RFE/RL Armenian Service – 10/23/2023


Armenian FM Joins Talks On Caucasus Peace In Iran

        • Tatevik Lazarian

IRAN - The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Armenia and Russia 
meet in Tehran, .

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan joined his Azerbaijani, Iranian, Russian and 
Turkish counterparts in meeting on Monday in Tehran for talks on peace and 
stability in the South Caucasus.

The multilateral talks were held within the framework of the so-called 
“Consultative Regional Platform 3+3” launched in December 2021 in Moscow. 
Georgia continues to boycott the platform, citing continuing Russian occupation 
of its breakaway regions.

“The war in the South Caucasus is now over and the time has come for peace, 
cooperation and development in the Caucasus,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein 
Amir-Abdollahian was reported to say at the start of the talks.

“We believe that problems in this region can be resolved without external 
interference. This is part of the message of today’s meeting in the 3+3 format,” 
he said, underscoring Iran’s strong opposition to Western presence in the 
region, which is shared by Russia.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi likewise described it as “harmful for regional 
peace and stability” when he met with Mirzoyan earlier in the day, according to 
Iranian news agencies.

Amid its deepening rift with Moscow, the Armenian leadership now seems to be 
pinning hopes on Western efforts to broke a resolution of its conflict with 
Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian expressed hope last week that he and 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet in Brussels again and finalize a 
bilateral peace treaty before the end of this year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov questioned the European Union’s ability 
to facilitate the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, a key 
remaining obstacle to the signing of the treaty.

“Let them try their luck in Brussels, if they want to, but we are always ready 
to help start the real delimitation,” he told reporters after the Tehran meeting.

Lavrov said that these and other sticking points in Armenian-Azerbaijani 
negotiations were not “directly” discussed by the five ministers.

“There are other channels for doing this. But the platform itself helps resolve 
remaining issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” added the top Russian diplomat.

Mirzoyan held a separate meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on 
the sidelines of the Tehran conference, which coincided with the start of a 
fresh Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercise held near Armenia’s borders. His 
press office reported no such meetings with Lavrov or Azerbaijan’s Jeyhun 
Bayramov as of 10 p.m. local time.

Armenia Signs First Arms Deal With France

France - French Defense Minsiter Sebastien Lecornu and his Armenian counterpart 
Suren Papikian sign a memorandum of understanding in Paris, .

France pledged to boost Armenia’s air defenses, train Armenian military 
personnel and help the South Caucasus country reform its armed forces as the 
French group Thales and Yerevan signed a contract for the purchase of three 
radar systems on Monday.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu and his Armenian counterpart Suren 
Papikian also signed a “letter of intent” on the future delivery of Mistral 
short-range surface-to-air missiles.

They gave no financial or other details of these deals during a joint news 
conference held after their talks in Paris. Lecornu emphasized the defensive 
character of what will be first-ever Western-manufactured major weapons supplied 
to Armenia.

“It is a weapon system which, by its very nature, can only be used when there is 
an aggression against Armenian territory and often with civilian populations 
underneath,” he said, alluding to the risk of Azerbaijani invasion of Armenia.

Lecornu also announced that France will train Armenian officers to operate the 
military equipment known for its “remarkable detection capabilities” and assist 
in ongoing reforms of the Armenian armed forces. A special French military 
official will advise the Armenian Defense Ministry on those reforms, he said, 
adding that French instructors will be sent to Armenia to teach its troops new 
combat techniques.

The French government first signaled arms supplies to Armenia last year 
following large-scale fighting on the country’s border with Azerbaijani which 
resulted in Azerbaijani territorial gains. It gave the green light for them 
following last month’s Azerbaijani military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that 
led to the restoration of Azerbaijani control over the region and displaced its 
virtually entire ethnic Armenian population. French President Emmanuel Macron 
suggested that Baku might now attack Armenia as well.

FRANCE - France's President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Armenian Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian prior to their meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, September 
26, 2022.
"France has given its agreement to the conclusion of future contracts with 
Armenia which will allow the delivery of military equipment to Armenia so that 
it can ensure its defense," French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said 
during an October 3 visit to Yerevan.

The Azerbaijani government condemned Colonna’s announcement as further proof of 
Paris’s pro-Armenian bias in the Karabakh conflict. Baku itself has increased 
its military expenditures after the 2020 Karabakh war, buying more weapons from 
Turkey, Israel and possibly other countries.

Armenia is stepping up military cooperation with France, a major NATO member, 
amid its worsening relationship with Russia, a longtime ally. The tensions stem 
in large measure from what Yerevan sees as a lack of Russian support in the 
conflict with Azerbaijan. Moscow’s failure to prevent, stop or even condemn the 
Azerbaijani offensive in Karabakh only added to them.

Also, Armenian leaders have implied over the past year that Moscow has failed to 
supply more weapons to Yerevan despite Russian-Armenian defense contracts signed 
after the 2020 war in Karabakh. They have said they have no choice but to look 
for alternative arms suppliers.

France, which is home to a sizable and influential Armenian community, has 
become Armenia’s leading Western backer during Macron’s rule. Lecornu said on 
Monday that it is committed to the South Caucasus nation’s territorial integrity 
despite the fact that “we are not part of the same military and political 
alliances .”

Iranian Firms To Rebuild Strategic Road In Armenia

        • Robert Zargarian

Armenia - A view of Kajaran, a town in Syunik province.

The Armenian government has awarded a $215 million contact to a consortium of 
two Iranian companies to upgrade a 32-kilometer section of the main highway 
connecting Armenia to Iran through its endangered Syunik region.

A senior government official and top executives of those companies signed a 
relevant agreement in Yerevan on Monday in the presence of Armenia’s Minister of 
Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosian and Iran’s Minister 
of Roads and Urban Development Mehrzad Bazrpash.

“We are very happy that … Iranian companies will carry out the construction of 
this road section,” Sanosian said at the signing ceremony.

“Our neighbor, Armenia, is very important to us,” Bazrpash said, for his part. 
“Armenia could play a key role in the framework of the [transnational] 
North-South transport corridor. I hope that the project will be implemented 

Armenia - Amenian and Iranian officials attend a signing ceremony in Yerevan, 

The project co-financed by the Armenian government and the Eurasian Development 
Bank covers the highway section stretching from Agarak, an Armenian town 
adjacent to the Iranian border, to the Kajaran mountain pass, the highest in 
Armenia. About two-thirds of the road is to be expanded and modernized while the 
remaining 11 kilometers will be built from scratch over the next three years. In 
Sanosian’s words, the Iranians will construct 17 bridges and two tunnels in the 
mountainous area.

Another, much longer tunnel planned by the Armenian side will cut through the 
Kajaran pass. The government has organized an international tender for its 
construction, which will further shorten travel time between the two neighboring 

Bazrpash also announced that the Yerevan and Tehran have agreed to build a new 
bridge over the Arax river that marks the Armenian-Iranian border. The two 
governments will set up a joint working group for that purpose, he told 

The Iranian minister’s presence at the signing ceremony appeared to also 
underscore the geopolitical significance of the project.

Armenia - A view of the Arax river separating Armenia and Iran.

Azerbaijan’s recent takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh raised more fears in Yerevan 
that Baku will also attack Armenia to open an exterritorial land corridor to 
Nakhichevan passing through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran. 
Azerbaijani leaders regularly demand such a corridor. A senior Armenian diplomat 
claimed on October 8 that an Azerbaijani attack on Syunik may be “a matter of 

Iran has repeatedly warned against attempts to strip it of the common border and 
transport links with Armenia. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reportedly told 
visiting Armenian and Azerbaijani officials early this month that the corridor 
sought by Baku is “resolutely opposed by Iran” because it would give NATO a 
“foothold” in the region.

NATO member Turkey fully supports the Azerbaijani demands. Its troops began on 
Monday a fresh military exercise with the Azerbaijani army in Nakhichevan and 
parts of mainland Azerbaijan close to Syunik. The drills reportedly involve 
3,000 soldiers and several Turkish F-16 warplanes.

The United States and the European Union voiced strong support for Armenia’s 
territorial integrity following the latest escalation in Karabakh. The U.S. 
State Department said on October 15 that “any infringement of that sovereignty 
and territorial integrity would bring serious consequences.”

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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