Iran refuses to build railway to Armenia
Iran is ready to launch the railway with Armenia, but under one condition, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Armenia Seyed Kazem Sajjadi said yesterday.
"Iran-Armenia relations are very good. We are ready to launch the railway if Yerevan introduces its investor. It's necessary to make joint investments in these areas. Take the first step and we will take the next step," Novostink.ru cited the ambassador as saying.
The Armenian side should try to find investors," Sajjadi added.
The head of the analytical center Alternative, Tatul Manaseryan, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Armenia will not be able to build an Iran-Armenia railway at its own expense. "I do not think that Armenia will be able to finance such a huge project of strategic importance from its state budget," he said, expressing confidence that only Russia is able to pay for the construction of this road for Armenia.
According to the expert, Russia has showed interest in this project during the signing of a protocol of intentions at the exhibition of Armenian goods in Iran in 2016 by the representatives of the South Caucasus Railway. "I think that the desire should be expressed by the parties that have economic and political interests in this project, first of all, Russia, Armenia and Iran. There is also the possibility of attracting Chinese capital, but if the tripartite agreement comes into force," Tatul Manasaryan believes.
The chairman of the economic commission of the Armenian National Congress, ex-mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan, explained Iran's requirements with its previous negative experience of cooperation with Armenia. "Iran is ready to participate in the project, but wants the Armenian side to find money first, as it remembers the gas pipeline project to Armenia, for constructing which Yerevan did not have money. As a result the gas pipeline was completed by Russia's Gazprom. Perhaps, Iran fears that Yerevan will do the same thing again, and therefore requires money first," he reasoned.
"The financial situation in our country is problematic, the debt is huge, and in such conditions the construction of this railway is clearly not a top priority for the republic. They started talking about the project in 2010 - but even then experts were sure that the project was not feasible, since its implementation will require huge money for the country, at least $2.5 billion. And now it makes no sense to talk about it," Vahagn Khachatryan stressed.
"Armenia cannot even finish the highway, which is being built along the North-South route. As for the second very important investment program related to the Armenian nuclear power plant in Metsamor, here Armenia is assisted by Russia. The republic has no money to extend the nuclear power plant's service life for 10 years, and therefore we borrowed $250 million from Russia. As you can see, Armenia does not have money even for vital ongoing projects and investment programs, what can we say about the new railway construction program," the ex-mayor of Yerevan concluded.