Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Armenia on a working visit.
Welcoming the Iranian Foreign Minister to Yerevan, Nikol Pashinyan said: “Our good-neighborly relations with Iran are of strategic importance. The common border with Iran has ensured the security of our country in a number of ways ever since the first years of Armenia’s independence. It is my pleasure to note that there is a similar perception in Iran about our relationship.
Our economic ties have developed over several decades, especially in Syunik region; there has always been a great interest in implementing joint projects. We have set up a free economic zone in Meghri with a view to deepening economic exchanges with friendly Iran.
A number of adverse factors, including COVID-19, prevented this free economic zone from gaining enough momentum, but we are convinced that it can become a strong fulcrum for our two countries’ economic development. We are indeed interested in it, and we have already discussed the possibility of deepening our high-level political dialogue. We are similarly holding discussions in the security sphere: there are specific issues high on the bilateral agenda. Armenia-Iran dialogue is of strategic importance, and therefore, we must make efforts to succeed.
You may be aware that some tensions have recently emerged on the border with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani armed forces crossed into Armenia’s sovereign territory in several sections. Our position is unequivocal: all units of Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces must leave our territory. And we are making political-diplomatic efforts to this end, first of all, because our partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization have been urging us from the very first days to try to settle the matter through diplomatic-political means.
You are aware that according to the Collective Security Treaty, aggression against our country implies that other CSTO-member nations should get involved in hostilities. Of course, it is our wish that the issue be resolved through diplomatic and political means. Unfortunately, we had a victim yesterday. A serviceman of the Armenian Armed Forces was killed with a gunshot fired by representatives of Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces. So, the situation is quite tense; this meeting is a good opportunity to learn Iran’s views on ways of addressing the crisis.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister stated, in turn: “Esteemed Prime Minister, let me thank you for providing this opportunity to my colleagues. And let me convey to you warm greetings on behalf of President Rouhani and Mr. Jahangiri. Armenia has always been our good friend; our relations are deeply rooted in centuries. Iran and Armenia are cooperating in several areas as vividly evidenced by the latest visit of the Iranian Minister of Urban Development and Roads, which proved quite successful. And I hope that after the end of this pandemic we will be able to further develop bilateral relations in the economic sphere.
The operations of the Meghri free economic zone, as well as the Iran-Nakhichevan-Armenia railway can be very effective for both countries. A good agreement has been reached. And I hope we will be able to step up the economic activity in Syunik region in the near future. This is the importance we give to bilateral relations.
I have had a very strategic dialogue with our Armenian partners; our representative, our negotiator will arrive in Armenia at the first opportunity as a follow-up to the ongoing dialogue. There are many important issues, both bilateral and regional, that need to be addressed. We want peace in this region. And we have always highlighted the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the peaceful resolution of crises. The Islamic Republic of Iran prioritizes respect for international law.
In order to resolve the recent escalation, three visits were paid from our country to Armenia. I was the first to pay a visit, then our special envoy came to Armenia, and now I am visiting Armenia again. I am sorry that you have been a victim of this new escalation. Yesterday I had a very detailed and meaningful conversation with the President of Azerbaijan. I hope that today’s meeting, like the one I had with my esteemed colleague, will help resolve the crisis. Thank you again.”
The interlocutors went on to discuss the steps aimed at resolving the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The Iranian Foreign Minister assured of his country’s keen interest in reinstating regional stability, preserving and ensuring Armenia’s territorial integrity.
Nikol Pashinyan and Mohammad Javad Zarif touched upon a number of issues related to the further development of cooperation between the two countries in the field of economy. Continued interaction in the frame of the gas / electricity swap program was discussed during the meeting. In particular, the parties considered it necessary to extend the term of the program, step up the volume of gas and electricity exchanged, implement joint infrastructure projects and expand relations in the fields of education and culture.
The Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran exchanged views on the joint efforts aimed at addressing the current situation and achieving stability and lasting peace in the region.