YEREVAN—Bi-lateral relations, trade and investment were high on the agenda when Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Armenia on Tuesday and met with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian and President Serzh Sarkisian.
He told reporters after meeting with Nalbandian that Armenia and Iran are good neighbors and the political and economic relations have been on the rise over the past years.
Zarif said energy and transit remain a high priority for Armenia-Iran cooperation, emphasizing the importance for collaboration in environmental protection, education, science and technology.
The Iranian Foreign Minister expressed gratitude for Armenia’s support for the principles of the Islamic Republic on the international arena and hailed Armenia’s efforts in ensuring peace and stability in the region.
“Armenia and Iran enjoy comprehensive and mutually beneficial relations rooted on centuries-old ties between the two peoples,” Nalbandian told reports after talks with Zarif. “Warm and trustworthy relations have been established between the leaders of Armenia and Iran,” he said.
“We discussed the situation in the Middle East, the fight against terrorism, implementation of the agreement reached on Iran’s nuclear program, which we support,” said Nalbandian.
The Armenian foreign minister briefed his Iranian counterpart on the efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. “We value Iran’s balanced stance on the peaceful settlement of this conflict based on principles of international law,” he said.
“On the 25th anniversary of our diplomatic relations we can state that Armenian-Iranian relations have been developing dynamically,” Minister Nalbandian stated.
He added, however, that the potential is even greater and pledged the willingness of the parties to take joint efforts to further deepen, expand and develop the bilateral relations.
Nalbandian also discussed the recent visa liberalization agreement between the two countries, saying the move has led to a drastic increase in tourism to Armenia.
Nalbandian also added that, “cooperation between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union can ensure progress in the development of Armenian-Iranian economic ties.”
The two leaders also attended an Armenian-Iranian business forum, which looked at the potential for mutual economic cooperation and investment opportunities
Armenia, being the only EAEU member state that has a land border with friendly Iran, can be a gateway to accessing EU, EAEU and CIS countries, Nalbandian said at an Armenian-Iranian Business Forum in Yerevan.
In this regard he pointed to the significance of the North-South Road Corridor, which, he said, is the shortest transit route connecting Persian Gulf ports to the Black Sea ports.
According to Nalbandian, “Armenia actively supports the negotiation process between the Eurasian Economic Commission and friendly Iran aimed at signing a free trade zone agreement.”
“On March 30, 2017, the Government of Armenia passed a decision on establishing a free economic zone in Syunik – at the border with Iran, the launch of which would promote the strengthening of economic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran and ensure the most efficient use of Armenia’s economic potential,” said Nalbandian.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the relevant authorities of the two countries aimed at defining the directions of cooperation between Armenia and Iran in creating free economic zones, like the ones recently established zones in Meghri and Aras.
Nalbandian said Armenia has created favorable conditions for investments and business.
“Reforms in Armenia are aimed at establishing national and more favorable regimes, clarifying guarantees for foreign investors, providing the opportunities for businessmen to use the existing in Armenia and envisaged supplementary benefits and modern mechanisms for resolving investment related disputes; a number of procedures are consistently being reduced and simplified,” said Nalbandian.
“One of the advantages of investing in Armenia is that the country has privileged trade regimes with many countries. Particularly, Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union has created new opportunities. The products produced in Armenia can freely enter the 180 million-strong consumer market of the Eurasian Economic Union member states with zero customs duties and without administrative barriers,” explained Nalbandian.
Later in the day, Zarif held a meeting with Prime MinisterKaren Karapetyan, during which he said the economic delegation accompanying him was comprised of managers from top companies which were ready to further expand bilateral economic relations.
The prime minister said Yerevan attaches great importance to its relations with Iran and is ready to expand ties in various fields.
“Exports and imports between the two countries are on the rise and we are ready to enable Iranian companies to benefit from the interests of the Eurasia Union through Armenia,” Karapetyan said.
Zarif also met with Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian and delivered greetings from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.