Iranian Energy Minister Majid Namjou complained about the slower-than-expected implementation of Iran’s joint energy projects with Armenia as he met with senior Armenian government officials in Yerevan on Wednesday.
“We have certainly made progress on jointly realized projects, but I must say that there are also obstacles because of which the course of those projects has somewhat slowed down,” Namjou said at a regular session of an Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation.
“Despite all the achievements, the results are not satisfactory for us and everything must be done to overcome the obstacles and move forward,” he told Energy Minister Armen Movsisian and other Armenian members of the commission.
Namjou appeared to refer to plans by Yerevan and Tehran to build a big hydroelectric plant on the Armenian-Iranian border, a pipeline to ship Iranian fuel to Armenia and a third power transmission line connecting the two neighboring countries. The multimillion-dollar projects have repeatedly fallen behind schedule. Presidents Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia agreed to speed up their implementation when they met in Yerevan last December.
The two sides announced after Namjou’s previous trip to Armenia in June that work on the hydroelectric plant on the Arax river, estimated to cost $350 million, will finally get underway in August. The construction has apparently still not begun, however.
Opening the two-day session of the Armenian-Iranian commission, Movsisian said that all three projects remain “on the agenda” but gave no concrete time frames. He said only that Armenian-Iranian ties are developing “in an atmosphere of mutual understanding.”
“The high level of political relations between the two countries obliges us to ensure corresponding activity in the area of economic cooperation,” added Movsisian. In that context, he noted a record-high level of bilateral trade, which he said, will be reached this year.
The volume of Armenian-Iranian trade already rose by 13.6 percent to $323.4 million last year.