YEREVAN (ARMENPRESS)—In an interview with Armenpress, Mohammad Raiesi, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Armenia, discusses the recent deal struck between Iran and six global powers over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran-West relations, the importance of joint Armenian-Iranian projects, and a possible visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Armenia.
Armenpress: Mr. Ambassador, a historic agreement was signed in Vienna which is being called by many analysts the agreement of the century.
Raiesi: Any event taking place in any country can be a turning point and a historical reality for that country. This agreement which was signed in Lausanne, then in Vienna, can be considered a historical one. For years, the West did everything to hurt Iran and by hurting Iran, the East also suffered losses. The agreement between Iran and the six world powers is important in many aspects.
First of all, Iran, not complying with the demands, resisted, and after overcoming many difficulties was finally able to reach an agreement with the other sides. Secondly, the worst and the most difficult problem can be solved through negotiations. Probably no one could imagine that such a serious problem could be solved by means of negotiations. Thus, these negotiations will get registered in the history of world diplomacy, it will be taught at schools and it’ll serve a good example for international conflict resolution.
As a result of this agreement, the United Nations Security Council’s seven resolutions and the sanctions against Iran are cancelled, and the right of uranium enrichment and nuclear research is officially entitled to Iran. The West claims that Iran made certain concessions in producing nuclear weapons in the case that Iran never had any aim of producing it. I hope that other international conflicts will be solved in this way.
Armenpress: There’s a viewpoint in Armenia that big Armenian-Iranian projects that require serious financial investments are not brought to life because of Western sanctions. Do you agree with this viewpoint?
Raiesi: Yes. I am of the opinion that if there were no sanctions, the projects would have been realized. One of the widely discussed projects is the construction of an Armenia-Iran railway.
Armenpress: The President of the Republic of Armenia spoke about the importance of the construction of the railway during the meeting at Ufa last week. What can we expect from this project?
Raiesi: The project has regional significance and in the case of its realization Armenia will become a regional transit corridor between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Transfers will be conducted to northern countries through Armenia from the southern neighbors of East Asia and Iran. It will become a north-south corridor. Goods from India, Pakistan will be transited through Armenia, including Europe. The project needs considerable investments. If there is a company that wants to implement the project it will be very good. For one part of the project (from Meghri to Sevan) $3,200,000,000 USD is needed. We have announced so many times that if there is an investor to allocate funds for the Armenian part of the project, we are ready to build up to 60 kilometers in our part. Like the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sarkissian, I agree that this project is very important.
Armenpress: Mr. Ambassador, what are the Armenian-Iranian economic relations today? Is the growth of the trade turnover visible during the recent years?
Raiesi: Notwithstanding the high level of political relations between the two countries, the economic ties are considerably behind. It was intended that trade turnover reached 1 billion USD, but it does not exceed 300 million. One of the reasons for that are the laws. We should smooth these issues and facilitate conditions that help the businessmen of the two countries implement their businesses comfortably. There are countries with which Iran has signed agreements with preferential tariffs, and statistics show that after the signing of these agreements, the economic relations and trade turnover developed immediately. There are some very important issues with trade. One of them is the simplification of laws and transparency. Customs laws should be transparent. Iran has cooperated with Armenia for 22 years, but we still do not have an agreement on preferential tariffs. If Armenia and Iran also sign a visa-free regime agreement, it will also help develop tourism.
Armenpress: 2015 is a very important year for Armenia. We commemorated the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Iran is among the countries that has not yet officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. Why?
Raiesi: We always honor the memory of the victims and on April 24 the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran attended the commemoration events in Yerevan. We respect the memory of the victims. We always condemn the massacre of innocent people.
Armenpress: When can we expect the visit of President Hassan Rouhani to Armenia?
Raiesi: We hope that the visit will take place this year. I cannot say the concrete time right now. Works are carried out in this direction. In the nearest future the visit of the First Vice President to Armenia is expected and after that we will be consistent for the visit of Mr. Rouhani.