The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hasan Rouhani, arrived for an official visit in Armenia on December 21st, upon invitation by his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan. This is the first leg of President Rouhani’s Central Asia tour, which will also include visits to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
During the visit, the presidents signed five memorandums of understanding and cooperation agreements between Tehran and Yerevan on various topics, including tourism, sports and culture. Strengthening of bilateral ties was also on the meeting agenda.
Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (a territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia), President Rouhani expressed his hope for peace and stability in the region, according to News.am, an Armenian news outlet. He identified both nations as countries friendly to Iran.
Located along the Caspian Sea in the South Caucasus region, and situated to the south of Iran and to the east of Armenia, Azerbaijan maintains good neighboring and politico-economic relations with Iran. In 1991, when Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union, Iran was one of the first nations to welcome a sovereign Azerbaijan and establish mutual diplomatic ties.
In contrast, Azerbaijan’s relations with Armenia crumbled in the early 1990s, when Armenia occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Currently, nearly 22% of Azerbaijan’s territory remains under control of Armenia, despite four United Nations resolutions calling for Armenia to honor Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. To date, Armenia remains steadfast in its rejection of a peaceful settlement of the dispute by refusing to vacate land internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan.