In a context of the meeting between president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and president of IRI Hasan Rohani that took place on August 6 in Iran many Armenian opinion-makers and orientalists commented on the results of the visit in various media and social networks.
Words of Iranian president that Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved exclusively through political means and regional peace and stability is very important for his country have caused great anxiety. Some orientalists interpreted this statement as clear message to Azerbaijan. Thus, for example, according to Armen Israyelyan, expert on Iran, «With regard to security, statement of president of Iran on Nagorno-Karabakh issue was very important. During the meeting with Serzh Sargsyan Rohani said that Iran would do everything to prevent destabilization at its borders. This is primarily an important message addressed to Azerbaijan».
Meanwhile, according to IRI president official website the president said: «For Iran it is very important to have full security around its borders. We hope that due to attempts and initiatives of two neighboring countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan, we will witness the peaceful resolution of the issue. If both parties demonstrate clear will to resolve the conflict peacefully, there are ways for possible solutions». Such statements on Karabakh conflict are the norm in diplomacy, they were made by Iranian political figures (including Rohani) many times and carry no new information. Certainly, Iran strives to have safe borders, but this sentence should not be considered as a message addressed to Azerbaijan in any way.
Iran and Azerbaijan issues
Many orientalists presenting Iran as pro-Armenian country in Karabakh conflict issue frequently mention that Tehran has a number of contradictions with Baku. Thus, for instance, expert on Iran Aharon Vardanyan mentioned in his interview to Aravot.am: «It is not a secret that Iran and Azerbaijan have many problems in various fields». Nevertheless, even taking into consideration IRI concern about Azerbaijan’s policy on Iranian Azerbaijan province, it is difficult to describe relations between Tehran and Baku since 2013 as negative and having numerous problems. On the contrary, during the presidency of Hassan Rohani, Baku and Tehran took a number of steps to settle former disputes. Azerbaijan is particularly interested in this issue, it takes concrete steps to establish Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran close cooperation. In order to achieve this goal president of Azerbaijan Aliyev even took а stance on Syria pleasant to Iran.
In recent years construction of Astara-Rasht-Kazvin railway has had special strategic significance in the relations of two countries; the opening of the railway is scheduled for this year. In 2015 average annual volume of trade between Iran and Azerbaijan constituted about 500 millions. Whereas future of the Armenia-Iran railway, to put it mildly, is vague, and trade turnover with our country in recent years constituted half of the turnover Iran-Azerbaijan. The highest volume of trade between Armenia and Iran was in 2012 constituting 328 million dollars. Afterwards it declined significantly (last year IRI-RA trade volume decreased by 15%).
Moreover, regular monitoring of the Iranian press clearly shows that Azerbaijan has made considerable progress in pro-Azeri lobbying and propaganda in IRI in the past years. Consequently, strive of some experts on Iran and political scientists to present Iran’s attitude towards Azerbaijan as negative and towards Armenia as positive in the eyes of RA inner audience seems to be questionable.
If these trends were not so widespread, it would have been possible to think that it is just wishful thinking of some orientalists, but the wide scope prevalence of the phenomenon suggests that either in Armenia people do not understand how international relations are carried out, or an organized attempt is made to show RA-IRI relations as an example of success of current authorities’ foreign policy. This definitely contradicts to the conclusions made from comparison between economic indicators and Armenia-Iran, on one hand, and Azerbaijan-Iran, on the other hand, programs. There is clear reality and objective facts, and their correct perception is important for promoting future Armenian-Iranian relations and one day really becoming the only regional partner for Iran.