Armenian news website News.am, quoting Robert Beglarian, an ethnic Armenian lawmaker in Iran’s parliament, reported on August 11 that the appointed consul general, Abedin Varamin, had already taken office and held meetings with officials in Yerevan.
Tehran made the decision to open a consulate general in Kapan, a strategic town in Armenia’s Syunik province bordering Iran, last December. Officially the consulate is likely to open later this year.
Shirak Torosian, a pro-government lawmaker who is a member of the Armenia-Iran friendship group in the Armenian parliament, described the decision as “another clear message about Tehran’s red lines in the region.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reassured Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in an August 11 phone call about his country’s opposition to any attempt to alter borders in the region.
The reassurance came amid continued statements from Baku that Armenia must provide Azerbaijan with an extraterritorial land corridor via Syunik to its western Nakhichevan exclave under the terms of the Russia-brokered ceasefire that put an end to a deadly six-week Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020.
Armenia publicly supports the idea of unblocking transport links in the region, but insists that it should maintain sovereignty over all transit roads in its territory, including in Syunik.
“In Iran’s case it is also a matter of national security,” Torosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday.
“Opening a consulate general in Kapan means that they consider Syunik to be an important region for Iran in terms of protecting the interests of Iranian citizens and protecting the interests of the Iranian state in general,” he added.
The Armenian lawmaker said that Iran’s consulate general in Kapan also means that Tehran’s repeated statements against geopolitical changes in the region “now become visible.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned against attempts to block Armenia’s border with his country when he held separate meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran last month.
Under the 2020 ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia, which protects Armenia’s borders with Iran and Turkey, is to oversee the security of the transport links between Azerbaijan and its western exclave passing through Armenian territory.
Images of Russian checkpoints set up along several roads in Syunik that appeared on the Internet earlier this week fueled speculations among Armenians about an imminent deal on the transport corridor. But Russia’s Federal Security Service, which is in charge of the protection of Armenia’s state frontier, said that the stepped-up security measures were due to increased drug trafficking and other illegal cross-border activities in the area.