Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 4

The latest pronouncements by leaders of the Musavat Party–one of Azerbaijan’s two principal opposition parties–and articles in the party newspaper “Yeni Musavat” confirm the party’s recent rapprochement with Iran. In an interview published yesterday, Party Secretary Sulheddin Akper reaffirmed the party’s proposal to build the main export pipeline for Azerbaijani oil through Iran, rather than through Turkey to Ceyhan. Ostensibly, the party takes the position that Iran is less hostile to Azerbaijan if compared to Armenia or Russia. But Musavat has no convincing explanation for repudiating the planned Turkish route, desired by Azerbaijan’s government and by most political forces.

On January 5 the party newspaper published an interview with Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Aliriza Bikdeli, who attacked Azerbaijan for having turned over the oilfields to “foreign hands” and for agreeing to negotiate about Karabakh within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Iran had earlier offered to route the export pipeline through its territory, and had implied that it is prepared to insert itself as mediator between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Musavat’s attitude toward Iran contrasts with the Azerbaijani government’s, as just reaffirmed by the senior presidential adviser on foreign policy, Vafa Guluzade. In an interview published yesterday, Guluzade stated that joint actions by Russia and Iran in the region threaten basic Azerbaijani interests. Guluzade mentioned Iran’s opposition to sectoral division of the Caspian Sea in accordance with international law and Tehran’s tilt toward Armenia in the Karabakh conflict (Yeni Musavat, January 5; Azadlyg, January 6; Panorama (Baku), January 6, all cited by the Turan Press Review, January 5, 6).

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