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Armenia Turns to Iran To Decrease Energy Dependence on Russia



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By Eurasianet – Nov 18, 2023, 2:00 PM CST

  • Armenia and Iran’s commerce is predicted to upward thrust to $1 billion by subsequent year, enhancing their financial relationship.
  • Iran goals to decrease Armenia’s vitality dependence on Russia, offering picks like prolonged fuel-for-electrical energy deals.
  • The cooperation faces challenges as a result of differing views on regional concerns and the presence of external actors in the South Caucasus.

As Armenia progressively turns some distance off from its mature strategic ally, Russia, it is tentatively exploring deeper partnerships with the likes of France and the US.

After which there would possibly perchance be Iran. 

Tehran and Yerevan trust enjoyed cordial – even warm – family for the rationale that early 1990s. That entente now appears to be like to be like poised to fabricate but extra, however geopolitics makes this a elaborate proposition.

The allure of this construction is most evident in the numbers.

As Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan informed Armenian Public Tv in an interview aired on November 14, commerce between Armenia and Iran is booming. The place the countries traded $350 million worth of items in 2021, the expectation is that this figure will upward thrust to $1 billion by subsequent year, he talked about.

Grigoryan sees this as bigger than a ask of of generating prosperity.

“Economic family between the two countries are foremost from the standpoint of safety,” he talked about.

One other interview from a few days earlier, this time given by Iran’s newly appointed ambassador to Armenia, Mehdi Sobhani, to neutral Yerevan-based solely files outlet CivilNet, equipped more context for that point of view.

Sobhani hinted at the premise of Iran decreasing Armenia’s vitality dependence on Russia. In a mutually advantageous deal, the two countries agreed in August to develop an new deal whereby Armenia presents Iran with electrical energy in return for natural fuel presents. This affiliation has been in area since 2009 and modified into as a result of pause in 2026, however will now be rolled on, in an it sounds as if enhanced create, till not decrease than 2030.

“Due to that settlement, we are in a position to be in a area to develop imports of electrical energy from Armenia to Iran in commerce for fuel, triple and even quadruple it,” Sobhani talked about.

 Whereas this conception is promising, Russia can quiet play the spoiler.

The Iran-Armenia fuel pipeline, the very instrument which might be historical to wean Armenia off Moscow’s fuel, has belonged to Russian fuel big Gazprom since 2015. Russia has precedent in constraining the aptitude of this route.

Even because the pipeline modified into being designed, Moscow efficiently insisted that its diameter be restricted to 700 millimeters – decrease than the at the beginning supposed 1,420 millimeters – as a reach to get obvious no extra volumes of Iranian fuel would possibly perchance perchance perchance well be equipped onward to 3rd countries. This technical fix restricted the pipeline’s quantity to 2.3 billion cubic meters per year. Indirectly, Gazprom sold Armenia’s total fuel distribution infrastructure outright.

It is not most productive vitality that’s being traded, although.

To expedite other human and business exchanges, an foremost misguided-border toll road working thru Armenia’s southern Syunik area is undergoing a foremost upgrade. In October, the Armenian authorities awarded a $215 million contract to two Iranian companies – Abad Rahan Pars Iranian International Group and Tounel Sad Ariana – to attain the work. As soon as performed, the road will enable motorists to force from Agarak, on the Iranian border, and proceed some 32 kilometers northward across mountainous terrain over 17 bridges and by two tunnels.

The politics is the place it begins to get complex.

Though Iran continuously affirmed Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, it has nonetheless usually seemed as if it would possibly perchance perchance perchance well quietly abet Yerevan’s pursuits.

Here’s playing out at the 2d in wrangling over the so-known as Zangezur Corridor. After the 2d Karabakh Battle in 2020, Azerbaijan regained full swathes of territory, at the side of its total frontier with Iran. Baku began talking another time then of its would like to push ahead with increasing a transportation route across the very southern fringe of Armenia – the Zangezur Corridor – in relate to bridge its mainland territory with its exclave of Nakhchivan.

What Tehran has advanced is an replace. In early October, Iran broke floor on a bridge that would possibly perchance perchance perchance well facilitate faster transit between mainland Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan thru its glean territory, thereby notionally laying aside any need for an Azerbaijani hall thru Armenia.

Iran is working on this distress out of a area of strategic self-passion. It is some distance challenging to forestall a bodily hall at its northern periphery that would possibly perchance perchance perchance well unite the Turkic world and doubtlessly decrease off its get entry to to Armenia and points extra north.

In this month’s interview, Sobhani forcefully reiterated Iran’s opposition to the Zangezur Corridor.

“Our area on that topic has been declared at this kind of level that no one can commerce it,” he talked about, in accordance to CivilNet’s English translation. “Here’s the world of the Supreme Chief of our revolution, who has talked about very clearly that we attain not settle for and attain not tolerate any border or geopolitical adjustments.”

Iranian and Armenian pursuits diverge, alternatively, by reach of the presence of further-regional actors in the South Caucasus, at the side of on the topic of mediation with Azerbaijan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian modified into explicit on this point when he currently talked about: “The presence of foreigners in the world not most productive does not solve the concerns however complicates the distress.”

Armenia an increasing number of favors U.S. and EU mediation, however Tehran would like to trust a look at matters settled exclusively by regional gamers. Iran has accordingly welcomed a 2021 initiative to place a 3+3 layout for talks that would possibly perchance perchance perchance well trust the three South Caucasus nations – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – and the three adjacent regional powers – Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

So much of conferences trust already been held on this layout, most currently on October 23 in Tehran. However minute seems to be to trust reach of them. (The layout is after all misnamed since it is without a doubt 3+2 as Georgia has never agreed to steal part in it.)

In other areas in his interview, Ambassador Sobhani equipped total words of enhance for the 100,000 or so ethnic Armenians displaced by Azerbaijan’s September offensive.  

“We imagine the rights of the other folks of Karabakh ought to be ensured. The rights of every body from Karabakh ought to be ensured. They are able to need to trust the opportunity to command their rights. Here’s a fact that no one, at the side of Azerbaijan, can ignore,” he talked about.

Even though he did not conceal that Iran had any particular policy concerning these other folks, the very mention of Karabakh drew the ire of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. 

“[W]e take be aware of the world of the Iranian Ambassador against our territorial integrity and sovereignty as a provocation. We demand Iran to forestall such steps, that are flawed to the spirit of our family, to boot to to steal mandatory steps concerning the opinions voiced by the Ambassador,” it talked about.

By Lilit Shahverdyan thru

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