“The Islamic Republic of Iran regards the security of Armenia and the region as its own security,” Amir-Abdollahian said at the inauguration ceremony held in Kapan, the capital of Syunik province. “Our policy is to respect territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders.”
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan also attended and spoke at the ceremony, again welcoming Tehran’s decision to open the diplomatic mission in “our country’s backbone.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always been and will always be a key partner for Armenia,” he said.
The decision announced in December 2021 underscored the Iranian government’s strong interest in Syunik and concerns over Azerbaijan’s efforts to secure a special corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave passing through the sole Armenian province bordering Iran.
Over the past year Iranian leaders have repeatedly warned against Azerbaijani attempts to change their country’s “historical” border with Armenia. They stepped up those warnings following the September 13-14 fighting at various sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. One of them is about 30 kilometers south of Kapan.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards began on Monday military exercises near Syunik and an adjacent region in Azerbaijan. Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday that the drills are meant to demonstrate that “Iran will not permit the blockage of its connection route with Armenia.”
The Iranian minister said that his country has “the capacity to impede and confront any such moves” after holding talks with Mirzoyan in Yerevan on Thursday.
Work on the Iranian consulate building in Kapan was still not over on Thursday. Workers paved its courtyard only the following morning, hours before the start of the opening ceremony. Some of those Armenian workers suggested that the consulate’s inauguration was brought forward at the Iranian side’s request.
Speaking in Kapan, Amir-Abdollahian described Syunik as a key transit route for Iran’s trade with Armenia and other regional countries.
“Syunik province is one of the most important sections of the North-South corridor,” he said. “We regard Armenia as one of the most important countries situated along the North-South highway and will do our best to develop this transit route.”
He referred to an ambitious project to create a transport corridor that would connect Iran’s Persian Gulf ports to the Black Sea through Armenia and Georgia. Mirzoyan reaffirmed Yerevan’s support for the project after Thursday’s talks with Amir-Abdollahian.
Also, Mirzoyan again ruled out giving Azerbaijan any “extraterritorial corridors” through Armenian territory.
Armenian officials said earlier that Baku could try to forcibly open such a corridor through further military action against Armenia.