Iraq seeks to open embassy in Armenia

Global Insight
November 9, 2012

Iraq seeks to open embassy in Armenia

by Jamie Ingram

Following a series of meetings between senior politicians from both
countries, Iraq has announced its intentions to open an embassy in
Armenia in the near future. The Iraqi foreign ministry released a
statement yesterday (8 November) saying that Minister of Foreign
Affairs Hoshyar Zebari met with Armenian deputy prime minister Armen
Gevorgyan on Wednesday (7 November) and stated his intention to “open
an embassy in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, in the near future”.
Armenia first opened an embassy in Baghdad in 2000, with Iraq
reciprocating a year later; however, diplomatic relations were
suspended in 2003 following the US-led invasion of Iraq. October 2010
marked a thawing of relations once again, with the re-opening of the
Baghdad embassy, and a number of high-level meetings have been held in
recent weeks.

Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Roz Nuri Shaways, led a delegation to
Yerevan in September, where he mooted opening an embassy, while
Gevorgyan also held meetings with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and
President Jalal Talabani during his latest visit to Iraq. Maliki
apologised to Gevorgyan for terrorist attacks against Iraq’s Armenian
community since 2003 and spoke of his plans for the development of a
railway network transporting goods into Europe via Armenia.
Furthermore, the deputy prime minister held talks with the president
of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani,
yesterday. Barzani subsequently spoke of his wish to deepen
co-operation with Armenia, while Gevorgyan expressed his thanks for
Kurdistan’s friendly attitude towards its significant Armenian
population. Traditionally Armenia has maintained close relations with
Arab states, not least thanks to its Armenian communities spread
across the region, including Iraq.

Significance:Bilateral relations between Iraq and Armenia are likely
to continue to develop in the near term. Armenia is looking to
diversify its energy imports away from its dependence on Russia and,
while it has bolstered ties with neighbouring Iran, international
sanctions may limit the extent to which Iran can increase its gas
exports. Iran’s influence over the Iraqi government may smooth the way
for the warming of Armenian-Iraqi ties and during his time in Baghdad,
Gevorgyan expressed his desire to develop relations in the fields of
oil, gas and transport. Nevertheless, tense relations between
Kurdistan and Baghdad may interfere with this should Armenia seek to
cultivate ties with the semi-autonomous oil-rich region.

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