Lifting sanctions on Iran affords unique opportunities for Armenia - Richard Giragosian


Richard Giragosian, Founding Director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC), spoke of the unique opportunities the removal of sanctions from Iran could afford Armenia, as well as of the social and economic situation in Azerbaijan.

He said that a scenario similar to that in Syria may unfold in Azerbaijan – a civil war and handover of power from father to son.

After the lifting of the sanctions on Iran, the country entered the global financial market. What opportunities does this “thaw” afford Armenia, Mr. Grigoryan?

Armenia will be the only ally that will connect Iran with the rest of the world, as well as the only link for the West, due to Armenia’s unique position in the region.

In any case we have two challenges to meet in this respect- the Armenian government should act promptly to take advantage of this opportunity and what Moscow may allow Armenia to do in its relations with Iran.

Will not allow Armenia to do something in the context of energy and gas project?

Undoubtedly, it is in the energy sector that Moscow is most unlikely to allow Armenia to work. Moscow will seek to prevent gas re-export from Armenia.

A decline in global oil prices does not allow Azerbaijan to increase its military budget. It may even be reduced. What is a possible impact on regional stability – positive or negative? Will Azerbaijan resort to more provocations, with motivation for a large-scale war?

Azerbaijan continues a threat to regional stability and security.

But a new thing is that Azerbaijan’s government is also a threat to domestic stability and security.

The decline in oil prices caused people to rise against the government.

Azerbaijan’s government will deploy more troops on the Line of Contact to distract public attention.

Would it be an irrational step - and even political suicide - under the circumstances?

Baku has never been an rational actor.

Their military attacks do not follow the logic of military science. They are mostly intended to bring dividends inside the country.

A common policy by the allies of the United States accounts for the decline in the global oil prices, with Russia being the principal target. But Azerbaijan has been affected as well. Do you think it is a coincidence or the West’s criticism of Azerbaijan’s policy to journalists and human rights activists is a factor?

It is mere coincidence that the decline in oil prices proved a serious blow to different economies, including Azerbaijan and Russia.

It affected the USA’s allies – Saudi Arabia as well, for example.

The West is not the mastermind behind all this, but it is taking advantage of it. Another reason is that it is mostly the authoritarian states that are oil-based economies.

Although Armenia has no oil reserves, the decline in oil prices affects Russian economy, while Armenia’s economy is dependent on it.

The second factor is a gas agreement with Iran, and gas cooperation is acquiring greater importance.

The oil age is over, according to some opinions voiced at a recent economic forum in Russian. Can we say Azerbaijan is going to have hard times, while Armenia will have a favorable period?

Something bad for Azerbaijan does not automatically mean something good for Armenia because unfavorable economic developments in Azerbaijan may make it much more dangerous and aggressive.

Secondly it is promising most unfavorable tendencies of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan’s oil industry is showing a recession.

Azerbaijan is now exporting more gas than oil.

Many experts do not rule out removal of Ilham Aliyev from power. What could be the international community’s response? It means a policy of re-starting the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, does it not?

No political opposition actually exists in that country.

The army or law-enforcement agencies don’t show any opposition to the country’s authorities.

I consider a Syrian scenario more likely.

I should also stress that all those who came to power in Azerbaijan did so due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict only to leave later.

This is the reason why I d not think that economy or policy could play a great role in a change of power.

And this is the reason why I consider changes most likely if they continue their attacks on Armenia.

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