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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in the Scope of Accelerating Iran-Armenian Relations

BY ZAUR SHIRIYEV** | 08.06.2011

At present, the international community’s preoccupation with Middle East Unrest overshadows a new trend in Iranian-Armenian political relations affecting the South Caucasus. The officials and former civil servants of Iran have frequently made statements in support of Iranian-Armenian diplomacy. In these statements they express anxiety, about the armament of the region in particular and that Azerbaijan-Armenian conflict will result in a new war.

iran_armeniaIn statements made by third parties, there are accusations that Azerbaijan is developing its military industry.[i] At that stage, the efforts of the Iranian officials to demonstrate political support to Yerevan with their statements[ii] and speeches with uncertain political motives, geopolitical benefit perspective, are seen in the foreground. Iranian-Armenian relations reveal that Yerevan has a specific status in its foreign policy concept and regional policy pursued by Tehran after the Islamic revolution of 1979. This distinct status is not about historical foundations and rationality of relations between two states; on the contrary, it is about shaping and development of relations contradicting both Iran’s foreign policy concept and its national interests. In particular, the two states’ relations went upscale after 2008 August Russia-Georgia war, which resulted in recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia. Russia changed the vector of its military power, as the result the relations between official Tbilisi and Moscow were complicated. This development resulted in the closure of the Georgian “door,” which is the only one way out for Armenia. Namely, the start of the Turkish-Armenian normalization process was directly connected with the plan of the official Yerevan to free itself from the position of “geopolitical pincers” and to prevent the impact of global economic crises to the country through foreign investments.According to Armenian sources, the Yerevan spends significant amount of efforts in developing its relations with Iran and this is the one of the main strategic aim of Armenian foreign policy.[iii]

The data of 2009, Iran had a 4.7% share in exports and 4.9% share in imports of Armenia, which ranked it respectively 9th and 6th among other trade partners of Armenia[iv]. In short, Iran’s export to Armenia less than a 0.05% share in Iran’s GDP. It means that the importance of Armenia’s market for Iranian economy is about one hundred fifth of one percent, i.e. it even does not have any statistical significance. Thus, in the current situation intensification of Iran’s relations with Armenia cannot be considered efficient based on economic indicators as above mentioned, at the same time, in the regional situation, it seems unreasonable that Iran interferes into domestic affairs of Azerbaijan when the latter’s policy is to build close neighborhood and friendship with the official Tehran. Iran, which did not achieve expected economical benefits in the Iranian-Armenian relations and whose plans to get political power over Yerevan through economic support disappeared, stepped into a new in “quality” stage of its relations with the official Yerevan. One may argue that, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem and magnitude of national revival movement among Azerbaijanis in the south made Iran and Armenia strategic partners.

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*Published in Political Reflection Magazine (PR) Vol. 2 | No. 2

** Zaur Shiriyev is a foreign policy analyst at Center for Strategic Studies.

© Copyright 2011 by CESRAN

[1] Former Iranian Ambassador to Armenia: Azerbaijan appeared in isolation, Panarmenian, 09 September 2010, http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2011/02/09/ ambassador-iran/

[2] These statements are outburst of interference into internal affairs of Azerbaijan. See: Former Iranian Ambassador to Armenia: Azerbaijan appeared in isolation http://www. panorama.am/en/politics /2011/02/09/ ambassador-iran/; Azerbaijan’s accumulation of weapons unpleasant, Iranian ambassador says http://news.am/eng/news/47316.html

[3] “Agenda for Armenian Foreign Policy 2009-2010”, Yere­van, Armenia, 2009, s.38, http://www.acgrc.am/Agenda%20 for%20Armenian%20Foreign%20Policy%202009-2010.pdf

[4] Export and import of the Republic of Armenia by countries, 2010, http://www.armstat.am/file/doc/99461633.pdf
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