Political component of Armenia-Iran relations at high level – Ambassador Tumanyan’s interview
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 8, ARMENPRESS. The favorable conditions created for Armenia thanks to the free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Iran will be effectively served for ensuring the growth of trade volumes, Armenia’s Ambassador to Iran Artashes Tumanyan said in an interview to ARMENPRESS, talking about the Armenian-Iranian relations, as well as the upcoming visit of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to Iran.
-Mr. Tumanyan, PM Nikol Pashinyan plans to visit Iran in late February. What kind of meetings and agenda of issues are scheduled?
-Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will depart for Tehran on February 27 at the invitation of President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. This is Pashinyan’s first visit to Iran. The organizational issues of the visit are being discussed at the moment. The agenda of meetings will cover a broad range of bilateral issues. During the talks the officials will touch upon the regional security and bilateral cooperation affairs.
-This year marks the 28th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Iran. How would you assess the current level of Armenia-Iran relations?
-From the time of their formation to this day Armenia and Iran had friendly and partnering relations. However, not all opportunities of both sides have been utilized.
-What achievements will you identify in the Armenian-Iranian diplomatic relations in the recent period?
-The main achievement is the high level of political component of the bilateral relations. The sides have always managed to avoid lined problems. But as for the recent period, we can mention the facts of distribution of various information about Armenia among the Iranian circles, mutual awareness raising. Many Iranian businessmen visited Armenia to discuss the opportunities of conducting an economic activity.
-Iran remains one of Armenia’s key partners. What prospects do you see for expanding the economic cooperation between the two countries?
-Iran is really one of the key partners of Armenia, and the development of the relations derives from Armenia’s interests. Of course, Armenia also has an important place in Iran’s foreign policy agenda.
The level of bilateral economic relations is far from being enough, and both sides need to take serious actions in this regard. I would like to inform that the Armenia-Iran trade turnover has never crossed 300 million USD (also given the gas-electricity exchange), and the import volumes of goods from Armenia to Iran have always been quite small.
Currently the possibilities to serve effectively the favorable conditions created for Armenia thanks to the EAEU-Iran free trade deal for ensuring bilateral trade growth are being discussed. I want to state that serious obstacles emerged here due to the US sanctions, but in order to overcome them certain mechanisms will be needed.
-There is quite activeness in tourism sector in the recent years. What development prospects do you see on this direction?
-Before the US sanctions and the unfavorable financial-economic developments in Iran, the number of Iranian tourists visiting Armenia was constantly increasing. But now, due to the current situation in Iran, their number is decreasing. It’s understandable that under the current circumstances some changes will be needed in the works of this field, at least for preventing the further negative developments.
-Mr. Ambassador, the Armenian community plays an important role for strengthening and developing the Armenian-Iranian relations. What are the main activities of Armenians in Iran? In which sectors they are represented and what are the agenda issues relating to the community?
-The Armenian community of Iran has passed a great path and enjoys a great respect for the great contribution in Iran’s life. The community members are represented in different sectors-science, education, culture, economy and etc. According to Iran’s Constitution, Armenians have a status of a religious minority which allows to have two MPs in the Iranian Parliament.
The community structures constantly carry out great works for the preservation of the Armenian identity and cultural values.
Interview by Anna Gziryan
Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan