By Hovannes Shoghikian
The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Gholamali Haddad-Adel, ended a two-day official visit to Armenia on Tuesday, reiterating Tehran’s strong interest in maintaining close political and economic ties with Yerevan.
“Iran is a big country with a large population and great potential,” he said after talks with President Robert Kocharian and other Armenian leaders. “In my view, independent positions adopted by the Republic of Armenia allow us to use that potential for further developing and deepening our bilateral relations and making our countries more prosperous.”
Kocharian’s press office quoted Haddad-Adel as telling the Armenian leader earlier in the day that Armenia “occupies a special place” in the list of Iran’s ex-Soviet neighbors. Kocharian, for his part, praised the current state of Iranian-Armenian relations, pointing to large-scale bilateral energy projects.
The implementation of those projects seems to have gained a new momentum since Kocharian’s early July visit to Tehran where he held talks with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The most important of them is the ongoing construction of a pipeline which is due to start pumping Iranian natural gas to Armenia next year.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Armenian counterpart Tigran Torosian, Haddad-Adel indicated that the two governments are considering building another pipeline that would allow for Iranian gas exports to third countries. “The main purpose of the pipelines built from Iran to Armenia is to supply Armenia with gas,” he said. “But naturally, when Iranian gas starts flowing into Armenia, perhaps it will be exported to other countries as well.”
Kocharian’s last trip to Tehran also yielded an agreement on the construction of a third high-voltage transmission line that will connect the Armenian and Iranian power grids. In addition, the two countries intend to build a major hydro-electric plant on the river Arax marking the Armenian-Iranian border.
“Relations between our two countries are exemplary for the entire region,” declared Torosian.
The Armenian speaker also sounded sympathetic to Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, taking an apparent swipe at the United States which has been pushing for international sanctions against the Islamic Republic. “No country or a group of countries must use their powers at one or another point to restrict other countries’ rights,” he said.
Torosian went on to repeat Yerevan’s calls for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear dispute. “We all hope that issues relating to Iran’s nuclear program will find solutions within the framework of negotiations and in accordance with international treaties,” he said.
(Photolur photo: Haddad-Adel greeted by Kocharian.)