Politics

Armenian FM's visit to Saudi Arabia marks the beginning of cooperation between two countries - expert on Arabic studies

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Armenian FM's visit to Saudi Arabia marks the beginning of cooperation between two countries - expert on Arabic studies

YEREVAN, APRIL 18, ARMENPRESS. The main and essential feature of Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan's visit to Saudi Arabia is the initiation of the development of interstate relations. It marks the first high-ranking official visit to Saudi Arabia aimed at establishing strong contacts, said expert on Arabic studies Armen Petrosyan, regarding Armenia-Saudi Arabia relations in the context of Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan's visit.

"The former president of Armenia, Armen Sargsyan, visited Saudi Arabia, but it was a working visit and not indicative of significant interstate relations. He emphasized that Ararat Mirzoyan's visit signals the beginning of cooperation between the two nations. Diplomatic relations between Armenia and Saudi Arabia were established only a few months ago, and there is currently no comprehensive document base for bilateral cooperation. Various high-ranking officials from both countries have stressed the importance of creating such a framework, envisioning collaboration across mutually beneficial fields," highlighted Petrosyan.

Armen Petrosyan's observation underscores the significance of Armenia's relations with Saudi Arabia as a distinct avenue. He notes that since Armenia's independence, diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia had not been established, despite Saudi Arabia's substantial influence in the Arab and Muslim world. Therefore, the focus is primarily on the political ramifications of establishing robust relations with such an influential regional player.

"Emphasizes the necessity of leveraging Saudi Arabia's potential to bolster Armenia's influence and strategic foothold in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and among Arab and Muslim nations. This approach aims to address various challenges Armenia faces and capitalize on economic opportunities. Furthermore, he suggests viewing the development of relations with Saudi Arabia within the broader framework of Armenia's policy toward Arab nations, highlighting the economic aspect. Consequently, he advocates perceiving the entire Arab region as a crucial market for Armenian exports and a potential source of investment."- said our interlocutor.

The expert on Arabic studies further noted that Armenia's success in certain areas would affirm the efficacy of its cooperation strategy with the Arab world. Petrosyan highlighted that during the meetings held as part of Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan's visit, both parties underscored key areas pivotal for Armenia's relations with other Arab nations. These encompass economic and business ties, trade facilitation, financial and banking sectors, the establishment of direct air routes, tourism, cultural exchanges, education, and the IT sphere, particularly artificial intelligence, which holds significant potential for collaboration between the parties.

"The initiative to establish the region's first and only 'smart city' on the personal initiative of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince bin Salman carries significant importance. If Armenia demonstrates keen interest in this endeavor, it could garner favor among Saudi officials, bolstering Armenia's policy and fostering the development of bilateral relations. Approaches to our region have shifted somewhat following the 2020 war and recent developments concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. While the South Caucasus was previously viewed as a conflict zone and a platform for intense geopolitical competition, the opposite trend is now evident. Our region has become more appealing, particularly in terms of connectivity and utilization of energy resources," explained Petrosyan.

Considering Armenia's geographical position and its relations with Iran and Russia, the Arabic scholar expressed confidence that all stakeholders inclined toward peaceful and constructive engagement can foster cooperation in the region. He noted that during all the meetings, the Armenian side emphasizes the significance of the "Crossroads of Peace" initiative.

If the communications are unblocked and the infrastructures operate without interruption, great opportunities will open up for Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf. First of all, it refers to the importance of operating the road from that region to the Black Sea, which, in fact, provides an opportunity for alternative communication. The 'Crossroads of Peace' is still in the design phase, and there are certain obstacles to its implementation due to the positions of Azerbaijan and Turkey. Nevertheless, the Armenian side should open up the "Crossroads of Peace" initiative so that it is more understandable. For this, it is necessary to offer specific solutions, to show what customs-tax and logistics advantages we can offer to our partners, what quality roads we can provide to the world, so that foreign cargo transportation and goods circulation will be much more attractive, profitable, and affordable," explained the expert.

Petrosyan suggests that Armenia should adopt a more proactive approach in working with Arab countries and strive for consistency in implementing agreements, highlighting it as an important aspect of engaging with the Arab world. He believes that by doing so, Armenia's chances of success will significantly increase.

Manvel Margaryan

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