YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 26, ARMENPRESS. The diplomatic relations between Armenia and Iran have been established since the first days of the independence when on December 25, 1991 the Islamic Republic of Armenia has officially recognized the independence of Armenia. A declaration on the establishment of diplomatic ties between Armenia and Iran has been signed in Tehran on February 9, 1992. On the same day the declaration on the principles and goals of the relations between Armenia and Iran has been signed according to which the sides were reaffirming their plan to establish friendly relations. The official opening ceremony of the Iranian Embassy in Yerevan was held in April 1992, and the opening of the Armenian Embassy in Tehran took place in December 1992.
During this period nearly three dozen mutual visits have taken place between the two states at different levels. The last visit from Iran at the presidential level took place in December 2016 when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Armenia. In August 2017 then President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan visited Iran. During 1992-2018 more than 180 documents have been signed between Armenia and Iran.
The meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan met with Hassan Rouhani in New York in September 2018. At the meeting they discussed various issues of the Armenian-Iranian relations agenda. The officials attached importance to the development of the economic cooperation. They emphasized the need to take practical steps to boost the commercial ties and utilize the existing potential.
Nikol Pashinyan stated that the Armenian-Iranian relations have a unique nature and they should continue developing based on firm friendly ties.
In his turn, the Iranian President said there is a high level of trust between the two countries. According to him, the Armenian community plays a key role in his country and enjoys a great respect among the Iranian people. As for the economic partnership, Hassan Rouhani expressed confidence that the agreement on forming a free trade zone signed with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will enable to further deepen the Armenian-Iranian economic cooperation.
Nikol Pashinyan and Hassan Rouhani also touched upon the cooperation in different sectors, including energy, road construction, as well as issues relating to the improvement of logistic conditions.
Hassan Rouhani invited Pashinyan to Iran and expressed confidence that the visit will enable to more comprehensively discuss the ways of enlarging the bilateral cooperation. The Armenian PM will visit Iran on February 27.
Programs carried out so far
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations the two countries have implemented a number of programs in different directions. Those are the construction of a bridge on River Araks connecting Iran to Armenia n 1996, the thermal power plants at the Pushkin Pass in 2005, the Meghri-Shvanidzor-Tsav-Daravan road in October 2007. The opening of the first section of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline took place in 2007. The construction of the second section completed in November 2008.
Although the level of the Armenia-Iran economic relations is not in accordance with that of the political relations, the sides are making efforts to record new achievements in the bilateral economic partnership, such as increasing the Iranian gas volumes supplied to Armenia, uniting the north-south (Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Russia) energy systems, construction of thermal power plants in Armenia with a 50MW total capacity, establishment of cooperation in the field of free economic zones and etc.
At the moment the gas-electricity exchange program is being implemented. The issue of expanding the program is being discussed. The construction of the third Armenia-Iran power line is in process. The implementation of this program will greatly increase the exchange and sales volumes of gas and electricity. The Meghri free economic zone, Turkmenistan-Iran-Armenia gas exchange programs, the construction of hydropower plants on the River Araks and etc. are in process.
Following Armenia’s independence, close, friendly relations have gradually been established with Iran in all areas. A productive cooperation has been set up in the fields of energy, transportation, nature protection, healthcare, agriculture, science, education, culture and inter-regional partnership.
According to the data provided by the Armenian ministry of economic development and investments, 5301 companies with an Iranian capital, mainly individual entrepreneurs, are registered in Armenia as of January 1, 2019: this number comprises 36.6% of the total number of foreign companies registered in Armenia. The major companies with the Iranian capital in Armenia are representing the fields of IT, processing industry, construction and real estate, trade, agriculture, tourism and transport.
Armenia’s trade turnover with Iran in 2018 comprised 363.62 million USD which increased by 40.5% against 2017 (258.8 million USD). The export from Armenia to Iran in 2018 comprised 94.2 million USD, which increased by 12% against 2017 (84.1 million USD). The import comprised 269.42 million USD, which increased by 54.2% against 2017 (174.7 million USD).
The study of the dynamic of the Armenia-Iran trade turnover over the past three years shows that an increase in trade turnover has been registered in the last two years.
Iran was ranked 6th in the list of Armenia’s main foreign trade partners in 2017, whereas in 2018 it was the 5th in the list.
In recent years activeness is noticed in the visits of Iranian tourists to Armenia. Starting from 2014, including 2017, the tourist visits from Iran to Armenia have dynamically increased. 116.324 Iranian tourists visited Armenia in 2014, 144.160 in 2015, 188.851 in 2016 and 220.147 in 2017. A decline was recorded in 2018, the number of visitors comprised 160.645. Armenia’s Tourism Committee informed that the decline is connected with the economic situation of Iran.
At the same time it’s worth stating that the tourism season in Armenia has already been extended and the active tourism season launches in March instead of April, mainly due to the Iranian tourist visits. Iranians celebrate their New Year – Novruz, in March and prefer to spend their holidays in Armenia.
On June 5, 2016, Armenia and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the visits of the citizens without visa which has been ratified by the Armenian Parliament on June 17, 2016. On December 21, 2016, Armenia’s ministry of economic development and investments and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handcraft and Tourism Organization have signed a MoU on the cooperation in the tourism sector.
The actions taken within the frames of the cooperation aim at further strengthening the Armenia-Iran tourism partnership, increasing the number of tourist visits between the two countries, forming a joint regional tourism result and properly presenting it in the international market. In particular, a cognitive visit for the Armenian and Iranian tour operators and specialized journalists has been organized which derives from the protocol of the Armenia-Iran joint inter-governmental commission.
Prepared by Anna Gziryan
Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan