Pashinyan transfers Karabakh conflict to Iran
The visit of the Armenian Prime Minister to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which took place on February 27-28, left ambiguous impressions behind. If we talk about the practical results of the visit, then the bottom line is only two memorandums of understanding. These are two documents: on promoting cooperation between the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of Armenia and the Iranian Institute of Standards and Industrial Research, as well as between the same ministry and the Supreme Council for Trade, Industry and Special Economic Zones of Iran.
Note that a memorandum of understanding is a type of agreement between two or more parties that does not imply legal obligations. It is usually concluded in situations where the parties are unable for some reason to create a legally binding agreement. In diplomatic practice, memoranda are presented as a result of a meeting in its absence.
Iranian and Armenian officials voiced in general terms the possibility of increasing the supply of Iranian gas to Armenia and even the possibility of the transit of Iranian gas through Armenia to Georgia. “The available capacities allow doubling the volume of Iranian gas supplies and turning Armenia into a transit country,” Minister of Economic Development and Investments Tigran Khachatryan said. Talks on the transition of Armenia to Iranian gas to varying degrees are regularly held in the Armenian expert community. They became more active after 2007 when the gas pipeline between Armenia and Iran was put into operation. But the problem is that Tehran, according to the statements of Armenian politicians and officials, does not offer favorable prices (maybe to avoid the emergence of competition with Russia, in which Teheran is currently the least interested). Talking about the transit of Iranian gas to Georgia, in general, seems far from reality, at least considering the clear transatlantic orientation of Georgia and the international situation around Iran.
It is obvious that the absence of tangible results of Nikol Pashinyan’s visit to the IRI could not help but worry the head of the Armenian government, who is increasingly being reproached at home in the absence of real success in both domestic and foreign policy. Being a politician who entered the imperious cabinet from the street, and a master in populist rallies, Pashinyan launched into the information space of the region a provocative selfie with representatives of the Armenian diaspora in Iran holding a banner with the separatist ‘NKR’ flag and the inscription Karabakh - Armenian Land’.
Thus, the head of the Armenian government achieved several goals at once. First, he played on the national feelings of Armenian citizens and sent them a vivid message that his position on the Karabakh issue remains tough and he “will not betray” the Karabakh Armenians. Secondly, he distracted his citizens from the fact that there was nothing to show except a selfie as a result of the visit. The third, in Azerbaijan, an expected wave of indignation arose in connection with a similar outburst in Iran, especially in the days when the whole country commemorated the victims of the Khojaly tragedy. The Iranian embassy in Azerbaijan hastened to disown the actions of the Armenian prime minister, condemning them as a “bratty step”.
For all the hype around the scandalous selfie, the main thing should not be overlooked: the action was a deliberate attempt by the Armenian prime minister to transfer the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to Iran. There is no other explanation for the appearance of such a photograph in the account of the Prime Minister of Armenia during his official visit to Iran. Moreover, Pashinyan’s trick has already provoked protests in the places of residence of ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran. Is official Yerevan ready to openly ignore the interests of Iran on the issue of Iran’s Azerbaijan, which is so sensitive, in favor of its short-term political instincts, provoking the emergence of the inter-ethnic tensions on Iran’s territory? Are we dealing with the mistake of "inexperienced" populist Pashinyan, or is it about working out the anti-Iranian agenda in a more global geopolitical context? Taking into account the well-known close ties of the members of the Prime Minister’s team with Soros structures and the timid, but regular and persistent attempts of Pashinyan to find common ground and formats of interaction with NATO, this probability cannot be ruled out.