President Robert Kocharian, Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian–who doubles as secretary of the National Security Council–and other top officials underscored the importance of Armenia’s relations with Iran during the visit of Hojatolislam Hassan Rowhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, to Yerevan on July 16-17. According to official Yerevan’s accounts, Kocharian declared that “resolution of regional security problems is not possible without Iran’s participation.” Prime Minister Andranik Margarian stated that “the presence of a powerful Iran in the region is one of the guarantees of Armenia’s security.”
On the economic front, the Armenian leaders urged Iran to finance the joint projects that have long been under discussion. These include a 140-kilometer pipeline to bring Iranian gas to Armenia, a tunnel in Kajaran that would significantly shorten the road link between northern Iran and Yerevan, and the hydropower project on the Arax/Araz River. With Armenia unable to cover part of the costs, these plans are stalled.
Kocharian accepted Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s invitation to pay an official visit to Tehran this year. The Iranian side now seems prepared to discuss those projects in a more clearly defined geostrategic context, as part of a North-South, Russia-Armenia-Iran corridor or “axis” (Noyan-Tapan, Snark, Azg, Tehran Times, IRNA, July 17-19).
FUTILE DISCUSSIONS IN TBILISI.