Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
ArmInfo’s Interview with Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Mohammad Reisi
by Marianna Mkrtchyan
Mr.Reisi, do you think Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohsen Pak Ayin’s recent statement that the OSCE Minsk Group is biased in the Karabakh peace process and therefore it is the countries of the region that should take part in the peace process demonstrates that Iran seeks to play a mediator’s role in the Karabakh peace process?
Iran’s foreign policy with respect to the Karabakh conflict has undergone no changes. Tehran has always stressed the need to resolve the conflict by means of a dialogue and only in the peaceful way. Iran supports all the efforts aimed at resolution of the conflict. But Iran also thinks that the countries of the region are able to settle their own problems by cooperating with one another and admits the presence of no foreign forces in this region. Iran’s foreign policy with respect to the Karabakh conflict is based on the specified approaches.
Due to the sanctions introduced this year against Iran by the USA and European countries, the Iranian oil exports have changed their direction from Europe towards China and South Korea. Do you think this will help stop the inflation in Iran and what impact will further toughening of the sanctions against Iran have on the region and on Armenia, in particular?
The daily information flow convinces us that the inflation and economic crisis have developed into a global phenomenon and become a kind of epidemic. The impact of the economic crisis is felt everywhere – from Europe to Asia, from Africa to America. The “99 Percent Movement”, Wall Street crisis, protest actions in Greece, Spain and other countries clearly demonstrate that people demand changing the current situation. Thus, inflation and economic problems are not typical to only one country. As regards the sanctions against Iran, this is a part of the economic war against the Islamic republic, which will have a bad effect on the West as well. But luckily, thanks to the Iranian people’s efforts and the Government’s measures, the given sanctions have not affected our relations with the region and with Armenia, in particular.
The change of power in Georgia opens new prospects for implementation of the North-South project given the Ivanishvili Government’s intention to contribute to the opening of through communication via Abkhazia. Does the Iran-Armenia railway construction project acquire extra prospects for implementation given that in this case Iran will have a direct access to the vast Russian market via friendly Armenia and Georgia?
As you know, it is possible to transport cargoes from Kazakhstan to Europe and from Iran to the Persian Gulf by the North-South railway. Actually, it is a friendly bridge between Asia and Europe that will play a serious role in development of transport infrastructure and transit of commodities among the countries of the region. Due to the launch of this branch line, Iran will become one of the largest countries in the region in the field of cargo transportation, and it will be a big step towards implementation of the “Iran. Regional Hub” slogan. On the other hand, the Iran-Armenia railway branch line is a very important economic project being discussed by the two countries. I hope serious measures will shortly be taken to implement this project. It plays an essential role in increasing of the cargo transportation and passenger operations between the two countries. Moreover, its significance will grow even higher and will further cover Georgia and Russia, making the big markets of the Persian Gulf countries, Russia and Europe more accessible.
Recently, in order to improve the situation in its energy sector, Iran announced a plan to build a gas pipeline to Syria via Iraq. Does this mean that you are going to control the situation in Syria for as long as possible?
Iran has the world’s second biggest gas resources after Russia. The efforts to develop infrastructure, to carry out the South Pars project and to increase gas production have given us 10% of the world gas output. This pipeline will have branches that will pump gas to Iraq, Syria and Europe. More specifically, it will supply gas to thermal power plants in Iraq and Syria, through Southern Lebanon to the Mediterranean and farther to Europe. This is a big project and it is part of the program of the National Iranian Gas Company.
It seems that the Trans Anadolu gas pipeline (TANAP) has forced Europe and Turkey to forget about Nabucco. Can Iran, who is seeking to reorient its energy exports, make use of this opportunity?
The development of the region and the growth in its energy demand are forcing the local countries to consider new ways to transfer energy resources. The Trans-Caspian has pipeline is one of them. But there are still problems concerning the status of the Caspian Sea and environmental security. This project is supposed to arrange direct supplies of Turkmen gas to Europe. In the future gas will become a higher priority than oil, so, even if there is no political tensions between Russia and Europe, Russia and other producers will not be able to supply enough gas for meeting Europe’s needs. Here they will need Iran with its world’s second biggest gas reserves. If the existing problems, including the legal status of the Caspian Sea and environmental issues, are solved, the Trans-Caspian pipeline may become one of the key channels for the export of Iranian gas to Europe.
Iran has stopped to export as many as 52 items to Armenia, and now our Government is negotiating with your authorities for quickly solving this problem. What was the cause of the ban and what is the Iranian Embassy doing in this respect?
In order to manage the export, to satisfy the domestic demand and to fulfill the decision of the Commerce Ministry’s Domestic Commerce Department, our Government has banned the export of some commodities, including articles produced in Iran and some medical equipment imported for foreign exchange. This decision concerns all rather than one specific country. Of course, we are making efforts to form expert groups for discussing the consequences of this decision and finding solutions to possible problems. The key goal of this policy is to ensure domestic demand, so, once this problem is solved, the excess will be exported.
By Marianna Mkrtchyan