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Iranian Army Chief Warns Against Armenian Border Change


IRAN -- Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri speaks during an international conference in Tehran, February 23, 2021.

Iran’s top army general warned on Thursday that his country would resist attempts to redraw neighboring Armenia’s borders as he commented on recent border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops.

“As we have stated many times, we will not tolerate changes in the borders of the countries of the region, and we advise Azerbaijan and Armenia to solve their problems through dialogue,” Major-General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said during a military parade in Tehran.

“We will not tolerate changes in the borders through war and we will not remain silent,” he added in a speech cited by Iranian news agencies.

Bagheri echoed warnings repeatedly issued by Iranian leaders both before and after the outbreak on September 13 of large-scale fighting at various the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. One of those sections is close to Iranian territory bordering Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province.

Syunik is the sole Armenian province bordering Iran. Baku has been pressuring Yerevan to open a special land corridor connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave through the province.

The Armenian government rejects these demands while expressing readiness to restore conventional transport links between the two South Caucasus states. Tehran also opposes the land corridor, fearing a loss of Iran’s common border with Armenia.

“Iran’s border with Armenia is a historical route that must be preserved without any change,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reportedly stressed in a September 14 phone call with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, likewise warned against “the closing of the Iran-Armenia border” when he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July. Ankara has backed the Azerbaijani demands for the Syunik corridor.

A senior Armenian diplomat said on September 15 that Baku is planning another, even more-large-scale military offensive in a bid to “realize the unlawful ambitions towards establishing an extraterritorial corridor through the sovereign territory of Armenia.”

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