“Iran after the Presidential Elections: Impact on the Armenian-Iranian Relations and the Region”
A discussion entitled “Iran after the Presidential Elections: Impact on the Armenian-Iranian Relations and the Region” was held at Media Center on May 22.

The speakers of the discussion were Artyom Tonoyan and Aharon Vardanyan, Experts of the Iranian Studies.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was re-elected during the presidential elections in Iran held on May 19 and received 58.6% of the votes. Rohani's main rival, Ibrahim Raisi, Former Chief Prosecutor received 39.8% of votes.

To begin with, the speakers deemed it necessary to point out that the re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was a reformer, who supports dialogue with the international community and is moving towards liberalization.

“Throughout the campaign, the emphasis was laid on the fact that Rouhani is going to continue the policy that was adopted in 2013 and implemented during his presidency. In particular, it concerns the stability of the country's economic situation and the creation of new jobs. As for the foreign policy, he will continue to improve relations with the West, particularly with Europe, and why not, with the United States,” Artyom Tonoyan said. 

He underlined that much has changed in the international political situation.

“If Rouhani dealt with US President Barack Obama four years ago, now he deals with Trump, who is not favorably disposed towards Iran and, judging by his statements, he is not going to continue the policy that was adopted by Obama,” Tonoyan said. 

Aharon Vardanyan referred to the issue what means the term “reformer” in an Iranian sense and whether it is perceived in Iran in the same way as in the West, for example.

“It should be noted that “reformer” or “liberal” are perceived differently in Iran and they differ from the classical notions. Before being a “reformer”, the given political figure is considered to be the bearer of the order, which was adopted in Iran in 1979 as a result of the revolution. If a political figure does not correspond to these values, he simply can not survive as a political figure. In this regard, the term “reformer” should be perceived with reservations in Iran. Rouhani as the representative of “reformers” wants to refer the problems of young people a little more freely, communicate with the world through dialogues, etc.,” Vardanyan said. 

Speaking about the Armenian-Iranian relations and the possible developments, the speakers said that regardless who will be elected as a president, it would hardly affect the Armenian-Iranian relations.

“There will be cosmetic changes, related to the foreign policy but no change would occur in the case of presidents as the fundamental problems of the country are determined by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and he never changes,” Vardanyan mentioned.   

Tonoyan considered the Armenian-Iranian relations in the context of Artsakh conflict and said that despite the cautious statements of official Tehran about the conflict, Iran is much interested in keeping the status quo in Artsakh.  

“Iran aims at having as short border line with Azerbaijan as possible. Independent Republic of Artsakh indeed reduces this border line. But if Artsakh is in the territory of Azerbaijan, Iran will have to have longer border line with Azerbaijan which is not preferable for Iran,” Tonoyan said.   

Iran’s position is related to the issue of the ethnic Azerbaijanis. “Azerbaijan does not wrinkle to call that part of Iran’s territory “Southern Azerbaijan” which cannot be neglected and not responded,” the expert said.  Referring to the Armenian-Iranian economic relations, Tonoyan wondered what Armenia proposed for Iran that was not accepted.

“In fact, the potential that we have and are able to offer Iran, the official Tehran supports almost everything. For example, at this moment we propose the tourism sector, and Iran makes use of our proposal. Iran is one of the states that promotes and supports the project of the Armenian-Iranian railway. Even though they did not reject Azerbaijan in the construction of a railway connecting the two countries, they stated at the same time that Iran must have two options. If the Azerbaijani direction will serve for Iran to get out to Russia, it should have a railway in Armenia to get to Europe. Moreover, there was a tendency for the Armenian version,” Tonoyan said.  

To watch the video, follow the link.  

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