24 June 2004

SNSC In Favor Of Boosting Relations With Armenia: Rowhani

The relations between Iran and Armenia could serve as a model for other countries in the region. History and Geography play a big role in these relations. Persia and Armenia share a history that goes back many centuries, to the time when the same Dynasty or branch of it was ruling the two countries. In recent times, present day Armenia came under the control of Russians after the defeat of the Persians in the Caucasus (early 19th century). Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, was, until then, the headquarters of the Persian ruling provincial Khan. To only functional mosque in Yerevan (the Blue Mosque) is a remnant of that era.

Geography indicates that Armenia is the passage for Iran to the North (to Russia and the Black Sea specifically). In the same manner, Iran is the passage for Armenia to the Gulf Area and the Indian Ocean.

The visit of the President of Iran to Armenia (expected in September 2004), will mark a turning point in the relations of the two countries.

Thousands of Armenians live in Iran (the Armenian quarter in Isfahan celebrates this year the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Armenians to Isfahan). The Armenian Church of Iran (with its three Dioceses) comes under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of Cilicia (based in Lebanon). In recent times several seminars have been conducted in Iran and Lebanon, with the participation of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and officials from Iran, dealing with the subject of relations between the Muslims and Christians in modern times, especially after the September 11 events.

TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hasan Rowhani said on Tuesday that the SNSC is in favor of boosting of Iran's relations with Armenia.

In a meeting with chief of Armenian presidential office Artash Tumanyan, Rowhani said that Iran regards development of relations with Armenia as being in line with helping regional cooperation to restore peace and security to the entire region.

"Yerevan has special status in Iranian history and Iran is willing to boost the historical relations between the two countries," Rowhani said. He said that signing an accord on setting up of a gas pipeline between the two countries is a fundamental step forward towards deepening cooperation in the energy sector.

He said that establishment of Gajeran Tunnel will link Armenia to the North-South Corridor and Iran to the Black Sea as well. On the economic development in the Caucasus, Rowhani said that economic development will be impossible without peace and security and collective cooperation of the regional states at the highest possible level should focus on regional stability.

Tumanyan said that Iran and Armenia have developed excellent relations since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1990 and the upcoming visit of President Mohammad Khatami to Armenia in September would be a turning point in bilateral relations.

He underlined the importance of north-south corridor and called for Iranian support for Armenia joining the corridor.

Tumanyan said that signing the accord on laying a gas pipeline between the two countries is a victory and hoped that the pipeline would be operational within the next two years.

"Technical and feasibility studies on Gajeran Tunnel have been completed and the project is ready for signature," Tumanyan said. He said that Tehran-Yerevan relations are essential for regional security and that Iran has special status in the foreign policy of Armenia.

Tumanyan also conferred on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on issues of mutual interest. Describing the current level of political relations as satisfactory, Kharrazi voiced satisfaction over the outcome of Iran-Armenia Economic Commission meeting and hoped to witness further expansion of economic and commercial cooperation to a desirable level.

The Armenian envoy, for his part, described bilateral economic activities as 'fruitful' and said the already reached agreements between the sides would have positive impacts on mutual relations.

Source: Tehran Times

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