YEREVAN (ArmeniaNow) — The deal reached between Iran and the “six powers” has put a great responsibility on Armenia’s southern neighbor in terms of promoting conflict-resolution in the region, experts say.
“Iran is a powerful factor in the region and will be able to ‘get into big games’, something that Turkey has tried to do so far,” Gohar Iskandaryan, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Yerevan, said. “This is what makes the West negotiate [with Iran] so long and not shut the doors of dialogue with Iran at once,” she added at a press conference. Iran’s position on the Karabakh conflict is not different from the policy adopted by the Islamic Republic in its relations with other neighbors, Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Mohammad Reisi stressed at a press conference in Yerevan late last week. “Iran deems that keeping peace in neighboring countries is keeping security and peace in Iran, and hence also in the case with the Karabakh conflict we are in favor of only a peaceful solution based on negotiations,” the ambassador said. In Armenia some are hopeful that due to the gradual lifting of Western sanctions from Iran some of the financial resources will be channeled into Armenian-Iranian economic projects, but at the moment Ambassador Reisi sees a shortage of potential investors for such joint projects. In particular, speaking about the Armenia-Iran railway construction project, the ambassador said: “The railway construction project requires an investment of $3.2 billion. For it to be implemented, an investor is needed. No serious investors have been found yet.” Iskandaryan does not consider it realistic that there will be serious Iranian investments in the Iran-Armenia railway project. “It is not realistic to think that Iran will use some of the unfrozen funds for investing in this project,” she said. Instead, the expert considers it likely that the Meghri hydropower plant construction project will be realized. For several years Armenia and Iran have been discussing a number of joint projects, including the construction of a hydropower station in Meghri, the Iran-Armenia railway, the construction of a third high-voltage transmission line. “Probably within the next month an Iranian delegation led by a deputy minister will visit Armenia. If the visit at this level takes place, it will certainly have its positive impact on our relations,” said Ambassador Reisi. The diplomat said that Iran’s financial means still remained “frozen” and time was needed for them to become available. But he added that Iran’s goal is “to realize the projects that have been signed with Armenia.” Reisi also said that Iran is trying to reach an agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union on preferential prices, as, he said, the 200-million-people market of the EEU is important for Iran. “In that case Armenia could be a land communication channel between Iran and the EEU, as, if built, the north-south highway passing through Armenia can become the shortest route between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf,” he underscored.