Iran and Armenia: From the Historical Links to the Strategic Requirements
5 May 2016 20:04
Author : Vali Kaleji
Iran’s approach to Armenia as the only Christian neighboring country is a national, cultural, and historical one and an example of successful relations in the foreign policy area after the Islamic Revolution. Moreover, among the 15 neighboring countries, the mutual relations between Iran and Armenia are significant in terms of stability. There are a few important issues about the aspects of relations between Iran and Armenia which will be discussed briefly.
1. Both Iran and Armenia are “transitional societies”, moving towards modernity in the context of the emerging and growing middle class. Over the past two decades, the majority of scientific and scholarly works done in Iran and Armenia’s academic and research centers followed an “outward-looking” approach and disregarded the “inward-looking” approach in terms of the political and social matters. We can only have a correct and realistic understanding of each other if we inwardly know the societies of both countries. Only then, we can have a better understanding of the two countries’ foreign policies in terms of mutual issues and regional and international developments.
2. In 2005, Iran tried to arrange and publish its strategic document, IRAN 2025. The main and final goal of the document is that Iran to become the first economic, scientific, and technological place in the Southwest Asia (including Central Asia, Caucasus, Middle East and neighboring countries). The Republic of Armenia is among the countries that are in the geographic scope of this strategic document. Therefore, the development of Iran’s relations with Armenia in various areas would be a step towards the achievement of a long-term goal of IRAN 2025.
3. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has opened a new chapter in the foreign policy of Iran with a significant outlook in the economic field. Without a doubt, Iran’s influential presence in the Central Asia and Caucasus, especially the Republic of Armenia, establishes a significant part of the requirements after the JCPOA. Meanwhile, Iran will not forget Armenia’s positions and positive approaches during the difficult period of the sanctions. A consistent and comprehensive program should be devised according to the new situations as to make the optimum use of the political and economic opportunities provided on the regional and international levels after the JCPOA, so Iran and Armenia can enter a new phase especially in the economic field.
4. Iran-Armenia railway construction project (the so-called Armenia Southern railway), currently in the early stages of research and investment attraction, is considered among the significant capacities of Iran and Armenia after the “JCPOA”. This railway creates the shortest transit route from the Black Sea ports to the Persian Gulf ports which results in the prosperity of the southern ports of Iran and also diversifies the communication and transit routes of Iran in the Caucasus region.
5. Iran and Armenia are exposed to common and serious threats imposed by the extremists and terrorists in the Caucasus region. It is imperative that these issues be expertly addressed in a “joint working group” as to be administrated and operated after a comprehensive and consensual outcome is achieved and confirmed by the senior officials of the two countries.
The deep cultural and civilizational links between the two countries, the significant population of Armenians in Iran, the close political and economic relations between Tehran and Yerevan, as well as Armenia’s strategic need to maintain the relations with Iran in order to overcome the political, economic, and military blockade imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan have caused all the Armenian parties, with different political and intellectual tendencies, pay special attention to Iran and support the relations between the two country. This is a turning point in the relations between Iran and Armenia which should be considered by the officials and authorities of the two countries.
Vali Kaleji, an expert at Center for Strategic Research, is the senior fellow at The IRAS Institute.
This article first appeared at International Conference “Republic of Armenia – Islamic Republic of Iran: 25 Years of Cooperation” under the auspices of Iranian Studies of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Yerevan State University on February 18, 2016.