Armenia-Iran relations: Pashinyan`s new reverence

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Baku, 5 March 2019 –

Armenian Prime Minister N.Pashinyan was given a solemn welcome in Tehran. Red carpets were rolled out, and the Iranian president and Supreme Leader treated ''the hero of the Armenian velvet revolution'' with special warmth. They even gave some promises to N.Pashinyan. After their one-on-one meeting, H.Rouhani and N.Pashinyan announced that they reached agreement on a number of issues. N.Pashinyan singled out the possibility of creating a free trade zone between Armenia and Iran, describing Armenia`s chairmanship of the Eurasian Economic Union as a good opportunity in this respect. H.Rouhani underlined the importance of building cooperation in a range of areas. The two mainly discussed the implementation of gas projects. These developments happened amid tense and complex geopolitical situation in the region. What is the real geopolitical meaning of this visit, which at first sight looks like an attempt to challenge the United States and Russia? In this article we will give an answer to this question.

''Independent'' slave: Fakeness of Armenian policy

The Armenian media have rushed to make another dog and pony show of the prime minister`s visit to Iran. Some went further in their exaggeration to even describe the visit as the globally important one or call Armenia ''a global geopolitical player''. But we remain calm since we have repeatedly seen the Armenians` wild exaggerations. A look at the issue from a geopolitical perspective raises some questions. What is most interesting is what official Yerevan wants to do.

The Armenian political leadership has produced another fake. During his trip to Germany N.Pashinyan declared that he would visit Iran. He seems to demonstrate that Armenia supports Europe rather that the United States on the Iranian issue. But does Iran`s supporting or not supporting Yerevan make sense? This tiny vassal has neither potential no resources to exert any influence on the global politics. What can help Armenia make any changes on the Iran issue? Absolutely nothing. It can only fly into an ideological hysteria.

The Armenian leadership is now trying to pull the country out of the crisis that it has been hit by for many years. The entire world knows that Armenia is Russia`s satellite state. Independence of this country is out of question in a true sense of the word. This is why no large investor even thinks of investing in Armenia. N.Pashinyan is trying to change this situation. But how? Armenia, which does not possess any resources, has no other option than maneuvering and forming impression. The first thing the Armenians did was to try to change the country`s image. They started using epithets such as ''velvet revolution'', ''democracy'', ''human rights'', ''fight against corruption'' in order to give an impression that Armenia is part of the civil world. In any country that he visits N.Pashinyan expresses his pride in the Armenians as if they are advocates of freedom, knights and representatives of the freedom-loving nation. But it`s a historical fact that writers, scientists, politicians and researches wrote: ''you are a coward, you are a slave, you are an Armenian''.

And N.Pashinyan returns with empty hands from foreign visits. He has not managed to sign any serious cooperation deal with a foreign country – everybody is satisfied with promises. Now they are trying to change this situation in Iran. Why Iran? They chose Iran for three reasons from a geopolitical point of view. Firstly, the United States has taken a very tough attitude towards Iran. So the Armenians think that by visiting Tehran and signing a document there N.Pashinyan demonstrates that Yerevan is pursuing an independent policy even despite Washington. However, the U.S. former ambassador to Armenia openly said that N.Pashinyan is their child. The Russians even got offended and warned N.Pashinyan.

Secondly, by visiting Iran and discussing the issue of gas there, N.Pashinyan hopes to demonstrate that Armenia does not depend on Russia in terms of energy. But it is absurd. Even Armenian experts admit that N.Pashinyan cannot sign any serious deal with Iran because 80 percent of Armenia`s power distribution system is in Russia`s hands. The only possible scenario here could be Russia`s supplying gas to Georgia, and Iran`s supplying gas to Armenia. But whether this will happen or not is a question because the geopolitical situation in the region is such that any cooperation requires harmony of a large number of factors. Armenia is not capable of ensuring this harmony.

Thirdly, Armenia is trying to create a wrong impression that it has the potential for regional cooperation. The Armenian media are doing their utmost to propagate this. The Iranian leadership is interested in cooperating with Armenia on gas as well as in Iran-Armenia-Georgia and Iran-Armenia-Russia formats. Iranian gas could be transported to the Black Sea through Armenia. We well understand the real reason behind the Armenians` hysteria. Armenia is seriously concerned about Azerbaijan`s successful implementation of trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation formats. And the Armenian political leadership is doing its best to create an alternative to these formats. Some are ready to help Yerevan with this. N.Pashinyan`s Iran visit is thought-provoking in this regard.

Friendship with the aggressor: what will be the consequences?

Iran`s President H.Rouhani highly praised relations between the two countries as well as cooperation prospects. He pointed out the possibility of Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Russia cooperation, saying they consider this format in the context of the North-South corridor. H.Rouhani also said they discussed with N.Pashinyan the issue of the connection of the Gulf with the Black Sea. The two also exchanged views over electricity sector.

But despite all this Iran and Armenia signed only two documents in which both countries only expressed their intention to cooperate in the field of economy. And this is the only result of the "productive” visit! But experts draw attention to the Iranian leadership`s very warm and friendly attitude towards the Armenian prime minister in Tehran. N.Pashinyan`s visit to the Iranian capital came on the 27th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide, which is definitely not a coincidence. In addition, Iranian officials remained silent when N.Pashinyan took a selfie in front of a banner doubting Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity during his visit to Tehran, which is also thought-provoking. Apparently, several factors played a role here. Firstly, Iran is in a very difficult economic situation. The U.S. sanctions are aimed at bringing Iran`s economy on its knees. And as a drowning man will catch at a straw, Iran is hoping to get access to Europe through Armenia.

The second factor may be Iran`s traditional competition with Russia in gas sector. For years Tehran has been proposing large-scale gas projects to Yerevan, but Gazprom has been ruining hopes of both Iran and Armenia. Official Tehran is trying to take advantage of N.Pashinyan`s vow to reduce dependence on Moscow. Iran hopes to get some benefit from increasing gas supply to Armenia and then through transit to Georgia.

Finally, Iran may try to show the U.S., Russia and Turkey that it is an independent regional player. The things are clear with the United States. Russia now prefers to reckon with Turkey on the Syrian issue. Iran has gone into the background. This is why some forces in Iran are trying to call Armenia ''a friend and fraternal'' country.

However, it is difficult to believe that Iran can go far in this because Armenia is not kind of a partner that you can do serious business with. Tehran should not forget that it is seeking cooperation with the country that keeps one fifth of Azerbaijan`s territory under occupation. In fact, as a Muslim state Iran should demand that Armenia withdraw from Azerbaijan`s occupied lands. But the Iranian leadership says the conflict should be solved peacefully. This means that certain forces in Iran want the current consequences of the Armenian occupation remain unchanged. However, we believe that the people of Iran have different opinion and the people know well how to expresses their will.

In Tehran, N.Pashinyan described the U.S. sanctions on Iran as unjust, which is nothing but a cheap show. In fact, what the Armenian prime minister said in Iran was just an absurd statement, which does not carry any geopolitical weight. So there is a little possibility that Washington would react to N.Pashinyan.

The aforementioned proves that the Armenian prime minister`s Iran visit did not produce any real results and was mainly aimed at propaganda. His meeting with and pathetic address to the Armenian community in Iran was part of populist promises. To remain on the political map, Armenia first and foremost needs to get rid of its dependence on Russia. But it is impossible. Even Armenia`s chairmanship of the Eurasian Economic Union cannot change the situation. Yerevan cannot take any step beyond Moscow`s will. This means that Iran-Armenia cooperation will have no serious implications for the regional geopolitical processes. But regional countries have a good chance to see who is who. Against this background, Iran does not seem to have good prospects. Cooperation with the aggressor is a big mistake and such an attitude will not bring anything good.

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