Prime Minister Pashinyan and his delegation meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Armenian PM Admits ‘Tensions’ With Iran, as He Meets with Blinken, MI6 Chief

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YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan appears to have acknowledged that Armenia’s deepening ties with the European Union and the United States are causing unease in neighboring Iran.

“Our relations with Iran are deep and Armenia remains committed to those relations,” Pashinyan said during a weekend visit to Germany. “But this is one of those cases where not everything is clear.”

“Our good relations with Iran are causing tensions in some places, while our good relations with other countries are causing tensions in Iran,” he added without elaborating.

In recent months, Iranian leaders have repeatedly told their Armenian counterparts that Tehran strongly opposes the geopolitical presence of “extra-regional countries” in the South Caucasus. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi conveyed the same message to Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan as recently as on February 15. Any intervention of “outsiders” in regional disputes could only exacerbate, rather than resolve, them, Raisi said in a clear reference to the US and the EU.

This was interpreted by some Armenian commentators as a fresh warning to Yerevan which has been seeking closer security ties with the Western powers amid its unprecedented tensions with Russia. The latter has openly denounced Western efforts to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal, saying that their main aim is to drive Moscow out of the region.

Both Russia and Iran have criticized Armenia for hosting a US-Armenian military exercise last September. The Islamic Republic is also believed to share Russian concerns about the EU’s monitoring mission along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan launched a year ago.

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Pashinyan and his political team say they are “diversifying” Armenia’s traditional foreign and security policy in response to what they see as Russia’s failure to meet its security commitments to its South Caucasus ally.

Armenian opposition groups say Tehran’s stance is another reason why Yerevan should exercise caution in its dealings with the West. They argue that unlike the West, Iran could intervene militarily to prevent Azerbaijan from opening an extraterritorial corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave through Syunik, the only Armenian region bordering the Islamic Republic.

Iran regularly warns against attempts to strip it of the common border and transport links with Armenia.

In Munich, Pashinyan met with  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, Richard Moore.

In a one-sentence statement on the meeting, Pashinyan’s press office said nothing about the agenda or other details of their conversation.

Moore, who runs the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) also known as MI6, previously met with Pashinyan during a surprise visit to Yerevan in December 2022. The Armenian government said at the time that they discussed “processes taking place in the South Caucasus.”

The British spy chief flew to the Armenian capital four days after meeting with Armen Grigoryan, the pro-Western secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, in London. Shortly after that visit, Pashinyan’s government pushed through the parliament a bill on the creation of an Armenian foreign intelligence service.

US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns visited Armenia and held talks with Pashinyan in July 2022. Few details of those talks were made public.

 

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