In answer to the question of the reporter of the Iranian Shargh newspaper why the project of the gas pipeline from Iran to Europe via Armenia and Georgia was not implemented Serzh Sargsyan announced that it is currently undergoing a discussion and if it meets the interests of all the sides, Armenia is ready.
What are all the sides? It is not clear. For example, is Russia which has a gas dominance in Armenia for or against? The point is that Wikileaks revealed that the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline did not become a transit pipeline and its diameter was cut under Russia’s pressure.
It is not hard to guess why Russia should be against transportation of Iranian gas to Europe. It would be an alternative to Russian gas, and consequently reduce Russia’s geopolitical influence in not only Europe, but also the Caucasus, including Armenia.
The assessment of export of Iranian gas to Europe via Armenia is underway, just like the assessment of the Iran-Armenia railway which was announced by Serzh Sargsyan back in October 2008.
I wonder if Sargsyan was sure that all sides had their interests aligned when he announced about it in October. Later the management of the Armenian railway was taken up by the Russian railways under a concession, and its former CEO Yakunin announced that Iran-Armenia railway is a wall that leads nowhere.
Later the company explained that it is their opinion because they admit its importance to Armenia. But, obviously, the railway had an important role for Armenia only because Serzh Sargsyan never found an investor for the Armenian section though it looked for one as far as in China.
But why would China ever invest in the Armenian part of the Iran-Armenia railway if Russia thinks it leads nowhere, and the president of Armenia thinks that it has nowhere to go except Russia.
Why would anyone make a big economic and political investment in Armenia if the Armenian government may announce about lack of alternative at that level?
Therefore, Armenia spends more money on paper to print the speeches of high-ranking officials on the attraction of Armenia for investments and grand projects, including those of Serzh Sargsyan, than the investments which, according to those speeches, are brought to Armenia in the result of the speeches.
One thing is beyond doubt. The so-called Iran-Armenia cooperation can have two tangible centers of gravity. One is security, namely the Armenian control over the status quo in the Karabakh area, and the transit of Iranian gas to Europe, which is a political project rather and in this case the economic aspect should be superior to the political aspect, like in the case of Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.
By the way, when this project appeared on agenda, official Yerevan assured that it is expensive and it is not feasible. However, the oil pipeline was built because its political importance was dominant.
In his interview with the Iranian newspaper Serzh Sargsyan is quite specific on the security issue, saying that both Armenia and Iran are providers of international security. And the “workshop” or at least one of them is the Karabakh area and a message on the reliability and sustainability of the partnership with Iran is very important.
As to the other center of gravity, the energy project, Serzh Sargsyan refers to a discussion of experts and hints that he is not ready to include the issue on his political agenda and the best that he can do is to put it forth for a discussion with experts.
It is also possible that Sargsyan hints that this is the price of Yerevan’s capacity for security and the gas project is sacrificed to “joint production” of Armenian-Iranian international security.
In fact, the “arrangement” has a logic because there are interesting tendencies and challenges in security, and Serzh Sargsyan hints that Armenia is ready to be a bridge for communication between Iran and the West, a platform for relationship, where the new pole of regional security will be formed. After the formation of this pole it will be possible to talk substantively about the new pole of energy infrastructures.