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NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR IRAN AND ARMENIA

Karen Tovmasyan

The change in the foreign political climate in Armenia's neighborhood has become one of the main topics of discussion in Armenia. Representatives of political parties, experts, and business people discuss what advantages Armenia can get from this deal, how this deal can change the role of Armenia in the region, and how Armenia can  use these changes.

At the end of the Lausanne negotiations,  the Armenian Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement greeting the success of the negotiations and expressed hope, that the agreement will support  regional stability and strengthen  cooperation in the region.

The optimism of the Foreign Affairs Ministry was shared by the former spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, now the head of the foreign affairs committee of Armenian National Congress opposition party. Vladimir Karapetyan says that though the sides haven't reached a final agreement yet,  the success registered during these negotiations will have a positive impact on Armenia and regional stability.

"I think that even in this conditions, still there are many possibilities for effective cooperation between Armenia and Iran, but elimination of the sanctions will open new opportunities for mutual cooperation between our countries," says Karapetyan. 

The "Heritage" parliamentary opposition party  positions itself as pro-Western. It also welcomed the agreement.

In a statement, the party wrote that these agreements create a unique opportunity for a long-lasting peace in the region and a new opportunity for joint projects between Iran and Armenia.

Not only opposition parties are full of optimism over the Lausanne deal. Pro-government Dashnakcutyun party  representative Kiro Manoyan says the agreement between Iran and the World powers will have a positive impact on Armenia. "If the relations between Iran and the World powers finally improve,  it will give new opportunities to Armenia and Iran. It will help to develop and strengthen our relations with Iran and open a new door for joint regional projects," says Manoyan.

Taking into account the blockades of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan, it is evident that along with Russia and Georgia, Iran is one of the key partners for Armenia in the region. This is why the main political parties of Armenia have expectations from the elimination of Iranian sanctions.

Political experts and business people also have big expectations. They already calculate what opportunities these new developments can give to Armenia.

The chairman of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen, Arsen Khazaryan, focuses on the importance of the Iranian transit for Armenia. "We have lost the Iranian transit. Before we were transferring some of our goods coming from the Far East through the Iranian ports, but because of the strengthening of sanctions imposed on Iran since 2014, it became impossible to use Iranian ports. None of the big shipping companies use the Iranian ports, which is why we have to use only the ports of Poti and Batumi".

The head of the Iranian studies department at Yerevan State University, Vardan Voskanyan, also says the change in the foreign political climate over Iran will have a positive impact for Armenian economy, but he says Armenia must understand that the positive changes will not come immediately, since the sanctions against Iran will be eliminated step-by-step.

Voskanyan says that after the elimination of sanctions, Armenia will feel positive changes, trade will  increase, and that can push forward joint projects such as Iran-Armenia railway, construction of a new pipeline, and a hydroelectric station in Meghri. In addition, Armenia will have a route to Bandar Abas, which will play a significant role in diversification of foreign trade.

Gohar Iskandaryan, an expert in Iranian politics, has more modest expectations from the elimination of Iranian sanctions. She says that Iran is not that interested in Armenia-Iran railway, since Iran has access to the sea and has railway connections with Pakistan, India and the Far East.

"The  construction of the railway seems hardly to be possible, as  it will take formidable resources from Armenia,  and its economic benefit is suspicious," concludes Iskandaryan .

She says there are still several opportunities for effective joint projects, and that one of most feasible is the planned  construction of a joint hydroelectric station in the Armenian town of Meghri .