Ambassador: Forcing Iranian trucks to pay tolls violates tripartite agreement

TEHRAN- “According to the tripartite talks between Russia, Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the ceasefire agreement, the transit road was supposed to have its old status in order to complement the new road”, said Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Abbas Badakhshan Zohuri said in an interview with Tasnim released on Monday.

Azerbaijan’s relations with Iran, its big neighbor to the south, have been in flux since the end of last year’s war with Armenia.

The most recent hard period began when Azerbaijan started charging Iranian trucks with tolls on a road heading to southern Armenia through slices of Azerbaijani territory, Eurasianet reported.

At first, Iran remained silent even after Azerbaijani police and customs confirmed the practice. Armenian media reported that some of the targeted trucks had “transported cement to Yerevan and Stepanakert”, the de facto capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been controlled by Armenian forces since the first war between the two sides in the 1990s.

North-south transit route

Ambassador Badakhshan Zohuri also spoke about Iran-Armenia relations, as well as developments in the Caucasus and the South-North transit route.

The diplomat said relations between Iran and Armenia were at the highest level since the country’s independence in 1991 and despite the ups and downs in various governments, relations have gone rather well.

Badakhshan Zohouri says it is unfortunate that Iranian trucks on the Goris-Kapan road were forced to pay the toll.

“We have a long history of several thousand years with Armenia, and due to the presence of compatriots Armenians, these relations are more coherent”, noted Ambassador Badakhshan Zohuri.

However, compared to the good political relations between the two countries, the two sides did not have the desired economic relations as they should, the ambassador noted.

The Ambassador also commented on the relations between the two neighboring countries since Nikol Pashinyan took power in Armenia in 2018.

“Three years ago, when the Pashinyan revolution took place, new opinions were raised and the behavior of the new administration is mainly aimed at the development of Armenia, but it faced the war and the planning of the development was hampered. This development process continued with the re-election of Pashinyan in the elections. “

On remarks by some politicians and media that Pashinyan is pro-Western and that his government could pose problems in relations with Iran, the ambassador said: “In this regard, one has to see to what extent the dependency of this country in terms of infrastructure allows Pashinyan to become pro-Western. They are more or less careful about their independence right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean moving out of Russian support, and much of Armenia’s infrastructure is under Russian control.

It is not possible to say that the government of Yerevan is inclined towards the West, stressed the Iranian diplomat. However, he said, the Armenians’ desire to draw closer to Europe and the United States will continue. “Between Armenians and the Armenian diaspora, which has a larger population than the population inside Armenia, the country’s ties with the West are developing,” the ambassador commented.

Armenia-Iran relations developed under the Pashinyan regime

The Ambassador said that relations between Armenia and Iran have developed in all areas during Pashinyan’s tenure.

“In the joint commission with Armenia, many issues were discussed which are not comparable to the past, including energy, the transfer of electricity from Armenia to Iran, the transit of goods as well as the connection to Eurasia through Armenia, which provided the foundation for growing relations with Armenia. “

Exhibition of Iranian products in Armenia

Badakhshan Zohori highlighted the low volume of trade between the two countries despite all the incentives, saying that Iran’s trade share with Armenia has been very low in recent years and the Iranian side should lend it to it. attention wanted.

However, the ambassador said, fortunately, good progress has been made and holding Iranian exhibitions in Armenia is in line with this goal.

Iran follows Chabahar’s connection to Georgia and the Black Sea

On the South-North transit route, the diplomat stressed: “We have the Indian Ocean route to Chabahar and the Persian Gulf, then the rail route to Julfa-Armenia-Georgia and the Black Sea, which is a road. safe and very suitable. for trade, and countries along this route can make good use of its advantages. “

Construction of an alternative transit route continues apace

The ambassador added that part of the transport route was linked to the transport route known as Sisian, which was 60 km in Syunik province in southern Armenia.

“With the measures taken, this route creates a shortcut that shortens the previous route, and the Armenian administration is seriously seeking to revive it, which Iran will most likely participate in its construction. field of road construction, and the construction of tunnels and bridges has not been noticed by many neighboring countries, talks are underway in this regard for Iran’s participation.

Regarding the problems of the South-North transit road, Badakhshan Zohori pointed out that part of this transport route, 21 km long, is located in the Goris-Kapan region, both parts of which belonged to the Republic of Azerbaijan according to old Soviet maps. , but according to the tripartite talks between Russia, Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan under the ceasefire agreement, this road was supposed to have its previous status to complete the new road, but unfortunately it Some time ago the road was closed for two days and after the road was opened tolls are imposed on Iranian trucks.

Iran’s top diplomat in Yerevan added: “This road has been used for the past three decades and Iranian trucks pay tolls when they arrive in Armenia and should not pay 100 kilometers in advance again. We expected them to stop charging tolls to complete the road. Now that it is the cold season and the road is mountainous, the alternative road “Tatev” is being built and widened, but it is not yet completed, although the Armenian side is quickly looking to build a transit route.

Referring to the efforts of the Embassy of Iran to complete the road more quickly, the Ambassador said: “The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken many measures since the beginning of the problem, and by correspondence, we asked the Armenian side to have more serious planning. and continue to build an alternative route. In this regard, some time ago a delegation from the Ministry of Transport of Iran came to Armenia and examined this road.