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    Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Yerevan: Tehran not in bad terms with invader - COMMENT

    Iran’s behavior thwarts union it seeks

    Baku. 20 December. REPORT.AZ/ Visit program of Hassan Rouhani to Yerevan has been revealed at last. We say ‘at last’ because Yerevan expected this visit to take place in second decade of November. No official statement was made on the reason of delay.

    Spokesman of Iran’s presidential administration Parviz Ismaili announced that H.Rouhani will visit Armenia on December 21 as a part of activities towards deepening and strengthening ties with neighboring countries.

    According to him, H.Rouhani will meet with his Armenian counterpart and discuss development of bilateral ties.

    Iranian president will also talk over bilateral issues with Armenian officials. The sides will sign number of agreements as a result of negotiations and hold business forum with participation of entrepreneurs of both countries.

    H.Rouhani will travel to Kazakhstan after Armenia. In one-day trip Rouhani will meet with president Nursultan Nazarbayev. The sides will sign number of cooperation agreements, after which both presidents will hold a press conference.

    On December 22, H.Rouhani will travel to Republic of Kyrgyzstan. The sides will sign several agreements on cooperation and hold business forum.

    Some ministers and heads of Iranian companies will accompany H.Rouhani in his trip.

    The trip will end on December 23.

    In fact, Armenian officials are impatiently waiting for Iranian president. Dominating assumptions in political circles of Yerevan that the Islamic republic forgets Armenians raises anxiety. After trilateral meeting of presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran in Baku on August 8, Armenian press wrote that Moscow and Tehran pay more attention to Azerbaijan and Russia and Iran forgot Armenia.

    But visit of first vice-president of Iran Eshag Jahangiri to Yerevan on October 14 cooled down Armenians.

    Generally, establishment of goodwill relations between any two countries is praiseworthy development.

    But the important point in expansion and development of ties between Iran and Armenia is that Tehran recognizes Yerevan as an invader and at the same time expands all-round cooperation with aggressor.

    Moreover, intervention of Tehran officials, pro-Iranians to internal affairs of Azerbaijan Republic, forces us to pay attention to relations between Armenia and Islamic Republic.

    Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu visited Azerbaijan on December 13, and from Baku flied to Kazakhstan.

    From this point of view, this can be one of reasons of postponement of H.Rouhani’s November visit to Armenia. In other words, Iran tries to protest or put pressure on Azerbaijan with this step.

    Because, relations between Islamic republic and Armenia based on friendship and brotherhood have started a long before. Tehran reckons Yerevan as one of its main allies since its independence. One is true, based on United Nations resolutions on occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia, Iran admits that Erivan is an invader in meetings of international organizations. But there is a proverb: “One does not need a guide when the village is in sight”. As the proverb says Islamic Republic is not sincere in its approach to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In other words, Tehran expands all round cooperation with the country, which it recognizes as an invader. This also means a support to Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories in Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring districts.

    Iran’s minister of industry, mine and trade Mahammadrza Nemetzade recently stressed importance of expanding joint investments and trade turnover between Yerevan and Tehran: “We are keen to develop relations with Armenia”.

    Development of ties with Yerevan comes out from Tehran’s intention to ensure its interests in Southern Caucasus and Caucasus as a whole. The easiest way to materialize this desire and intention is to use Armenia. Iran puts pressure on Azerbaijan and Turkey through cooperation with Armenia. Moreover, prospectively, Iran can use this “card” even against Russia.

    Beside common economic interests, common enemies are the factor, which unites Yerevan and Tehran.

    As Iran and Armenia were kept apart from regional projects, which meet Azerbaijan’s interests, they try to realize various plans.

    Construction of high-voltage electricity line between Armenia and Iran is underway. The third line between two countries is expected to be launched in 2018.

    According to first vice president of Iran Eshag Jahangiri, they have already clarified issues related to schedules of construction of hydro-power station near to Iranian border in Megri district of Armenia and gas distributing network in neighboring regions.

    After signing agreement with western countries and USA on Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran and Yerevan signed 120 million USD agreement to resume construction of third high-voltage electric line.

    According to information of Armenian national statistics service, trade turnover between Armenia and Iran in first 8 months of this year was 178 million US dollars. Iran is forth biggest trade partner of Armenia, after European Union, Russia and China.

    But according to non-official information, real Trade turnover between Armenia and Islamic Republic amounts 400 million USD.

    Investment program for North-South international transport corridor and Armenia-Iran railway project is another suspended project. But the sides haven’t yet found funds for realization of this project.

    Armenia pretends to be intermediary for Iran’s admission to Eurasian Economic Union. This is a ridiculous assumption. Because Russia is the main sponsor of this organization. If Tehran has such a desire, they have all kind of possibilities to talk directly with Moscow. Iran doesn’t conceal its intention to access the Black Sea through Armenian and Georgian territories.

    From this point of view, Tehran attaches a special importance to construction of automobile road and railway connecting Iran with Armenia. Tehran assumes that this will enable to access from the Gulf to Black Sea and then to Bulgaria.

    But to realize this project, there must be an agreement among Armenia, Iran, Georgia and Bulgaria.

    Armenia intends to connect its railways with Iran. This issue was reflected in election platform of Armenia’s current president Serzh Sargsyan. But there is no step forward taken in this direction since 2008. Source to provide 3.2 billion USD needed for this “strategic project” hasn’t been determined yet.

    Yerevan hopes that China will provide funds for this project.

    Official Tehran says the part of railway until Iranian Julfa is operational, but the 60km part until Armenian Megri needs to be restored. Major part of the railway in Armenian territory must be reconstructed. But Armenian side wants to be sure that if they start this work, Iran will also complete the works in its territory.

    Energy minister of Islamic Republic of Iran Hamid Chitchiyan told in opening ceremony of joint Iran-Armenia inter-governmental commission: “Iran is ready to expand cooperation with Armenia. Upcoming visit of Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan to Tehran creates opportunities for economic and energy cooperation between two countries”.

    In first years after Islamic revolution Iran rejected to import meat from former Soviet Union, because they told the animals weren’t cut in accordance with Islamic rules. After Moscow and Tehran found common ground in political issues, import of meat from Soviets was sanctioned. In other words, that meat was announced as “halal”.

    Armenia exports mutton to Iran. This year the export of meat from Armenia to Iran tripled.

    The amount of meat export in 2015 was 681 tons, while by December 2, 2016 the export of meat from Armenia to Iran made up 2200 tons.

    Iranian specialists recently traveled to Armenia. They studied opportunities for development of cattle-breeding, floriculture, greenhouses and fishery in Armenia.

    Although Islamic Republic considers Israel as an enemy, it is widely known that pistachios from gardens of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani are sold in Israeli market. It seems Tehran has tradition to have trade with invaders and those whom it reckons an enemy.

    There are numerous examples of economic, political, social, military ties between two countries. In his visit to Yerevan Hasan Rouhani will probably discuss Nagorno-Karabakh issue and declare their support to “peaceful resolution” of the conflict, without naming aggressor (as though both parties – Armenia and Azerbaijan are equally guilty), through ‘decorative’ statement.

    So the visit of president of Islamic Republic will be finalized. Mass media in Tehran and Yerevan will entitle it a “historic visit”.

    Thus, Hasan Rouhani wants to act like Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Iran demonstrates its strategic interests. Tries to show Armenia as its most trustworthy partner in the region. The visit to Kazakhstan mainly concerns energy issues.

    Tehran government blames Muslim states, including Azerbaijan, for being unconcerned with rights of Palestinian Arabs. But Azerbaijan has diplomatic office in Palestine. It means that Azerbaijan is sincere and interested in settlement of the conflict.

    Tehran government tries to materialize its stubbornness towards Israel in Azerbaijan. That’s why it tries to use Palestine “card” so irrelevantly. But it is not secret that Iran tries to put pressure on international community and Muslim states of the region through Palestine issue. Persisting Israel-Palestine conflict is for the benefit of Islamic Republic and they use it from time to time.

    By the way, Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyid Ali Khamenei in his meeting with leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, told that, if Muslim states unite, it is possible to eliminate Israel in 25 years.

    But Iranian government, with its policies, defends invaders like Armenia.

    Iran’s behaviors thwart the union it seeks.

    That’s why, H.Rouhani, with his visit to Yerevan, repeats previous political moves and once again demonstrates that their attitude towards Azerbaijan, its occupied lands and the invader remains unchanged.

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