YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — A team of Iranian experts will visit Armenia in the near future to explore the technical possibilities for building a railway link from Iran to Armenia, according to Iranian ambassador to Armenia, Seyed Kazem Sajjadi.
“We do not see any obstacles that could prevent the development of economic cooperation between Armenia and Iran,” the ambassador said when speaking at the opening of a conference dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Armenian-Iranian diplomatic relations.
Regarding the Armenian-Iranian cooperation in energy sector, Sajjadi said the ‘gas for electricity’ swap program will continue. “We will expand bilateral cooperation in the framework of this agreement,” he added.
“We had good relations with Armenia during the period of international sanctions and, after their removal, these relations will become even better. Iran and Armenia helped one another in the most difficult conditions and this format of relations will continue,” he said.
Earlier, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) Alireza Kameli said his country was ready to increase natural gas exports to Armenia fivefold. In an interview with Iranian Oil Ministry’s official SHANA news agency, he said that the pipeline taking Iran’s gas to Armenia is capable of transmitting more than six million cubic meters of natural gas per day, but is currently taking only one million cubic meters of gas to Iran’s northern neighbor.
The gas pipeline between Armenia and Iran was commissioned in 2007. In return for Iranian gas Armenia ships electricity to Iran—3 kWh for one cubic meters of gas. In 2014 Armenia received 383 million cubic meters of Iranian gas at $189 for 1,000 cubic meters.
The Iranian gas is not sold to households or enterprises; it is converted into electricity by the Yerevan thermal power plant and much of it is shipped back to Iran. The pipeline’s maximum capacity is estimated at 2 billion cubic meters per year.
According to Armenia’s National Statistical Service, the trade turnover between Armenia and Iran in 2015 declined by 5.2% from 2014 to $276.36 million.
Meanwhile, after the cancellation of international sanctions against Tehran, the activity in Iran’s foreign policy was observed and it was concluded that there is big potential between Iran and Armenia. Both Armenian and Iranian officials and experts agree on the mentioned issue.
A wide range of issues regarding the past, present, and the future of Armenian-Iranian relations were discussed in the one day international symposium titled, “Armenia-Iran: 25 years of cooperation” that was held on February 18 at Yerevan State university.
According to Armenian specialists participating in the symposium, Armenia can become an important transit corridor linking the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf. It is important to get introduced to the opinions of Iranian specialists in this context and understand what opportunities they see in the strengthening of Armenian-Iranian relations, Vardan Voskanyan, Head of the Chair of Iranian Studies expressed.
He recalled Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s earlier expression that Armenia, as the first country to adopt Christianity, and Iran, as a Muslim country, are unique neighbors that have exemplary relations and this is an advantage for both sides.
Yerevan State University (YSU) Rector, Professor Aram Simonyan, Chairman of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization Abuzar Ebrahimi, Sajjad, Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Armenia Nerses Ter-Vardanyan and others touched upon the significance of Armenian-Iranian relations and strong fundamentals of millennia and the possibilities of further development of bilateral relations in the context of regional developments.