, the years after the First World War, Iran had a pioneering role following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The approach of Iranian diplomacy, serving as a mediator in Karabakh Dispute was unique in its kind until that time in the history Iranian diplomacy. Despite the weaknesses of Iranian diplomacy towards Karabakh, the efforts made by Iran for mediation increased its presence and influence in the region.

b) Consequences of Mediation in Iran's Domestic Policies:

To show the importance of this subject, it is necessary to take a glance at the history of interaction between peoples in Iran and the Caucasus. After the secession of some regions from Iran's territory in the first war of Iran and Russia, there was always some political interaction between peoples inhabiting both sides of the border. The second war of Iran and Russia occurred due to the unsolved problems of the first war and unjust Russian behavior toward the inhabitants of these regions, particularly Muslims, which angered Iran. In the last years of the First World War, the Caucasus was involved in large military disputes. Ethnical tensions between Azeris and Armenians culminated. Also the people inhabiting the Iranian side of the border, in order to support Muslims, expressed their opposition to Armenian's behavior.

The government headed by the Musavat party in the first period of independence adopted the name of "Azerbaijan" for the country. One of the goals of adopting this name, was to exploit Iranian Azeris in favor of Azerbaijani interests. At that time, attracting Iranian Azeris was very important for the Musavat government; for this reason, great efforts were made so that all the news regarding struggling with Armenians were reflected on this side of the border. As said in the previous chapter, during the First World War, due to this fact that Iran was under the pressure by allied forces and had not an authoritarian central government. At that time, skilful management of local authorities and Azeri clerics in Iran prevented the spread of Armenia’s clashes with the Azeris in the Caucasus into Iran's territory.

Despite this, Iranian Azeris showed led peaceful lives alongside Iranian Armenians, and the Armenian community in Iran had always been a minority conforming with the government; their minority position and the long history of living among Muslims taught them to behave accordingly. Iranian Armenians have never experienced hardships and displacements of their religious brethren in the Caucasus and Ottoman Empire. The reason for this has been the intelligent behavior of Muslims and the tranquility of Iranian Armenians.

Another important point for the Islamic Republic of Iran in this dispute was the stability of its common borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia. Iran has common borders with both countries and its distance with Karabakh, the main center of dispute, is about 40 km2 . Given the above mentioned subjects, Iran could not be indifferent to the developments occurring along its borders, security changes of the borders and their impact on Iran's internal developments.

When Iran's mediation entered into the practical phase, the disputed  boundaries were confined to Karabakh. Azeri forces still controlled some areas in the east and south of Karabakh, particularly strategic city of Shousha. However, the intensity of armament of Karabakh forces and extreme position of their leaders suggested the escalation of conflict. At that time, however, only some signs had emerged implying the possibility of geographical expansion of war. This issue was very important in terms of security matters, it could have entailed a threat against the borders and stability of neighboring countries.

In addition to this approach, some plans were proposed for the settlement of dispute by some countries and forums which had a direct relation with Iran’s national security. The political plan of “Land for Peace” which was first proposed by Andrei Sakharov and, later after increase in the size of lands captured by Karabakh forces, forward by Paul Gobel, former advisor of the U.S. secretary of state in the Soviet nationality and one of the researchers of Carnegie Foundation.

Based on this plan, Karabakh links to Armenia through the Corridor of Shousha and Lachin; and Azerbaijan links to Nakhchevan through a narrow strip.[20] This plan constituted the basis of important political activities in the period of the people front government. Based on this plan, the border between Armenia and Iran was removed and by linking Nakhchevan to Azerbaijan, Turkey’s limitation in having direct access to Azerbaijan was eliminated. This plan, if implemented, could change the political geography of region.

Armenia and Russia opposed to this plan. Also, Iran expressed its opposition to the change of political geography of the  region. If this plan could have been somehow implemented it would have had wide political, economic and security effects on the region. Linking Nakhchevan to Azerbaijan would have reduced the importance of Iran's unique and distinctive position in the Caucasus and interrupted Iran's linkage with Armenia. In addition to this, it would have created a dramatic change in the route of transferring the Caspian oil and gas to Europe, which was by no means favorable for Iran.

Coordination between Turkey and Azerbaijan created by geographical linkage could be a source of disturbance for the Azerbaijan of Iran, in the case that an extremist government came to power in Azerbaijan. The Republic of Azerbaijan, in the culmination of its weakness when facing with the Karabakh problem (under the extremist government of People Front), claimed to be the supporter of Azerbaijan of Iran, strengthening relations with Turkey and having geographical links with this country, extremist thoughts in both countries could have made serious trouble.

At the time of beginning the conflict in Karabakh, some efforts began for influencing the social environment of Iran by Azerbaijan through keeping their exploitation of events and developments to a minimum. Iranian policy was based on good relations with both neighboring countries; meeting Azerbaijan's expectations contradicted the principles of mediation. For Azerbaijan, which was under the pressure of Armenians, the policy of exerting the maximum external pressure on Armenians was much more desirable. Azeris felt that Iranian people were disposed to make such decisions. Therefore, they tried to imply that Iran had given arms, military equipment and fuel, while this country, despite the adoption of the policy of continuing ordinary relations and commercial cooperation, never supplied Armenia with ammunitions, fuel and weapons.

The reason for adopting this policy was that Iran did not want to influence its good relationship with Azerbaijan through this behavior and to leave a negative historical record in the minds of Azeri people. On the other hand, Iran was not interested in the escalation of war along its borders without considering Iranian policies in the region in the Caucasus. A few groups of Iranian Par-Turkists tried hard in this respect.

Although expressing Islamic sentiments by Iranians was inevitable, particularly in light of the values of Islamic revolution that emphasized supporting Muslims, this could have adverse internal consequences, which could lead to the undermining of the historical relationship between Iranian minorities and great community of Iranian Muslims. Therefore, these developments could have had negative effects on  the life of the Armenians in Iran.

However, the efforts made by the Republic of Azerbaijan and its authorities, intellectuals and propaganda apparatus focused on exploiting the situation of Azerbaijan of Iran to meet its interests and to hurt Armenians. Of course, it should be added that Azeris used any opportunity for undermining the new established relations between Iran and Armenia.

Azeris expected Iran, like Turkey, to support them unilaterally and to reduce its level of relationship with Armenia and particularly its relationship with its neighbors. Azerbaijan went so far that it urged Tehran to end their relationships with Yerevan.[21] Iran while understanding the situation of Azerbaijan, recommended Azeris to move towards objectivity and to adopt a moderate policy.

During the mediation, in addition to regional aspects, the situation in Iran was more stable than any time in the past.

There was no fertile grounds within the country to facilitate spreading problems related to the conflict into this side of borders. In other words, pursuing mediatory policy, which was itself a favorable approach in foreign policy, controlled domestic problems due to its pioneering role and did not allow that some internal factors determined the official policy towards an ethnic and regional conflict occurring near our borders. In 1992, when the People Front came to power in Azerbaijan, it used all its capabilities for destabilizing the situation in Iran and spreading disputes between Armenians and Azeris into Iran's territory.

One of the main slogans of the government of People Front was ‘Unity of Two Azerbaijans.’ The People Front tried to establish a united front consisting of Azerbaijan and Turkey to confront  with Iran, Armenia and Russia. Extremist policies taken by the People Front reduced the level of support of Azerbaijan and paved the way for Armenians to capture major parts of Azerbaijan's territory.

The effective control of domestic affairs, especially in the defeat of Azerbaijan's provocative policy for creating enmities between Azeris and Armenians within the country, was one of the main characteristics of mediatiory policy. The interesting point in the mutual understanding of all ethnic groups inhabiting Iran could be found in Azerbaijan. Despite the little distance from the border and the widespread broadcast of the news of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the existence of a minority of Armenian people in the different cities of Azerbaijan including Tabriz, Iran did not witness any serious confrontation between Iranian Azeris and Armenians during the long period of conflict.[22]

5- Russian Approach towards Iran's Mediation

Due to the importance attached by Russia to the Caucasus, it considered seriously every act that increased its influence in the region. Iranian diplomatic moves in the Karabakh Dispute, which was an independent one, attracted Moscow's attention more than other diplomatic movements. Meanwhile, Russia had failed in its earlier efforts to settle the Karabakh Dispute. The Iranian Mediatory Delegation went to Moscow after preliminary negotiations in the capitals of the region and preparing a plan for the settlement of dispute. Being aware of the sensitivity of Russia to the developments in the Caucasus, the Iranians wished to conduct some negotiations with Russian officials. The Russian foreign minister supported initially all the efforts made for solving Karabakh problem by any country or international organization, and then added that he was pleased to see Iran's active participation in this issue. Then, he expressed hope for the success of Iran's efforts. Contacting with Russia, in the first step of mediation, ended officially without building any basis for cooperation and exchanging views.

Iran was interested in cooperating with Russia for joint action but it seemed that the Iranian mediatory efforts had been faced with Moscow's suspicions.[23] The reasons for this suspicion were numerous. The first reason stemmed from a geopolitical perception. Russia was looking for an answer to its geopolitical problem in its diplomatic efforts for the settlement of Karabakh Dispute. The vacuum derived from the collapse of the Soviet Union was filled naturally by other countries.

Political environment could not remain in a vacuum. Therefore, Russia suspected every effort, including Iran's attempts, for restoring the political order in the republics of the former Soviet Union.

Russia was interested in limiting Iran's role to bilateral consultations. Russia never wanted Iran to play a role beyond ordinary and diplomatic behavior in the Caucasus. This point of view is not confined to Iran. Russians have a similar view about other actors such as Turkey and even the OSCE.

However, the OSCE, due to its international credit and weight, along with the membership of Russia, enjoyed a better position and therefore could have more participation in the process of dispute.

Russia always suspected Iran in the process of mediation. It could not accept that Iranian efforts could take the steps for removing tensions, at least nominally. However, the process of consultation, which did not involve any political movescontinued between the two countries.

Concurrently, and after the third phase of dispute that was the seizure of Shousha and Lachin by Armenian forces of Karabakh and the increase of OSCE's participation, Russia tried to approach to Iran to use its influence in this process in a limited way.

The change of government in Azerbaijan brought about new developments in the dispute. Azeris tried to diversify effective parameters and to increase their maneuvering power. Attempts for employing Afghan mercenaries and concluding oil contracts with some of Western companies were among the most important cruxes of Azerbajian's activities regarding exerting pressure on Armenians. In these circumstances, Russians redirected their attention towards Iran, having in mind that Tehran was in a position to persuade the Afghan prime minister to call up his mercenaries from Azerbaijan. [24] This perception of Iran's role was utilitarian and marginal. This approach is still valid among Russian officials regarding Iran's role in Karabakh Dispute.


In the Name of God

Tehran Summit Declaration

At the invitations of His Excellency Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, His Excellency Yaghoub Mohammadov, acting President of Azerbaijan and His Excellency Leon Terpetrossian, President of Armenia visited Tehran.

By the proposal and initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran and in the framework of diplomatic efforts to normalize situation in Mountainous Karabakh and borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, to make views closer and to reduce regional tensions, the head of two states with the presence of His Excellency Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani met with each other on May7, 1992. In these talks which were carried out in a constructive atmosphere replete with common understanding, the parties agreed on:

1- Initially, the two parties appreciated efforts made by the I.R.I. and other countries and international and regional organizations for the settlement of regional problems by peaceful means and expressed their hopes that these peaceful and benevolent intentions bring peace and stability.

2- The two parties agreed that continuous visits between the representatives of the two republics in the highest level and also military and provincial officials will be taking place for developing bilateral relations and regional security arrangements.

3- The two parties expressed their willingness to solve all the problems regarding the normalization of bilateral relations based on the principles of OSCE and international law by peaceful means and in different levels.

4- The two parties emphasized on peace and stability in borders and mountainous Karabakh which are in the interests of both of them based on international law and the UN charter.

5- The two parties emphasized on observing human rights and minority rights and attracted their respective attention to find a solution for the problem of Azeri and Armenian displaced people.

6- The two parties agreed that one week after the visit of His Excellency Mr. Vaezi, representative of the IRI, president to the region (Baku, Yervan, Mountainous Karabakh) and his negotiations with relevant parties and attracting the support of Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders, the ceasefire would be put in force. At the same time, all the connecting roads would open to meet economic needs. To implement the agreements, in addition to some observers from the IRI, observers from OSCE and others would be employed.

7- The two parties, while considered positively the summit talks in Tehran, agreed to settle up all bilateral problems through consultation and negotiations between officials in different levels.

8- The heads of two states expressed their satisfaction about mediatory efforts made by the IRI and hoped that these efforts would continue until reaching complete peace and security in the region and final objective.

The Islamic Republic of Iran

Hashemi Rafsanjani

Republic of Azerbaijan

Yaqhoub Mohammadov

Republic of Armenia

Levon Terpetrossian