Iranian Ambassador: New Window Opens Up for Iran-Armenia Relations
Ani Nazaryan of Armenpress held an interview with the Iranian ambassador to Armenia Seyed Kazem Sajadi ahead of February 11, the national holiday of Iran. February 11 is a national holiday in Iran, the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Mr. Ambassador, what does this holiday mean to the people in Iran? This holiday is one of the most important and symbolic holidays in Iran. This week is called Ten Days of Dawn, and it was on these days when the leader of the revolution Imam Khomeini entered the country after which was followed by the victory of the Islamic Revolution. When Imam Khomeini entered Iran, innumerable demonstrations were organized to topple the regime of the Shah. On the day it happened, people kept Imam Khomeini in their hearts as the great leader of the revolution in Iran. The Ten Days of Down is celebrated solemnly. A lot of events took place in schools, government agencies. On February 11 people visit the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, honor him, lay flowers to his grave, a march takes place through which the Iranians express their unity and faith in the Islamic Revolution. How will the holiday be marked in Armenia? February 11 is the national holiday if the Islamic Republic of Iran. Events are organized not only in Armenia but also all the countries where the Islamic Republic of Iran has an embassy. On this day an official diplomatic reception is organized. Public officials, government representatives and other guests are invited. A celebration is held with Iranians and representatives of organizations which are anyhow related to our country. Let’s go back to the Iranian-Armenian relations. Mr. Ambassador, it is always stressed at the highest levels in our country that Iran is our friend, it is highly appreciated that your country treats well our cultural heritage and the big Armenian community. Do you see a potential to deepen bilateral relations in this context? In Iran we respect all the regions. I must say that Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians enjoy the respect of the Iranian people and they even have their representatives in the parliament. They are considered our compatriots. We create good conditions for them and respect their religion and customs. We respect their historical and cultural values, shrines, churches, and the Iranian government takes actions towards their protection. Creating favorable conditions ensures peaceful coexistence of ethnicities and the Muslim community. As to the potential for further deepening the relations, over these four months that I’ve been in Armenia, you have probably read and seen what a new window has opened in the relations of our two countries. I think that our countries want to further develop relations. What are the main directions of deepening of our relations, in your opinion? The political relations are at a high level, and we don’t have any limitations for their development. As to economic relations, activity is noticed there, including in terms of exchange of gas and electricity. The issue of construction of the Iran-Armenia railway is on the agenda, as well as the construction of the North-South highway. Despite a lot of talk, there does not seem to be progress relating to this matter, I would like to know at what stage this program is, and how probable it is. Agreement has been reached in the framework of the Iranian visit of the Armenian minister of transport and community on the visit of a group of specialists and experts to Armenia to conduct a feasibility study and see into all the necessary circumstances. It will happen in the nearest future. Experts think that in the region Armenia may connect Iran and the West, on the one hand, and Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, on the other hand. What is Iran’s opinion on the use of this possibility? There is a lot of talk about this. As to Iran’s access to the Eurasian Economic Union through Armenia, Iran is studying Iran’s interests in case of accessing the market through this path. A few days ago two big economic delegations visited Armenia. They had come to study the situation on the spot and identify the opportunities that may open up for Iran in case of accessing the aforementioned market via Armenia. I think that Armenia must take the first step and facilitate the participation of Iranian entrepreneurs to create opportunities for such cooperation. I must note that the Iranian side is committed to cooperate with Armenia to operate factories, trade complexes. There is commitment but Armenia must be presented to the Iranian side at its best for them to come and make investments here. On the other hand, it is necessary to draw the attention of the entrepreneurs of Armenia to the circumstance that the sanctions on Iran have been lifted and rather favorable conditions have been created. A lot of entrepreneurs are arriving in Iran to negotiate economic cooperation. We must work towards activating the Iran-Armenia relations similarly. Iran is willing to cooperate with Armenia to supply the necessary goods. I forgot to mention that a big business conference was organized during the visit of the first deputy president of Iran Mr. Jahangiri to Armenia with Armenian and Iranian entrepreneurs, a similar conference was organized in Iran too.