Iran’s Ahmadinejad Visits Armenia

Presidents Sarkisian and Ahmadinejad in Yerevan Friday

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The presidents of Armenia and Iran pledged on Friday to further expand “high-level relations” between their nations and, in particular, give new impetus to the implementation of joint energy projects that have fallen behind schedule.

Serzh Sarkisian and Mahmud Ahmadinejad also called for a “diplomatic” solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West, saying after talks in Yerevan that it should uphold Tehran’s right to the “peaceful use of atomic energy.”

In a joint communiqué issued at the end of Ahmadinejad’s one-day visit to Armenia, the two leaders said that they “reaffirmed their determination to further develop bilateral friendly and mutually beneficial relations.”

“We have had very good negotiations with Mr. President,” Ahmadinejad told Armenian and Iranian officials after a one-on-one conversation with his Armenian counterpart. “I said that nobody in the world can change the map between Armenia and Iran.”

“Historically we have always had good relations and they are being preserved today,” he said.

“I am very happy that we arrived at very important conclusions in my conversation with Mr. President,” Sarkisian said, for his part. “That will very much help to further deep our relations.”

According to Sarkisian, they specifically agreed to speed up the ongoing construction of a third transmission line connecting the Armenian and Iranian power grids and accelerate other commercial projects.

Those include the construction of two hydroelectric plants on the Arax river marking the Armenian-Iranian border and a pipeline that will ship Iranian fuel to Armenia. Work on these facilities was due to start this year but has been delayed for unclear reasons.

“These projects have fallen slightly behind schedule not because of the Armenian side but because of situations in Iran,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisian told journalists on Thursday. Movsisian did not elaborate, saying only that he hopes the construction will start next year.

Movsisian and a top Iranian official signed on Friday a protocol on amendments to a 2007 Armenian-Iranian agreement on the Arax plant. The document was not made public.

The presidential communiqué signed in Yerevan said Ahmadinejad and Sarkisian instructed their relevant government ministries to “make every effort to move the mentioned projects into a practical phase in the next six months.” It also stressed the need for completing the new high-voltage line “as early as possible.”

Sarkisian said the projects’ implementation will give a massive boost to Armenian-Iranian trade which is projected to reach $300 million this year. He said he and Ahmadinejad agreed that this volume is “too small for the two friendly and neighboring states.”

According to the communiqué, the two leaders also discussed the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, broader regional security and “non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” They expressed Yerevan’s and Tehran’s “commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

“They noted the right of all countries, including Armenia and Iran, to the peaceful use of atomic energy,” said the document. “The presidents of the two countries stressed the importance of resolving Iran’s nuclear issue by means of negotiations and in diplomatic ways.”

Tensions between Iran and the West have risen again of late after the UN’s nuclear watchdog suggested that Tehran might be secretly developing a nuclear arms capability. The report has fuelled renewed talk of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Armenia has always avoided any public criticism of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, underscoring the Islamic Republic’s perceived importance for its security and economic development. Unresolved bitter disputes with its two other Muslim neighbors, Azerbaijan and Turkey, make Iran one of the landlocked country’s two conduits to the outside world.

Davit Hovannisian, a prominent Armenian expert on the Middle East and a retired diplomat, said Armenia is also “a very important partner” for Iran. “Armenia plays a certain balancing role in this region, serving as a counterweight to Turkish-Azerbaijani-Georgia cooperation which Iran perceives to be a certain threat to its interests,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

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19 Comments

  1. mike said:

    There goes the American funding. NICE Job Mr President Sarkisian next on the calandar President Hugo Chaves.

    • Hay said:

      Who cares what the US thinks, they’re not exactly the moral compass of the world. Armenia has the right to pursue relations with whomever it choose. Iran has been a good partner, much more so than the multi-faced United States.

    • Ararat said:

      As a sovereign state, Armenia has the absolute right to decide with whom it forms alliances. To say Armenia should have nothing to do with Iran because Iran is on America’s blacklist is like saying America should have nothing to do with Turkey because Turkey is on Armenia’s black list. Armenia should be able to balance its relationships between US and Iran without offending US, if the argument is that Armenia-Iran relationship could offend USA which gives some minimal financial support to Armenia. Furthermore, Iran has a border with Armenia and US does not. Armenia-Iran relations are crucial to both countries in the economic and energy fields, especially now that two hostile genocidal nations have blockaded Armenia for the last 18 years. By the way, one of these two hostile nations Turkey is a very close ally of USA, so shame on USA for its double standards. Also, don’t forget Iran has had very close historical ties with Armenia and it is one of the main anti-Turkish nations in the region.

    • Halo said:

      Considering the position Armenia is in, it has little choice. Armenia is in a very delicate position and must carefully deal with her situation, by striking the perfect balance of relations with Iran, Russia, Georgia and USA.

    • Norin Radd said:

      Actually Mike, simply because Israeli motivated US sanctions are being parroted against Iran does not mean Armenians and Armenia should jump on the propaganda bandwagon and abandon are neighborly relations with our regional ally Iran. Armenia proper has not had any regional conflicts of interests with Iran and we have always benefited mutually from our friendly neighborly relations.

      In fact, the Iran-Armenia relationship is testament to the world how a fundamentally Christian country with the oldest living Christians on Earth, the Armenians, can establish beneficial and friendly relationship based on mutual respect with a fundamentally Islamic ancient nation, namely Iranians.

      You’re either an Israeli troll trying to muddy the waters between Armenia and Iran or simply very short-sighted.

    • www.Voskanapat.info said:

      What “funding” are you talking about? The one that was appropriated by Congress but never actually disbursed by DOS to Armenia? The one that goes to pay humongous salaries of the fat USAID cats sitting in Tiflis? The “funding” that is issued in fake US $$ backed by ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and good only for paying US taxes which Armenia does not owe – ever read the fine print on the US funny money “currency”?

    • FYI said:

      Mike, you do understand that Armenia has only two open borders? One of which is through Iran? Armenia and Iran should increase cooperation. When Israel was working with Turkey, did they think about us? Never. Serge is smart for working with the Iranians. The western countries do not provide anything meaningful to Armenia. We need to start thinking about our interest instead of always being a tool for the West. They don’t care about us. They just care about securing oil pipelines and energy contracts. We should work with everyone in the region.

    • Vahe' said:

      Funding of what ??? JEHOVAS WITNESS ? CHURCH OF MORMONS ? IREX ? PEACE CORPS ? USDA consultation ? we have not seen any American company to open a factory and create jobs in Armenia, except some small investments by few American Armenians
      At least we are enjoying direct investment from Iran, their tourists dollars, regional stability and security and having a corridor to open sea through Iranian ports. There goes my assesment about ” US fundings “.

      • Satenik said:

        Vahe,
        You stole the words from my mouth. Exactly, I want to know who is funding Jehova’s Witness in Armenia. Who is trying to divide the Armenian Church, if that’s what the US is funding ,then we are better off without them. USA has always favoured the Turks and Azeri oil has become their best bed fellows. A for Obama, well he bends backwards to please the Turks and can’t do enough to demonise Iran. To call him a double face is a compliment. Obama has no shame and he will never grow a spine, this April or any April for that matter.

        • bigmoustache said:

          im born an orthodox but really i dont care for any religion.
          but dont forget who helped us the most during the genocide. the american public and their funds which came through protestant missionaries, the red cross, womens sufferage groups etc.. so try to remember that and be grateful for it

        • Harutik said:

          Bravo Vahe!!!

          It can be rationally argued that every single dollar Washington spends in Armenia is to benefit the United States and undermine the Armenian statehood. Armenia can/should do without American bribes…

    • bigmoustache said:

      america understands very well our need for an ally in iran, what would be your solution? cut off iran and further isolate us?…the ignorance!
      furthermore, it would show backbone if we built ties and closer relations, not necissarily with chavez, but with cuba. cuba is a role model nation and i regret armenia couldnt strenghten ties before fidel got sick

  2. Arman said:

    Don’t forget the Iran-Armenia Wind Farm located in Armenia’s northern region of Lori. This is the only wind farm in the whole Caucasus Region. Currently there are only 4 wind power turbines, but the wind farm has plans for a total of 45. The day that 45 machines are operating will be a great milestone for Armenia, and there is great potential for wind power turbines also in Artsakh. People can read about the Lori Wind Farm on wikipedia.org.

  3. Ishkhan said:

    Both countries are on the right track and need each other. Armenia needs Iran to fight against the “blockade” and Iran needs Armenia to prevent “secession” of Iranian Azerbaijan.
    USA

  4. Harutik said:

    Mike is a typical Amerikahay and like a typical Amerikahay he will soon disappear in the great melting pot of his homeland. Until we rid ourselves of these self-hating and politically ignorant people, let’s please do everything in our power to stop these people from damaging the Armenian statehood…

  5. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    We need to show Turkey that although our Christianity was the only reason that got us massacred by them, in contrast, we always enjoyed a loving relationship with the most fervently Islamic country in the world, the Muslims of Iran. Unlike Turkish Armenians, Iranian Armenians never aspired to separate themselves from their adopted country because unlike the Turks, the Iranian Muslims never treated us oppressively and thus we always enjoyed a loving relationship with our Islamic brethren that had eluded us in Turkey.
    So now Mr. World, go figure out, was it Islam or was it Turkey that got us massacred. I say if turkey had not massacred us cyclically every thirty years for the last two hundred years we would never have aspired to pull ourselves away from them.

    • S.Yilmaz said:

      The difference is that Iran is Shiite and Turkey is Sunni and the govt. that participated in the Turkish War of Independence was a Secular Nationalist Govt.

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